CATACOMB OF TERROR
2007. Directed by Paddy Breathnach
Being a fungal enthusiast and a horror film nut it would be tantamount to blasphemy if I didn't check this film out. So I did and this is my take on matters.
It is a poor do indeed and something similar to Deliverance meets The Blair Witch Project. These indeed are two good films but here we have a creation that bumbles along with a shabby storyline that just goes through the typical routine. The acting is average with the lead guy barely understandable thanks to a frustrating hybrid of an accent I know from where not! At the halfway mark you will be checking how long is left and the cop out twist at the end does little to save the show.
A very disappointing effort that could have been so much better. The irritating banter between the attitude ridden youth lacks creativity and so despite one or two semi-scary snippets I would recommend as one to take or leave.
IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE
1953. Directed by Jack Arnold
Viewing this after so many childhood encounters the story does now seem a little thin on the ground. Nevertheless this is a very enjoyable Sci-Fi romp that embraces an era when saucers and aliens were very much at the fore of everyone’s mind. The paranoia of the times must have helped the success of this picture no end and the almost innovative 3D of the time still holds up today.
Amateur astronomer John Putnam (Richard Carlson) sees what he deems to be a meteorite crash to earth whilst moping around at his new house which he shares with his girlfriend Ellen Fields (Barbara Rush). With friend Pete (Dave Willock) they investigate whereupon Putnam goes down into the crater a discovers a flying vessel which gets covered by a landslide before the others can see it. No one believes Johns story and he becomes somewhat of a laughing stock, that is until a few townsfolk start to act rather oddly.
This is old hat stuff but at the time must have been quite mesmerising. Take it for what it is and thoroughly enjoy. The acting is adequate, the pace and length well judges and the effects nicely dealt with. When the humans are taken over the acting is worth its weight in gold ha, ha and you just can't help but love these movies. A minor classic in a not-forgotten time.
SON OF DRACULA
1943. Directed by Robert Siodmak
A real poor effort from the Universal Studios that has Dracula's son played quite unconvincingly by Lon Chaney Jr.
The plot is original enough with recent heiress Katherine Calder (Louise Allbritain) inviting the mysterious Count Alucard (bet you can't guess who that is) to her homeland and thus dating him to gain eternal life which she hopes to spread to her actual non-vampiric boyfriend Frank Stanley (Robert Paige). After gaining the gift of vampirism Katherine then persuades Frank to kill Alucard. The rest of the tale unfolds with stuttering effect. Hopefully I can be forgiven here for wanting more but it is Universal we are talking and one does have great expectations. The scenery and moods are worth the viewing but the whole tale seems rushed and lacking any real depth to the characters.
The story had potential but whether it be down to disinterest or a lack of budget you feel as though the whole composition was made up with the intention of just squeezing out a few swift bucks on the back of previous successes. Maybe many will disagree but for me not one of the best in the series.
1932. Directed by Karl Freund
A very atmospheric film that pleases in all parts except that it does have a lack of actual 'mummy' footage. Nevertheless the film overcomes this minor flaw by giving us a decent story to get involved with and by showcasing Karloff in another winning role.
The tale begins with the discovery of the tomb of Im-Ho-Tep (Boris Karloff), an ancient Egyptian prince who was buried alive after trying to bring back to life his lover, Princess Ank-es-en-Amon (Zita Johan). Found in the tomb also is the Scroll of Thoth which can bring the dead back to life. Whilst alone one member of the archaeological party reads the scroll aloud and unbeknownst to him reawakens the mummified dead body of Im-Ho-Tep. The Mummy takes the scroll, the young archaeologist cracks and we move on 10 years in time. Im-Ho-Tep now walks the earth as aged Egyptian Ardath Bay, who now rediscovers his lost love reincarnated as Helen Grosvenor, once again played by Zita Johan. Sir Joseph Whemple (Arthur Byron) who led the original tour now has a son Frank (David Manners) who is in love with Helen and so fights to save her from a dire end.
The pace of this film is stunningly slow but really does add to the unique ambience. The tall skeletal figure of Karloff is laden with silent menace and Jack Arnold once again has come up trumps with some subtly effective make-up. A Universal original is temptation enough and in its own right this is a very solid film.
THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON
1954. Directed by Jack Arnold
Imagine swimming free in an idyllic lagoon only to be disturbed by a bunch of scientific hair-brains who are hell-bent on proving your existence for their own ends. Disappointing to say the least but that, in truth, is the sole plot of this film. Throw in a few ecological messages and you get the flow of the creature current.
A fishy claw is discovered up the Amazon River by an initial research team of scientists and ichthyologists which, in turn, leads to a second visit led by a money and fame orientated Dr Mark Williams (Richard Dennings). Williams wants the creature taken by any means necessary but his understudy Dr David Reed (Richard Carlson) has more respect for the creature and its environment and is happy to take just photographic evidence. Add to the mix the attractive Kay Lawrence (Julia Adams) who is the current partner of Reed, but is fancied by Williams and is more than admired by the Creature, and you have some fascinating interaction.
Another masterpiece creation from Universal and one of the original fearsome five. The location for this is ideal and the underwater shots almost poetical. The test of time is passed with ease and this is truly an inspiring piece from a great director.
