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Mar 082017
 

When it comes to vampire movies, it’s easy to think of Dracula. Back in the 70s, there was a creative version called Blacula. This is about Prince Mamuwalde (William Marshall, who I remember best as the King of Cartoons from Pee-Wee’s Playhouse) seeking help from Count Dracula (Charles Macaulay) to surpress the slave trade, but instead Dracula turns the prince into a vampire thus making him Blacula. Who would’ve thought that Dracula was involved in the slave trade back in 1780.

About two hundred years later, Blacula rises again and looks for victims in Los Angeles. I’m sure he’s merely suffering with his thirst for blood. It’s easy to see that in the animated opening title sequence, which is really cool I might add.

Soon Blacula claims his first victims, interior designers Bobby McCoy (Ted Harris) and Billy Schaffer (Rick Melzler) and decides to take a cape to add to his look. Why not, I mean what’s a vampire without a cape.

After taking a few more victims, Blacula finds a young woman named Tina (Vonetta McGee). She has a striking resemblance to Blacula’s wife Luva, mainly because the same actress plays her.

Normally Blacula doesn’t care who his victims are, but he would never intentionally harm Tina or take her by force. Even after Blacula reveals what he really is, Tina still falls for him. Is that insane or what?

The only one suspicious about the mysterious attacks is scientific investigator Dr. Gordon Thomas (Thalmus Rasulala), who happens to be dating Tina’s sister Michelle (Denise Nicholas). To prove it, he intends to show his superiors the vampire victims in order for them to believe him. That was a smart move on Dr. Thomas’s part.

The main victim that stands out to me is Juanita Jones (Ketty Lester) the cab driver. After running over Blacula, she had an attitude with him, which was pretty funny. Juanita was one heck of a vampire too.

Blacula has the same weaknesses as any vampire, but here’s something different. He tends to avoid a certain individual named Skillet (Ji-Tu Cumbuka) who often describes Blacula as “one strange dude”. Could it be because Skillet likes to be photographed, or because he’s so annoying? It’s hard to say.

Even though it’s not shown until much later in the movie, Blacula can also turn into a bat. The effect is really smooth and amazing.

I liked this movie. It was certainly good for its time, especially when compared with how the vampires looked back in the 70s to the vampires in movies today. Those were more simpler times.

Feb 082017
 

I’ve seen some movies about giant monstrous spiders and the most memorable one to me was Eight Legged Freaks, but that soon changed when I saw Big Ass Spider!. This is about a giant spider, which was an experiment gone wrong, that’s on the loose. It starts small, but only gets bigger, not to mention stronger and faster.

The movie starts with exterminator Alex Mathis (Greg Gunberg) waking up on the ground in the middle of an intense battle against the giant spider. Then suddenly, it cuts to an earlier time. It’s so hard to follow a movie when it does that, especially when I see it for the first time.

As the story goes, Alex gets bitten by a spider and treated at the hospital. Suddenly, a mysterious spider comes out of a dead body and starts attacking people. Now this spider is bigger than any other and is smart enough to unzip zippers, open sewer grates, and snatch rolling quarters with ease. That’s definitely out of the ordinary.

Alex offers his services as an exterminator with the help of security guard Jose Ramos (Lombordo Boyar). He is such a comedic character and is very helpful in his own way.

Then suddenly the military is involved. Major Braxton Tanner (Ray Wise) intends to hunt down this spider before anyone, Major Tanner doesn’t take him seriously.

Of course that doesn’t stop Alex and Jose. They track the spider themselves as the army does the same. As the spider continues to grow while loose in the city, it catches and eats people really fast. It was creepy enough when the spider attacked in its small size.

Also assisting Major Tanner is Lieutenant Karly Brant (Clare Kramer). Alex likes her, even though she can come off cold. Eventually Karly does warm up to him, but she’s a soldier first.

I met Clare Kramer at Mini MegaCon 2009 and still remember how sweet she was.

It’s interesting that Lloyd Kaufman has a cameo. I thought he looked familiar.

This was a good movie with plenty of Sci-fi action and humor. As creepy as this spider was, I have to say that the scariest movie spider would be the one on Arachnophobia. It may be a lot smaller, but still very deadly.

Feb 012017
 

Based on yet another Edgar Allan Poe poem, The Haunted Palace takes place in the town of Arkham in the 1700s. The townspeople accuse Joseph Curwen (Vincent Price) of being a warlock and burn him at the stake, but Curwen vowed revenge by coming back for the descendants of the people who killed him. Why must vengeful spirits always attack young people just because they share a bloodline?

One hundred and ten years later, Curwen’s great great grandson Charles Dexter Ward (Vincent Price) and his wife Anne (Debra Paget) inherit the palace Curwen lived in, completely unaware of the curse the town of Arkham has had since Curwen died. The townsfolk are unfriendly, except for Dr. Willet (Frank Maxwell) who shows them the way to the palace that looks real nice in the distance.

