horror, movie, movie review

June 23rd, 2019 Movie – Gargoyles (1972)

gargoyles 1972

Continuing on with my nostalgia for TV movies I watched as a kid, I remembered this little gem of a movie. The reason that this movie sticks out in my head is because I have never managed to see the entire movie. I watched about 15 minutes of it years ago when my family first moved to Texas, but we didn’t get to finish it as we had to go do something. Over the years, the portion I saw would pop into my head but it wasn’t until fairly recently that I decided to try and find it online so I could watch it. So let’s see if the rest of the movie was worth the wait as I watch today’s movie, Gargoyles (1972).

The Plot: After his fall from Heaven, The Devil proclaimed that his offspring, the gargoyles, would one day rule over the Earth and man. Three times, the gargoyles would rage war over mankind but would be defeated to the point of extinction each time. Hundreds of years after the last battle, mankind has practically forgotten about the gargoyles, thinking them as nothing more than statues on ancient buildings. In the present day, Diana Boley has flown out to Arizona to meet up with her dad, Dr. Mercer Boley, who is studying humanity’s obsession with demons over the years. As they head towards Mexico, Boley tells Diana that they are going to make a detour to see an old man, Uncle Willie, who claims to have some copies of old Native American exorcisms as well as having found something incredible. As the make their way across the desert, something large flies overhead while they are stopped but they both put it out of their minds as they continue on their way. When they finally reach Willie’s home, Boley is skeptical of Willie’s claims, thinking he is trying to scam him. The old man leads them towards a shack at the back of his home and once inside, he shows them the skeleton of a gargoyle that he found in a nearby canyon. Boley doesn’t believe the skeleton is real, thinking that Willie simply assembled it from various bones, but Willie tells him it is real and finally convinces Boley to accept his deal for the skeleton. That night, they are sitting in the shack interviewing Willie about the ancient rituals when something attacks the shack. Willie is knocked unconscious set on fire when a lantern is knocked over and Boley and Diana quickly leave the shack, grabbing the gargoyle skull on their way out, before they are caught in the blaze themselves. As they drive down the road, Boley listens to the recording of their interview so he can listen to whatever had attacked them when a gargoyle suddenly swoops down and lands on their car. Boley manages to shake it off and the head to a gas station/shop and ask the attendant to try and fix their car, then head to the motel next door to get a room. The next day, Boley and Diana tell the police about Willie’s death and head out with them to show them the scene. When they get there, they see some teenagers riding dirt bikes near the burnt wreckage and the police believe believe they are responsible for the fires. After catching all of the dirt bikers, the police book them for the arson and death of Willie, in spite of Boley and Diana telling the police that the kids weren’t there when they left. That night, a pair of gargoyles break into Boley’s motel room and steal the skull and as he chases after them, one of them is hit by a truck. Boley brings the body back into his room and tells Diana that it’s a gargoyle and they had come for the skull of their dead. Boley wants to take the body back to Los Angeles immediately, as he knows the gargoyles will be back to reclaim it but when he turns around, he finds Diana is gone. Diana goes to the police station to try and convince the deputy to let the kids go but when he refuses, she tells James Reeger, the leader of the group, about the gargoyle and promises she will get them out of there. Diana heads back to the motel but as she gets there, she hears the gargoyles approaching and Boley quickly grabs her and drags her into their room. As the gargoyles break down the door, Boley grabs the body and goes out the back window with Diana and they get in their car but before they can leave, the gargoyles rip off the door and grab Diana and knock Boley out. As three gargoyles work on retrieving the body from the car, the leader of the gargoyles approaches Diana, who faints when he gets close to her and the leader picks her up and carries her off as they leave. The next day, Mrs. Parks, the motel manager, tells the sheriff and deputy what she heard at the motel and Boley confirms her story, telling them about the gargoyles and how they took Diana. When Boley says they need to search for Diana, the sheriff says they don’t have the manpower to mount a search and Reeger volunteers his gang to help with the search, which the sheriff reluctantly agrees to allow. As the search party mounts up to find Diana, the sheriff sends Mrs. Parks and the gas station attendant, Buddy, to the state patrol’s office for some back-up, unaware that a gargoyle was in the back of their truck. In the gargoyles’ lair, Diana is trying to find a way out when the leader speaks to her, telling her they mean her no harm but they can’t let the humans kill them off again. Outside, the search party soon finds Buddy’s truck driving around in circles, with the front seat covered in blood and no sign of Buddy or Mrs. Parks. As night falls, the find Mrs. Parks’ body hanging from a telephone pole, which scares some of the bikers but Reeger convinces them to keep looking for Diana. Back in the lair, the gargoyle leader is told of the approaching humans, as well as how another egg layer has hatched so they will soon have more eggs to hatch and the leader tells the other gargoyles they must get rid of the humans. As the search party gets close to the lair, the gargoyles emerge from their cave and begin attacking them. Boley is approached by the gargoyle leader and told to follow him if he wants to see Diana and when he gets there, the leader tells him that they have been waiting 500 years and that with their eggs hatching, they will soon have enough to wipe out mankind. The leader then heads off to where he is keeping Diana, having her read aloud to him. Boley wanders around the cave and finds the egg chamber when a gargoyle grabs him, telling him to be quiet, then takes him to where Diana is but when Boley gets there, the leader quickly takes Diana deeper into the cave and Boley is forced to flee. Outside, Boley encounters Reeger, the sheriff, and the remainder of the search party and tells them about the eggs inside the cave and Diana still being alive. The sheriff says they will have state patrol out there in the morning but Boley refuses to wait and Reeger goes with him. The two men carry some gasoline cans with them and after fighting off some gargoyles, Reeger starts to douse the eggs with gasoline when he is swarmed by some more gargoyles, and he lights the gasoline, killing himself as well as the gargoyles and eggs. Boley confronts the leader and tells him that he will be dead if he doesn’t leave, forcing the leaders decision by breaking the wing of the last breeder. The leader says that Boley’s actions may spell the end of mankind one day, before grabbing the breeder and flying off into the night as Boley and Diana watch them leave.

