Friday, October 27, 2023


Probably the most middling Rob Zombie movie I've seen.

Far from bad, do not get me wrong this is not a bad movie, and if history has taught us anything I can really dig the shit out of Rob Zombie's films but this one is just okay. It's weird, I've more heard of plots similar to this movie than actually seen. So a group of people get abducted and are used for more or less sport by wealthy elite, as they are hunted by a group of psychopaths and try to survive. Pretty damn simple premise, not to many frills or quirks like in other of the director's efforts. It was an entirely crowdfunded production of 1.5 million buckaroos, and I feel it was made wisely with most exteriors being shot on desolate roads while interiors are at this I don't even know what. This...complex that's a good term, where the hunt begins. Granted they got a spectacular set for the wealthy creeps who get their kicks from this, very boujee and bathed in red, I was super impressed by it. And the effects though not as extensive as say The Devil's Rejects or Halloween are just naystay and blood soaked enough to get the job done. I wasn't entirely sure who was gonna make it out alive, save for Sheri who actually has the beginning arc of a killer that could almost be a origin story for Baby but it's a bit open ended before credits. My guy Jeff was awesome, it's kinda odd though seeing him as Herman Munster first then going back and seeing him cuss like a sailor but hey it was great to see him. Malcolm McDowell is our big wig (literally) villain for this sick game and while not on screen a lot is a joy to see and you can tell he's having fun playing it. Standout performance, Richard Brake as one of the hired killers Doom-Head, he is so damn gripping and fascinating to watch. Cause he's this sick fucked up in the head murderer, but he has intelligence and knowledge of history and grace in his movements but he'll still call you a **** and slice you up like a ham. I dare say watch it just for him! It's a solid production, with a good cast, and while the story ain't that much you can still get something out of it. Hell I am taking away 3 things from this, 1. Apparently Halloween is when most people go missing, please be safe out there, 2. There was a great quote "I found that the best of times happens exactly at the point when we lose track of them." I never thought of it like that before but that's quite true, 3. Another quote which follows the last "We must train ourselves to extend the moment and learn to live." that's a pretty strong mantra for life! It just struck me and I shall have to remember that. But moving on to final scores here, I give it 2.5 stars, 6.5/10! And we only got one more Rob Zombie film to review in the future so that'll be fun. Alas it is time to take one last bow for the most wonderful time of the year, eleven's hour is over now and the clock is striking twelve. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

In Retrospect: Halloween Ends

This might get long.

