Friday, February 26, 2010

Jack the Ripper 1976

I am really on the fence about Jesus Franco. Jack the Ripper from 1976 is the third Franco film I have watched (the other two being Vampyros Lesbos: boring as hell except for the AWESOME score, and Marquis de Sade's Justine, also boring as hell except for Klaus Kinski as a lunatic Sade. I don't know that hell is really that boring. There are probably quite a lot of interesting people there. Who am I to judge?)

Jack the Ripper stars Mr. Awesome himself, Klaus Kinski, guessed it: Jack the Ripper. He is a Doctor with some mommy issues. Quite a few men have mommy issues. Some deal with those issues by drinking too much or overeating. This one deals with his by cutting off women's breasts and necrophilia. As much as you would THINK I would love this film I am sad to say I found it rather boring. None of this is Kinski's fault. He is awesome. He tries to control his rage...he is so wound up you could put coal up his ass and in a week you would have a diamond (thank you Ferris.) When he lets the dark side take over: you better watch it. He is scary, sexy, and totally believable as the Victorian monster. Zurich makes a convincing London, the cinematography is amazing, and the score is wonderful. Franco's muse, Lina Romay, is great as one of the Ripper's last victims. But it still bored me. Is it Franco's pacing? Am I expecting too much? I don't know. I have quite a few of his films on my Netflix queue. I am not giving up yet. In the meantime, enjoy these pictures of Klaus Kinski.....

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Nightmare on Elm Street-new trailer

Alright, it looks better than the Friday the 13th reboot. Worse than the Hills have Eyes remake. Much better than The Stepfather redo, not nearly as good as The Crazies re-imagining. On par with The Wolfman update, nowhere near as good as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre ....I have run out of words. It looks ok, I will go see it-I love Jackie Earl Haley. I even almost watched that new show on Fox because he was in it. Almost.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Black Room: Boris Karloff does the Parent Trap

Let me just start this post by saying that one day, when I have my own spooky castle, I want it to have a Black Onyx Room with a Pit. I am not asking for much. And no, I am not scared of some spooky curse that says I will kill my twin brother in that pit. I don't have a twin brother. So all is well and good.
Unfortunately Boris Karloff had a twin brother in 1935's The Black Room, a little piece of awesomeness courtesy of Columbia Pictures. Karloff plays duel roles: twin brothers Gregor and Anton Bergmann. The elder brother, Gregor, is Baron of some "Transylvania" type village in some Eastern country. Gregor and Anton grew up under the shadow of the family curse. See, the Bergmann family was started by twins, the younger of which killed the elder in what is known as "the Black Room." Family lore states that the bloodline will end with twins, who will meet the same fate. Anton, the younger, leaves the ancestral homeland, haunted by the curse. Gregor stays, and becomes a despotic ruler and suspected mass murderer. Anton returns when Gregor summons him, and finds angry villagers ready to "storm the castle." See, they know that Gregor is killing the women of the village. Anton refuses to believe it, but accepts Gregor's offer of the Baron ship to appease the villagers. Before you can say "twisted twin entrapment" Gregor murders Anton (in the Black Room) and assumes his identity. See, Anton had a paralyzed right arm, and Gregor reasons that if he pretends to have the paralyzed arm, and gets rid of his signature lisp, he will pass as Anton and the villagers will love him. Plus, he will be able to marry Thea, the beautiful village woman that he covets....

Anton, before he dies in the Pit, vows that the prophecy will come true. He will kill Gregor in the Black Room, one way or the other. Gregor, disguised as Anton, kills a few more people and wrangles Thea into marrying him before he is discovered. The ending is priceless. I won't give it away, but let me just say, you can't fool a dog...

The Black Room is a gem. Directed by Roy William Neill, best known for a number of Rathbone Holmes films, The Black Room has style and substance. Karloff is amazing, playing both good and very, very evil. His performance of Gregor pretending to be Anton is incredible. He gets the characterization down just so much, but not enough to fool everybody. Add to that creepy twins, Gothic castles, angry villagers, lots and lots of murder--and you have a "Universal-esque" treat. Visit The Black Room-you won't be sorry.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

It's only a movie.....

