1963. Directed by Roger Corman

As a kid I was intrigued by the title of this film (those glasses they sold in comics helped heighten the anticipation) and when I eventually watched it, certain scenes stuck with me forever. Is this the sign of a good film?

Dr James Xavier (Ray Miland) is the central character of the film, a man obsessed with making advances into the world of optics.  Focused and unable to be deterred Xavier invents a liquid eye drop that helps one see beyond the range of normal vision.  Unconvinced by tests on animals he uses the drops on himself with startling results.  The Dr can initially see through dresses, human flesh and other assorted boundaries but things turn sour when a friend is accidentally killed and Xavier goes on the run with Dr Diane Fairfax (Diana Van Der Vlis).  Money is gained from a casino as Xavier can see through the cards and then, after further developments the runaway man ends up in a circus sideshow as a mind reader.  Xavier's eyes though become a curse, the sideshow boss wants more than his share and so Xavier hits the road again. Almost blind to reality and only able to pick up on the harshest part of the spectrum Xavier staggers into a tent of religious nuts where the evangelists sees the strange eyes and utters the immortal command. The finale is swift, to the point and perfect.

For me, this is still a great film with steady performances all-round, an easy to digest storyline and a good impetus maintained throughout.  From start to finish we have a complete cycle of good to honest sci-fi pulp - I may tune in again real soon.



2015. Directed by Bernard Rose

Another modern day take on that wonderfully thought provoking age-old classic.  The main gist of the story is adhered to with one or two weavings off course but this effort is a surprising winner with a delivery laden with all the horror and melancholy of the original.

The husband and team wife of Victor Frankenstein (Danny Huston) and his wife, Elizabeth (Carrie Ann-Moss) have created life, a life both innocent and vulnerable.  Adam (Xavier Samuel) is the product of the scientists dabblings, a grown man with the mind and innocence of a child.  After falling short of perfection and with a blip in cell replication, Adam is destined to be killed by his creators but a lethal injection fails to work and death soon ensues.  Adam fleas and lives a life of the ultimate lonely outsider, thus giving us a reflection of a society too quick to judge and with too little time for those not fitting within their set parameters.  A friendship with a dog and a blind man end in disaster, comeuppance for a cruel cop is justice served right and a final showdown with his creators is laden with tension and a need for the viewer top see vengeance achieved.  The film ends with a sobering clarity and completes a full cycle of horror based on human egos, flaws and downright neglectful attitudes.

The film incorporates the key moments of the original, adds a neatly done gory element and avoids falling into the realms of gratuity.  I think this is a decent offering for all Frankensteinian nuts and one for the general horror aficionado.  The central performance is both emotive and believable with the anguish relayed highly tangible. the flow of the film works perfectly.



1971. Directed by Peter Sasdy

A mild offering from the Hammer Studios with a solid atmospheric film reinforced by several stout performances and an adequate twist on the Whitechapel myth that has undergone many cinematic molestations.

The film revolves around Anna (Angharad Rees) the daughter of Jack the Ripper.  Anna witnesses the death of her mother at the hands of the infamous murderer and has a result grows up to be a somewhat disturbed individual.  15 years after seeing the slaughter of her loved one Anna kills her dubious guardian Mrs Granny Goulding (Dora Bryant) after being sold for sex to local politician Mr Dysart (Derek Godfrey).  From he see Freudian psychiatrist Dr John Pritchard (Eric Porter) step in and take Anna under his protective wing with an aim to carry out investigations in the troubled young girls mental state.  More killings ensue with the the gruesome factor neat but not overly done.  In the midst of events are Dr Porter's son Michael (Keith Bell) and his blind fiancée Laura (Jane Merrow).  The film slowly builds to a very gothic and somewhat cathedral-esque finale with the final scene death scenes rounding off a subtle and quite absorbing offering.

I found this film engrossing and entertaining despite the lack of ghouls, gore and gratuity with a steady and pleasing flow to the tale achieved and a closing arrangement that is both sophisticated in its appearance as well as being somewhat artistic.  This is not however a film to watch week in week out but one to admire now and again.



1956. Directed by Virgil W. Vogel. 

A Universal film that is very much for those lovers of things fantastic and adventurous with some quirky monsters thrown in and a storyline that is perfect for those desirous of untamed escapism.  

