1962. Directed by Newt Arnold

A strange and appealing film that deals with a hand transplant and the psychological damage it does to the recipient. The arrangement of the visuals, the reliance on suggestion rather than obvious imagery and some lingering camera work make for something of a rewarding oddity.

World renowned pianist Vernon Paris (James Stapleton) loses his hands in a car crash when the cab driver is distracted. Top surgeon Dr Harding (Paul Lukather) performs a hand transplant and pronounces the procedure a success although Eileen Hunter (Elaine Martone), the girlfriend of Paris, doesn't seem convinced. After recovering from the shock of finding himself with new hands Vernon is both distressed and seemingly slightly unhinged. He seeks solace from Eileen who is repulsed and ends up falling foul to the flame as Vernon stands and watches her burn to death. From here madness takes hold and the ex-pianist goes on a rampage. The taxi driver whom he deems responsible for the accident is paid a visit, a stallholder at a fairground is attacked and vengeance is carried out on a couple of doctors who helped carry out the surgery. A showdown comes in a concert hall where Vernon exposes an inner suffering and his fracturing mental state. Death is the only solution and the film winds down in somber tones.

The direction and almost staged approach of this film give it a quite distinct character with something almost detached in its delivery. Facial bouts of intercourse add to the slight quirkiness of the offering and has a 4th adaptation of The Hands of Orlac I am sure the film needed its own identity. A strange but satisfying excursion to say the least.



1970. Directed by James Kelley.

This is one of those films that used to make regular appearances in the TV guides when I was a kid and one I always used to tune into. It has been numerous years since my last viewing, I remember being deflated come the end but, was I too hasty in my pimpled opinions.

An army base in Lancashire is shocked when several of its members are mauled to death. The attacks are gruesome in the extreme and leave Superintendent Paddick (T. P. Mckenna) and Sergeant Young (John Kelland) bamboozled. Not far away though something strange is going on in the abode of two sisters, namely Ellie Ballantyne (Beryl Reid) and Joyce Ballantyne (Flora Robson) who have a curiously odd relationship and seem to be harboring a secret. We learn that they were part of a close-knit, loving family that was torn apart when Father went off to war and came back a twisted and unpredictable man. The shell-shocked soldier also started to mistreat his wife and his son Steven, much to the dismay of the Daddy-loving sisters. From here we are left to watch matters unfold as a secret in the cellar is exposed and our initial thoughts are banished after more murders and a final reveal. The climax is far from shocking but it remains in keeping with a quite stable and eerie movie that just lacks the killer punch.

After the latest viewing I was still under-whelmed by the finale but was pleased with a film that had a certain British feel, something almost incestuous running through its veins and with a few gory moments to keep one intrigued, The two lead actresses combined their talents and raised the quality level of the film but this will never attain the heights of a classic and will never be one to watch over and over. I shall leave it a few years and call in again, I best keep an eye on the TV Times.



1956. Directed by Fred F. Sears  

I like a good black and white werewolf film, I hadn't seen this before and was looking for something a little different.  As I delved into the picture I was met with a decent twist on an age-old cinematic tale with the general ambience of the film meeting the needs of my horror neurones.  

On a wintry night a bewildered man wanders into the small town of Mountaincrest where he enters a bar, leaves, is followed by a local mug thug and ends up in a fight that leaves the wannabe thief mauled to death. The dead body is taken by Sherriff Jack Haines (Don Megowan) to be examined by Dr Jonas Gilchrist (Ken Christy) and Amy Standish (Joyce Holden) who can't decide who or what was the killer.  Jack organises a search party to find the murderer, his deputy Ben Clovey (Harry Lauter) is attacked but survives with some severe arm lacerations, it seems as though the sheriffs outlandish claim may be fact. Two doctors now enter the fray, Morgan Chambers (George Lynn) and Emery Forrest (S. John Launer) both of whom reveal that they have recently treated a car crash survivor with an 'irradiated wolf serum'.  The man on the run is identified by his wife and son, Duncan Marsh (Steven Ritch), is a tortured soul, duly tracked down and dealt with - but not in the way expected perhaps.  The finale is a trifle weak for a film that promised to close with a flourish.  

Not a fast based bloodbath and not a moody piece of atmospheric terror but what we have here is a solid average escapade that plods along with good character interplay and some nice wolfman transformations.  It is a film very much of its time but that is no bad thing, to escape into yesteryear and imagine oneself watching this in an old dusty cinema is a joy not to be questioned. 



1957. Directed by John Sherwood 

A film about multiplying rocks that do grow into monoliths but are certainly not monsters.  This is another fantastical tale from the sci-fi slanted 1950's, there were no limits as to how far a company would go to give the audience something original. 

