1964. Directed by William Castle. 

A quite solid psychological thriller that sees the director throw in a few shocks, maintain a tension and keep one enthralled whilst the lead lady does what she does in convincing style and emanating a level of insanity that is more than a little disturbing. 

The plot revolves around Lucy Harbin (Joan Crawford) who decapitates her husband whilst finding him bed with his mistress.  Harbin's 3 year old daughter witnesses the event.  Twenty years later and Harbin is released from a mental institute and goes to live at a farm with her brother Bill Cutler (Leif Erickson) and sister-in-law Emily (Rochella Hudson).  Her daughter Carol (Diane Baker) also lives on the farm after being adopted by the Cutlers.  Carol is an artist and sculptor and has a fiancée, namely Michael Fields (John Anthony Hayes).  Lucy tries to bond with her daughter despite struggling with her mental health.  Hallucinations and auditory attacks are keeping her on the cusp of madness but this doesn't stop her from becoming embarrassingly flirtatious with her daughter's partner.  A confrontation ensues, Michael’s father is killed, a killer is exposed and a twist in the tale had.  From insanity comes salvation, from the seemingly harmless arises more insanity - a loop is completed and we are left, fulfilled. 

This offering may have been hailed as 'claptrap' and may have unnecessary scenes of violence, but I for one thoroughly enjoyed it and I thought Crawford put in a very convincing stint as a lady unsure of herself and her mental state. The gratuitous moments please my simplistic terror-seeking nature and the general 60's feel to the film is a bonus. 



1961. Directed by William Marshall 

Space-age trash-can going's on here with miniaturised men, rubber-suited monsters and basic effects all combining to make for a spectacle that lacks depth, is run of the mill but which still keeps my peepers peeled.  The 'have-a-go' effort and general essence of the film ticks all my cheap and nasty needs - it must be a weakness.   

A strange asteroid is drawing ships to its surface so off goes Captain Frank Chapman (Dean Fredericks) to investigate further.  After losing his navigator whilst repairing the ship following a meteor shower Chapman returns to the ship, records events and sits helplessly whilst his ship is drawn towards the asteroids surface.  Once on terra-firma Chapman exits the ship and encounters a race of miniature people.  Once Chapman's helmet is opened he shrinks down to size due to the strange atmosphere of this asteroid cum planet.  What follows is a well-worn tale of a race of people up against outside forces, an earthly visitor who arrives, falls in love, provokes jealousy and rage and eventually wins the day and with a dubious alien being thrown in for good measure.  The effects are akin to an early space invaders game, the script is appalling and the action scenes blemished by cut-price affects and low-grade scenes.  Personality clashes are frequent, a race against time comes and goes, the love gained and lost strives to add a poignant pouch - this is a lame film for sure, but I lapped it up like a kid in a sweetshop. 

Look, sometimes one needs to take films for what they are, especially these patchwork sci-fi jaunts that had little investment.  This is a fine and dandy bit of fun, the two lead love lasses do fine, the monster ticks all the kids-appeal boxes (and is actually Richard Kiel) and the impetus of the film is smooth and keeps the attention - what more do we want? 



1954. Directed by W. Lee Wilder 

Take a small pot of cash and some foolishly willing actors and with a few dubious costumes, a bag of ping-pong balls and a tried and tested yarn about men from space wanting to take over the world you have the makings of a low-grade flick liable to please the most cracked B-movie oglers. Whether this is a good thing is anyone's guess but it is certainly harmless, unless of course, you have an intolerance to all things third-rate.

Dr Douglas Martin (Peter Graves) is a nuclear scientist who crashes his plane whilst out gathering aerial data.  Somehow Martin survives with no recollection of what transpired. During a routine examination at a local hospital a scar is found on his chest, a strange mark that seems to signify that Martin has been abducted and meddled with.  Martin soon begins to act rather strangely, suspicions are had by the FBI whom think they are being duped by an imposter.  As matters progress Martin is examined and injected with a truth serum whereupon we learn that he has indeed been taken and held captive by some bug-eyed beings who plan to destroy the whole of humanity using giant bugs and beasties.   The doctor is being used so as to collect data for the aliens so they can use the earth's electric grid power and balance an A-Bombs energy levels - the mind boggles.  Of course, Dr Martin susses the plans, escapes from the hospital where he is being kept and looks to scupper the threat to the human race and end the film on a somewhat heroic note.

This is not essential viewing and will not bowl one over with blinding effects and terror-inducing suggestion.  What we do get though is a daft old yomp with some actors who do well to keep their faces straight and who contribute to a bit of escapist hokum - and why the Hell shouldn't they? 



