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A, B, C, & D

Stars: Anastasia Hillie, Karel Roden
Directed By: Nacho Cerda

I don’t quite understand this movie entirely.  It is very jumpy which is part of its charm, but the premise is hard to grasp.  It is a ghost story about people that are haunted by an event that they were too young to remember.  The opening sequence is captivating but the rest of the film seems to suffer from continuity problems thinly veiled as plot choices. 


Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Melissa George, and Phillip Baker Hall Directed by Andrew Douglas

This remake is actually scarier than the original, which seemed more like a stream of random events.  That isn’t saying much, but this film isn’t pretending to be anything other than an attempt to milk an old cash cow before you put it out to pasture.  Maybe it is because at the time it was supposedly true.  This movie hasn’t got that kind of restraint and takes complete liberty with the story.  The only thing missing is the creepy score that Lalo Schifrin composed for the original.  Come to think of it that was the most frightening thing about the film. 

I can’t even bring myself to buy a copy of the original film – it just seems so dirty.



Stars: James Stewart, Lee Remick, George C. Scott, Eve Arden and Ben Gazzara
Directed By Otto Preminger

This film has a top-drawer cast and director.  Excellent character development and a light and airy kind of quality to a topic that might have been much more serious than the time it was released would allow.  Great black and white photography and a terrific jazz score by the great Duke Ellington frame this interesting commentary on the blindness America sometimes suffers from when it comes to the men in uniform. 

Stars: Barry Fitzgerald, Walter Huston, Louis Hayward, and Roland Young
Directed By: Rene Clair
Black & White, 98 minutes.

Equally as entertaining as its remake years later (Ten Little Indians) this film is a carefully made and well-acted little who-dun nit.   Of course when you are starting with source material by Agatha Christie you are starting off well.   


Stars: Elke Sommers, Joseph Cotton
Directed By Mario Bava

Bava spins a great yarn, but you have to be in the perfect mindset.  Remember it’s the 70’s so the music is very much what the trend was and it book ends the film.  If you can make it through the title sequence you will be in for a treat both visually and viscerally.  It’s fun and seems like Bava has made this haunted house just for you!  Elke Sommer is in it and you understand why she was of interest at the time.

Stars: James Stewart, Kim Novak, Jack Lemmon, Ernie Kovacs and Elsa Lanchester
Directed By Richard Quine
103 minutes / Color

This is such a great film.  It uses the sub-culture of witchcraft in New York as a light commentary on so many issues.  Here you have the best actors of their time all playing with an incredibly deft screenplay under excellent direction.  It’s interesting and fun.  If you love old Technicolor when it is highlighting great production design you will enjoy this visually as well.

Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall and

The camera loves Lauren Bacall in this one.  Bogart is quite the leading man and lady-killer here.



Stars: Andrew Keir, Valerie Leon and James Villiers.
Directed By: Seth Holt

A very unusual Hammer horror film I must say.   It is one that has a reputation of being cursed.  Horror legend Peter Cushing shot one day on the film and had to leave the production because of his wife’s death and eventually the director of the film died before production wrapped.  Based on a Bram Stoker novel it is an interesting movie even if it really doesn’t have a real mummy skulking around.  It’s a bit confusing for a good portion of the movie, but eventually things come together and it manages to keep you guessing.

BUG (2006)
Stars: Ashley Judd, Harry Connick Jr. and Michael Shannon
Directed By: William Friedkin

A creepy love affair and a descent into insanity.  It is more a drama than anything else, but the acting and script are topnotch.  It makes you itch though.  If you are expecting The Exorcist type scares you will not find it here although this film is even more realistic because nothing supernatural is at work here.  It was advertised all wrong, but that happens a lot with films, especially when the director is from a historical phenomenon in film history.  


Stars: Mel Harris, Cotter Smith, 
Directed By:

This movie is so bad; it barely deserves mention except that as a warning of a waste of you, the viewer’s time.   I love films – sometimes I love bad films  -- I hated this film.  It suffers from an incredibly dumb script, to even worse acting and special effects that defy the word special – because they are so lame it even embarrassed me.  Someone related to Carlo Rimbaldi who created the ET figure is credited for this monster that looks like a cross between Batman and I don’t know what?  The man who scored Friday The 13th is also on hand to work here, but he can’t save what looks like its intention was to be one of the worst horror (and I use that term loosely) films of the eighties. 


Stars:Hugh Quarshie, Tomas Arana and Asia Argento
Directed By: Micheal Soavi

During the middle ages a mass slaughter of devil worshippers leads to an equally large grave that is concealed by a huge cathedral.   Flash forward to the present (actually the 80’s) and they are doing a restoration and strange things start to happen.  With the exception of the horrible ADR work, this is a good film.  Plenty of atmosphere and interesting plot developments as well as some great special effects. 