Set in San Angelo, California, a meteorite crashes to Earth scattering black fragments far and wide.  Local geologist Ben Gilbert (Phil Harvey) finds a rock, takes it to his office and following a storm that blows over a water container onto the rock, a chemical reaction starts to take place.  Next morning Ben is found dead by Dave Miller (Grant Williams), the head of the local Geological Office, it appears Ben has been turned to stone.  The girlfriend of Miller is Cathy Barrett (Lola Albright), a teacher who takes her children on a field trip whereupon young Ginny Simpson (Linda Scheley) takes a piece of black rock home and duly washes it in a tub outside her house.  Disaster follows. Ginny's parents are found dead by Dr E. J. Reynolds (Richard H. Cutting), Dave and Cathy - Ginny is seen to be in a state of shock and her hand turning to stone. From here the race is on to find a cure for Ginny and to try and stop the silicon sucking monoliths that are erupting during a rainstorm and that are following a ravine that heads towards the local town. Time is of the essence, Miller looks for a solution to the impending disaster, the town and the world are in peril, who would have thought a bit of stone could cause so much trouble. 

For such a flimsy and somewhat tame plot the film holds attention, has a good pace and takes what little it has to work with and does a decent job.  The acting is a bit stiff at times, the script strives to be scientific and the whole premise of rocks taking over the world is just outlandish but hey, why the Hell not?



1964. Directed by Ib Melchior

A second-grade slab of sci-fi tomfoolery that is so garish, off the wall and innocently child-like that it turns out to be a quite enjoyable romp. 

Scientists Dr. Erik von Steiner (Preston Foster), Dr. Steve Connors (Philip Carey), and Carol White (Merry Anders) are meddling with a power-draining time-viewing device. Power plant technician Danny McKee (Steve Franken), has been sent to tell the scientists to shut the device down but after some strange shadows cross the room the viewing screen shows an unwelcoming, barren landscape that Danny discovers has become a portal which he idiotically steps through.  The scientists give chase with the portal closing soon after and leaving all stranded. After being chased by some bizarre looking mutants they enter a cave and discover an underground city which is the final residence of a post-nuclear human race.  City head Dr Varno (John Hoyt) explains that the remaining humans are looking to escape to a new planet orbiting Alpha Centauri.  A rocket is in waiting and whilst the scientists build a new time portal the local outsiders break in, destroy the ship and start to infiltrate the city.  A clash ensues, escape through the new portal is had, a situation of different time rates causes brief consternation before a jump into a darkened uncertain future is taken.  We end in a speeding time-loop - it brings to a close a fun and quite outlandish film.

Pure codswallop laden with magic tricks and terrible effects.  The script, is at times, dire, the acting somewhat dubious and the whole look of the film lacking in quality but, this is a harmless and enjoyable excursion into a child-friendly sci-domain – I shall revisit! 



1979. Directed by Charles B, Pierce

A somewhat cheap and flimsy wannabe Amytiville Horror without the scare-factor and certainly lacking in conviction. For a B-Movie offering though there are some good performances and a cute twist at the end that gives the production a little weight.

Set in Louisiana in 1942, a young couple, namely Ben (Michael Parks) and Ruth Watkins (Jessica Harper) buy a detached rural house that has, unbeknown to the them, a very violent past.  It is soon discovered that a shootout at the property with the previous owners in 1928 was the start of the trouble with every resident of the house since having met with a violent end. Whilst Ben is away on work duties Ruth is terrorised by a strange lurking man which gives the film its first real essences of horror.  Ruth seeks sanctuary with local neighbour Anna (Sur Anne Langdon) who seems all well and good but leaves one a little suspicious.  As matters unfold we learn that the real estate agent Jake (Vic Morrow) is highly involved in the unsettling events and certain other family members are in on the act and gaining from the continuous sales.  Death, insanity and a lunatic twist all bring the film to a close with the viewer left wondering if a follow-up movie was ever on the horizon.

With a low budget and back-to-basics horror film style this is below the average level of scarefests and is best seen as a slightly sinister drama that packs little punch.  It was screened in 1979 in Colombia as a double bill with The Amytiville Horror and, I feel, will always be judged poorly against this better picture.



1962. Directed by Sidney W. Pink

An ultra-cheap sci-fi jaunt that sees a group of astronauts land on and explore the frozen planet of Uranus.  Of course a powerful force awaits and some sultry temptation with a whole gamut of cheapy scenes and effects thrown in - the main question is... can you last the trip?

The scene is set in the year 2001, a group of scientists are on their way to Uranus when they fall under the influence of an alien presence and lose a certain period of time.  Upon landing the crew find an earth-like realm that is enclosed within a barrier.  The outer areas beyond this barrier have to power to freeze and so it seems our intrepid group are trapped. From here we see the crew's minds explored and visions appear that are seemingly real, including favoured women from the men's past.  A couple of bizarre monsters are thrown into the mix before we discover that a giant one-eyed brain is controlling events and looking to take possession of the astronauts before returning to Earth and setting out for world domination.  The fight back against the all-seeing brain begins but fears are used to give the cerebral alien the upper hand - can the earthmen overcome the odds and will a lost love be renewed?  Hang in there folks, all will be revealed in pure second rate fashion!

