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Oct 262016
 

If there’s one gimmick that helps make horror movies interesting, it’s a trilogy of separate short stories put together into one film. So for Halloween this year, I’ll be going over two horror trilogy movies from the early 1960s. The first one is Tales of Terror, which are all based on Edgar Allan Poe poems. This was what first got me interested in the concept of horror trilogies, next to the Simpsons Halloween specials. Each tale begins with narration by Vincent Price and ends with a quote from the actual Edgar Allan Poe poem that it was based on.

It starts with Morella, which is about Lenora Locke (Maggie Pierce) visiting her father in a mansion that has so many cobwebs it’s unreal. Where’s the feather duster when you need it? However, Mr. Locke (Vincent Price) is drunk and blames her for his wife Morella’s (Leona Gage) death since she died in childbirth. This certainly brings the term “dysfunctional family” to a whole new level. Especially when the ghost of Morella gets involved by switching bodies with Lenora in order to avenge herself.

The second tale is The Black Cat. Despite how angry drunk Montresor Herringbone (Peter Lorre) treats his wife Annabelle (Joyce Jameson), this horror tale is a bit lighter than the previous one. The biggest highlight is when Montresor goes to a wine tasting and meets Fortunato Luchresi (Vincent Price). The way Fortunato tastes wine is by sniffing it and squishing it around with quick breathing gestures, which I find hilarious. Montresor just takes a big gulp. To each his own. Of course the biggest plot point is how Montresor hate’s his wife’s cat. Not to spoil the ending, but the cat does get even.

Then the movie goes in a dark direction again with the third tale, The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar. M. Valdemar (Vincent Price) is a dying man that has a hypnotist, Mr. Carmichael (Basil Rathbone), use hypnosis to ease his pain. However, while under hypnosis, Valdemar dies but his spirit cannot move on until Carmichael releases him. When Carmichael refuses, things become really creepy. Even though the horror standards were different from what we have today, I believe the outcome of this story still has the potential to give people nightmares.

A year later, Boris Karloff starred in a horror trilogy movie of his own called Black Sabbath, which he also narrates. Just so you know, it has nothing to do with the rock band Black Sabbath, or any Edgar Allan Poe tales.

The first tale is called A Drop of Water. After an elderly medium passes away, Nurse Helen Chester (Jacqueline Pierreux) is summoned to the medium’s house to prepare the body for burial. However, Helen is warned not to touch any of her belongings or be cursed. Helen doesn’t listen and steals the ring off the medium’s finger. After getting home, Helen is haunted by dripping water and the creepy vengeful corpse coming after her. I guess that will teach Helen to heed a curse. Some mediums can be very sensitive when it comes to their belongings.

Tale number two is The Telephone. Long before the Scream franchise, as well as caller ID, this story is about call girl Rosy (Michele Mercier) getting frightening phone calls. They’re from someone that Rosy thought was long dead. He’s threatening her life and knows everything she’s doing to the last detail, which drives Rosy into hysteria. This story has horror, but on a much different level from the previous tale.

The final tale is The Wurdalak, which is a vampire story that takes place in Russia. When young nobleman Vladimir Durfe (Mark Damon) takes shelter in a cottage, he finds the owner Giorgio (Glauco Onorato) and his family. They tell him that Giorgio’s father Gorca (Boris Karloff) went to kill a wurdulak, which is a living cadaver that feeds on human blood, particularly the blood of loved ones. Soon Gorca returns and has become a wurdulak himself, slowly attacking his family. This story is an interesting one to end on. My only concern is that the pacing is very slow on at least several points.

I should also point out that even though Boris Karloff may be the star and narrator of Black Sabbath, he only appears in The Wurdulak in comparison to Vincent Price appearing in all three of Tales of Terror as well as being star and narrator.

These were both great trilogy movies of classic horror. Sometimes it’s nice to look back on old horror after so many years, especially on Halloween. As for remakes on old horror movies, well that’s another story.

Oct 192016
 

As much as I enjoyed the first film, I couldn’t wait to see its sequel Hotel Transylvania 2 and believe me it was well worth it.

Much has changed at Hotel Transylvania. Now that humans and monsters live in peace and harmony, Dracula (voice of Adam Sandler) approves of human guests and his daughter Mavis (voice of Selena Gomez) is married to Johnny (voice of Andy Samberg). Could things get any better?

Yes they can. Mavis and Johnny have a son named Dennis (voice of Asher Blinkoff), who is half human, half vampire, (a.k.a. a dhampir) and just adorable. Dracula is very close with Dennis. In fact, he even disguised himself as a nurse to see his grandson. That’s just not something you would ever expect Count Dracula to do.

Johnny’s family is introduced in this sequel. His father Mike (voice of Nick Offerman) is always so serious as he tolerates everyone around him. Johnny’s mother Linda (voice of Megan Mullally) tries to be kind but always ends up putting her foot in her mouth, making things become awkward.

Dracula has high hopes for Dennis to show his vampire side, but it hasn’t surfaced yet. Secondly, Dennis’s favorite monster is Kakie (voice of Chris Kattan) a TV monster that’s friendly like Elmo and bit corny.

After seeing how the numerous wolf pups can move around like a wild tornado, Mavis believes that the hotel is not a good place to raise Dennis and considers moving to Johnny’s hometown in California. While the two of them are gone, Dracula sees this as an opportunity to inspire Dennis. So Dracula and his friends Frankenstein (voice of Kevin James), Wayne the Wolfman (voice of Steve Buscemi), Griffin the invisible man (voice of David Spade), and Murray the mummy (voice of Keegan-Michael Key) take Dennis on a road trip to their old haunts. Even Blobby the blob monster comes along for laughs.