1976. Directed by Dan Curtis. 

A haunted house film with the usual sinister happenings and a few nebulous hauntings that leave one a little unclear as to what is actually going on.  This is a run of the mill film with the usual orthodox attempts at raising a chill. 

The story sees Ben Rolf (Oliver Reed), his wife Marian (Karen Black), their 12 year old son Davey (Lee H. Montgomery) and Ben's Aunt Elizabeth (Bette Davies) move into a 19th century mansion that is owned by a couple of elderly oddballs.  The lowly price agreed for a summer rental comes at a cost, the family are required to look after the eccentric couples mother, Mrs Allardyce, who lives upstairs and whom is a stickler for privacy.   Marian takes on the caring role with in an obsessive way and refuses to let others even visit the old crone.  Tension arises between the married couple, Ben begins to suffer from recurring nightmares and act rather strangely and out of character whilst a few sinister events start to arouse suspicion with several accidents to the house resulting in an eerie self-reparation process. As Marian becomes more immersed with the house and its unseen resident, Ben gets more agitated, threatens to leave and promises to confront Mrs Allardyce, a meeting that brings with it a real surprise.  Deaths follow, madness wins the day, the house is restored to its former glory - we are left wondering. 

This is a slow film, weakly scripted and with certain hammy moments but, attention is held throughout and the whole creation does in fact work.  This film falls into the shadows of the first Amityville offering that came out 3 years later but it is still worth seeking out. 



1944. Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer 

Crackling monochrome drama here with a mild horror film focusing on an artist who throttles his models after finishing their portraits. The flow of the film is laborious but the settings and general atmosphere keep the peepers peeled and the attention held. 

Puppeteer, Gaston Morrell (John Carradine), is in Paris and showcasing his puppets in quaint and appealing plays.  Lucille (Jean Parker) and her friends attend one such show and meet the famed manipulator of the wooden figures.  Lucille takes a walk with Morrell whereupon she is employed as the new costume maker for the puppets.  Love is in the air and so is jealously as Renee (Sonia Sorel), Gaston's occasional love interest, gets piqued by the new relationship, and duly pays the price. To add to the web Lucille's youngers sister Francine (Teala Loring) comes back to Paris and her boyfriend Lefevre (Nils Asther) enters the fray, the inspector who is looking for the killer Bluebeard.  A trail of clues leads to the guilty person being a greedy art dealer known as Lamarte (Ludwig Stossel), a shifty blighter for sure.  Meanwhile we begin to see a more unsettling side to the puppet-master and as matters progress the homicidal maniac is exposed and his past revealed.  A chase ensues, you can guess the outcome I am sure. 

I find this one a somewhat sedate film with the lack of snagging excitement.  The characters are played in a lowbrow way but there is a hint of the theatrical that does appeal.  I think this is one to watch on several occasions to absorb the true depths of the creation. 



1948.  Directed by Oswald Mitchell
A minor gem with some staged and theatrical acting, many grubby and insidiously unsettling characters and almost comical drunken antics that make for one complete and absorbing film.
The tale takes place in the fog enshrouded streets of Edinburgh, Scotland.  The year is 1928 and Mr Hart (Tod Slaughter) and Mr. Moore (Henry Oscar) are in the role of Burke and Hare and are killing locals to provide the local medical school with fresh corpses.  The one-eyed Dr Cox (Arnold Bell) is the main purchaser of the flesh, a right crackpot if ever there was one.  Medical student Hugh Alston (Patrick Addison) soon has his suspicions aroused by the dastardly pair after a Mary Patterson goes missing. The spouses of the two body snatchers are a joy to behold as things get tense, Daft Jamie (Aubrey Woods), a local simpleton, soon gets involved and falls by the wayside, it seems money and the desire to drink dictate the level of deviancy and Alston and the local police need to be crafty to catch the criminals. The finale is brief but in-keeping with the film and rounds off a quite compelling and sometimes comedic film.
Despite the audio of this feature being below par (I did watch with subtitles) and the tale being one all horror watchers will be familiar with, this is a grand snippet of old school horror with the morally free leads truly enthralling.  There is a perverted charm running though this film, enhanced by the presence of Slaughter, Oscar and the female soaks.



1987. Directed by Freddie Francis and Ken Wiederhorn

A very cheap looking video-tape-esque horror regarding a building that is haunted and determined to get revenge on a certain business lady. It is a talk-laden piece that is generally low on high end chills.

Carolyn Page (Jennie Agutter) is a high-flying and ambitious architect.  One day, whilst working in her skyscraper office she sees a window washer fall to his death, apparently under the influence of some invisible force.  The local police are soon on the case as well as security consultant Dennis Randall (Michael Moriarty).  Disbelief is soon banished when more strange deaths ensue and further spiritual events occur - it transpires Ms Page is not all that she seems and her recently deceased husband has a few scores to settle.  The pace of the film is decent but the continuity inconsistent and the finale somewhat deflating and unimpressive.  An investigator into the paranormal called Max Gold (Theodor Bikel) joins the fray as does a bloke called Sergie who is played by Kevin McCarthy of Bodysnatchers fame.  The latter actor must have wondered what he had let himself for and I hope the paycheck was worth it.