Sooo what do we think of Halloween Ends one year later? Well if you go back and read my opening day review, I certainly didn't hate it, was vague on certain aspects, and I had notes to expand on. Watching it again has consolidated my opinion on it. You couldn't dream or ask for a more divisive horror film in the modern era and I wouldn't be a bit surprised if people were still split today, but that's kinda Halloween Ends. It is a mixed bag of different stuff so it's totally okay if you have mixed opinions on it. But I know exactly what people have grievances on, the lack of Michael Myers and the character of Corey which in and of itself is connected. Yes, Michael Myers is barely in it. It takes 40 minutes, a third of the film roughly for him to even show up, and he has about 4 scenes. I get it! I really get it, that seems bait and switchy as shit for fans of this series, you see a Halloween movie for Michael. There is so much to unpack I genuinely don't know where to begin here. Like it or not, Corey is our main character. Now Laurie has a place in the story, they don't sideline her like in Halloween Kills, and Jamie is great in this last bow. You may recall in my initial review I alluded to Halloween 5, specifically a pre-production idea that got scrapped where little Jamie Lloyd was going to be the killer after the cliffhanger of part 4, no Michael present it was just her offing people. Well they did it, just with Corey instead of Jamie. I'm mixed on this idea. I was one of the few people who liked what Kills did with the story and the mentality of Haddonfield, and they do push further into that territory. It's different, it's unique, and not half badly executed. You can see both the landscape of Haddonfield and the mental state of this young man in either a supernatural lens where the evil has infected and plagued the town and leaped or perhaps transferred from Michael to Corey, or you can just see it through a psychological lens where a lot of bad shit has happened to this town and this man and through so much trauma it starts festering and being destructive. That is interesting stuff that I've never heard of in film or real life where killings have happened and you examine the shockwave of it. Yet the question inevitably comes up of, but did it have to be told this way? Did we need Corey to be this surrogate serial killer? Couldn't we have just had Michael do his thing? My main question is, what was the intent? Cause with this movie, whatever details of the story and characters come up I can understand it...but only about half of it. There is a fair bit I do not get what they were thinking or trying to get across. Now I must repeat, I don't fundamentally hate the idea that Corey becomes a killer whether through psychological abuse or re-run of Jamie getting the evil rubbed off on her, but it has eventual hitches. I was scared shitless there was going to be barely any Michael Myers in this movie, but then the ending happened and I was content. But again, did it need to be like that? There is no black and white with this picture, there is no clear good or bad aspects because it's such an almost masterfully concocted mix of both! Every point I comment on has an addendum. What's funny is the movie almost is meta on it's commentary because it states at several points people either embrace hate or learn to move on, that evil can be an external or internal force a lá John Carpenter's tribe story, that evil never dies it just changes shape. Now some people could interpret all that as the movie trying to be pretentious, overly clever, and "deep", and others would see it as simple facts of this world that we see Laurie live in. Which do you stand on? I' the middle. I don't like certain aspects and have questions on why they did what they did, but I also like a fair bit too and am happy they ended it. Oh yeah, let's talk the ending. Holy shit! Michael Myers is dead as shit, a brutal killing by Laurie followed by almost literal funeral procession, culminating in his body getting eviscerated by metal grinders. You don't get more dead than that! Beautiful! Perfect! They fucking finally ended it conclusively. You get a lot of points for that movie! And if nothing else people can be shall we say selective of movie series, it ends at Halloween 2, it ends at 20 Years Later, oh Halloween 3 isn't a part of the series, etc. etc. So who says it can't happen here? Yeah Michael burned in the house in the 2018 Halloween, there! No further explanation needed. Head canon is neat huh. So take from it what you will. I still have respect for the filmmakers in going this direction even if not everything worked perfectly, they wanted to inject some intelligence and some new life into a very tired, broken down, formulaic horror series. There is nothing. Absolutely nothing. Wrong with that. It was not what people wanted for the big finale, but I can live with that. This is however going to be the first time ever that an In Retrospect has actually decreased the score, the new rating is now 2 stars, 6/10. You really can't have other people make the opinion for you on this movie, you just gotta see it again and make your own. Rob Zombie movie next time.

Monday, October 23, 2023

Cemetery Man

Uhhhh, oookay then.

Yet another film that's been on the list for October reviews since nearly the beginning, and boy is it a strange one. You can summarize it either super concisely or so convolutedly it'll make your brain spin, but just for the sake of brevity here's the short version. The groundskeeper and gravedigger of a cemetery named Francesco Dellamorte lives a quiet life, he attends to funerals, chats with his one friend in the city, and every 7 days after a funeral blows the rising dead's head open. It doesn't explain why zombies appear or what causes it, it's just another day at work for Mr. Dellamorte. And it only gets friggin' weirder from there man. A lot happens, love is lost and found again, murders start cropping up, the grim reaper arrives in person, it is so fuggin' WEIRD! The film has a very dry dark sense of humor but it's not prevalent from start to finish, it more has it's moments peppered throughout and you almost start laughing from the absurdity of it all. Rupert Everett is a name I'm familiar with from more of his movies after this, and I know some people may criticize his deadpan delivery but I feel that was a concious decision by the director and it works to the film's advantage. The romance between him and Anna Flachi who we never learn the name of her character strangely, is bizarre to say the least but she has a fair bit to work with and is very nice to look at but I won't dwell on that. François Hadji-Lazaro as Francesco's bumbling assistant Gnaghi just adds to the surrealness of the picture and got the most laughs out of me. The director's style for this film is what helps give it a lot of unique charm, if I had to equate it to something similar I'd say it has this Robert Rodriguez' El Mariachi mixed with Sam Raimi's Evil Dead 2 sort of vibe, it's unique even today. What compounds the weirdness further is it's an italian production made in Italy and yet every actor speaks english, and I don't mean they dub an actor from italian to english I mean every actor is fluent in english. Cemetery Man is the States title and the title in Italy is DellaMorte DellaMore, so it's slightly confusing. It's a rare and almost unidentifiable beast of cinema and it no doubt has it's cult audience. From the dreamlike story that doesn't rely heavily on logic, to the quite great special effects, to the oddball humor, to the just plain what the funk style of the direction, it's a trip to watch. It may seem predictable near the beginning and you may even think it goes a certain direction at one point, but naw man. You ain't seen nothing yet. Just seriously give this a watch! I'm still questioning whether all that I have seen was real or just the by product of a very tired strung out mind, so let's get this fucker in the can. Again kinda hard to find on video but you can snag a high quality version on YouTube if you search for the italian title. 3 stars, 7.5/10! And it is most certainly time to look back and expand upon a most divisive film. Next time let's talk about Halloween Ends.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Embodiment Of Evil

