crime, dark comedy, horror, movie, movie review

Flashback Review: June 12th, 2014 Movie – A Bucket Of Blood

a bucket of blood

Ending the weekend with a Roger Corman movie, now that sounds like some fun times to me. Now I saw this years ago during a Halloween binge watching of old horror movies on TV. Now I wasn’t as familiar with Corman’s work back then as I was now but I thought the movie was pretty interesting. When I bought the Chilling Classics box set, I noticed this movie was part of it and I made sure that A Bucket Of Blood was the first movie out of that set that I watched. Now let’s see if my memory of this movie holds up to a more recent watching.

The plot: Dimwitted Walter Paisley works as a busboy at the Yellow Door Cafe, a popular beatnik hangout. As a man is on stage reciting a poem, Walter is collecting the dishes and empty cups at the tables when he stops at a table where Carol, The hostess whom he has a crush on, is sitting and watches her as she draws. When the performance is over, the club’s owner Leonard chastises him and tells him to keep working and after Walter leaves, Carla admonishes Leonard for being too hard on him. Meanwhile, an undercover cop named Lou Raby is sitting at the club when he gets up to head outside, then calls his chief to report what he has been able to learn about any narcotics being passed around in the club since he worked his way in. Later that night, Walter returns to his apartment and works on sculpting something out of clay when he hears Frankie, his landlord’s cat, crying out from behind the wall where it got stuck. Walter gets a knife to cut Frankie out of the wall when it accidentally plunges through the sheet rock and stabs Frankie. Walter knocks down the wall and sees what he has done and gets depressed over it and as he wonders about what to do, he recalls the words of a poet that had performed and decides to use Frankie’s body as a sculpture. The next day, Walter takes the clay covered cat to work and shows it to Carla and Leonard, passing it off as something he created. Carla is impressed with the sculpture and convinces Leonard to display it at the club and Leonard agrees, telling Walter that if it sells they will split the proceeds. That night, several people comment about Walters sculpture and Leonard tells Walter to take the rest of the night off, as he is unable to do his job with everyone approaching him. As Walter goes to leave, a woman named Naolia approaches him and talks to him for a while, then gives him a vial to remember her by. Walter pockets the vial as he leaves but he unknown to him, Lou had seen what happened and follows Walter to his apartment, confronting him about the vial, which contains heroin. Lou goes to arrest Walter, who protests his innocence, and when Lou brandishes his gun to try and get Walter to come with him, Walter panics and hits him with the frying pan he was holding, killing him. Walter’s landlady starts knocking on the door to find out what the noise is and Walter quickly hides the body so she doesn’t see it, then works on cleaning up his mess. Meanwhile, Leonard is closing up the club when he accidentally knocks the cat statue over and as he looks closely at it, he realizes it is a real cat and gets rid of it. The next day, Leonard tells Walter that someone had bought the cat statue and has him sit down with Carla and some other patrons. When the men asks Walter if he is working on anything else, he tells them that he is working on a full size statue he calls “Murdered Man”. Leonard gets a sick look on his face and he goes to call the police about Walter but when an art critic offers to buy the cat statue for $500, he hangs up and tells the man he doesn’t have the cat statue but will have another statue there soon. As the man leaves, Carla approaches Leonard and tells him that she is going to Walter’s to look at his statue and invites him to come along. Leonard agrees and when Walter unveils the statue, they are both shocked  but Carla tells him it is incredible. Leonard feels sick again and when Walter asks if he can show it at the club again, Leonard tells him he shouldn’t show his pieces one at a time, but should build up a collection and do a proper show, that way they can sell them for more money. He then tries to subtly steer Walter into doing free form sculptures, so as to keep him from killing anyone else, and gives him $50 for his half of the cat statue and tells him if he needs more money to let him know. The next night at the club, several of the patrons treat Walter like a star and he is talking with them about his sculpture but a model named Alice doesn’t seem impressed by Walter and is rude to him. Walter follows Alice home and knocks on her door, apologizing to Alice and asking if she would like to be his model for his first female form sculpture. Alice agrees and they head back to Walter’s apartment, where he has her sit in a chair after taking her clothes off and proceeds to strangle her. The next day, Walter shows his new piece to some of the patrons at the home of Maxwell H. Brock, the poet that inspired Walter, and they are all impressed and Brock plans a party for Walter at the Yellow Door. After the party, Leonard warns Walter about drinking too much, saying he might say something he regrets but Walter ignores him and heads home. On his way, he sees a man working at a construction yard and Walter kills him, cutting off his head with a buzzsaw so he can use it to make a bust. When Walter shows up with the bust at the Yellow Door, Leonard tells him not to make anymore statues and tells him that he will organize his show to display what he has so far. The night of the show, Walter escorts Carla to the show and as they are walking, Walter proposes to her but Carla turns him down, saying she likes him but she doesn’t love him. Walter gets upset at the rejection and asks if she will let him make a statue of her after the show. During the show, Carla is looking at the statue of Alice when she notices a human finger underneath the clay. Shocked, she goes to leave but Walter stops her and when she tells him there is a body in his statue, he admits it is Alice and he made her immortal. Walter says that he can do the same to her and she runs out of the club, with Walter following her. After they leave, the statue of “Murdered Man” falls and everyone realizes Walter’s secret to his art. Leonard goes to call the police while Maxwell and Lou’s partner, who was also undercover at the club, chase after Walter. Walter chases Carla to a lumberyard but as he searches for her, he starts hearing the voices of Lou and Alice, taunting him about having nowhere to go. Walter runs back to his apartment and as he realizes that he will soon be caught, he decides to hide where they won’t find him. Walter, Carla, and the others break down Walter’s door and find that Walter had covered himself in clay and hung himself and one of the men says that Walter probably would have called it “Hanging Man, his greatest work”.

