Category Archives: Horror Films

Blood Feast-1963

Blood Feast-1963

Director-H.G.Lewis

Starring-Thomas Wood, Connie Mason

Scott’s Review #100

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Reviewed July 10, 2014

Grade: B-

Blood Feast is the debut film by horror master H.G. Lewis, who invented the gore genre. The film is simplistic and makes his later films almost seem big budget. This film is clearly not meant to be taken seriously and anyone who does is completely missing the point. It is exploitation, but completely over-the-top, with wooden performances for laughs, specifically by Connie Mason who stinks.

The story involves a demented caterer who is hired by a mother to cater an Egyptian themed dinner party. He, of course, uses real body parts to complete the meal and is obsessed with some silly curse and owns a female Egyptian statue who talks to him. The kills are laugh out loud in their basic shock value and all the victims are women. One victims tongue is torn out, as another is whipped to death, which, in a more modern film like Saw would be horrific. But the kills are so comedic, and the gore blood so amateurish, that the audience cannot help but chuckle.

The highlight for me was the intentionally (let’s hope) horrendous acting by all involved. I much preferred H.G. Lewis’s later films, but this blueprint is a nice introduction.

Alien-1979

Alien-1979

Director-Ridley Scott

Starring-Sigourney Weaver

Scott’s Review #94

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Reviewed July 5, 2014

Grade: A-

Alien is a science-fiction success from 1979 that began a long running franchise and made Sigourney Weaver a household name. It has the brilliant direction of Ridley Scott, who sets up the atmosphere and camera angles perfectly. Arguably in the horror genre as well as science-fiction, the film is riveting from start to finish. Weaver stars as Warrant Officer Ellen Ripley, a member of a spaceship returning to Earth. The ship picks up a distress signal and is ordered to investigate. They discover an alien existence. From this point, the film certainly has a horror element to it as the members of the doomed spacecraft are knocked off one by one in pure horror fashion, but the brilliant part is you do not know when or how and many of the deaths come out of nowhere.

The captivating visual effects in this film take it to another level and the narrow spacecraft tunnels and hallways are stunning. The villain of the film, the alien, is masterful as it is mysterious to the audience. The fact that it is only sporadically seen only adds to the tension. Alien is a memorable classic that is high up there on the sci-fi genre list of excellent films.

Crush-2013

Crush-2013

Director-Malik Bader

Starring-Lucas Till, Sarah Bolger

Scott’s Review #87

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Reviewed July 2, 2014

Grade: C-

Crush tells a story that has been told since almost the beginning of cinematic history- that of the stalker. It’s a teen stalker film very similar to The Roommate and Swimfan, which I admit to having seen and enjoyed. A teen soccer jock injures his knee and decides to break up with his girlfriend to focus on rehab. From this point someone begins to stalk him and leave secret admirer notes. Several red herrings ensue and a twist is contained in the final 30 minutes that, unfortunately, if one bothers to look at the cover art on the DVD, the stalker is revealed.

This particular genre is a guilty pleasure of mine so it’s tough to be completely objective. On the surface Crush is a really terrible movie- it is by the numbers, no character development, but just plain old fun. I suppose it is loosely a remake of the Alicia Silverstone film from the 1990’s. In any event the appeal (good or bad) was that the filmmakers played this film seriously instead of fessing up to a poor script and playing it for laughs. The acting was awful, the teen outcasts looked like they could easily be the popular kids and made up to appear nerdy, and the film had a Hallmark television movie of the week badness to it, but in a goofy, trashy way I enjoyed the film.

Altered States-1980

Altered States-1980

Director-Ken Russell

Starring-William Hurt

Scott’s Review #82

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Reviewed July 1, 2014

Grade: B-

Altered States is a trippy, strange horror/sci-fi hybrid film (William Hurt’s debut film) that is visually quite impressive, but the story is too far-fetched and implausible to be taken seriously. It feels like an earlier version of The Fly, but inferior to that particular film. Hurt plays an abnormal psychology professor obsessed with experimental schizophrenic hallucinatory drugs, which he takes, causing him to ultimately experience episodes of being half man, half ape through the use of a sensory deprivation tank and a strange Indian tribe comes into play. It’s a very silly premise, but somehow is believable to a point, especially in the first act. The ending of the movie proved ridiculous and uninteresting to me and seemed extremely disjointed as an entire film.

Apparently, there were lots of behind the scenes troubles with this film, which could explain the unbalanced feeling. Otherwise, the sporadic weird colors and patterns during the scientist’s episodes were effective. Drew Barrymore’s first film (she plays a toddler).