This sci-fi cum creature-feature begins with a scientific lecture by the gesticulating Dr Frank Baxter, an English professor at the University of Southern California, who spouts off about the premise of the film and certain theories regarding underground worlds.  The man sets the scene in B-Movie style and then the film unfolds.  The tale follows an expedition led by archaeologists Dr Roger Bentley (John Agar) and Dr Jud Bellamin (Hugh Beaumont) who end up climbing a mountain in Mesopotamia  and dropping below the Earth's surface and coming across a tribe of Sumerian albinos who believe the adventurers are messengers of the Goddess, Ishtar.  This tribe rule the underground world whilst making slaves of a race of Mole People whom are used to harvest the Sumerians food source of fungi.  Elinu, the High Priest (Alan Napier), doubts that the visitors are messengers and conspires with his King, to have them caught and duly sacrificed through the seemingly all-powerful and destructive Eye Of Ishtar. The tale gains pace, in the mix is a Sumerian named Adad (Cynthia Atrick) whom has natural Caucasian skin and is disdained by the others since she has the so-called 'Mark of Darkness'.  It comes as no surprise that this 'marked' lady soon becomes the token gesture love interest and it also comes as little surprise that the Mole Men rise up and overthrow the dominating dictators.  The action rises, attention is held and an adequate ending is had to what I consider to be a decent jaunt into the astonishing.

The hokum of such films is a thing I utterly adore and for me, a good script, a strange world and a few rubber-suited creatures is usually a good concoction for mindless success.  I had never seen this film before, it was a title I was titivated by and after seeing many wonderfully drawn posters, it was one on the 'must see' list.  By heck I am glad I have finally caught up with it and I will be investing more time in the subterranean world real soon. 



1972. Directed by Hollingsworth Morse

An opening scene of torture with a splattering of nudity and sinisterism paves the way for a film of quite cheap and unconvincing going's-on with the whole attempt falling flat and leaving one wondering what is the point of some of these rather frail productions.

The film's centre of focus is on a chap called James Robertson (Tom Selleck) who purchases a picture from an antiques store that depicts a group of conquistadors burning three supposed witches and a dog at the stake.  One of the burning figures bears an uncanny resemblance to his wife Chris (Barra Grant).  When Chris sees the picture she is immediately upset and yet seems to know certain details about what is occurring.  Over the coming days certain events come to pass that give rise to suspicions regarding the content of the artwork.  A dog known as Nicodemus arrives and the one in the picture, (which it resembles) fades away, a woman name Juana Rios (Paraluman) turns up in response to a housekeeping advertisement which did not exist and several more faces enter the fray, all borne from times past and captured by the painted piece.  The coven leader, Kitty (Tani Guthrie), is soon in the mix, a horny lady with her eyes on our lead guy as well as his wife.  Another snippet of nudity ensues, some shady and almost overly coincidental events and then we arrive at the finale with several loose ends still left hanging and, may it be said, in something of a disarray.

This cheap and ineffective film has trappings of many similar yarns but in this instance slightly overcomplicates matters and fails to unravel its own machinations with the result being a rather patchwork production lacking in atmosphere, good dialogue and a convincing ending.  The whole delivery reeks of cut-price creativity and when closing credits roll a sigh of relief soon follows. 



1962. Directed by Roger Corman

A brooding film done with a certain style and starkness.  There are no genuine scares here or gratuitous moments of blood-spilling terror, what we get is a slow mind-affecting tale of melancholy and obsession - can you last the course?

The central figure of the plot is Guy Carrell (Ray Miland), a British aristocrat and artist who, after seeing a burial gone wrong, is an afflicted by a destructive fear of being interred alive.  This problem almost impedes his marriage to his fiancée Emily (Hazel Court) but the couple eventually tie the knot whereupon Carrell becomes increasingly disturbed.  In his endeavours to ease his accursed mind Carrell builds his own vault with several inbuilt escape devices.  Hazel, and Carrell's colleague Miles Archer (Richard Ney), are deeply concerned by the situation and yet are unable to stop the advance towards insanity.  Carrell, whose mind is becoming more and more unhinged, is also haunted by the whistled tune of Molly Malone, a tune that brings about a full-on black-out.  The story moves on, Guy destroys his vault after an ultimatum from his wife. After opening his father's tomb (whom he believes was buried alive) he falls into a cataleptic state and after the inevitable happens, goes on a murderous rampage and leads us to the end exposure of some shifty goings-on.  It seems everyone isn't what they appear to be.

A typical Corman-esque tale dealing with a Poe-tical theme in a slow, sedate and simmering style. Corman does this stuff well and although action levels are low during this film, it still holds attention due to the general premise and the gloomy atmosphere. 



1971. Directed by Bob Kelljan

A quick follow-up to the original 1970 film with Robert Quarry at the helm, this time with smatterings of negating comedy, some real hammed up performances and one or two moments that are quite laughable.

Count Yorga (Robert Quarry) rises from the grave and turns up at an orphanage fundraising costume party in Santa Ana.  A local orphan Tommy (Philip Frame) sees Yorga rise from the grave and is duly caught by the fanged demon before Yorga turns arrives at the party and sinks his teeth into one of the guests Mitzi (Jesse Welles) before becoming infatuated with local teacher Cynthia Nelson (Mariette Hartley).  Yorga eventually returns to his manor where he is welcomed by his disfigured henchman Brudda (Edward Walsh) and the coffins of his brides.  Determined to get his hands on Cynthia he sends his she-tribe to attack her family whereupon Cynthia is carried back to the Count's lair and told that she is now in his care after her family had been involved in a car accident. The yarn unwinds, deaths come and the local cops are dragged into the mix.  Count Yorga is a shifty character but his love contributes to his downfall as per and the film builds to its conclusion in a somewhat dragging manner.