Maybe it is just the sheer number of horror movies I have seen over the years but I honestly don’t know why kid me found the small scene I saw so scary. Still, this wasn’t that bad of a TV movie all in all. The acting was ok, with Cornel Wilde doing a decent job as the lead (Boley) but I was disappointed that Jennifer Salt (Diana) was relegated to nothing more than the typical horror movie screaming girl. The story started out ok, and I liked the whole idea of gargoyles being the spawn of the devil, but it got a little confusing at the end. They didn’t really explain why the leader kidnapped Diana, or why the breeder helped Boley find her. The special effects weren’t all that impressive, as most of the gargoyle costumes looked kind of cheap. The camera work at times was also a little weird, seeming to slow down for some reason when they focused on the gargoyles, which really made no sense. All in all, it’s a decent TV movie but could have been better.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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drama, horror, movie, movie review, thriller

June 16th, 2019 Movie – Ants

ants

I don’t know why there was such a resurgence of killer bug movies in the 70’s but my younger self certainly enjoyed watching them on the weekends. So continuing on with my reviews of some old TV movies I saw as a child, I came across this little gem; which once again showed me that my memory of events as a child was not always 100% accurate. Now I remember seeing this movie on TV one day when I was about 6-7 years old. and clearly recall the ants attacking people in the movie. However, there is one scene at the end of the movie that I honestly thought had occurred in a different movie, mainly one involving killer bees, not ants. My surprise at discovering my mistake didn’t really detract from my enjoying watching the movie so sit back and let me relive some nostalgia as I watch today’s movie, Ants.

The plot: As a construction crew is working next to Lakewood Manor, one of the workers is suddenly attacked by a swarm of ants while he was working in a covered ditch. Another worker hears him crying out for help and heads down to the ditch to help him, but they both end up being accidentally buried alive by a bulldozer. Meanwhile, Anthony Fleming, a real estate magnate, is heading to the manor with his partner/lover Gloria to try and buy the manor from Ethel Adams, the owner, and turn it into a casino. They arrive at the Manor, just as Mike Carr, the construction foreman, notices his missing workers and heads to the hotel to see if they are there. Inside the hotel, Valerie, Ethel’s daughter, apologizes to Fleming, as her grandmother is having second thoughts about selling, then she tells her frustrations to Mike, as they are dating. Mike leaves the hotel and after talking with his coworker Vince about the missing men, Mike decides to check the trench and notices a hardhat on the ground inside. Mike yells out for Vince to get help and the rest of the crew head over to help as they find and dig out the men. An ambulance is called to take the men to the hospital, where one died from asphyxiation and the other dies from some sort of toxic reaction. When Mike returns to the hotel, he looks around the ditch to see if he can figure out what happened to his men, just as Peggy Kenter, a Board of Health inspector, and her assistant White show up to find out what happened to the workers. Meanwhile, a boy that was collecting glass bottles to recycle had been attacked by some ants and goes screaming into the pool to attempt to get them off. Mike and Richard, a hotel employee, rushes into the pool to rescue the boy, who is taken to the hospital and dies from the same thing that killed Mike’s worker. As Mike continues to try and figure out what is going on, Vince is bitten by some ants and after Mike helps him, Vince finds that his leg has gone numb. Figuring that the ants are somehow responsible, Mike catches some in a jar to be tested, just as the manor’s cook dies in the kitchen. Peggy and White quarantine the kitchen and begin preparations to evacuate the manor’s guests, as White feels that this is the result of a virus and when Mike explains his theory to them, White scoffs at the notion that ants are the cause of it. As Mike gets pissed and storms off, Peggy takes the jar of ants to a friend of hers to ask if it is possible that they could be deadly, and her friend says it is possible due to all the toxins that have been put into the earth over the years. Back at the hotel, Mike has gotten into the bulldozer and begins digging up the ditch, and the drain pipe that leads into the hotel, causing the ant colony to begin swarming around the hotel. Mike, realizing what is happening, tells Vince to have the men dig a ditch around the hotel to contain the ants while he tries to make his way inside. At the hotel, several of the guest that had not evacuated have been killed by the ants, as well as White and Gloria, leaving Valerie, Ethel, Fleming, Richard, and his new girlfriend Linda left alive. Mike makes it inside and has everyone head upstairs to stall for time, as the ants are starting to swarm the downstairs. When the police and fire department show up, they use the engine’s ladder to try to rescue everyone in the hotel but are only able to get Linda out before the others are forced to move to the higher floors. A helicopter is brought in and they manage to load Ethel into the basket so she can be carried to safety but as the helicopter goes to leave, Richard ends up falling off the balcony and lands on a lower awning. Vince manages to rescue Richard, just as the helicopter begins to land nearby but the backwash from the helicopter’s props sends the nearby ants flying into the crowd of onlookers, forcing them to avoid using the helicopter for any more rescue attempts. The fire chief gets in touch with Mike to explain the situation, telling him that the Coast Guard is sending some special suits they can use to rescue them but they won’t be there for 30 minutes. Mike, Valerie, and Fleming try to barricade the room as best they can and as the ants start to seep through, and Peggy’s friend Tom tells them that they have to try and stay as still as possible, as the ants might not see them as threatening and attack them. Mike cuts some strips of wallpaper to use as breathing tubes, and has everyone sit down and stay calm, slowly using the tubes for when they need to take a breath. Mike and Valerie manage to stay calm and follow the plan but Fleming panics when the ants start crawling on him and he attempts to jump off the balcony into the pool below, but misses and falls onto the concrete. The suits finally arrive and Mike and Valerie are rescued from the ants and after reuniting with Ethel, Ethel tells them to go ahead and get married and not to worry about her, as she is going to move to Florida with her sister.