A Bucket Of Blood has met with mostly positive praise from modern critics, holding a 79% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, most of the critics cite this as a great example of Corman’s early work, citing the blend of humor and horror as well as the rich atmosphere he created in the film. The line about how Walter Paisley “knows his anatomy” is apparently a nod to the similar-themed House Of Wax (1953), which used the same line about Prof. Henry Jarrod, played by Vincent Price, who would go on to become one of Corman’s favorite actors to use. The movie was a mild success at the box office, earning $180,000 off of a $50,000 budget.

I know people like to look down on Roger Corman movies but this one is actually a well made movie. The acting was pretty good, with Dick Miller doing a fantastic job as Walter, while Barboura Morris (Carla) and Antony Carbone (Leonard) did good jobs as well. The story was pretty good, though I will admit that there were some similarities to House Of Wax (1953) but while that seemed to go with the pure horror route, Corman added some comedy to his script that changed how you perceive the killer. Instead of being some sinister killer with purpose, you instead feel sympathy for Wallace, as he just unluckily kills the first man (and cat) and wants to hide the bodies but when everyone thinks he is a genius, his desire for everyone’s praise has him going on to kill more people until his guilt causes him to kill himself. A surprisingly good movie that is well worth giving a chance if you see it coming on.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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action, adventure, animation, comic book, movie, movie review

Flashback Review: April 5th, 2014 Movie – Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm

batman mask of the phantasm

In September of 1992, a new cartoon would debut on Fox Kids that would change the face of cartoons for years to come. Yes, a new Batman cartoon would debut to entertain children, and adults alike. However, instead of some of the cheesy story lines and dialogue that was found in earlier superhero cartoons, these cartoons had a more serious tone and garnered a lot of attention for it. I loved watching Batman, and still do to be honest, and thought it was a great cartoon. So when they decided to make a movie I had no problem going to see it in theaters and was not disappointed. Now, let’s sit back and enjoy today’s movie, Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm.