What the hell was that?!

Jesus! I'm kinda flabbergasted at this movie, I mean it was good but uh, I recommend a strong stomach for it. Well I guess Marins got to throw up a big middle finger 40 years later to the censor board cause not only is Coffin Joe alive and well, but his contempt for the cross is higher than ever. So after spending four decades in a sanitarium Zé do Caxão returns to the modern day big city and goes on an abducting rampage with the help of a cult in his honor to spread his seed, while several characters who has ties to his murderous past join forces to kill him once and for all. The first thing I gotta say is, it is so damn weird seeing Coffin Joe in the same regalia walk the streets of modern day Saõ Paulo, it almost slips into fish out of water territory more for the viewer than the story because it's just so out of place though the story continues business as usual. Secondly, whoa dude this may be the most fucked up horror movie I've ever seen. Now I need to state clearly, I haven't seen films like the Saw series or Hostel so the torture scenes presented here are truly horrific and just made my jaw drop, I was sooooo not prepared for any of this! The nudity also skyrockets, you pretty much see everything on multiple women almost straight through to end credits. I mean jeez, this series just gets more hardcore with each entry. Major applause for both the effects artists and performers respectively, this shit is gruesome and the ladies deserve some respect. José Mojica Marins hasn't lost his touch in all this time, and all the trademarks are still present of his character from the violence to the mental freak outs. I'm happy he got to give a definitive end to his character and was able to make the movie he wanted to make without interference. I'm also greatly curious as to what the fanbase is like in Brazil and how much this series has impacted the culture there. Technicals are on a strong foundation, still keeping it's independent style while looking very modern. I'm still kinda floundering here guys, I just wasn't ready to get hit with such a finale to the point where I just don't know what else to talk about. It's a very good movie and albeit far from everyone's taste has it's place in horror history along with the other two films, and I do recommend it if you want something out of your wheelhouse. A lot of horror fans in America in this day and age traverse to foreign countries for their horror films, and I hope I contributed to get South American cinema some more love. Watch this if you're brave enough and get ready for a trip. 3 stars, 7.5/10, with just one more week of reviews before I return to my crypt.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse

Damn. Proper good sequel!

It is almost night and day the difference between all aspects of production from the first and second film. Far from trashing the values of I'll Take Your Soul, I very much liked the almost homebrew production and technicals but I'll Possess Your Corpse is practically overflowing with greater values. A wide and extra filled cast, a worthy and superior continuation of the story, and pretty clean film stock showing off the location and sets. The story goes somehow through a tenative stretch, Zé do Caixão survived his brush with otherworldly spirits and also is acquitted of any potential murder charges as well and settles back into his life still with the goal of becoming a father in his tunnelvision sights. He ups the ante too, instead of hopping from one woman to the next he abducts a group of women at the same time in the worst season of The Bachelor I've ever seen, to pick out the woman just right for him. And the weird thing is it works. Twice. Don't ask me how, I'm as alien on the subject of love as I am an alien on this planet! Seems women are more than happy to throw themselves at him this movie, and in an equal and opposite reaction the townsfolk are forming mobs at every turn to bring Zé to justice. It is far from simple and clean storytelling, I am profoundly eating my words of last review cause this is a kinda complex, scheming, machinating plot that is woven through several characters who all have their goals and personalities, and I gotta admit it worked very well! The film pushes closer to 2 hours and barely wastes a second of it, Marins is always progressing the story and even the identity of Coffin Joe. In less than the first 10 minutes of the film he saves a kid from being run over, his passion for childbirth reaches a fever pitch, he comes to terms with some of his actions and once again is visited by supernatural forces, still despises religion though, and makes a most unexpected character choice right at the end. In the most shocking moment of the film he has a nightmare about literally being dragged to Hell and comes face to face with the torments and landscape of it, and you know I'm not a profoundly religious person but that whole scared straight shit is true, like I promise to be as good of a person as I can be after seeing that damn scene! It's the most outrageous and yet disturbing version of Hell I've ever seen and shot in stark and vibrant color, the rest of the film is classic black & white, which adds even more to the experience of it. And the finale took me severely aback and apparently it wasn't even in the script, Brazil's censor board made Marins change the ending entirely and you'll know exactly what they changed when you see it. Sure you can absolutely show bewbs, the freaky world of Hell itself, and some pretty ruthless deaths, but further sacrilege to the name of Deus? No can do buster. It's the only truly bad thing I can say about the movie and it's no foul on Marin's part! But other than that this is a great sequel honestly! I love it, I have no problem saying it's superior to the first film, and if the first Coffin Joe movie didn't have your full attention and you wanted more from it this is the movie for you. I give it 4 stars, 8/10, and we're doing a biiiig time leap from 1967 to 2008 with the final part of the trilogy.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul

The year is 1964. The place is Brazil. And this is the first horror movie from that country.

Once more Cinemassacre's Monster Madness introduced me to this trilogy of films directed and starring José Mojica Marins as Zé do Caixão or as he's known in the States, Coffin Joe. It's kind of amazing to see a piece of world history like this and it would be the first film I ever saw from either Brazil or South America, and I'm very curious to see where this all goes. The plot is pretty basic involving a small town where our absolutely not protagonist resides Ze who is the resident coffin maker, as we see his cruel and unusually punishing tactics in trying to secure a woman who will birth to him a son to continue his bloodline. That's basically the whole movie, there's not a lot of frills but I don't expect a lot of complex storylines for a horror film and it's effectively discomforting and horrifying. Coffin Joe is a bastard with a capital B, like I haven't encountered a movie villain this heinous and fucked up I think in my life. He murders any opposition to his goal, maims and intimidates the townsfolk to the point where he can do whatever he wants, abuses and rapes women, and has a distinct hatred for religion. You are stuck with this guy the whole movie, and the film far from glorifies Zé but man is it rough to sit through! José plays it so straight almost to the point it doesn't seem like acting because he embodies the part so well, apparently they couldn't find a good fit so he just decided to do it himself so he had his work cut out for him both on and off screen. The cinematogtaphy and editing is extremely simple and yet at the exact same time ambitious, they went for a desired effect and shot even if it wasn't seamless in execution which I actually admire and praise. You'd be surprised how little background information there is for this film, so who knows what brought the idea to mind, what the production was like, hell even the release and legacy are a bit foggy even in today's trivia soaked culture. You'd think for a movie made in 1964 it wouldn't be that shocking and gruesome, even more so considering the part of the world it was made in where censoring was common and wide ranging depending on the film, but it's pretty hardcore in it's potrayal of body mutilation alone then you throw in the abuse and rape and it gets even more extreme though you don't see any nudity. I'm almost convinced the greatest offense taken back then was the sacreligious standing of the main character, a true defining trait that at first I chalked up to atheism because Zé states he has no belief, but then it shows he has great contempt for religion, it's symbols, and considers the followers of the christian religion cowards and fools. The only belief he really has is creating an extension of his bloodline, having children as a sort of quasi-immortality. And I suppose if you wanted to you can give him at least one good point, he sees a father about to strike his son and he intervenes and says no parent should hit their child for they are the continuation of your family and the future of the world, so hey he won't beat his kids but he'll absolutely fuck with their mother any chance he'll get. Ummmm....priorities?? Yeah he's pretty irredeemable. I actually quite like the look of the film, it's fairly low budget and is extremely candid of the environments, it's interesting. It's a pretty rough time trying to find a copy I'll tell you that, the old box set is pricy and the recent giant collected release of all three films is not any better price wise, but if you're a hardcore fan of these movies the new collection by Arrow seems just the ticket. And for everybody else, you can find an acceptable quality video on YouTube. Not too sure how a sequel could come about given the ending but that's what we'll look at tomorrow. I give this 3 stars, 7.5/10!