Stars: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and Emily Lloyd
Directed by Tim Burton

Visually impressive, but the score and story slow it down a bit much.


Stars: Ingrid Pitt, Nigel Green, and Leslie-Anne Down
Directed By: Peter Sasdy

Hammer does it again.  They take something that could be cheesy and make a very interesting film out of it.   Forgive the title because it hasn’t much to do with the actual plot.  She is no relation to the famous vampire and in fact does not suck blood; she uses it to revive her youth by bathing in it.  Like all “magic” it only works for a while and then she is old and warty once more.  Pitt who until this film, I had never heard of does a pretty capable job and also does nudity.   This is not your typical horror film, but does qualify as one of the best of Hammer.  


Stars: Robert Quarry, Michael Murphy and Roger Perry
Directed By: Bob Kelljan

Not a bad film and although there are no major stars in the movie, there are many recognizable faces.  The film also seemed to be kind of cutting edge for the time because of the amount of handheld camera work.  There is some very interesting storytelling here as long as you are not expecting Shakespeare.  So check out this groovy bit of 70’s horror – you may have fun.


Stars: Jan Michael Vincent, George Peppard, Paul Winfield, and Jackie Earle Haley Directed by: Jack Smight

I could not even make it through 45 minutes of this movie.  Perhaps I don’t like torture as much as I thought.

DRACULA (1979)

Stars: Frank Langella, Lawrence Olivier and Donald Pleasance
Directed By: John Badham

From the first sequence, the storm at sea, this film has you.  A richly produced and finely directed version of Stoker’s vampire classic also benefits greatly from the score by John Williams that enhances the film making it even more of a classic.

DRACULA (1931)

Stars: Bela Lugosi
Directed By: Tod Browning

This is the most bizarre film.  At first the acting seems very wooden and over the top and then you realize it is exactly what the film needs.  The only music appears to be in the title sequence, so the rest of the movie is very quiet except for the fact that you can hear the poor quality for sound recording at the time.  There is also the version with a score added by Philip Glass in 1999.  The standout performance is of course by Dwight Frye as Renfield, it is creepy and way over the top and almost steals the show from Lugosi, if he weren’t the perfect Dracula.   The sets are incredible and really show Universal in its heyday.  



Starring: Gloria Holden, Otto Kruger and Edward Van Sloan
Directed By: Lambert Hillyer

This is a very good, but also very short vampire film.  Countess Zeleska is Dracula’s daughter.  She’s a sympathetic character who for the film’s entirety doesn’t kill one character directly.    In fact you are almost rooting for her to succeed and be cured of this vampire problem she has.  It is tightly shot and very glossy. 


Stars: Christopher Lee, Suzan Farmer, and Barbara Shelly
Directed By Terrence Fisher

Good actors and an interesting take on reviving Dracula.  Terrence Fisher gives us mood and good reason to be on a trip to Dracula’s castle.  There are only a few missteps, mostly at the end.  You’ll know why when you get there.  But this is what Hammer did best, horror on a budget.  Usually it doesn’t show, but sometimes it does.  Christopher Lee doesn’t utter a word throughout.  Barbara Shelly is fantastic as the voice of reason and Matthews is charming as Suzan. 

Stars: Dennis Quad, Jake Gyllenhaal and Emmy Rossum
Directed By: Roland Emmerich

I didn’t like this movie and I am re-watching it to see why.  I also feel it deserves a second look.


Stars: Christopher George, Leslie Nielsen, Lynda Day George, Richard Jaekel, Michael Ansara and Ruth Roman, Directed By: Richard Gridler

The ozone layer’s decline causes wild animal’s to go on a rampage and several veteran television stars are on hand to deal with their wrath.  The most notable is Leslie Neilson whose character is at first glance very peripheral, it isn’t till two thirds of the film that his character goes ballistic and becomes crazy (ozone effects everything) and he takes it over the top and damn if Leslie doesn’t give it his all, even down to the wrestle to death bear attack. This film, which is over 30 years old, is still relevant, and we continue to struggle what to do to save the planet.  Lalo Schifrin provides the music competently and the animal action is for the most part effective.  There are a few missteps mostly the mice on strings for the sheriff and the roast sequence, but it is funny. 

DOLLS (1987)
Stars: Ian Patrick Williams, Carolyn Purdy-Gordon and Stephen Lee
Directed By: Stuart Gordon

This is a low budget film from the eighties and it doesn’t suck.  Oh the music is horribly synthesized and sometime obtrusive but for the most part this is an effective little horror tale that mixes just a touch (okay, it’s heavier than that) of Hansel and Gretel and a slew of creepy dollies, a toymaker and his wife.  The pacing saves the film because it doesn’t dwell on things that might be questionable from a continuity perspective.  Albert Band produced it before he started Full Moon and Stuart…. Directed.  The dolls are incredibly freaky looking and it is never quite explained why they have human skulls inside although it is hinted at I suppose .