CATACOMB OF TERROR
 

SON OF FRANKENSTEIN

1939. Directed by Rowland V. Lee

In this 3rd installment in the Universal series of Frankenstein films we join Wolf Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone), and his wife Elsa (Josephine Hutchinson) and son Peter (Donnie Dunagan), as he returns to his fathers estate to claim his inheritance.  He is given a rather frosty reception by the unsettled locals and despite showing an intitial indifference to any interest in his fathers monster-based shenanigans it is not before long his mind is on the route of creating life.  Upon exploring his fathers old labratory he comes across the gnarled and unhinged figure of the blacksmith Ygor (Bela Lugosi) who lives a lonely existence after being hanged and pronounced dead by the local courts.  It transpires however that Ygor is not alone and he shows Wolf just who has been keeping him company.
 
The plot is quite intriguing albeit a little predictable but there are some cracking individual characters and performances.   Krogh (Lionel Atwill) is a superb creation and his whole mannerism and dedicated approach is absorbing to say the least.  The classic quote of 'One does not forget, Herr Baron, an arm torn out by the roots.' is one of the classics of this choice film.  Rathbone is efficiently effective and Lugosi drips with malevolent menace as a much maligned and vengeful outsider.
 
Some of the expressionist sets loom large and seem in opposition to one another especially the Frankensteins home compared to the lab scenes.  Shadows are used to perfection and the blasted landscapes are traditional formula but a winning one at that.
 
A good entertaining film that may not achieve the chilling heights of its two predecessors but is a thoroughly worthwhile watch nonetheless.

   

THE WOLFMAN

1940. Directed by George Waggner

A Universal classic and still the best werewolf movie around. An abundance of stars contribute to a great film with an atmosphere second to none.

The story revolves around Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr) and his arrival at his fathers, John Talbot (Claude Raines) estate after the death of his brother. After meeting a local girl Gwen (Evelyn Ankers) they make a date and along with the girls friend, Jenny, visit some travelling gypsies to have their fortunes told. Unbeknown to the trio the fortune-teller (Bela Lugosi) is a werewolf and later attacks Jenny (Fay Helm) whereupon Talbot tries to rescue her but gets bitten in the process.

Talbot becomes a werewolf and the usual problems ensue with some purely mouth watering moments along the way. Lugosi's wife (Maria Ouspenskaya) makes a sinister gypsy and her utterances of 'Even a man who is pure at heart, and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright' are simply unforgettable.

The imagery and acting contribute to a first rate film with several lesser sequals and without doubt a must for anyone and everyone. The effects are now dated but still do the business and thier simplicity adds to the films authenticity and character. A solid cast with a solid story from the studio that was simply gifted in producing horror epics - what more could one want?

 

SLEEPSTALKER

1995. Directed by Turi Meyer

The Sandman cometh in the form of abused child now turned adult who kills the parents and families with seven year old boys in search of his long lost brother.  The murder scenes are mild compared to some more gory productions but there are some nice touches along the way that just about hold the viewers interest.  There is many a fine cliché here and several scenes seem remarkably familiar.  The bad guy seems to be trying to hard to be unsettling and so loses some of his horror potential but he his slick enough to be just about believable.  The killer pursues teenager is overdone and something really special needs throwing in the mix to make a film stand out and here it sadly fails.   Still not as bad as it seems and very well worth an outing just for the odd special effect here and there.

 

PSYCHOMANIA

1971. Directed by Don Sharp

Cyclemania seems more apt as this is a story of a gang of Hells Angels who go under the name of The Living Dead. Their leader Tom (Nicky Henson) learns that if he commits suicide and really believes he will return from the dead he will be re-born. He carries this belief out and then persuades the rest of the gang to follow suit with hit and miss success. They terrorise the small town in which they live but all doesn't go as planned.

For me a movie that when under strict scrutiny can only be classed as bilge. However it's an entertaining sort of bilge and well worth a watch due to it being the epitome of an era when low budget films as this were more than common. Also a few 'faces' appear and are well worth looking out for. Not worth buying as it does the TV rounds fairly regularly.

 

 

DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE

1968. Directed by Freddie Francis

A year has passed since Dracula was defeated last and local villagers still live in fear. A Monsignor Ernest Mueller (Rupert Davies) exorcises Dracula's castle so as to persuade his local flock to start attending church again and turn the local priest (Ewan Hooper) away from his heavy drinking and get him back to preaching. After the exorcism is performed the priest who has escorted the Monsignor falls and comes across a frozen Dracula (Christopher Lee). The cracking of the ice and blood from the priests cut head combine to re-awaken the dreaded vampire and the plot unfolds. Dracula's revenge is set against the Monsignor's niece (Veronica Carlson) and he controls and uses the priest to get his wicked way.