Friday, October 13, 2023

The Masque Of The Red Death

What a pick for Friday the 13th. Sometimes my genius it''s almost frightening.

A fairly strong point to end the week on as well, I greatly enjoyed this movie. And huzzah, I've actually read the source material on this and while admittedly it is a loose adaptation it gets the gist well enough. Set during the dark ages a cruel and heinous prince named Prospero holds a lengthy and degenerate feast and masque, while the countryside is being plagued by a terrible disease where he takes a young woman named Francesca, her lover Gino, and her father Ludivico for the purposes of "entertainment". They make some big changes though, originally the prince set up the ball to distract from thr horrors of pestilence and disease sealing himself and his court in the castle while here the prince is a straight up satanist and revels in the showing of such impure and fiendish behaviors to the innocent Francesca. Vincent Price is a bastard in this movie, he plays it really well but Prospero is beyond horrible and makes a great villain who essentially is our main character to the end. Jane Asher as Francesca is just a poor girl who gets whisked away and has to keep her faith while Prospero either tries to convert her or sacrifice her, it can be read either way, and you want to see her get the hell out of this damned castle. There's a fairly bigger cast than previous Corman films but I want to give some major love to John Westbrook who plays the eponymous Red Death, the look alone is incredibly simplistic and yet so classic and striking but his voice is outstanding, understanding the value that truly powerful and menacing figures need not even raise their voice. Speaking of striking, the color is unreal in this movie, I'm not sure what the technicals were but they used a good deal of saturation and had no issue using a wide palette. They used the imagery of rooms with various hues, why? Color. They use candles of green and blue, why? Colour. You see many personifications of death in a kaleidoscopic fashion, why? Couleur. It's a spectacle practically of seeing so many extras in various regalia merrymaking, but it doesn't lose it's horror basis. Just seeing acts of cruelty being brushed off as a good or acceptable thing is disturbing enough, throw in devil worship, another weird dream scene bathed in blue, the literal specter of a gruesome and hellish death sweeping across the castle, even if you want to get all philospohical and see the juxtaposition of faith in God against Prospero's belief that war, plague, famine, and death rule the world with no good things to be found and that the belief in God is nothing short of a farce is pretty screwed up man. I almost fully believe this is a tale that could be remade today in all seriousness, maybe not with the backdrop of recent world events but...I'm not saying. I'm just saying. Look at this movie, look at today. Onwards we trek, so production values are surprisingly expansive, acting is solid, story is a classic, and I feel like a complete utter fool for not reviewing these way waaaaay earlier. I give it 4 stars, 9/10! Next week we're getting foreign, ooooh yeah!

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

The Raven

Not a traditional horror film per se, but this has been a favorite of mine and damn it I want to talk about it.

For the longest time this was the only Roger Corman Poe film I saw and I love it so, this ain't no objective film review so hunker down y'all as I spout off some opinions. This is also the loosest adaptation of any work of fiction I have ever seen, how do you make a feature film off of a short poem? The short answer, you don't. The long answer, you center the movie on magic wielding wizards consisting of Vincent Price as Erasmus who aids Peter Lorre as Dr. Bedlo who has been transformed into a raven by Boris Karloff as Dr. Scarabus, but Lorre wants revenge real bad so Vincent accompanies him to Karloff's castle where duels are challenged, dead wives return to life, and humor is peppered throughout. It is a really funny movie to me, that may throw people for a loop when most of the Corman movies of this time period are played straight and serious, but this was an intentional choice of the writers and works nicely. Now you don't get three of the biggest names in horror together in a film and say the acting is bad, Vincent is on a roll in this film from reciting the world famous poem, to the humor, to the magic wielding that would put Doctor Stephen Strange to shame, he's a 20/10. Boris Karloff nearing the end of his career has lost none of his ability, showing a lot of class and charisma while still being a good antagonist, and I'll level with you man the first lines he speaks do nothing but send shivers down my spine in a most eerie way. Peter Lorre while in actuality not as prolific in horror movie history as one might think is a welcome addition, delivering his rapid fire burning insults and wise ass remarks and while he is the lesser of the powers that be in this wizard triumvirate the movie would not be the same without him. For those in the know about Roger Corman's history, to see a very young Jack Nicholson before he got to super stardom is really neat to see even if he doesn't have that big of a role, and you see interviews of him being humbled to the point of tears in thanking Roger giving him a chance to act when no one else would and I have to express a lot of love and gratitude to him as well for getting so many people into movie making. I'm not a book critic by even a microscopic capacity but I recommend you read Corman's book, How I Made A Hundred Movies In Hollywood And Never Lost A Dime. Once again the sets and costuming are most impressive, and the effects while not exactly seamless have a strong charm all of it's own. And now comes the part where I say without a shred of irony or exaggeration, these wizard duels are better than anything Harry Potter ever gave us. No, I'm not kidding. No, I'm not taking it back. Don't @ me bitches! I adore it, there is creativity, humor, and ambition in how they did everything. I'll even push that envelope further and say 4 stars, 10/10! Watch it, buy it, love it. But we got one more to go before the week is out, until next time.