Aliens-1986

Aliens-1986

Director-James Cameron

Starring-Sigourney Weaver

Scott’s Review #80

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Reviewed June 29, 2014

Grade: B+

Aliens takes away the rawness of the original Alien and infuses a glossier, slick look to the film franchise. The film was made 8 years later, but story-wise is set 57 years into the future when Ripley, played to perfection by Sigourney Weaver, awakens. To her horror, she discovers that the aliens have colonized and she is forced to return to prevent havoc. Militia is in tow, adding a helping of masculinity that supports the film throughout. This scenario perfectly sets up what is to become an excellent sci-fi adventure story.

There are wonderful special effects that were quite extraordinary for the time that the film was shot-1986. The tunnels and spacecraft are perfectly lit and designed, giving it a bright and fun setting and the audience knows that doom is lurking. The actual aliens are visually frightening and, compared to the original, are more plentiful. Sigourney Weaver takes center stage and leads this film successfully. I’m not sure many other actresses could pull off her level of authentic toughness and give no sex appeal in the process and successfully get away with it.

The only detraction to this film is it seems a bit dated in a purely 1980’s film way. It has an 80’s look to it and that’s not a positive. Certainly not on par with the superlative original Alien, but otherwise, a well-made, supernatural, thrill ride.

2000 Maniacs-1964

2000 Maniacs-1964

Director-H.G.Lewis

Starring-William Kerwin, Connie Mason

Scott’s Review #79

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Reviewed June 28, 2014

Grade: B

Two Thousand Maniacs is a 1964 offering by gore director H.G. Lewis set in the south. The premise of the film is a southern town, ironically named Pleasant Valley, slaughtered and destroyed during the Civil War, is resurrected every 100 years to enact revenge on northerners who are unlucky enough to stumble upon their town. 5 nice looking, fashionable tourists, headed to Atlanta, are duped by local townspeople into making a wrong turn and given the hero’s welcome by the town folk for a festive centennial celebration. The welcome is, of course, a guise to a sinister plot to dismember and barbeque the tourists as part of the feast of the celebration.

The film takes a bit to get going, there is no killing until 30 minutes into it, but then kicks into high gear as some of the most graphic, brutal deaths ensue. A woman is tied to a platform as one towns person after another attempts to hit a bulls eye so that an enormous boulder falls, carnival dunk-tank style, stoning her to death. Another victim has each limb tied to a horse as they gallop in different directions, thus dismembering him. Still another is forced into a barrel laces with nails and sent rolling down a hill. Another has her thumb and arm chopped off and served for dinner. These are gruesome deaths.

Certainly, a film like this is done for fun, thus the term horror-comedy, but surely heavily  influenced other macabre films that followed- The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Deliverance. The southern rednecks are played to the hilt by mostly real townspeople and the cheerful song “The South will rise again” sticks in the viewer’s mind long after the film ends. In fact, the entire tone of the film is bright, cheerful, and the town people, on the surface, seem happy-go-lucky and warm. They even kill with charm. Two Thousand Maniacs is a fun, splatter film from one of the genres most revered film makers.

The Theatre Bizarre-2011

The Theatre Bizarre-2011

Director-Tom Savini, Douglas Buck

Starring-Udo Kier, Lena Kliene

Scott’s Review #77

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Reviewed June 28, 2014

Grade: B+

The Theatre Bizarre is a little known horror treat from 2011 that was only shown in horror festivals upon its release and is otherwise, shamefully unknown. Horror buffs must give this film a chance.

The main story centers on a young woman’s attraction to an odd theater in her neighborhood and her hesitant pursuit of the theater. Once she musters the courage to enter, she is treated to 6 stories told by the strange owner of the theater, who is a wax figure. The audience also experiences the stories in one-by-one vignettes. The stories range from the morbidly gruesome (A bitter, angry woman castrates her cheating boyfriend. An unstable woman serves her boyfriend to her friends for dinner) to poetic (a young girl and her mother discuss the process of death upon witnessing a deadly motorcycle crash).

The first vignette (Mother of Toads) was not one of the best, but the subsequent stories fascinated me. The ambiance, especially inside the theater, is dark, dream-like, and surreal, which adds much atmosphere to the film.  It reminded me quite a bit of Masters of Horror, a popular series on Showtime in the mid 2000’s. Highly recommended gem for horror fans.

Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat-2002

Blood Feat 2: All U Can Eat-2002

Director-H.G. Lewis

Starring-J.P. Delahoussaye, Christy Brown

Scott’s Review #65

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Reviewed June 24, 2014

Grade: B

Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat is a sequel to the original Blood Feast from over 30 years ago. It is not necessary to see the original before seeing this film (I hadn’t). The original killer’s grandson is the gruesome caterer/maniac in this installment.