A sub-plot involving the neice and lover Paul (Barry Andrews) works well alongside the main story and the film, despite being nothing new in the vampire line, is still a darn fine watch. The 3rd in the Lee/Dracula series it is typical in its approach with the usual sexual overtones and charming characters plus a great finale with the accursed vampire bowing out in fine style. A real cracker.

 

DRACULA - PRINCE OF DARKNESS

1966. Directed by Terence Fisher

The second outing for the infamous Count with 4 travellers drawn into his web of fear after being abandoned by a local coachman in the town of Carlstad. They enter the nearby castle and are welcomed by servant Klove (Phillip Latham), Dracula's willing dogsbody. After retiring for the night one guest decides to check out some strange goings-on and is promptly slaughtered. The blood spillage is used to resurrect Klove's master and the dreaded vampire gets up to his usual misdemeanours. Its another 'good against evil' affair with Lee at his sinister and imposing best. The travelling holy man Father Sandor (Andrew Keir) is a delight with his unconventional approach and rustic ways.

This is one of the best Dracula films starring Christopher Lee and the neat follow-on from its predecessor and slow build up in tension make this esssential viewing. There are plenty of great moments throughout this vampire fest and with Barbara Shelley (Helen Kent), Francis Matthews (Charles Kent) and Thorley Walters (Ludwig) enough familiar faces to add to the overall treat.

 

DRACULA

1958. Directed by Terence Fisher

Any horror enthusiast who is worth his weight in vampiric blood will have seen this film over and over again and will be of the opinion that we have a sheer classic on our hands. With Christoper Lee as the dreaded Count and Peter Cushing as his nemesis Van Helsing we are dealt a real treat in terror with a finale to savour. The tale begins with Jonathon Harker (John Van Eyssan) finding and attacking Dracula in his own castle whereupon Dracula overpowers his assailant and turns him into one of the undead. Dracula then leaves his castle and travels to a nearby city where he preys upon Harkers fiancée. Family friend and student of vampires Van Helsing is determined to kill the vampire lord and here we have the main gist of the story. Cushing and Lee are insatiable and are thoroughly at home in parts which seemed simply made for them. The lavish sets and convincing players all add to one great feast of hammer horror that is a classic in its own right. Brilliant.

 

THE BRAIN EATERS

1958. Directed by Bruno VeSota

More cheapjack nonsense from American International Pictures when a strange cone from outer space lands in Riverdale, Illinois and unleashes strange slug-like parasites hellbent on controlling the minds of their victims. An 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers'/'Invaders from Mars' look-a-like with creatures from another world taking over the population of a small American town. The expected strange behaviour or ham-acting syndrome takes over and we are left in the hands of a chosen few to save the world. For fans of fifties Sci-Fi then this is worth a look but personally the overdone storyline, the lack of any high tension moments and the average acting make for a poor show. Watch out though for an early appearance by Leonard Nimoy (Mr Spock fame). Overall rating - below average.

 

GRIP OF THE STRANGLER

1958. Directed by Robert Day

Another treat for Boris Karloff fans as the excellent actor takes on the role of a writer investigating the hanging of a serial killer (known as 'The Haymarket Strangler') 20 years earlier. He suspects the wrong man was hanged and becomes almost obsessed with correcting the miscarriage of justice. Karloff finds the original scalpel used by the murderer and becomes posessed with the killers spirit and commits similar atrocities. A few tremendous twists and turns in the tale with some classic revelations and Karloff is in his element juggling the good guy,bad guy roles perfectly and inspiring more than one emotion in the viewer. Karloff (who was nearly 70 at the time of filming) throws his entirety into the role and his dedication and overall gusto are quite admirable. The camera work throughout is good and the supporting cast are solid and make this a thoroughly entertaining watch. As per usual fans of Karloff will not be let down.

 

THE SORCERERS

1967. Directed by Micheal Reeves

An elderly couple, Professor Marcus Monserrat (Boris Karloff) and his wife Estelle (Catherine Lacey) have invented a hypnotising machine that not only lets you control a subject but allows one to feel their sensations as well.  Young, disgruntled and disillusioned youth Mike Roscoe (Ian Ogilvy)  is drawn into oproceedings and agrees to be the aging couples guinea pig.  The mind bending process takes place and in psychedelic style Roscoe is sent on his way.  No sooner is he free then his will is bent with Karloff and Lacey becoming hedonistically addicted to this new lease of life albeit vicariously.

Finding a taste for the thrills and dangers Lacey overpowers Karloffs more restrained and moral will and Ogilvy is sent on various illegal treks with each one becoming more and more criminal.

With Laceys addiction to pleasure the tension builds as the viewer wonders how far she will go?

A cracking finale and Karloff is sublime in this restraining and obviously low budget role.  For such a minor film it is a real treasure and one that should be sought out and enjoyed.  Its basic and unpretentious approach make it what it is and the British ambience add to the entire flavour.

   

Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,

11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20,

21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30,

31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40,