1933. Directed by T. Hayes Hunter
Professor Morlant (Boris Karloff) is dying and having embraced an ancient Egyptian religion believes the power to eternal living lies within a sacred jewel stolen from a faraway tomb. To live after death the jewel must be buried with Karloff and to do this he places his trust in his dubious servant Laing (Ernest Thesiger). Karloff dies and is entombed but Laing hides the jewel which also attracts the attention of twisted Arab Aga Ben Dragore (Harold Huth) and sidekick Mahmoud (D A Clarke-Smith), Morlants lawyer Broughton (Cedric Hardwicke), a parson named Nigel Hartley (Ralph Richardson) and the token couple, in this case disagreeing cousins called Ralph Morlant (Anthony Bushell) and Betty Harlon (Dorothy Hyson). Add to this lot Betty's comedic room-mate Kaney (Kathleen Harrison) and several right old mix and match routines are thrown our way. Morlant who before his death warns to destroy anyone who interferes with his journey to the afterlife dutifully returns and sets about killing all in his path. The plot unfolds and one has to really concentrate to keep up with all the deviant characters.
This film needs more than one viewing to fully appreciate and really is better than the first impressions it gives. There is plenty of atmosphere, some great camera work and a plot to hold attention. The acting maybe a trifle straight in places but this is not a bad effort and worthy of a place in your own film archives.
THE VAMPIRE LOVERS
1970. Directed by Roy Ward Baker
If you are frustrated with no access to any real titilation and have an inkling for a bit of horror then this piece of retro vampiric hokum will suit you down to the ground. One can almost feel the relaxation of certain censorship laws as this peephole product exposes flesh here and there in total pointless fashion.
Ingrid Tit, ooops I mean Pitt, stars as hungry-lesbo vampire Mircalla Karnstein aka Carmilla aka Marcilla who is on the look out for young nubile lasses to suck clean of blood. The story opens when General Von Spielsdorf (Peter Cuishing) accepts the young blood-sucking lady as a house guest after her mother The Countess (Dawn Addams) is called away to visit a sick relative. After feeding on the Generals daughter Laura (Pippa Steele) there is still little suspicion despite rumours in the village after several other killings and the disappearance of Marcilla.
Circumstance conspires and leads to Marcilla (now Carmilla) staying at the home of Roger Morton (George Cole) and a Governess called Mme Perrodot (Kate O' Mara) whose student Emma Morton (Madelaine Smith) soon bares all and becomes the next victim. A connection is made by a local worker Carl (Jon Finch) who was also Laura's ex-boyfriend and the final hunt begins.
This film always left good memories and all these years later never really lives up to them. Maybe when I was younger the flesh fest satisfied less non-crittical areas and so held my attention and gained my innocent seal of approval. The main flaw is that there isn't enough Cushing and that is a very grave mistake. Other than that it is just another Vampire romp but still worthy of your time.
FIEND WITHOUT A FACE
1958. Directed by Arthur Crabtree
Professor Walgate (Kynaston Reeves) has been dabbling in the world of telekinetic power and enhancing his powers by using energy from a nearby nuclear power plant. His experiments it seems have gone awry and a connection is made between the Prof's misdemeanours and some local killings that involved the victims having their brains and spinal columns completely sucked out. Never fear though because Major Cummings (Marshall Thompson) is on the case and things can only end with positive results. To maintain a low budget in this film the creatures responsible for the killings remain invisible and so confound our hero so much so that he needs female interest to pass the time. Not until the last 10 minutes or so do we see what Professor Walgate has unwittingly unleashed into the world - and what a shock it is (tongue firmly in cheek here)..
Kim Parker plays Barbara Griselle who is the token lady in the mix and thus rounds off what is a very orthodox 1950's radioactive induced sci-fi thriller. I do like this one though and although wouldn't rate it as a classic would recommend you pick it up if you can find it going cheap. There are hundreds of films in a similar vain but I still do find myself seeking them out and staring on with expectant eyes. There must be a name for this addiction!
THIS ISLAND EARTH
1955. Directed by Joseph M. Newman
The planet Metaluna is in trouble against the persistent attacks of the Zagons. Under the instructions of the The Metalunan Monitor (Douglas Spencer) a scientist named Exeter (Jeff Morrow) and his cronies take up residence on Earth at a secret lab in Georgia, USA. The reason they are here is to gather the worlds best scientists to help them create a new energy source in their fight against the Zagons. Enter Dr Cal Meacham (Rex Reason) who is invited to join the select group after contacting Exeter on a DIY interocitor kit. Meacham arrives at the centre and is, to say the very least, unconvinced by what he sees. Add to this a frosty shoulder by fellow scientist, and old flame Dr Ruth Adams (Faith Domergue) and Meacham really sets out to truly uncover what is actually going on.
This film is luridly shot and the colour is so intense as to leave quite an impression. The story is quite adequate and all players fall into place within the plot. The effects are far from stunning but there is an almost cult-ish feel to all that transpires and one can't help regarding this as a fair film. Worth watching for some effective imagery and of course the particularly inventive Mutant. Sci-Fi nuts will gush over this and regard it as a real choice film from a golden era and in truth, who am I to argue.
CHILDREN OF THE CORN
1984. Directed by Fritz Kiersch
An odd film this that has many weird moments but ends on somewhat of a bum note and thus lets down the hand of Stephen King on whose short story this whole escapade is based.
Lovey-dovey couple Burt (Peter Horton) and Vicky (Linda Hamilton) are heading for pastures new as Burt has a new job to tackle. On the labarious roads through mid-western cornfields the couple hit a young boy whom it seems has already had his throat cut. Eventually the couple end up in a Nebraskan town called Gatlin whereupon they discover that no adults are present and a sinsister cult of children are ruling the roost. Thier leader Isaac (John Franklin) is a real sinister young man and his chief assistant Malachi (Courtney Gains) very much a lad in need of some intense self-abuse.
The film has many choice moments and gory killing scenes and holds attention well until the pitiful finale. The insidious intent deflates rapidly and we are left with a sour taste rather than a sweet memory of a scary film. Worth checking out but I think many will agree with my final verdict.