Once Mavis finds out, she is so determined to get back to the hotel, she actually carries Johnny and their luggage herself while flying back to Transylvania as a bat. I never thought Mavis was that strong. I guess it goes to show that you should never underestimate the power of a concerned vampire mother.

Here’s a cool addition. The hotel has an organ player, who is none other than the Phantom of the Opera (voice of Jon Lovitz). It’s neat how he was thrown in so randomly. That got me thinking. There’s no mention of what became of Quasimodo after how he was left in the first movie.

It isn’t until much later when we see Dracula’s father Vlad (voice of Mel Brooks). Although Vlad dislikes humans even more than Dracula used to, the real threat is Vlad’s servant bat monster Bela (voice of Rob Riggle) and his bat crew, since they’re always up front about it.

I really like this movie and find it even funnier than the first one. I also saw online that there is a third installment in the works. I have no doubt that it will only get better from here.

Oct 122016
 

Unlike many zombie movies, Grindhouse: Zombiethon is mainly about a compilation of clips from several different zombie movies from the 70s and 80s. It starts with a young woman running from a zombie and hiding in a movie theater that’s playing old movies. Apparently, there are a bunch of zombies in the audience as well.

The movies featured include Zombie (1979), Zombie Lake (1981), Oasis of the Zombies (1982), Fear No Evil (1981), and The Invisible Dead (1970). Many of the clips that are shown have very creepy zombies often attacking attractive women who are at least half-naked. It’s like one cliché after another.

I should also point out the level of gore, which is so disgusting I always need to look away. You’re probably thinking, “These old zombie movies can’t be that creepy compared to the zombie movies of today.” Oh, yes they can.

Between each “movie”, there’s a scene featuring a different young woman running from a zombie and hiding in that same movie theater. As tiring as it may appear, I think it’s vital because it’s hard to tell where one set of movie clips end and another set begins. Especially since there is hardly any dialogue in the entire thing.

Later on, the in-between scenes are about the zombies in the movie theater struggling to sit still due to problems with the film projector. With a zombie running it, what would you expect? On the other hand, the way the zombies in the audience react is actually pretty funny. After showing all that gory drama, this movie really needed some comic relief.

Zombiethon wasn’t a bad movie, since I liked the idea of featuring old zombie movies in a series of clips. If it was meant to be a documentary style movie, couldn’t there have been a narrator or something? That way it would’ve been a little easier to follow. However, if you like zombie movies from that era, I think Zombiethon is at least worth checking out.

Aug 242016
 

Shortly after I became interested in Vincent Price movies like The Raven and The Comedy of Terrors, the next one I saw was The Fall of the House of Usher, which is a much darker drama in the ways of horror.

It’s about Philip Winthrop (Mark Damon) who travels to the House of Usher to see his fiancée Madeline (Myrna Fahey). This house is a desolate mansion near a murky swamp past a dark forest. As creepy as the scenery is, Philip intends to take Madeline away from all that.

The only problem is Madeline’s brother Roderick (Vincent Price), her only living relative. He believes that the entire Usher bloodline is tainted since every relative was an evildoer consumed by madness and it must not continue.

Roderick also has sensitive hearing, which is why even the tiniest loud noise is too much for him to handle. I can remember this being spoofed on Elvira’s Haunted Hills. Looking back now, I’m actually surprised that Roderick never put pillows over his ears, among other things.

Roderick tries to warn Philip and get him to leave for his own safety, but Philip refuses. Now throughout the rest of the movie, Phillip struggles to deal with the haunting disasters of the house and being able to get Madeline to go with him. That even includes making Philip think she’s dead, even though she’s really cataleptic.

The pacing slows down at this point. All that really stands out, other than the climax, is when Philip falls asleep and dreams that he’s in the lower level of the house that’s all foggy. Then enters a room filled with ghouls.

This was a good movie with an interestingly simple horror story. There was a remake but it was nothing like this one. The early 60’s certainly were a great time for Edgar Allan Poe based moves.

May 042016
 

It’s been a long time since the fourth installment of the Tremors franchise, which left the impression that it was all over. Now it’s back with Tremors 5: Bloodlines. Once again Burt Gummer (Michael Gross), the only original character to return, is back fighting graboids and other monsters to come from them.

Burt is now famous because he has a series about being a survivalist and has his own brand of marinade made from cactus juice. You’ve got to admire Burt’s level of resourcefulness.

While filming an episode, Burt is approached by videographer Travis Welker (Jaime Kennedy) who is wild on a motorcycle and becomes Burt’s new cameraman after the old one leaves. Travis is also a big fan of Burt and intends to expand his brand, despite Burt’s reluctance.

Soon Erich Van Wyk (Daniel Janks) from the South African Wildlife Ministry arrives and tells Burt of a graboid problem in South Africa. It’s hard to believe since they are confined in Perfection, Nevada, but there is no better man to handle the problem than Burt Gummer.

We all know how Burt likes to be over prepared. However, the gun laws in Africa are too strict forcing Burt to result in basic firearms that aren’t nearly powerful enough to kill a graboid or their kin. At least Burt can use his electronic seismic vibration monitor and heat blocking gear.

Burt is also known for his hilarity. The best example in this movie is the scene when Burt ends up caged and left for dead. Even with his survival skills, the heat from the sun causes Burt to go insane.

Eventually the monster reveals itself as a new and even more advanced breed of graboid. It’s like a combination of all three types (graboid, shrieker, and ass-blaster) with an even creepier presence and clawed feet like a raptor. What will the franchise come up with next?

I’ll tell you what, a queen graboid that can leap out of the ground along with detachable snake tongues that attack separately, is creepier than any of the other graboids they had before.

This was an interesting sequel to help bring back the Tremors franchise after 12 years. Will there be another sequel with Burt and Travis teaming up again? Only time will tell.