Monday, October 9, 2023

The Fall Of The House Of Usher

This has actually been on the list since it all began.

Several of the Roger Croman movies based on Edgar Allen Poe's works in fact, and this was the first and a pretty damn good one to start with. Now I haven't read the story, in fact it's a goal of mine to read all of Poe's work before the end, but it's an interesting story. A young man named Philip is visiting the estate of the Usher family to wed his fiancee Madeline and quickly is shut down by her brother Roderick, who claims the bloodline of the Usher family is wrought with terrible things and ailments, as Philip tries to escape the crumbling house with his lady friend. Once upon a time while I was still in high school we watched this film for our english class, but being as classes were barely an hour long I never fully saw the film until today and I was immediately loving it from the setting alone. For a film with not that large of a budget, the sets look incredible, the costumes are ornate, the atmosphere is simply to die for, and the use of color was not only a big step up for AIP but incredibly striking. Roger Corman had to convince the studio to give a bigger budget for a color film at that time, and he was an avid reader of the Poe stories since he was a kid so it was as much a passion project as well as a gamble but surprise surprise! This was the first of many movies Roger made from the stories of Poe and it was an immense success! And it's hard not to see why, you have a god tier level horror actor like Vincent Price delivering a very memorable performance, the moody sets and slow burn pace add a foreboding mood to an already foreboding story, the direction is effective, and it was made still during that special time when horror movies could be classic or modern. I don't really know why we don't see more movies like this today in the horror genre, everything has to be modern times or if they do go back it's primarily to the 80s, you never see a horror movie get victorian on your ass anymore and I feel that's a shame. How the movie just shows the house of Usher and the decrepit grounds is just beauty to my eyes, a lot of credit has to go to the set builders and cinematographer on this movie. I need not tell you Vincent Price is excellent in this role, it's a given, but how the character of Roderick genuinely believes there is nothing short of a curse on the family lineage can be felt quite easily and it is a striking performance. Mark Damon is a more conventional leading man but works nicely, Myrna Fahey has a bit more to work with and gets a moment to shine near the end, and Harry Ellerbe is a good ally character to Philip playing the manservant of the house. It's so difficult to describe, but when you watch the movie and you let the ambience and mood just wash over you, you absolutely buy it. Cause you know from the start something is off about the house and the people who live there, but even if you are a horror movie veteran you can't quite pin down what. And what's interesting is you could see this movie from two different angles, through science in terms of psychology as to why Roderick and Madeline are the way they are, or through a sheer supernatural lens and simply chalk it up to a haunted house or curse or whatever. It's an almost baffilingly effective film and it's a giant recommendation from me. It's almost a film that must be seen to be believed. 4 stars, I think I'm gonna give it a 9/10, and we got more Corman goodies to come.

Thursday, October 5, 2023

Dracula (1992)

Yeah I'm pretty happy with this one.