Last House on the Left. 1972. Far superior to the recent remake. I love you Stephen King but I am conflicted over your love of the recent remake. Not only did he fawn all over it in Entertainment Weekly, but also in no less of an institution as Fangoria. And I just didn't get it. I wondered if I had seen a different film. King went on and on how "powerful" the remake was. In my humble opinion, it was a soulless, pointless remake that had none of the power of the original. And the ending was so tacked on I wondered if the film makers were drunk while putting it together. It was as crappy as the Friday the 13th remake--and that's crappy.

Of course I may be biased. I love the original. It is one of the first films I can remember seeing. Now I don't know if I should blame my parents or sisters for this, I can't remember the circumstances, but I do know I saw it at an early age. And it didn't "scare" me so much as disturb me. Partly because of the music, which sounded like something out of a "Scooby Doo" cartoon. Thank you, David Hess. Not only did you freak me out by your portrayal of Krug, but your super funky groovy tunes will always have a very disturbing association for me. You and Davy Jones scare the shit out me.

I recently re-watched Last House on the Left. The violence is shocking. The torture is horrible. The revenge is sweet. Much sweeter than the lame ass remake I subjected myself to last year (sorry Mr. King--it sucked.) What struck me about the film watching it as an adult is how damn funny it is. For all the wrong reasons. The "bad guys" are not only child molesters and dog killers, but they also murdered priests and nuns! The parents are upper class twits who have a conversation with their daughter about wearing a bra. Then they give her a "Peace" necklace to wear. The two girls get drunk in the forest and then end up in the city looking to score weed. The cops are complete morons who are only there for (very uncomfortable) comic relief. This is what we are missing in modern torture porn films! Bumbling comic relief!! Where are the Laurel and Hardy of the Saw films? Where was the "Who's on first?" in Martyrs? On second thought, maybe we are better off without it.

A while ago I watched The Virgin Spring, the Ingmar Bergman film on which Wes Craven based Last House on the Left. Both films are very powerful in their own right. If you are ever having a dark and stormy night and want to explore some dark places in the soul, I would highly recommend this as a double feature.
Here is the poem (translated from the original Swedish) that both films are based on. Enjoy!!

Pehr Tyrsson's daughters in Vänge
Their forest was cold
They slept a sleep too long
While the leaves appear on the trees
The youngest one woke up first
Their forest...
And so she woke up the others.
While the leaves...
Then they sat up on their beds.
So they braided each other's locks.
So they put on their silken clothes.
So they went to the church.
But when they came to the pastures of Vänge
They met three herdsmen
- Either you will be the wives of herdsmen
Or would you lose your young lives?
- We do not want to be the wives of herdsmen.
We would rather lose our young lives.
They cut off their heads on a log of birch.
And so three wells appeared.
The bodies were buried in the mud.
The clothes were carried to the village.
When they came to the estate of Vänge,
Lady Karin met them outdoors
-And would you buy silken robes
That nine maidens have knitted and stitched?
Untie your sacks and let me see,
Maybe I will know all three of them
Lady Karin beat herself on the chest,
She went up to Pehr Tyreson
- There are three herdsmen on our courtyard,
They have slain our daughters.
Pehr Tyrsson grasped his sword,
He slew the two eldest ones.
The third one he let live
Until he could ask him:
- What is your father's name?
What is your mother's name?
- Our father is Pehr Tyrsson in Vänge;
Our mother is Lady Karin in Skränge
Per Tyrson goes to the smithy
He had iron crafted around his waist
- What shall we do for our sins?
- We shall build a church of lime and stone.
- The church will be named Kerna
We are fain to build it.