While this wasn’t a bad movie on the whole, it was quite a bit on the boring side. The acting was ok, with Robert Foxworth doing a good job in his role as Mike. The other actors were ok, though I was rather surprised by the amount of actors I was familiar with being in this movie, such as Suzanne Somers and Brian Dennehy. The plot was decent, if a little slow in building up to any real tension. The scene at the end with Mike, Valerie, and Fleming sitting in the room as the ants crawl all over them definitely provided the means to make ones skin crawl, especially when you had an ant crawling all around Valerie’s eye. The special effects weren’t much, as this was a made for TV movie, but they did a decent job showing the ants interacting with the people. All told, this isn’t the type of movie that would blow anyone away, but is worth a watch if you happen to come across it.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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horror, movie, movie review, thriller

June 9th, 2019 Movie – Tarantulas: The Deadly Cargo

tarantulas the deadly cargo

So I decided to go ahead and continue watching/reviewing some old TV movies from the 70’s this month. Today’s movie is one that I remember watching once as a kid back in the 2nd/3rd grade. The problem is, I kind of mixed portions of this movie with Kingdom Of The Spiders, which came out in theaters the same year and I had seen about the same time. When I obtained my copy of Kingdom Of The Spiders, and realized that some of the scenes I remembered where not in that movie, I considered trying to locate the movie that had those scenes in it, but will admit that I didn’t put much effort into it. Then I came across a couple of old movies on YouTube and realized that one of them was the movie I remembered. That is how I came to find myself watching Tarantulas: The Deadly Cargo today.

The plot: At a small airstrip in Ecuador, some farmers are loading sacks of coffee beans onto a plane, not noticing that some tarantulas are getting into the bags with the beans. The two pilots, Buddy and Fred, are discussing how much money they will make selling the coffee back in the states when some Federales show up, telling them that they owe $300 as an export tax. Having no money between them, Buddy and Fred try to bribe the officers with some of the coffee but when the men refuse, they get the money buy agreeing to smuggle some men into the US on their plane. After paying off the officials, they get their plane ready to take off, sneaking the men on board as they move the plane to the runway. As they fly through the night, the fly into a storm, where the turbulence causes the bags to fall over and the tarantulas escape and bite one of the men in the cargo hold. The next day, one of the engines goes out on their plane and Buddy and Fred attempt an emergency landing near the small town of Finleyville, CA, but some of the tarantulas had made it into the cockpit when Fred had gone to check on the men in the hold and begin attacking the two pilots, causing them to lose control of the plane and crash. Cindy Beck and Joe Harmon, who had been in contact with the plane when it crashed, call the town’s emergency services and then head out to see if they can help. As a crowd starts to form in the area, Joe talks with Bert Springer, one of the town leaders and head of the volunteer fire department, and when they notice fuel leaking from the wing, the work on getting a trench built around the plane to contain the fuel. As the trench is finished, a kid riding a dirt bike rides up but loses control of his bike, crashing into the trench and causing the fuel to ignite. The fire department works on getting the fire under control, not noticing that the tarantulas are escaping from the plane. Once the fire is contained, Joe and Bert head inside to check if anyone is inside, finding one survivor, while Doc Hodgins oversees getting Buddy and Fred out of the cockpit, with Fred being the only one still alive. As Mayor Douglas talks with Hodgins to ask what could have caused the crash and the mens deaths, worrying that any negative press or possible plague could have an impact on their orange harvest, a man that had been stealing some of the coffee from the plane is bitten by a spider and goes into convulsions, though nobody saw the spider. The next day, a teacher is bitten by a tarantula and dies and when another teacher finds the spider and takes it to Hodgins, he checks the teacher and compares it’s fangs to the wound he found on her leg. Hodgins contacts Joe, who was riding in the ambulance with the two survivors, and when they find bites on them as well, Joe tells Hodgins to have Cindy pick him up, then has the ambulance pull over so he can get out. Joe and Cindy head to the plane to see if they can find some more spiders there and after finding one, they take it to a friend of Joe’s in L.A., who identifies it as a Banana Spider, one of the most venomous and aggressive spiders in the world. As Hodgins talks with Bert about the spider, Cindy’s brother Matthew attempts to grab one that was in a truck full of oranges that was leaving the packaging plant, and ends up getting bitten and dies. Meanwhile, Mayor Chad Douglas is with an inspector, who approves of the plant’s oranges, and he makes plans to get them shipped out, unaware that all of the spiders have been drawn to the plant due to all of the oranges inside. When Joe and Cindy arrive back in town and learn about Matthew’s death, Joe heads to the plant with a container of strong pesticide so he can kill the spiders but Bert stops him, as it would ruin the crop. As the townsfolk gather at the plant and argue over what they should do, Chad says that they have only 16 hours to before the train arrives to pick up the oranges and if they don’t make it on the train, the town will be monetarily finished. Joe gets the book his friend loaned him about the spiders and learns that they will become paralyzed when they hear the droning of wasps, their mortal enemy, so the townsfolk come up with a plan to get rid of the spiders. Recording the droning of angry bees, they place speakers inside the warehouse, then place some fruit in the middle of an open area to lure in some insects, which will attract the spiders. When a large group of spiders converges on the fruit, they begin playing the recording, causing the spiders to freeze up. After they are sure the spiders are paralyzed, Bert, Joe, Cindy, and some other people head inside and begin grabbing the paralyzed spiders, dropping them in buckets of gasoline and alcohol to kill them. As the people outside watch their progress, Rich, who is part owner of the warehouse, attempts to burn the warehouse down to collect on the insurance money but trips on the roof and falls off, taking out the power lines as he falls. With the power out, the automatic doors close, trapping the people inside the warehouse just as the spiders start moving again. Steve, who had seen Rich head up to the roof, decides to head up the same way and enters the warehouse, then leads the trapped people back outside. As they make it outside, Chad manages to get some people to repair the lines so that they can continue getting rid of the spiders and save the oranges.