The plot: In Gotham, crime boss Chuckie Sol is showing some of his men the newest batch of counterfeit bills that he wants laundered through his casino when Batman crashes through the window and begins fighting with his men. Sol escapes and heads to his car in the adjacent parking garage but when he gets there, he is confronted by the Phantasm, a cloaked figure wearing a mask and a bladed gauntlet on his arm. Sol attempts to shoot the Phantasm but he slices Sol’s gun in half, then moves to kill Sol but is distracted by a car leaving the garage. Sol is able to get into his car and attempts to run the Phantasm down but the Phantasm disappears in a cloud of smoke and Sol ends up crashing through the barricade and landing in the building across the street. Batman arrives at the scene and looks at the wrecked car, where the crowd notices him and believes he is responsible. As Batman leaves, he grabs a piece of windshield with some residue on it when he notices the Phantasm nearby and he goes to pursue him but the Phantasm disappears out the rooftop exit. The next day, City Councilman Arthur Reeves is holding a press conference where he lambastes Batman as a killer vigilante, despite Commissioner Gordon’s protests of Batman being innocent. Later, Arthur is on the phone with an old female friend, who is flying into town after being away for 10 years, and he asks her if she plans on seeing anyone special but she says it’s ancient history, as she is looking at a magazine with Bruce Wayne on the cover. That night, Bruce is hosting a party at his home and as some girls tease him about when he is getting married, one of his exes walks up and throws her glass of wine in his face. As Bruce walks away to clean up, Arthur offers him a handkerchief and then teases Bruce about his love life, mentioning his ex, Andrea Beaumont and asking how he let her get away. Bruce thanks him for the handkerchief and walks off, heading into his study, where he starts remembering Andrea. In flashback, we see Bruce at his parent’s graves when he hears Andrea Beaumont talking to her mother, who is buried close by. The two talk for a bit and as she leaves, Andrea asks him why the man who has everything looks so sad, claiming her mother was curious. A few nights later, Bruce, using a ski mask to hide his identity, stops some men from robbing a warehouse, receiving some injuries in the process. The next day, Bruce is talking to Alfred about how things worked perfectly but the crooks weren’t scared of him but Alfred says they should discuss that later, as Andrea is seen to be approaching. Andrea approaches Bruce, who is practicing jiu-jitsu, and when Andrea uses the self defense moves she had learned to knock him down, Bruce laughs before sweeping her legs out from under her and then kissing her. Back in the present, crime boss Buzz Bronski heads to the cemetery to pay his respects to Sol when he is confronted by the Phantasm. Bronski attempts to defend himself, yelling out for his men to help him, then runs away, falling into an open grave as he runs and the Phantasm knocks the angel grave marker on top of him, killing him. Bronski’s men arrive and see the body and the Phantasm in the distance and mistake him for Batman, blaming him for Bronski’s death. The next day, aging crime boss Salvatore Valestra reads the story about Bronski’s death and has a panic attack, fearing he might be next. At police headquarters, Arthur is arguing with Gordon over his refusal to go after Batman for the crime boss murders and Gordon tells him that Batman doesn’t kill and he will have no part in the witch hunt. Batman, who was listening outside the window, heads to the cemetery to investigate Bronski’s death when he sees Andrea by her mother’s grave. Andrea notices him and as they stare in shock at each other, Batman quickly leaves and Andrea goes to follow but Batman is gone and as she notices the grave she is standing by, she realizes that Batman is Bruce. Later that night, Andrea is having dinner with Arthur, unaware that Batman is watching them from across the street. As he watches them, Batman starts reminiscing his time with Andrea. After they go on a date to the Gotham World Fair, Andrea convinces Bruce to go meet her father and as she sets it up, Bruce questions what he is doing, saying this isn’t part of the plan but Alfred feels like this might be better for him. They head over to meet Andrea’s father Carl, who introduces Bruce to Arthur, who is one of his lawyers. Bruce, Andrea, and Carl are talking for a bit before they are interrupted by Valestra, who is there to speak business with Carl. As they leave, Bruce and Andrea see some thugs trying to steal money from a street vendor and Bruce goes to stop them but he gets distracted when he notices Andrea’s concern for him and one of the thugs is able to strike him with a bat before they grab the money and run. That night, Bruce is arguing with himself over what he should do, as he feels torn between the promise he made his parents and the possible happiness he could have with Andrea. Heading to the cemetery, he talks to his parent’s grave and asks for a sign, only to have Andrea come up behind him and suggest that maybe they had sent her to him and the two embrace. Back in the present, Arthur is walking down the street when Valestra’s car pulls up and Valestra tells him to get in. As they are driving, Valestra asks if it is true about Batman killing the others and when Arthur confirms it, Valestra wonders why before having another coughing fit, and Arthur asks to be let out. Meanwhile, Batman finds a connection between Sol and Bronski, noting that Valestra was the third partner in their dummy corporations, and he makes plans to go see Valestra. Alfred asks if he will