I don't know whether or not the reception of this film has went up or down over the three decades since it's release, but I'm in the camp of liking it a good deal. Easily the most lavishly produced, faithful, and striking adaptation of the story in film, Francis Ford Coppola bet it all on this movie to save his sinking film company with a solid budget of 40 million and pulled in over 200 million when all was said and done, and I can understand why. True the movie leans a bit more into romance than abject horror, but it didn't bother me all that much. The stuff that is creepy, freaky, and just plain horrific had a strong effect on me. Never once in all vampire media have I ever cringed and shirked away from seeing a vampire consume blood, but the razor scene in this movie mm-mmm. No way, that creeped me right the fuck out man, gave me the heebie-jeebies! And the romance while assuredly dramatic I bought into, it strangely worked for me. Only a handful of details I noticed didn't make the jump from page to screen, but all the things that did make it give a lotta brownie points to this film! The production is batshit insane, I cannot believe the visuals in this movie, and to think everything was done in camera with next to zero post production or computer graphics work kinda blows my socks off. The sets, the costumes, the scope of it all, it's almost illegal how grand this movie looks. Star studded cast and I gotta just say real quick oh ho boy this is gonna be sacreligious, Gary Oldman had such a perfect voice and presence for what was required in this role. I know, Bela Lugosi is THE voice, he is friggin' Dracula as long as the world keeps turning. However! Gary got me creeped out, entranced, and invested. The hair at the beginning though, absurd. But I can't change it so I gotta live with it, and everything else was great about him. Winona Ryder as Mina was very nice, and I'm actually happy she has more of a role to play cause in all seriousness Mina and Lucy are barely even there in any adaptation. Anthony Hopkins was riding a high and beautiful wave in the early 90s due to Silence Of The Lambs and I did like him a fair bit, I mean this is the most exotic and foreign Van Helsing I've seen since Edward Van Sloan. Keanu my son, I'm thrilled you have a shining career nowadays and I understand you were burnt the hell out making this, so I will not trash you here but I do feel a different actor would have worked more. I do however wish we got more Cary Elwes, Richard E. Grant, and Billy Campbell as Arthur, Seward, and Quincey respectively cause well I'm a sucker for Cary and Richard, and huzzah Quincey is proper texan and was kinda awesome! I do find it hilarious though they had to cut about 20 minutes of gore effects out though the film was in no danger of getting a higher rating than an R, but they absolutely kept every breastises and charged erotic moment in this movie no problem. I mean I think they were in a moooood making this movie, my God Hammer wasn't this gratuitous and revelling in the sexy aspects, but here? Make sure the kids are in bed or out of the house before flipping this on. Lawd have mercy! Moving swiftly on. I really digged this movie, I loved the lavish design and tone, I was most definitely entertained, I give it 3.5 stars and an 8/10! Next week, it is high past time we pay our respects to the king of low budget pictures with his acclaimed and memorable Poe series.

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Count Dracula (1970)

Big leap ahead to 1970 with another more accurate depiction of the novel.

Now obviously it's not a perfect adaptation, but Jesus Franco delivered a good enough adaptation of Bram Stoker's work. It's an interesting example of cinema, and I'll freely admit this is my first Jesus Franco film and the style is unique to me but also gives the film it's own personal feel. So we start off with Jonathan Harker making his way to the Borgo Pass to convene with the Count over the purchase of property in London, and it follows the book fairly well for that first section, hell it gets a giant gold sticky star for being the only adaptation of Dracula that fits the description of the count in the book, but this being a barely over 90 minute movie we move swiftly on to London as we are introduced to the rest of the characters. Jonathan's fiancee Mina, her best friend Lucy, Dr. John Seward residing physician at a mental hospital, Quincey Morris the love interest of Lucy, and Dr. Abraham Van Helsing. We're still following the no frills outline of the book and keep a steady pace, and not to go into the depths of detail and spoilers because you know this story, so let's talk about some details instead. I appreciate it being a period piece and the look of the movie while minimalistic works very well! The camera is the most interesting factor, you get a lot of handheld stuff, so many zooms it would be a dangerous drinking game, and panning shots which shows off the full scope of the sets and location. I've heard conflicting opinions on whether this was shot in Franco's native country of Spain or in Italy, but either way the castle, the classy interiors, and the distinctly old fashioned yet creepy exteriors look lovely. Easily, far and away, hands down, best Christopher Lee performance as Dracula, I was so taken aback by the amount of dialogue he had because it's a well known fact he refused to speak the dialogue in subsequent Hammer films, and it makes a world of difference. Speaking of Hammer, Herbert Lom is Van Helsing in this and it took me a good bit before I realized it was The Phantom Of The Opera before he got scarred by acid, a very serious and well spoken iteration of the character but not much else. I feel like an ass when I say stuff like this but...if Quincey Morris ain't texan then he ain't Quincey Morris, now am I saying I need this thick kountree accent or more southern idioms than you can shake a stick at? No sirree, but goddamn it that would tickle me pink and put a huge smile on my face because he is easily my favorite character in the entire book. Not to even slightly say the cast didn't do fine work, they did all the way through. It's not one of the most examplary versions of this classic literary character, but if you're a fan of vampire movies or more foreign-y films or movies of an older caliber it is worth seeing. They made a solid attempt at bringing the book to life, and did it in an interesting and entertaining way. So it's definitely a good movie, and if you don't want to take my word for it Christopher Lee himself said it was a fine effort. I give it 3 stars, 7/10, and Coppola's Dracula is next.