You know, sometimes you have to give props to the simplistic approach to movies, especially the made-for-TV variety. This was actually a pretty decent movie, because they went with a more simple, and somewhat realistic approach to it instead of going for a more flashy/showy style like with Kingdom Of The Spiders. The acting was pretty good, with Claude Akins (Bert), Charles Frank (Joe), Deborah Winters (Cindy), and Pat Hingle (Hodgins) doing good jobs in their roles. Even though they had smaller roles, I also liked Tom Atkins (Buddy) and Howard Hesseman (Fred), but I did wish they could have done more in the movie. The story was pretty simplistic in it’s scope, with the idea that the venomous spiders were accidentally scooped into the bags with the coffee, then got free after the crash being pretty believable. Since they had such a simple plot to follow, the actors really had to ramp up the tension and drama to help sell the movie. There wasn’t much in the way of special effects outside of the plane crash, as mostly you had people just interacting with the spiders, which honestly wasn’t too scary unless you suffer from arachnaphobia. A decent TV movie that is worth watching if you are in the mood for a “bug” movie, but not one that is an absolutely must see.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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horror, movie, movie review, thriller

June 2nd, 2019 Movie – Trilogy Of Terror

trilogy of terror

So I currently find myself in the position of honestly not having a clue as to what movie I should watch for my blog. I literally spent an hour coming through Netflix, Hulu, Vudu, and other streaming sites just to get an idea. Then, this movie popped into my head, or rather one part of this movie, and I knew that my choice had been made. Now I had honestly never heard of this movie until several years ago, when I saw a clip of this movie on YouTube. That clip, which was from the portion of the movie titled “Amelia” was one of the most crazy, insane things that I had seen in quite a while. Several of my friends had seen this clip as well and asked if I had seen, or owned, the movie and I said that I managed to see the full movie but did not own it, as the DVD is out of print and any copy I found was too expensive to warrant purchasing. Still, I found the movie online so I was able to watch today’s movie, Trilogy Of Terror.

The plot: Trilogy of Terror is made up of three short film segments so I will keep the plots of each segment separated.

Julie – Chad and his friend Eddie are sitting on a picnic table on their college campus talking about the various girls that they see walking by when Chad sees his English teacher, Julie Eldridge, and starts wondering about her. After being distracted by her thigh when she sits on her desk in class, Chad strikes up a conversation with Julie after class in an attempt to ask her out but she turns him down, and Eddie tries to warn him away from messing with a teacher. That night, a friend tries to convince Julie to go out with her but she refuses and gets ready to go to bed, unaware that Chad is outside and watching her undress. The next day, Chad invites Julie to see a movie at the drive-in and she ends up agreeing. While watching the movie, Chad gets her a drink but spikes it before handing it to her and after she falls asleep, he drives her to a motel. After getting a room for the night, Chad takes Julie inside and proceeds to take pictures of her in compromising positions, then redresses her and puts her back in the car Chad take Julie home, telling her that she had fallen asleep during the movie, and he tries to ask her out again but she refuses, saying it was a mistake to go out the first time. The next day, Chad calls Julie and tells her that he is picking her up for a drive, then shows her the photos that he took of her, blackmailing her into staying in a relationship with him. The relationship continues for a month, until Julie tells Chad one night that the game is over. She revels to him that she had manipulated him into becoming interested in her but has grown bored of him, like she has done with the other students she has seduced. Chad starts choking and realizes that Julie had poisoned his drink and after he dies, she takes him back to his apartment and drags him to his darkroom, where she starts a fire and leaves him there. Chad’s death is reported as an accident and Julie takes a newspaper clipping of the death and tapes it to her scrapbook of similar deaths. When someone knocks on her door, she answers it to find Arthur Moore there needing tutoring in English, and she invites him inside, saying they will be good friends.