On a non-horror side note, as I am writing this I am listening to Nina Simone. Today is her birthday. Thank you Ms. Simone for making life so much sweeter....

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Happy Birthday Richard Matheson

Thank you for I am Legend and all of the nightmares.........

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

An American Werewolf in London

To prepare for The Wolfman I have been immersing myself in all things wolfie. So I revisited An American Werewolf in London, which I haven't seen in about 15 years. The first time I saw this was as a kid (of course) and it scared the shit out of me...

Not because of the still awesome transformation scenes or the gore or the chases or any of that nonsense.

It was Jack, played by Griffin Dunne, who scared me and gave me nightmares I can still remember! The idea of the bloody, decaying corpse of your best friend stalking you and telling you to kill yourself gave me the heebie jeebies. Still does. This is a very strange movie in many ways. It is funny, as you would expect from John Landis. It is gory, as a Werewolf movie should be. It also has so many surreal touches, such as the dream sequence involving Nazi inbred cannibal people (what the fuck?) and the extended porno theatre setting. In fact, David meeting his victims in the porno is one of my favorite scenes, and may have made me scared to go to the movies for a while as a child (of course, my parents were not taking me to pornos, but they did take me to see films like Reds and Yentl which bored the shit out of me and probably led to my overactive imagination. I actually once threw a fit in the theater because I was convinced Zombies were going to come get us. My mom had to take me out of there. It got me out of seeing Fiddler on the Roof.)
Now enjoy David Naughton singing "Makin it!"

He was either the worst lip syncher in the world or this is a terrible dub.

The Wolfman has Daddy issues...

Sorry I haven't written in so long. I've had Olympic Fever!! Not really, haven't watched a second of it. Been working my ass off. I did manage to drag said ass to the theatre to see The Wolfman. I took my Father who is a Wolfman fanatic (he said it scared the shit out of him as a kid. After seeing it in at the movies -the original Chaney Jr version- he slept under his bed, convinced the Wolfman was going to get him.)

This version follows the original up to a point. Benicio Del Toro plays Lawrence Talbot, an actor who returns to his Father's house (Gothic manor) in England after the disappearance of his Brother. When he arrives his Father, played by Anthony Hopkins, informs him that his Brother is dead, his body found mutilated by the side of the road. Lawrence vows to his Brother's fiancee, Gwen, played by Emily Blunt, that he will find out what killed him. Rumors in the small village point to a group of travelling Gypsies who are camping out in the forest. Lawrence visits the gypsies to get some answers, but he gets a whole lot more than he bargained for when he is attacked and bitten by what appears to be a wolf. As you can imagine things begin to go downhill for poor Larry at this point.

The setting has been changed from the original. We are now in Victorian England, around the same time as the Jack the Ripper murders. In fact, one of the lead Scotland Yard investigators on that case, Abberline (played by the always awesome Hugo Weaving) is sent to investigate the grisly murders that are plaguing this small town. His first suspect is Lawrence, seeing as how only a "Madman" could have committed these crimes. Not only is Lawrence an actor, but he spent time in an asylum as a child after witnessing the death of his Mother. After Lawrence is arrested and thrown back into the asylum, it doesn't take long for Abberline to realize that Larry is no simple Madman.
Benicio Del Toro is great as the cursed Lawrence Talbot. During the first half of the film I kept thinking about how much he reminded me of Lon Chaney Jr. Not only does he have the bulk and size of Chaney, but he also has the same sad eyes and baby face that helps make this character so sympathetic. Emily Blunt also is wonderful as Gwen, who falls in love with Larry even though she knows he could kill her. Anthony Hopkins is Anthony Hopkins. What can you say? The twist involving his character should come as no big surprise but I didn't guess it until the big reveal. I was too busy getting lost in the creepy manor, the foggy forest, the decrepit ruins. Yes, this film was a feast for this Gothic horror loving gal.
Besides the awesome set design and excellent acting, the score and gore both astound. This film sounded wonderful (I guess Elfman came back after all) and there is a lot of actual "howling" which made me very happy. And the film earns it's R rating without being overly excessive. Now, I must stop gushing. The film wasn't perfect by any means. The use of CGI during the rooftop scenes is a little shitty. But I am thankful that the transformation scenes were not ALL CGI (thank you Rick Baker!) The actual Wolfman makeup resembles the original Jack Pierce design just enough to be a loving tribute.
So I am happy. Worth the wait and not a disappointment. Now I can get all worked up over Shutter Island and The Crazies, the next to films I am dying to see...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy V-Day!