see Andrea afterwards but Batman doesn’t answer him. Batman breaks into Carl Beaumont’s old office and as he stares at some of the pictures on the wall, he has another flashback. He recalls the day that he proposed to Andrea as they are walking along the grounds of Wayne Manor and she says yes but as they embrace, they are startled by a swarm of bats the fly out of an opening in the ground. As Bruce takes Andrea home, she sees that her father is apparently having a business meeting though thinks it is odd to have one this late. She tells Bruce that maybe they should wait until the morning to tell her father about the engagement and kisses him goodbye. The next day, Bruce explores the cave but when he comes back out, he finds Alfred holding the ring box with a note from Andrea, telling him she can’t marry him and she is leaving with her father and doesn’t know when she will return. Andrea’s departure is the catalyst that Bruce needs to focus full time on avenging his parent’s murder and leads him to becoming Batman. Back in the present, Valestra goes to see Joker, believing he is the only one that can stop Batman from killing him, saying his hands are even dirtier than theirs are, and Joker says he will do it. Meanwhile, Andrea returns to her hotel room and, noticing the balcony door is open, makes a show out of kissing Arthur goodbye. After closing the door and turning on the light, she sees Batman, who questions her about a photograph of Carl with the three crime bosses. The two argue over Carl before Batman leaves and Andrea ends up breaking down into tears when  he is gone. Later that night, the Phantasm heads to Valestra’s house to kill him only to find that Valestra has been killed by the Joker and left there as a trap. The house explodes but the Phantasm is able to get away only to be confronted by Batman. The two briefly fight on the roofs when the police show up and the Phantasm escapes while the police chase after Batman. He is able to escape to a construction site but one of the cops starts shooting at him and hits some fuel tanks, causing an explosion. Batman is injured in the blast and attaches his cape to a sawhorse and sends it flying towards the helicopter in order to distract the cops so he can escape. The cops give chase but Bruce is able to evade them when Andrea pulls up and helps him escape. Andrea takes Bruce back to Wayne Manor, where Alfred tends to his injuries. When he is done, Andrea tells Bruce about what happened the night they got engaged, and how Valestra, Sol, and Bronski were demanding money that he had embezzled and he convinces them that he will get them their money in the morning but after they leave, Carl tells Andrea they have to leave and forces her to come with him as he says they will kill her to get to him. She tells Bruce that they made their way through Europe and eventually settled off the Mediterranean coast, where Carl was able to use the money he embezzled to make a fortune and pay the men back but they wanted interest. Andrea apologizes and Bruce embraces her and kisses her. The next morning, Bruce hugs Andrea and tells her that he is going to have to confront her father but Andrea says he doesn’t matter, choosing Bruce over her father this time. After she leaves, Bruce takes another look at the picture when he notices Valestra’s body guard and realizes that the body guard is the Joker. Meanwhile, Joker pays a visit to Arthur, telling him that Batman wasn’t the one killing their old associates. Just then, Andrea calls Arthur telling him she can’t meet for lunch but will talk to him at dinner that night and Joker smiles before attacking Arthur, dosing him with Joker venom. Arthur is taken to the hospital and Batman confronts him there to find out what the Joker wanted with him. Arthur tells him that he helped Carl and Andrea escape the city but when he first ran for city councilman, he approached Arthur for some money and was refused so he sold him out to Valestra in order to get the money. Elsewhere, outside the abandoned World Fair, Andrea stares at the park and thinks back to when she had returned home one day to find Valestra’s body guard exiting her house and she rushes in to find her father dead. The Phantasm confronts the Joker, who knows that it is Andrea so she takes off her mask. The two begin fighting and Andrea appears to get the upper hand but Joker is able to escape. When Andrea chases after him, she gets caught in a trap when Joker activates the wind tunnel by Batman is able to rescue him. Batman confronts Andrea over her actions and she says she knows it isn’t right but they took everything from both of them and they deserved to pay. Batman tells her to leave, then goes after the Joker himself, but Joker activates some explosives he had set up all over the fair and then attempts to escape on a jet pack. Batman manages to grab onto him as he tries to fly out of there and they end up crashing to the ground, where Andrea appears before them. Batman tells her to leave before the place explodes but Andrea says that this ends tonight. As the place starts to explode, Andrea says “Goodbye, my love”, then disappears with Joker inside the explosions while Batman is blown clear. Later, in the Batcave, Alfred tries to comfort Bruce, saying there was nothing that he could have done to save Andrea, as her need for vengeance consumed her. As Alfred walks away, Bruce notices something glint in the light and he heads over to find Andrea had left her locket, with the picture of the two of them, in the Batcave for him to remember her by. Elsewhere, a cruise ship is sailing out of Gotham and Andrea is seen on the deck, crying over what she has lost while Batman returns to patrolling Gotham and keeping it’s citizens safe.

Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm met with mostly praise form the critics, holding an 82% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Stylish and admirably respectful of the source material, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm succeeds where many of the live-action Batman adaptations have failed.” The majority of this movie’s plot is based off of the comic story line “Batman: Year Two”; with the Phantasm (who is never referred to by name) being patterned after the Reaper, who was the main villain in the comic. The movie unfortunately did not fare well at the box office, only earning $5.6 million off of a $6 million budget but did get a cult following and had more success when it hit home video. As a result, every subsequent release of a Batman, or any D.C. animated movie, was released direct to video (not counting the limited theatrical release of Batman: The Killing Joke).

This movie is still so much fun to watch, even 25 years after it came out. The voice acting was great, getting the same characters from the TV cartoon to reprise their roles and they all delivered great performances. The story was great, and I didn’t even know until years later that it was based off of an actual comic, which makes me want to go out and get a copy of the trade that they released of it. From what I gather, it is relatively close to the original story, though the toned down Batman’s going further down the dark side of vengeance and pushing the limit on his no killing policy that was in the comic. I did like the character of the Phantasm but the big twist that Andrea was the killer was honestly pretty easy to figure out early on into the movie so I feel like they could have done a better job of leading up to that reveal and making it more of a surprise. The animation was incredible and was a step up from the TV show in some aspect, but still kept the same feel from the show. A great movie and one well worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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horror, movie, movie review, sci-fi

May 4th, 2018 Movie – War Of The Satellites

war of the satellites

Happy Star Wars Day everyone, and this seems like a rather appropriate movie to watch. Looking back, it seems like Roger Corman had a thing for outer space movies, from the 50’s all the way through to the 80’s. Now I can’t say that they were all good or bad, but they all had aspects that were enjoyable. Now today’s movie is not one I had ever seen before I bought it as part of a triple feature of movies. So let’s see what some early Roger Corman space exploration looks like as I watch War Of The Satellites.