Millicent And Therese – After the death of her father, Millicent is watching old home movies and writes in her diary about her belief that her sister Therese is evil. When a family friend, Thomas Amman, shows up at the house, Millicent tells him of her suspicions and how Therese had seduced their father and, even though it was ruled an accident, she believes that Therese killed their mother. The next day she contacts her doctor, Dr. Ramsey, and tells him that Therese is becoming more violent and Ramsey agrees to stop by the next day. When Ramsey gets there, Therese is the one that greets him and attempts to seduce him but he leaves, saying he will call Millicent later and Therese yells at him that they don’t need his help, The next day, Millicent sees a little girl crying because Therese broke her doll and Millicent gets the idea to make a voodoo coll so she could use it to kill Therese. Millicent calls Ramsey and tells him she no longer needs his help, as she has a way to deal with Therese, then puts her plan into motion. The next day, Ramsey tries calling the house and when he gets no answer, he heads over there. where he finds Therese lying dead on her bedroom floor, with the voodoo doll next to her, and no sign of Millicent. Ramsey calls the authorities to report the death and when an ambulance shows up to take the body away, he tells reveals that he had been the family physician for years and that Millicent and Therese were actually the same girl, with Millicent being another personality Therese had developed to handle the guilt of seducing their father and killing their mother.

Amelia – Amelia returns to her high-rise apartment carrying a large box and when she gets inside, she opens it to reveal a wooden doll in the form of a misshapen aboriginal warrior with razor sharp teeth. After reading the scroll that comes with the doll, which calls it “He Who Kills” and says not to remove the gold chain from the doll as it keeps the Zuni spirit inside the doll, Amelia calls her mother and ends up getting into an argument about her cancelling their plans and her lifestyle. After finishing her call, Amelia examines the doll for a bit before going to take a bath but as she puts the doll down, she doesn’t notice the chain coming loose and falling off. After her bath, Amelia heads into the kitchen to start cooking dinner and notices that the doll is not on her living room table where she left it. Amelia starts looking around to try and find the doll, finding it’s spear behind the couch, when she hears a noise in the kitchen and when she investigates, she finds the carving knife she was using is missing. Amelia heads back into the living room when the lights suddenly go out and she is attacked by the doll, wielding the knife and slashing at her feet and ankles. Amelia manages to get away and tries calling the police but the doll chases after her. Amelia locks herself in the bathroom, and the doll attempts to stab her from underneath the door, then manages to open the door and renew it’s attack. Amelia wraps the doll in a towel and tries drowning it but it has no effect and it chases her into a closet. When the doll goes after her, Amelia traps it inside a suitcase but the doll uses the knife to cut a hole in the suitcase. When the doll’s head burst free of the hole, Amelia starts stabbing at it with a knife, seemingly killing it but as she goes to check, it leaps out and bites her on the hand. Amelia stumbles into the kitchen, with the creature now biting her neck, and she manages to pull it off her and throws it into the oven, where the doll begins screaming in pain as it burns to ashes. When the screaming stops, Amelia opens the oven to check when something causes her to scream and fall back. Some time later, Amelia calls her mother and apologizes for her her call earlier and invites her over for dinner. After hanging up, Amelia rips the bolts off her front door, then crouches down and starts stabbing the floor with a knife while smiling with razor sharp teeth, revealing that the Zuni spirit has no possessed her.

As far as made for TV movies go this wasn’t too bad but the “Amelia” story simply outshined the other two parts. Karen Black was fantastic in her roles of the central characters of each part., making each character rather unique and not appear like it is the same person over and over in each story. The stories themselves were ok, with “Amelia” being my favorite and honestly fitting the theme of the movie best. The other two stories, “Julie” and “Millicent And Therese”, felt more dramatic than actual terror. I honestly didn’t care for “Millicent and Therese” that much, as I don’t particularly care for using mental illness as an explanation for a horror theme. Honestly, I would have been just happy with the “Amelia” story being longer, as the scenes with Amelia fighting off the doll were fantastic in a ridiculous sort of way. So the movie on a whole is ok but the last 26 minutes with “Amelia” is the crowning part with it.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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May 5th, 2019 Movie – A*P*E

ape 1976

Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone. So there is a particular movie coming out at the end of the month, and I decided to review some appropriate movies to get myself even more in the mood for it than I already am. So today I decided to start with a quaint little King Kong knock off. So today’s movie was basically an attempt to cash in on all the publicity surrounding Dino DeLaurentis’ remake of King Kong, but would actually come out 2 months earlier than that movie. I have watched this movie several years ago and wasn’t overly impressed by it but it is always a good idea to give B-movies a second chance, as they might surprise you by being laughably bad. So let’s see what we have in store as I re-watch A*P*E.