Director H.G. Lewis heavily influenced John Waters, who has a fantastic cameo as a perverted reverend. This movie is so over the top and campy it is certainly not to be taken at all seriously. The premise, if one can call it that, involves a lunatic caterer intent on using various female body parts to concoct a scrumptious meal to serve at a wedding. The film is more of a comedy than a horror film in the traditional sense. The victims are clearly bubble-heads, mispronouncing words and traipsing around in skimpy outfits (or less) for no reason. The mean spirited mother of the bride is a delight. Scenes of taste testing and the presentation of “lady fingers” are hilariously creative. Campy in every way and poorly acted, but good late night fun.

The Amityville Horror-1979

The Amityville Horror-1979

Director-Stuart Rosenberg

Starring-James Brolin, Margot Kidder

Scott’s Review #60

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Reviewed June 23, 2014

Grade: B-

The Amityville Horror was undoubtedly more thrilling upon its original release in 1979, but sadly, time has not been kind to this particular film, as it does not hold up well any longer. It feels dated, but that is not to say it is at all un-enjoyable.

The atmosphere of the movie and the building tension and sense of dread are effective. The audience knows bad things will eventually occur. The look of the film is dark and creepy and actors James Brolin and Margot Kidder are adequate in the lead roles. The main problem with the film is all along there is a feeling that I am watching a pale version of The Exorcist or The Omen, far superior films in my opinion, with the religious theme that was heavily used in the horror genre throughout the 1970’s. Also, horror in 1970’s cinema was at its best and by 1979, horror had shifted into the knife wielding maniac vein. Add to this the fact that the supposedly “true story” has since been proven a silly hoax, so it certainly takes away any shred of seriousness. To be fair, the scene involving the herd of flies is scary, but other scenes seem silly and inconsequential. The Amityville Horror is not a bad movie, but similar films are far superior.

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane-2006

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane-2006

Director-Jonathan Levine

Starring-Amber Heard

Scott’s Review #38

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Reviewed June 18, 2014

Grade: B-

Interesting, experimental type horror meets art film from 2006. On the surface it appears to be a by the numbers horror throwback involving a group of teens spending a boozy weekend on a Texas farm, of course, in the middle of nowhere. They are systematically offed one by one. This sounds standard, but there are some moody, artistic, beautiful scenes mixed in, hence the horror/art house label. There is a certain “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” charm to it as well. The story, however, makes little sense and the protagonist’s motivations are confusing and never explained, so while adventurous in parts, the film ultimately fails based on the story inconsistencies. The characters are also rather unlikable, perhaps intentionally so, as these are the characters the audience enjoys seeing hacked to bits.

I Spit on Your Grave 2-2013

I Spit on Your Grave 2-2013

Director-Steven R. Monroe

Starring-Jemma Dallender

Scott’s Review #30

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Reviewed June 17, 2014

Grade: F

I have seen the original I Spit on Your Grave from 1978 (loved it) and the remake in 2010 (pretty good), this “sequel”, which has nothing to do with either of the others, is awful.

As horrific as the original was to watch, it was raw and the perpetrators motivations at least were clear and the subsequent revenge made sense. In this one the attackers torture and abuse for the sake of it with no rhyme or reason and some thinly brushed over “hating Americans” excuse. Furthermore, the “revenge” pales in comparison to what the victim endures so there is no winning moment.

Unsurprisingly, there are plot holes galore, for example, the attackers are able to transport the victim to another country with no passport, customs, etc. Fail!

All Hallows’ Eve-2013

All Hallows’ Eve-2013

Director-Damien Leone

Starring-Katie Maguire

Scott’s Review #19

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Reviewed March 25, 2014

Grade: B+

All Hallows’ Eve is an above average, low budget, independent horror film from 2013 reminiscent of the wonderful Showtime series Masters of Horror. The film has a main story, then divided into 3 tales, and finally all meshing together, which was very effective. A babysitter and her 2 charges find an old VHS tape and, of course, watch it. Three short films are on the tape.

The antagonist of the films is a horrific supernatural clown that reminded me of Pennywise from “It”. The motivations of the clown are not explained, nor is that necessary. One of the three stories feels out of place, but the other 2 are excellent. Anyone looking for some late night fright would do well watching this creepy little film.

The Lair of the White Worm-1988

The Lair of the White Worm-1988

Director-Ken Russell

Starring-Amanda Donohoe, Hugh Grant

Scott’s Review #15

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Reviewed June 17, 2014

Grade: C+

This is a very strange film. Set in Scotland, it tells the tale of a giant snake skeleton found in the ground that leads to a series of strange events.

A wealthy Lady, brilliantly played by Amanda Donohue, begins a sinister plot to sacrifice the townspeople. The film is campy and way over the top, though Donohue is delicious and seems to have fun with the role of a slithering, sexy, bisexual creature. The gloomy ambiance is fantastic, mixed in with many psychedelic sequences that entertained.