The plot: At an observatory, members of Sigma Project, a U.N. space exploration project, are observing their 10th manned satellite mission, hoping that it will succeed where the others have failed. As the satellite approaches an area of space, a barrier appears that destroys the satellite. U.N. Representative Mr. Akad demands that the project be halted, saying the loss of life is not worth it, and argues with project leader Dr. Pol Van Ponder about it. Later that night, a teenage couple are making out in their car when they see a strange object crash to Earth. Hearing a strange pulsing sound, the guy gets out and finds a missile-shaped object lodged in the ground and after pulling it out, they take it to the authorities. At the U.N., Sybil Carrington, a member of Sigma Project, reads aloud the message from the missile, which comes from the Masters of the Spiral Nebula Ghana. The message states that they look at humans as a disease and have chosen to stop their repeated attempts to explore space in order to protect the universe. After hearing the message, Mr. Hotchkiss, the United States Representative, says that no other life form has the right to halt mankind’s exploration of space and the U.N. agrees to fund Sigma Project. When reporters ask Van Ponder about the message, he says he believes it to be a hoax to try and shut down the project and decides to lead the next mission to space. After the reporters leave, Sybil says that she will join him and Dave Boyer, who is romantically attracted to Sybil, volunteers as well. Van Ponder admits to the two of them that the missile has defied all analysis and they have no idea where it came from. As the new satellite nears completion, Hotchkiss calls Van Ponder and tells him of an emergency meeting at the U.N. and Van Ponder leaves to attend it but as he drives down the road, a strange light is seen overhead that causes him to lose control of his car and crash. At the U.N. Meeting, Akad argues to the U.N. President that they should halt funding of Sigma Project when the U.S. Representative receives word of Van Ponder’s crash. Akad extends his condolences to the representative, but argues that this should be further proof to discontinue funding when Van Ponder suddenly enters the room, receiving a rousing applause from the attending members. After the meeting, the U.S. Representative speaks briefly with Van Ponder and after he leaves, Van Ponder suddenly splits into two beings, revealing that he is not the real Van Ponder, but an alien intending to delay future space exploration. Some time later, Dave approaches Van Ponder and asks that he reconsider Sybil joining them on the mission, as he worries for her safety. Before Van Ponder can respond, they hear news of various disasters across the world, which some people feel is the work of the aliens making good on their warning. Hearing this, Van Ponder decides to suspend Project Sigma and has Sybil type up a letter to the U.S. Representative. Reading the letter, the representative can’t bear to read it to the committee and asks that Dave read it in his stead. When he gets there, Dave hears Akad continuing to ask for the project to be stopped, this time saying it is a matter of survival, but Dave argues that if the surrender to the aliens, who obviously see their attempts to explore space as a threat to them, then they will no longer be surviving or free, but merely existing at the whim of the aliens. The next day, Van Ponder and Dave are going over some calculations for the project when a staffer walks in and says he thought he saw Van Ponder in another area. They tell the man he is working too hard but as Van Ponder is called away, Dave notices that he has an identical mark on both arms and gets suspicious. Van Ponder heads to the test area and speaks with Johnny but as he does, Van Ponder accidentally bumps into the torch Johnny was working with and it burns his hand. When Johnny notices this, he rushes to get the doctor but while he is gone, Van Ponder heals his hand on his own. When the doctor arrives and examines the hand, he thinks Johnny is playing a joke on him and Van Ponder says that Johnny is obviously seeing things due to over exertion and Johnny argues that there is something strange going on with Van Ponder as he is escorted out by the doctor. Meanwhile, Dave investigates Van Ponder’s wrecked car and afterwards, tries contacting Sybil, only to learn that the launch time has been moved up and he needs to hurry to arrive at the launch site. When Dave gets there, he learns that Van Ponder had made a change to the crew and placed Sybil in Rocket 1 with him, instead of on Rocket 2. Meanwhile, Johnny was grounded by Van Ponder but the doctors clear him to rejoin the mission and Van Ponder agrees to allow him to board. After everyone has boarded Rocket 1, Van Ponder splits again, sending one of his clones onto the rocket while the other one remains behind. As the rockets reach their assigned positions, they release the various components to build a large orbiting satellite. As the safety checks are finished, Van Ponder goes to see Johnny and reveals the truth about who he is and offers Johnny to join his race but when Johnny refuses, Van Ponder kills him. Sybil enters the room and sees Johnny’s body and Van Ponder says that he died due to the acceleration and he will address it. As Van Ponder is making his speech to the crew, Dave goes to see Sybil and tries to tell her his suspicions about Van Ponder, but she doesn’t believe him. Lazar has his own doubts as to Johnny’s death and agrees to examine Van Ponder for Dave but Van Ponder is called away before he can be examined. Before he returns to Lazar, Van Ponder fashions a heartbeat for himself and then confronts Lazar about his reasons for the examination before killing him. After he leaves the room, he alerts two guards that he suspects Johnny’s death was not natural and ask them to bring Dave to his quarters. Meanwhile, Sybil is speaking with Dave about how Van Ponder has been acting odd when the guards arrive to detain Dave. Dave tells Sybil to go see Lazar but as she does so, she sees Van Ponder dumping Lazar’s body into the air lock for disposal. Van Ponder gives chase to Sybil, who ducks into the solar energy room, and as he talks with her, he splits into two bodies again sending one to help destroy the satellite as it approaches the barrier while the other continues talking with Sybil. Dave manages to get free from the guards and attempts to stop Van Ponder, eventually killing him and then orders the crew to go with the original plan instead of Van Ponder’s. He then rescues Sybil from the solar energy room before they use the stored solar radiation to help blast their way through the alien barrier. At mission control, Hotchkiss and Akad are watching events and think the satellite was destroyed at first but are relieved to see it make it through the barrier as Dave announces that the whole universe is now their frontier to explore.