The plot: As an oil tanker is sailing close to South Korea, two men are talking on deck when a massive, 36 foot gorilla breaks free from the tanks it was in, destroying the ship in the process. As the gorilla heads towards shore, a large shark attacks it but the gorilla easily kills it, then continues towards shore, where it destroys several buildings before disappearing into the jungle. The next day, American actress Marilyn Baker arrives in South Korea to shoot her first picture outside of the U.S. and is surprised to find her lover, journalist Tom Rose, is outside the airport waiting for her. AS Tom offers to escort Marilyn to her hotel, he tries to talk to her about wanting a more serious relationship with her but Marilyn tells him she is focused on her career and doesn’t want anything more than to be casual lovers as they are now. Meanwhile, the giant gorilla appears outside a small village in the jungle, causing the villagers to flee in terror. Captain Kim of the South Korea police receives a phone call, where he is told about giant footprints, but he dismisses the story as someone’s imagination gone wild. When a U.S. soldier comes across the wreckage of a military checkpoint, he calls in to his superior but Colonel Davis thinks it is nothing more than publicity for the movie being shot. As more people report seeing the giant gorilla, Kim begins to believe the stories but when he talks about the matter with Davis, Davis is still skeptical, jokingly asking someone if they think the gorilla is King Kong. When the gorilla shows up where a martial arts movie is filming an outdoor scene, the actors manage to chase it away by shooting flaming arrows at it. Hearing this, Davis reluctantly believes the gorilla is real but attempts to keep it from the public during an impromptu press conference, causing Tom to get suspicious about the matter. Tom then heads to the set where Marilyn is filming and warns her about the gorilla, telling her she should go back to Seoul, but Marilyn tells him she can’t go back until Friday, which is when they will finish shooting, and the two kiss before she goes back to work. As the gorilla continues making its way through the countryside, villages are evacuated ahead of time, while Tom and Kim attempt to figure out where it is going. The gorilla happens across where Marilyn’s movie is shooting and grabs her, carrying her away into hills. When Tom and Kim hear about this, they chase after the gorilla just as the military shows up to try and kill him. The gorilla begins fighting with the military and Tom uses the opportunity to rescue Marilyn and drive back to Seoul, while the gorilla gives the military the finger at their failed attempt. As Davis discusses the situation with his superiors, he says that the gorilla is heading to Seoul, apparently to reclaim Marilyn, and he is upset to learn that he is to capture the gorilla, not kill it. Tom takes Marilyn to Kim’s house, leaving her with Kim’s wife and children, then he meets back up with Kim to discuss what to do about the gorilla. The gorilla reaches Seoul and begins trashing the city as it searches for Marilyn, eventually finding and recapturing her. The gorilla heads back to the hills, with the military going after it again, only Davis disobeys orders and orders his men to kill it, not capture it. The military eventually manages to kill the gorilla, and Tom manages to locate Marilyn in the cave the gorilla had hidden her in and the two lovers embrace.

Ok, this is just as bad as I remember it being and that is not exactly a good thing. This movie really is terrible. In fact, it seems like the director decided to try and make a terrible movie, hoping people would think it would fall into that “so bad it’s good” laughably bad style. The acting wasn’t really that good, as it seemed like several of the people just didn’t put much effort into their roles. The funny thing about this movie is how much it did kind of point out that it was a spoof of King Kong. I mean, you had the obvious aspect about the giant gorilla going ga-ga over a blond and chasing after her, but you actually had Davis mocking calling the gorilla King Kong. My favorite part though was the fact that the director of the movie that Marilyn was working on was called Dino, which was a nod to Dino DeLaurentis, who was directing the Kong remake.  Another thing I thought was interesting was the fight the gorilla had with the shark, which was a total shot at Jaws, which had come out the year before. The special effects were incredibly cheap, as in they only gave $1200 of the movies $23,000 budget towards special effects. To put it in perspective, the model buildings in this movie made the models from the old Gamera movies look like Oscar winning effects in comparison. This is one of those movies that might be worth watching once just to say you watched it, but not for much other reason.

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5

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horror, movie, movie review, sci-fi

April 28th, 2019 Movie – Monster From Green Hell

monster from green hell

You know, I was going to try and pick another great classic sci-fi movie to watch today, but then I watched a bunch of giant insect movies and that just got blown out of the water. So instead, I decided to focus on this little gem of a movie. Now I first learned of this movie from the Attack Of The 50 Ft. Monstermania special that I own. That became a sort of a shopping list for me and I would try to buy, or at least watch, as many of the movies featured on that special but today’s movie eluded me for a long time. While I still haven’t managed to obtain a DVD of this movie, I am at least able to finally watch Monster From Green Hell.