A rather weak film with little in the way of extraordinary thrills and high-ranking effects.  The storyline is completely Star-Trekkian and despite the whole premise having potential, the delivery falls way short of the mark.  Sometimes though a film can have an endearing quality by being ridiculously bad, alas this isn’t one of those cinematic offerings.



1943. Directed by Steve Sekely

The living dead, a mad scientist and some foolish humour and what we get here is a short, atmospheric, and in the main, appealing minor horror film.  The pace is slow, the acting adequate but the lack of true chills is slightly unforgiveable.

Dr Max Von Altermann's (John Carradine) wife Lila (Vida Ann Borg) has unexpectedly passed away and so, arriving at the Dr's old mansion are Scott Warrington (Mauritz Hugo) and a hired detective, Larry Adams (Robery Lowery) who are a little suspicious of the circumstances and not too trustworthy of the dubious doctor.   Identities are switched, a Nazi sub-plot is exposed and a strange scientific experiment that returns the dead to life to serve Hitler is seen to be the reason behind the doctors manic dabblings.  Lila is in a zombified state but refuses to bend to the will of the crazed Doctor and as the plot thickens the great masterplan begins to unwind and the zombie hordes are set to pay back their cruel master.  A final chase is had with the closure leaving a sinking feeling for a couple of cast members but leaving the viewer quite pleased with a decent short trip into the world of the reanimated.

A succinct journey into the realms of zombie fantasy with Carradine holding his own at the helm and the supporting cast and staggering cadavers adding to the general solid feel of the film.  The humour is unnecessary and tarnishes the end result but as a short treat this is fine and dandy without offering anything new. 



1974. Directed by Pete Walker.

From Mr Walker comes another journey into the exploitive and the eerie, with a twisted tale of morality, brutality and of course, a smattering on nudity.  I have come to expect little from these offerings but this one ain't half bad if the truth be known.

French model Anne-Marie De-Vernet (Penny Irving) has been arrested for posing nude in a public place. During a party where she is embarrassed by a photo of the incident she ends up being charmed by the smooth and discomforting mark E. DeSade (Robert Tayman).  DeSade grooms the naive young lady and takes her to what he says is his country estate, which in fact turns out to be an institute of correction run by DeSade's sadistic mother Margaret (Barbara Markham).  Margaret is an ex-reform school matron whose dubious reign resulted in the death of a young girl.  Losing her job she seduced the judge who dealt with her case (Patrick Barr) and set up the current prison along with two somewhat sadistic wardens.  De-Vernet is labelled as morally corrupt and sentenced, whereupon she learns of the lunacy and vindictiveness of the regime she is now ensnared within.  Torture and executions ensue, whilst Anne's flatmate Julia (Ann Michelle) and her boyfriend Tony (Ray Brooks) get increasingly concerned about the disappearance of their friend.  The film plays itself out with a certain stony coldness that duly adds to the suspense and overall uncomfortable feel.  Anne-Marie strives to escape a situation both abhorrent and unthinkable, the self-appointed guardians of morality have other ideas and ways of dealing with those seemingly beyond hope.

A solid and sobering film done with a certain clinical and tonally bleak essence.  The 3 women who are in charge of the penal institution are wonderfully played out with icy-insanity and ethical detachment always apparent.  As said I expected little and as a result got a nice, distressing surprise. I consider this a journey into the perverse.



1976. Directed by Gordon Hessler 

Vincent Price is once more thrown into a melting pot of 1500's witchcraft and plays out a role that signifies a character unhinged, morally corrupt and ultimately... evil.  This may be a film created within a strict budget but the atmosphere and output is more than adequate for the everyday horror ogler.

In Elizabethan England the dubious magistrate Lord Edward Whitman (Vincent Price) is a self-appointed witch hunter and is under a curse after killing members of a clan headed by the coven leader Oona (Elisabeth Bergner).  Prior to these killings Whitman also has the blood of two teenagers on his hands after he had dragged them into his hall for some forced entertainment and things duly went awry.  Oona, a woman not to be meddled with, summons a demonic spirit which takes possession of the loyal servant Roderick (Patrick Mower) whom is loved by Maureen Whitman (Hilary Dwyer).  Oona controls Roderick and sets about killing the Whitman family.  Whitman's son Sean (Stephen Chase), whom has raped his Father's wife Lady Patricia Whitman (Essy Pearson) is snuffed out along with other family members but it isn't long before another son of Whitman, Harry (Carl Rigg), and Father Tom (Marshall Jones) arrive from Cambridge and are soon dealing with the mess made by Edwards murderous and accusing ways.  Death, despair and a vile fiend take us to the finale with a good impetus had, some reliable acting noted and Price as sinister and convincing as ever.

A very watchable film this with all performances backing up a fair script and played out in a scenario that is very convincing.  There is a lack of gore and scares are thin on the ground but I enjoyed the journey into sub-Witchfinder General territory and will be re-watching again for sure.


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