It’s a somewhat fun, late night B-movie, to be sure, but the plot did not seem to make much sense to me, especially in the final act. It is a trippy experience.

The Gore, Gore Girls-1972

The Gore, Gore Girls-1972

Director-H.G. Lewis

Starring-Frank Kress, Amy Farrell

Scott’s Review #12

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Reviewed May 14, 2014

Grade: B+

The Gore Gore Girls is a fun, late night, campy horror film by the “Godfather of Gore”, H.G. Lewis.

An unknown assailant is hacking strippers to bits using very unusual methods. An investigator is hired to find out whodunit. It’s an entertaining experience and I love the use of the whodunit mixed in with horror. I enjoyed the outcome when the killer is revealed.

Another influence to John Waters (even the music seems identical!) and it’s a hearty viewing of wildness, merriment and debauchery. Comedian Henny Youngman appears, though he later denied being in the film.

The strippers are over the top and unique and the investigator (sort of a Sherlock Holmes type) wonderful to watch. Quite low budget as the audio is tough to hear at times and the video fuzzy, but this only enhances the fun. Continuity errors for miles, but it hardly matters.

 

Girly-1970

Girly-1970

Director-Freddie Francis

Starring-Vanessa Howard, Michael Bryant

Scott’s Review #11

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Reviewed June 14, 2014

Grade: B-

Girly is an unusual British horror film about an affluent, bored family, clearly deranged, who kidnap victims and force them to become “members” of the family by participating in game playing escapades for their delight.

The premise of the film is appealing and intriguing as to how it will play out. The family members (Mumsy, Nanny, Girly, and Sonny) are played with gusto by the cast, but are never over the top. My favorite is “Mumsy”, wickedly played by British actress Ursula Howells. The film itself has a fairy tale quality to it with the sets of the house they share. The main victim (a male gigolo) is miscast (too old, not sexy enough) and begins a cat and mouse game of trickery, plotting the family against one another until the inevitable bodies pile up.

The film loses steam midway through and the ending is not satisfying. Why the victims are not able to escape the vast property is weak (a 7 foot tall flimsy fence??). “Curious” film that becomes a tad boring towards the conclusion.

Rosemary’s Baby-1968

Rosemary’s Baby-1968

Director-Roman Polanski

Starring-Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon

Top 100 Films-#8     Top 20 Horror Films-#4

Scott’s Review #9

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Reviewed June 17, 2014

Grade: A

 Rosemary’s Baby is not only a great film, it’s a masterpiece. Easily one of my favorites in the horror genre, it’s also towards the top of my favorite films list.

The beauty of this film is the power of suggestion and subtleties. It has none of the blood, gore, or standard horror frights one might expect. It doesn’t need them.

The audience knows something is off by clues that are given throughout the film. The closed off room in the young couple’s apartment, the sweet, but a bit odd elderly neighbors, a strange suicide, a mysterious, horrid smelling, good luck charm. Rosemary’s due date (June 6, 1966- “666”).

The strange, dreamlike conception scene is intense and surreal. Her husband- claiming Rosemary passed out from too much alcohol- begins to become a suspicious man following the incident, but we are confused by his involvement- what are the neighbors up to, we wonder? Are they sinister or simply innocent and meddlers?

In a sinister scene, Rosemary gnaws on bloody raw meat, catches her reflections in the glass and is horrified by her behavior.

Mia Farrow is frightfully good as the waifish, pregnant, Rosemary, who loses, instead of gains weight. The film also has a couple of real life eerie occurrences: the building setting (The Dakota) is where John Lennon was shot and killed, Director Roman Polanski’s wife, Sharon Tate, in a cameo, was murdered shortly after filming by Charles Manson.

Similar in theme to other devilish/demon films The Exorcist and The Omen. This is a film that must be seen by everyone and only shines brighter with each subsequent viewing.

The Gruesome Twosome-1967

The Gruesome Twosome-1967

Director-H.G. Lewis

Starring-Elizabeth Davis, Gretchen Wells

Scott’s Review #8

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Reviewed June 17, 2014

Grade: B+

This offbeat treat is an incredibly strange, super-low budget horror film from influential director H.G. Lewis. This film is definitely an enjoyable, campy, midnight-movie type of experience. The acting is completely over-the-top and played for laughs, purposely. It felt like watching a horror version of a John Waters film and the atmosphere and acting style surely influenced Waters.

Apparently, shots were added to fill the running time to warrant a film release. KFC and Michelob product placed and one favorite scene is a sorority type slumber party as the girls danced while eating KFC.

The 7 minute intro of the talking foam heads is wonderfully strange and not to be missed. While campy, there is one intensely gruesome scene towards the beginning of the film and a must-see for cult horror and/or late night film fans.