I enjoyed the first jaunt with this lover of the lasses and blood, here I find my end assessment lacking in any zeal with the film a real let down and lacking in any depth or atmosphere.  Quarry is wasted in a limp and lazy film and this is certainly one I won't be revisiting anytime soon.



1976. Directed by Jeff Lieberman

A natural horror film dealing with yet another outburst of creatures, this time in the form of wriggling worms.  The basis is simple, the application done under budget and the outcome quite strange with some altogether oddball acting.

The story revolves around the rural town of Fly Creek, Georgia were a raging storm blows down a power cable which, when making contact with the wet ground, electrifies all the worms.  Next day and Geri Sanders (Patricia Peracey) borrows a truck form the slightly unsettling worm farmer Roger Grimes (R. A. Dow) to pick up her boyfriend Mick (Don Scardino) who is having a break from his New York life.  The truck is laden with over 300, 000 crated blood worms which are duly lost and which contribute to the forthcoming madness.  As the story progresses we meet Geri's mother Naomi (Jean Sullivan) and her pothead sister Alma (Fran Higgins), Roger's hillbilly father Willie (Carl Dagenhart) and local sleazeball Sheriff Reston (Peter MacLean).  Mick gets targeted as a prankster after finding a skeleton which subsequently disappears.  The bony structure is relocated and matters starts to come to a head.  Roger goes off the rails and falls victim to the wriggling force, and duly becomes an unhinged part of the plot.  Despite the outlandish plant and bizarre feel to the film matters flow well and I was kept intrigued right up until the somewhat diluted finale.

With a folksy atmosphere, a certain B-movie style of its own and some good effects this is one of those films that you shouldn't like, but actually do.  If one was brutal and pedantic many faults could be found but, if one goes in with a willingness to enjoy a wriggling horror-fest, much satisfaction can be had.



1977. Directed By Bert I. Gordon

From the creator of numerous 'gigantic monster' flicks comes a dabbling with radioactive insects gone haywire.  The dialogue is awful, the acting as a result dragged down to laughable depths and the general interaction between the characters is shambolic - and yet, I found something to enjoy here (I must be going mad).

Mainly set on a remote island in the Florida everglades the film begins with a narration regarding ants and their behaviour. We then move on to follow the exploits of dubious land developer and general nasty cow Marilyn Fraser (Joan Collins) who gathers a group of potential customers and takes them to an island that she is striving to palm off as paradise.  Unbeknown to the lead lady the island has been poisoned by a radioactive waste spill and a colony of ants have become somewhat enlarged.  The motley crew arrive on the island and soon discover they are in the midst of a horror show with the ants picking off many annoying characters as the film progresses.  The few survivors eventually come across a sugar plant that is actually feeding the ants and submitting to the Queen's will. There is a showdown, the special effects take a turn for the worst and the last stutterings of the film are rather tame and round off an attempt at something grand that is nothing of the sort.

Despite its many failings this big bug offering is still watchable and has many aspects to keep one intrigued, tittering and wondering what the scriptwriters were up to.  Some of the ant scenes work a treat, others are just utterly ineffective.  The characters are a mixed bunch, from the vulnerable to the confident, the innocent to the downright nasty - it is an interesting mix. 



1990. Directed by William Peter Blatty

A horror cum detective hybrid done in a slow brooding style with emphasis placed on faith, psychological threat and the constant tumultuous battle between good and evil.  Rather than rely on gratuitous gore the film goes for unsettling subtlety and blasphemous imagery.

17 years after the possession of Regan MacNeil and the death of Father Damien Karras (Jason Miller), Lieutenant William F. Kinderman (George C. Scott) looks back about the loss of his close friend.  An incident next day sees an evil entity arise and a series of murders occur that are reminiscent of the murderer James Venamun (Brad Dourif) aka The Gemini Killer, the puzzle being for the investigator that the said killer was executed 15 years earlier.  Kinderman eventually discovers that Venamun is still alive in a psychiatric ward albeit in the body of his old friend Karras who was originally locked up after being found roaming the streets aimlessly in a catatonic state.  Kinderman exposes a true episode of more evil possession with a psychological battle of wills the state of the play and the Gemini Killer exposed as a user of the mentally infirm.  More deaths follow, the culmination is a bleak and straining confrontation with opposing forces at war.

A sedate film built on a simmering intensity and a supernatural indulgence that is both drawn out and lacking in any true shocks.  The acting is more than adequate and the pace perhaps just right but the whole concoction lacks punch and is a little too orthodox in many ways.  Again, a classic original set the standard and the follow-ups failed to attain those terrifying and unforgettable zeniths - the result this time being just an average production. 


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