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Dracula [Espãnol]

It feels like home again.

Wow, wow, wow let me tell you! I have heard about this for some time but seeing it for the first time I feel like a fool for not seeing it sooner. Now you may be wondering exactly what it is I'm reviewing here, well in short Universal Studios shot two versions of the 1931 classic Dracula, one for english and one for spanish speaking audiences. They used the same basic script but made changes here and there, the same sets, the same costumes, and the spanish crew shot during the night while the Lugosi version shot during the day. It is such a fascinating experience to watch this, because I've seen the Bela Lugosi version countless times since I was about 8 years old, I know that movie super well, so to see something oh so similar and yet very different the only way I can explain it is like if they remade the movie, not shot for shot, but did an even better job than the original! It was almost a game to see what elements they kept and what they changed. Yeah I am firmly in the crowd of the spanish version being superior to the vastly more famous version, but it might be hard for me to articulate why. The one big element that blindsided me was the fact that this movie pushes an hour and forty-five minutes for the runtime while the Lugosi version is an hour and fifteen minutes long, so you get a movie that takes it's time and has more room for slower moments, character moments, and flat out stuff that was not in the english version. In fact I was profoundly impressed with how much material from the book was presented, it makes the Lugosi version look so truncated and abridged in comparison. The movie is a bit more hardcore too, you barely see a damn thing in the english version and while that has it's own scary effect, you see the bite marks, you hear not one but two stakings, and not to sound piggish or anything but Lupita Tovar's dress is significantly more revealing than Helen Chandler's. I know Americans are kinda prudish and certainly during that time especially, but the spanish audience does not screw about and God bless them for it. I greatly loved the performances given here as well, Carlos Villarías is a very very good Dracula obviously making the role his own, but the way he carries himself and the facial acting gives a different edge to this Dracula, with Lugosi it's a creepy smile and careful lighting around the eyes but with Villarías he looks like he's about to tear people limb from limb and feast. Eduardo Arozamena as Professor Van Helsing I saw a good bit of Edward Van Sloan in, and he had a great presence with a strong worldy knowledge for our vampire hunter so a lot of love there. Lupita Tovar I actually got to see before the film, they had this short little interview probably shot in the 90s as she discussed her time making the picture and you could tell she had a lot of love and appreciation for the role, and she does damn good, truly stunning too I mean holy cow, the Count has very fine taste in ladies for sure. Pablo Alvarez Rubio as Renfield, good God I didn't think you could outcrazy Dwight Frye but the man is unhinged in this movie and I love every second of it, nothing but a glowing review of his talents from me. Even Barry Norton as Juan I felt was way better than David Manners' John, never to put down David's performance but he was just a teeny bit of a little bitch in Tod Browning's film but here he seems much more the unshakable heroic leading man. Again it's not the easiest thing to expound upon my points but if you have a back to back comparison viewing the results are as clear as daylight, hell if you watched this and Dracula's Daughter as a sort of introduction to golden age vampire films you'd have a grand time. I know I would! It is fully worth your time seeing if you're any fan of the Universal Monsters, Dracula, or horror films in general. I'm just so happy to be back if even for just a moment in time writing reviews again like I used to, but even more so now that I've seen this slice of cinema. Big time 4 stars, 8.5/10! And our business with Count Dracula is far from over and I will see you next time with a Christopher Lee Dracula film we haven't touched on yet.