Sorry it has been so long since a real post.....Valentine's day is a very busy time in my biz..but coming up soon: reviews of The Wolfman and more! In the meantime, enjoy my second favorite comic in the whole world..Brewster Rockit: Space Guy! Check him out at I like the Alien valentine the best.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Happy Birthday Lon Chaney Jr!

You handsome devil! Check out Chaney singing in the following video. Awesome! I had never heard this before....

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Happy Birthday Charles Dickens

I have no idea what this video has to do with you Charles Dickens, but I liked it. If this is what goes on I am heading to the next Dickens Christmas Fair...

Friday, February 5, 2010

Horror Rises from the Tomb 1972

Alright, I get. Paul Naschy is the MAN. This is only the 2nd or 3rd Naschy film I have watched. I have not seen any of his Werewolf films, an oversight that I will soon remedy. Horror Rises from the Tomb was recommended to me as a good Naschy primer. It is a film that truly has everything: Witches, executions, murder, crumbling castles, crypts, decapitations, naked women, naked Naschy (just glimpsed), gore, men in turtlenecks, Werewolves and Vampires (mentioned but not seen), cannibalism, and, I think, necrophilia (implied.)

What, may I ask you, is not to like. Before I get into the film itself, may I just say that Naschy looks a lot like Marlon Brando. For some reason I kept thinking of Brando circa Superman.

He also looks a hell of a lot like John Belushi. Check it out...

They could have been brothers.

Naschy plays multiple roles in this film (he also wrote the screenplay.) At the start of the film he is an evil warlock, who does nasty things like turning into a wolf and vampire and eating babies (not shown on film.) He and his girlfriend (the witch) are executed by his OWN brother (harsh.) The Warlock (named Alaric de Marnac) cursed the descendants of his executioners before his head is chopped off. The executioners have the good sense to bury the head away from the that his soul can never return.

Cut to present day (1972) Paris. Hugo de Marnac (the descendant, also played by Naschy) is livin the good life, walking around in turtlenecks and seducing the ladies. One night, he and his friends go to a seance. Marnac is a non-believer, but he can't help but be intrigued when the medium tells him the final resting place of the Warlock's head. Marnac hightails it out to the family estate with his buddy and two hot chicks. On the way they encounter French Hillbilly Mountain Justice and Naschy gets to play action hero. Long story short they get stuck at the estate, find the head, reunite it with it's body, raise the dead, piss off the villagers, and get killed. I mean EVERYBODY gets killed in this film. One person survives, and it is not who you think. There are also Zombies (see above picture.) And lots and lots of nudity...

My god he looks like John Belushi. And Stuart Townsend. But neither of those guys could hold a candle to Naschy. He is short, stocky, kind of weird looking, and totally hot. Really, he has such a swagger he makes all the ladies swoon. I am looking forward to watching more Naschy films. If you haven't already, I can't recommend Horror Rises from the Tomb enough. Much like Black Sunday (which this film reminded me very much of) Horror has just about everything you could ever want in a genre film.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Happy Birthday George!!

Happy Birthday today to George Romero! I really do adore this man!! Thank you for all of the nightmares........

Monday, February 1, 2010

SNL Horror parody

One of the writers on SNL is a Horror fan. Check out this loving tribute to the "curse" genre and The Lost Boys. Yeah, I remember the sweaty saxophone player from The Lost Boys....