A duff do if the truth be told, a film that lacks tension, has some real shady acting performances, lacks any depth in the script and just comes and goes and leaves a taste of something utterly cheap, rushed and forgetful.  I expected more - what a fool!



1941. Directed by Robert Florey

A quite solid Noir-esque sub-horror film concerning the disfigurement of an innocent man and how he becomes hooked up with some shady characters and the love of his life.

Janos Szabo (Peter Lorre) is a Hungarian immigrant in New York.  On his first day he gets badly burnt in a hotel fire and as a result has great problems trying to find work and... survives.  Despite having experience as a watchmaker all doors are closed and so, after a chance meeting with a likeable rogue known as Dinky (George E. Stone) he turns to the world of crime.  He becomes the leader of a gang of jewel thieves much to the disgruntlement of the ex-leader.  The money made affords Janos a latex replica of his own face which gives him confidence to go out and meet people, one of whom is Helen (Evelyn Keyes).  Helen is blind and Janos falls in love with her, we are set for a happy ending but the gang believe Janos has betrayed them to the police before giving up his dubious life.  An explosion turns the life of Janos upside down, revenge is neatly plotted and coldly carried out whilst self-sacrifice is the end result. The closure of the film is laden with sadness, a sadness for a character only trying to make the best of an unlucky lot and denied his true love.

A quite excellent film this with Lorre a real charming and lovable fellow with a determined spirit not to be underestimated..  The relationship between Janos and Helen is sweet and innocent and the supporting cast are more than relaible.



1974. Directed by Jack Cardiff 

A cheap and very effective episode of outlandish experimentation that sees a mad scientist try to create a race of super beings by crossing humans with plants.  It sounds outlandish, it certainly is, but by crikey it is a very watchable and enjoyable flick. 

Professor Nolter (Donald Pleasance) is a man on a mission, he is hell-bent on breaking through to the next stage of human evolution by crossbreeding Venus Flytraps with abducted students.  His ultimate aim is to create a new species that is both plat and animal, plants that can walk, humans that can take root.  Whilst all this is going on we have a vile circus sideshow that is pure exploitation.  Mr Lynch (Tom Baker) is a disfigured fellow who works for the crazed professor and the circus.  The Professor's failed experiments are used in the sideshow, a place that showcases the Bearded Lady, the Skeleton Woman and the Pretzel Boy amongst others. Nolter promises to fix the face of Lynch as along as he keeps helping him with his crazed work, Lynch is a cruel and frustrated man who mistreats the circus performers.  Justice is sought by the mutants and the circus acts, Lynch and Nolter have gone too far and comeuppance is overdue.  What we get is a hybridisation of a Tod Browning classic and a 50's B-movie escapade - it is right up my very wayward street. 

So, an overlooked movie with some fine mutations, a few light scares and a lead nutjob who is as insanely absorbed as they come.  Pleasance is always good value, the feel of the film is very 70's and the backdrop of sound at times is utterly bizarre.  One to watch again very soon, you can't beat stuff like this, it is perversely intriguing.



1968. Directed by Robert Hartford-Davis  

A 60's horror flick with Peter Cushing taking the role of a love-struck plastic surgeon who is driven to commit crimes beyond his ethics to save his burning love. Not a typical Cushing outing but, as ever, the performance is delivered with 100% passion.

Lynn (Sue Lloyd) is a self-obsessed fashion model and is the fiancée of renowned plastic surgeon Sir John Rowan (Peter Cushing).  After attending a party Rowan has a scuffle with greaseball photographer Mike Orme (Tony Booth) whereupon Lynn falls beneath a hot lamp and gets facially disfigured. Rowan promises to amend matters using some fantastic laser treatment and a transplantation of pituitary glands.  Alas the treatment is only temporary and more glands are needed so a besotted and guilt-riddled Rowan goes on a murder spree which, as one can imagine, gets out of hand and leads to a strange finale that sees a group of burglars get involved and the ultimate ending throwing everything into a state of ambiguity.  The promise of a steady thriller unravels and we are left befuddled, it is all rather strange.

So, a film that begins well, slowly progresses and holds attention despite the below average script.  A few moments of violence keep one intrigued and Cushing does what he does with spirited passion. Alas the ending just dilutes matters and leaves one to contemplate a film best regarded as below par and a little bit unsure of what it wants to be.  


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,

41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50