When Charles and Anne arrive, they explore the desolate palace. It has such a creepy ambiance that’s interesting and the portrait of Curwen adds a nice touch to the place. When Charles sees it he gets spooked and describes the palace as a mausoleum, as a joke of course.

Eventually, Charles and Anne meet Simon (Lon Chaney Jr.) the caretaker. He just happened to be preparing the palace for their arrival. Simon must not have gotten much done since the palace is still filed with cobwebs and a snake living in the oven. It’s also strange that Simon didn’t even greet them at the door, which was locked shut.

The next day, Charles and Anne discover that the townspeople are strangely becoming deformed. Mostly it’s their eyes disappearing, which is real horrific.

As more time goes by, Charles becomes more affected by the portrait of Curwen and later discovers that Curwen really was a warlock. Soon Curwen returns and takes control of Charles’s body, despite his resistance. As for Anne, she is unaware of the possession, but is suspicious about the changes.

It’s also revealed that Simon is involved with Curwen’s return as well as a guy named Jabez Hutchinson (Milton Parsons) who seemed to have popped out of nowhere.

Curwen also had a black magic book called the Necronomicon. Unlike the one from The Evil Dead franchise, this book was used to summon dark creatures so they would mate with mortal women to create a race of super humans. Now he plans to use it once again.

Curwen also takes revenge by killing the descendants of the people that burned him by burning them to death. Then he intends to bring his old lover Hester (Cathie Merchant) back from the dead. He succeeds but Hester doesn’t really talk much.

This is a good horror feature with mystery and suspense. Though I must admit that it doesn’t stand out as much as some of Vincent Price’s other Edgar Allan Poe based movies, but the whole idea of a haunted palace still keeps it interesting nonetheless.

Jan 112017
 

Based on the Edgar Allan Poe tale, The Pit and the Pendulum (Midnite Movies) stars Vincent Price as Nicholas Medina who lives in a castle near an ocean. As lovely as the castle looks in the scenery it contains a curse within the walls.

One day Nicholas’s brother-in-law Francis Barnard (John Kerr) heard that his sister Elizabeth (Barbara Steele) had died. So he pays Nicholas a visit and demands to know how it happened. Nicholas is so overwhelmed in despair by the loss of Elizabeth that he only gives vague answers.

Apparently, Francis insists on specific details. The way he demands answers is verbally brutal, if not rude. At least the family physician Dr. Leon (Antony Carbone) was able to help out some.

Also visiting Nicholas is his sister Catherine (Luana Anders). She tries to help her brother cope with his loss and seems to take a liking to Francis. I have no doubt that Francis feels the same way about Catherine.

Of course the biggest part of the story is the torture chamber down in the depths of the castle. It was invented by Nicholas’s father Sabastian Medina (Vincent Price) and was the source of the heavy atmosphere that corrupted Elizabeth, according to Nicholas, but things are not always as they seem.

When I first saw this movie, it was at this point when I realized that the biggest inspiration behind the story line from Elvira’s Haunted Hills came from here. That’s one of the main reasons I found the original Pit and the Pendulum film so interesting.

Overall, The Pit and the Pendulum does make for a good mystery/horror for its creepy exploration. It’s not comedic like The Raven, but Edgar Allan Poe horror tales were not known for their comedy.

Nov 092016
 

When it comes to aliens and the horror genre, it’s not often that I would visualize them together but it does happen. One such example is the independent film Extraterrestrial.

This is about college teen April (Brittany Allen) spending a romantic weekend at her mother’s cabin with her boyfriend Kyle (Freddie Stroma). However, April is dismayed when Kyle brings his friends along. They include goofball Seth (Jesse Moss), his girlfriend Lex (Anja Savcic), and stoner Melanie (Melanie Papalia).

That’s right. It’s a movie about teens in the woods being terrorized by something frightening. This time, an alien spacecraft comes in search of victims to capture and experiment on. The way it was done is much more intense than the common cliché.

At first I thought the aliens were blowing up people after what became of their first victim Nancy McPherson (Emily Perkins) at the beginning of the movie.

Luckily the teens have an ally, Travis (Michael Ironside), who was friends with April’s father. He’s a weed farmer with a military background. It’s amazing what he knows about the aliens.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Murphy (Gil Bellows) investigates the disappearances. Of course he’s skeptical but all the clues he finds always lead to alien attacks.

The aliens only appear in short glimpses throughout the movie, but I can tell that they have a generic look with green skin and bald heads, wearing no clothes. The aliens never talk, so their reasons of invading remain a mystery.
This was a good movie. Sure it contained quite a few clichés of sci-fi horror films but that’s what made it easy to follow, just the way I like it.