This was surprisingly a pretty good movie to watch. The acting was pretty good, with Dick Miller (Dave) and Susan Cabot (Sybil) doing a good job in their roles. I also liked Richard Devon as Van Ponder, as his rather robotic portrayal of the character really helped sell the whole alien doppelganger aspect. The story was interesting and I know it is an early sci-fi movie but I am curious to know if this is one of the first movies to focus on the alien race intending to keep humanity from exploring space. The special effects were laughably bad, and I am completely serious about that, but they actually help give this movie some more charm, as it actually helps you focus on the story more than the effects. A fun bit of classic sci-fi that is worth watching if you get the chance.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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horror, movie, movie review, thriller

February 4th, 2018 Movie – The Terror (1963)

the terror

Ahh, we go from a random 70’s horror movie to an early Roger Corman movie. I always enjoy watching some of Corman’s early films because it is fun to see some of the early stars that he was able to get before they became big. Case in point, today’s movie stars a young Jack Nicholson and I am looking forward to seeing his performance in it. Being a Roger Corman movie, you would think that this might end up being a pretty bad movie and, as it so happens, other people think so as well because it wound up being included in a collection titled “The Best Of The Worst”, though I already had a copy of this movie in a Roger Corman collection. Now let’s see what exactly I am in for with today’s movie, The Terror (1963).