The plot: As the U.S. prepares to send manned missions into space, Dr. Quent Brady and Dan Morgan send various animals into space in order to test survival rates among them. During their tests, one of their rockets malfunctions and they determine that it will crash some where off the coast of Africa. Some time later in a remote part of Africa, villagers bring a dead man to Dr Lorentz and his daughter Lorna, who run a clinic in the area, and ask if he can explain how the man died. After performing an autopsy, Lorentz says the man died of a massive dose of venom, though no known animal is capable of producing the quantities found in the dead man. Arobi, Lorentz’s assistant, says that it is the work of the monster from the volcano the natives call Green Hell but Lorentz dismisses it, saying the monster is nothing but a legend and something real must be behind this. Several months later, Brady sees a news article about the unrest in Africa, with people claiming to see monsters. He shows the article to Dan and tells him he believes that the wasps they sent into space on the missing rocket are behind this. Dan is skeptical about Brady’s theory but when Brady shows him a crab that is twice the size of it’s mother and explains that the mother had been exposed to cosmic radiation for only 40 seconds but the wasps would have been exposed for a much longer period of time. Brady and Dan head to Africa and when they arrive in Liberville, the territorial agent directs them to see Lorentz and arranges a safari, though Brady is frustrated at the slow pace he takes in getting things done. Meanwhile, Lorentz, Arobi, and two villagers head to Green Hell to see if they can discover what is killing people. As they split up, the two villagers are killed by one of the giant wasps and carried off. Lorentz and Arobi carry on and when they get close to the volcano, Lorentz goes on ahead, leaving Arobi behind in case he needs help. Back in Liberville, Brady and Dan argue over how big the wasps could be and whether they will need the grenades that Brady insisted on bringing. When their safari, guided by a man named Mahri, finally gets underway, Brady says that it will take them close to a month to travel the 400 miles to Lorentz’s clinic. After 2 weeks of travel, they hear the sound of native drums and Mahri says they are war drums. They continue through the jungle and are soon attacked by the natives, but manage to get away with minimal losses. Forced to change course, the safari now continues on through a section of waterless plains, causing many of the men, including Dan, to suffer from dehydration, but they are saved by a tropical rainstorm. As they continue on their journey, Brady is injured and eventually collapses but they manage to make it to Lorentz’s clinic, where Lorna is able to treat him. As Brady recovers, he learns that Lorentz had left to go find out what is happening and he waits for his return. A few days later, Arobi returns and tells Lorna that her father is dead, showing Dan and Brady part of the wasp stinger that was left in Lorentz’s shoulder. Brady and Dan decide to head to the volcano to deal with the wasps and Lorna argues to go with them but as they prepare to leave, Mahri informs them that the villagers have all left in fear. Lorna says that she is able to shame some of the men into going with them but as they make their way towards the volcano, they come across another village that is littered with dead bodies and the villagers all flee in terror. Brady, Dan, Lorna, Arobi, and Mahri continue on their way and eventually reach the volcano, where they hear the wasps’ buzzing the closer they get. Brady goes to check the volcano and sees the wasp queen and her soldiers inside the cauldron. Heading back to the others, they split up and throw the grenades into the volcano in an attempt to kill the wasps but the grenades only make them angry. The group is forced to run and take shelter in a small cave where the wasps can’t reach them. Brady uses the remaining grenades to seal the cave and they explore the tunnels to find another way out. They eventually manage to find a way out, just as the volcano erupts and the emerging lava kills the wasps. As they watch the insects’ fiery demise, Brady contemplates how nature finds a way to destroy it’s mistakes.

Of the rash of giant insect movies that came out in the 50’s, this one didn’t really get a lot of recognition and for good reason. There really wasn’t anything remarkable or noteworthy about this movie. The acting was honestly a little stiff all around, with nobody really standing out, or honestly offering much emotion during any of their parts. The story was pretty decent, taking the excitement of space exploration and the space race that was occurring in the real world at the time, and adding everyone’s favorite mystery substance, “Radiation”, this time of a cosmic variety, to make for an interesting idea for some monsters. The monsters themselves looked too fake to really be scary, which might be why you barely saw them during the whole movie. In fact, a large portion of the movie focused more on Brady and Dan’s safari to reach Lorentz’s clinic than the actual monsters themselves. If anything, this can be used as a sort of breather while binge watching some of the other, and definitely better, giant insect movies of the era.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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horror, movie, movie review, sci-fi

April 14th, 2019 Movie – The Thing From Another World

the thing from another world

1982’s The Thing is one of my all time favorite sci-fi/horror movies, ranking right up there with the original Alien for the best such movie ever. However, as much as I loved the movie, it would be years before I learned that it was not the first such movie and was actually a remake…to a degree. After learning about this, I always wanted to watch the original movie but the only time I had a real chance, I only caught about 5 minutes of it. Still, I had always heard that the movie was an incredibly well made movie so I finally found a way to watch it today. So let’s sit back and enjoy today’s movie, The Thing From Another World.

The plot: Journalist Ned Scott arrives at a military base in Anchorage, Alaska and heads to the officer’s club, where he meets up with his friend; Lt. Eddie Dykes. Eddie introduces Scott to Capt. Pat Hendry and Ken “Mac” MacPherson andwhen Scott tell them he is there to try and find a story, Eddie tells him he should try writing about a research station up in the arctic, Polar Expedition Six, that is led by Dr. Arthur Carrington. Pat is summoned to see the base commander, General Fogarty, who tells him that Carrington had radioed about a strange aircraft that had crashed close to their base. Fogarty orders Pat to take a dog team up there to investigate the crash and allows Pat to take Scott with them. When the group arrives at the station, Scott is introduced to some of the scientist and crew while Pat goes to see Nikki Nicholson, Carrington’s secretary and whom he had a romantic interest in. After the two talk about what happened the last time they were together, and Pat asking her for a chance to start over, Nikki takes him to see Carrington. Carrington explains the situation to Pat and they soon leave to locate the crash site, eventually finding it almost 50 miles from the station. After landing, they find the ship has crashed down and been buried under some ice and after some initial observations, they realize that they found an alien flying saucer. As they work to clear the ice away from the ship so they can look inside, Pat and Scott argue over whether Scott would be allowed to publish anything he sees there. As the team attempts to free the ship from the ice, they inadvertently end up destroying it with their thermite explosive but discover that an alien being had attempted to leave the ship after the crash and had ended up being frozen in ice as well. The team manage to cut out the ice containing the creature and fly it back to the research station just as a storm moves in on them. Pat assumes command of the station and refuses to let Carrington and the other scientists study the creature until he gets further orders from Fogarty. Pat orders a watch set up on the creature but during the night, Barnes, the man on duty, covers the ice with an electric blanket so he doesn’t have to look at the creature, unaware that the blanket is plugged in and begins melting the ice. When the creature is freed, It attempts to attack Barnes but he manages to get away and alerts Pat and the others. When they head back to the room, they find the creature has escaped, killing two dogs in the process but losing an arm as well. Carrington and the scientists begin studying the arm and determine that the creature is some sort of alien plant life. Pat leads a search to find the creature and they find evidence that was in the station’s greenhouse but find no sign of it. As Pat and the soldiers move on, Carrington and three scientists, Vorhees, Stern, and Laurence, stay behind and find more evidence that the creature was there when they discover another dead dog with all of it’s blood drained. As Pat and the soldiers return to the station, a wounded Stern arrives and tells him that the creature had returned to the greenhouse and killed Vorhees and Laurence. Pat leads the men to try and kill the creature but instead are forced to barricade the creature inside the greenhouse. Pat then chastises Carrington for not reporting what he had discovered and allowing the two scientists to die, then orders him confined to his lab, quarters, and the mess hall. In the lab, Carrington tells Nikki and the other scientists that he had planted the seed pods they discovered in the arm and fed them some plasma from their supplies, causing them to rapidly grow. Later, Pat goes to see to find out what happened to the plasma that was supplied to the base, as he wanted to use it to help treat Stern, and Nikki lets him see Carrington’s notes that she took. Pat goes to confront Carrington about his actions and as they argue, they receive a communication from Fogarty, telling Pat to keep the creature alive and contained until he arrived. Some time later, as Pat and the other soldiers discuss what they can do to defend themselves against the creature should it try to attack them, they notice the Geiger counter lighting up and realize the creature is on the move. When it breaks into the room, they use kerosene and a flare to set it on fire and the creature runs back out into the snow while they take cover in the mess hall. After regrouping with everyone in the station, Pat decides to try and secure their position when Nikki notices that she can see their breath, indicating that the heat is off in the station. Realizing that the creature had sabotaged the furnaces in an effort to subdue them, Pat orders everyone to the generator room, which is the only place they can still get some heat, while also arranging to make a trap in the corridor leading to it to try and kill the creature. As they work on setting their trap, Carrington argues with Pat about his plan to kill the creature and when the creature finally appears, Carrington turns off the generator. Carrington is subdued and Pat orders the generator turned back on and Carrington rushes past Pat and the others and attempts to plead with the creature. The creature back hands Carrington and continues advancing on the others and Pat throws the switch and manages to electrocute the creature, reducing it to ashes. Later, as they work on regaining contact with Anchorage, Nikki begins giving Pat a hard time about settling down. When they make radio contact, Scott gets on the radio and tells the reporters in Anchorage a brief summary of what happened, warning them to “Keep watching the skies.”

The Thing From Another World was well received by the critics when it was released and currently holds an 88% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “As flying saucer movies go, The Thing From Another World is better than most, thanks to well-drawn characters and concise, tense plotting.” There is debate as to who was actually the director of the film; Christian Nyby or Howard Hawks, with several actors have stated their own opinions and reasons as to who was the actual director. During an interview, Nyby said that he was the director, though did admit that he did consult Hawks often on how to do particular scenes. The movie would end up making $1.95 million at the domestic box office, making it the highest grossing science fiction film of 1951 and is considered one of the greatest films of the genre to come from the 50’s.

I can see what all the fuss is about this movie because it really was a great movie to watch. The acting was pretty good, with Kenneth Tobey (Pat), Margaret Sheridan (Nikki), and Robert Cornthwaite (Carrington) all doing good jobs in their roles. The story was pretty good and I can see the similarities between this movie and John Carpenter’s interpretation. The only thing I feel worked against it is that they had too many characters, which didn’t allow them to do as good of a job developing them than they could have if there were less people. There wasn’t much in the way of special effects outside of the creature design, which was good from a story telling aspect because it led to them relying more on tension to carry the movie, which was done exceedingly well. Definitely a movie that is worth watching if you ever get the opportunity.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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