The plot: On a dark, stormy night in 19th century France, Baron Victor Frederick Von Leppe follows a trail of water drops through his castle to his basement crypt, where he is confronted by the decaying body of a woman. The next morning, Lt. Andre Duvalier is riding along the coast, having been separated from the rest of his regiment, collapses from exhaustion at the water’s edge. He is saved from drowning by a woman and as she walks away, he calls out to her and asks for directions to Coldon but she doesn’t answer him and just walks away. Andre follows after her and she leads him to a stream that feeds into the ocean, but when Andre finishes slaking his thirst, the woman has vanished. Andre eventually finds her up a hill and asks her name and she laughingly tells him it’s Helene, then asks that he follow her. Helene leads Andre back towards the ocean and as the tide starts coming in, she walks into the rough waters and disappears. Andre heads into the water to try and find her but he is attacked by a hawk and the distraction causes him to be knocked over by the waves. Andre regains consciousness in the home of an old woman Katarina and, noticing her pet hawk, say that her bird attacked him but Katarina swears that isn’t the case as Helene, the hawk’s name, is a very friendly bird. Andre asks about Helene, saying that he talked to her, but Katarina swears that there is no woman by that name there, only her and Gustaf, who took care of Andre’s horse. Andre rests for the night when he is woken by the Helene (the hawk) as it eats a mouse, then flies off. Andre follows after it and finds Helene (the woman) sitting near the stream. Andre tries to find out more about her but Helene silences him with a kiss, then starts walking up the hill. Andre follows after her but is stopped by Gustaf, who shows him that the area is full of quicksand. Andre thinks Helene tried to kill him but Gustaf says she doesn’t know what she is doing and if he wants to help her, he must go to Von Leppe’s castle. Returning to Katarina’s house, Andre asks her about how to get to the castle but she refuses to tell him, then tries to discourage him from looking when he says he will find it without her. Andre makes his way through the area, managing to avoid being killed by a rock slide, and finally finds the castle. Seeing Helene looking down at him from a window, Andre knocks on the door continuously until the door is opened by Von Leppe. Andre manages to get invited in and after talking with Von Leppe for a few minutes, he asks about the woman he saw. Von Leppe tells him that there is no woman there and hasn’t been since his wife died. Seeing a picture of Von Leppe”s wife, Andre remarks about how much she resembles Helene but Von Leppe gets angry and says that Stefan, his majordomo, will show Andre to his room. That night, Andre sees Helene moving around in the graveyard heading towards an old chapel. Andre calls out to her, saying he will be right down, but finds that his door has been locked and as he goes to find something to pick the lock, he hears a loud commotion coming from outside his door. When the commotion dies down, Andre finds the door somehow unlocked and he starts to look around the castle before making his way outside. Once outside, Andre heads to the chapel only to find it empty but notices that all of the religious symbols had been removed. As he returns to the castle, Andre notices that the painting of Von Leppe’s wife has been removed and when heads back to his room, he is startled to see Helene there when he opens the door but when he looks again, she is gone and only a strange drawing of her is in his room. In the morning, Von Leppe tells Stefan that Andre is to leave at once and Stefan heads out to find Andre. Andre is looking in the chapel for signs of Helene when Stefan finds him and the two argue briefly before Stefan informs him of his horse’s disappearance. Andre then asks about Eric, whose name was on the drawing, and Stefan seems nervous and begs Andre to leave Von Leppe alone but Andre goes to confront the baron to get some answers. In the castle, Andre starts questioning Von Leppe and the baron reluctantly agrees to tell him the truth. Von Leppe says that his first wife had died some years ago and as he mourned her, he saw a village girl named Ilsa, who had just moved there with her mother, and he fell in love with her and took her as his new wife. Shortly after they were married, Von Leppe was called into military service and when he returned a year later, he found that Ilsa had taken a lover. In his rage, he killed Ilsa, while he had Stefan take care of her lover, and he has lived with the guilt for 20 years now. For the past 2 years, he has been haunted by Ilsa’s ghost, though nobody else seems to have seen her. Meanwhile, Gustaf is running along the beach and finds Helene there and, calling her Ilsa, tells her that she has to return to the sea, but Helene says she will when the sea enters the crypt. Stefan says that Andre will help her and Helene smiles when she thinks of Andre but they hear a bird call out above them and Helene turns to Gustaf and says the old woman warned him not to interfere, then leaves. Stefan approaches Katarina’s house and sees her talking to Helene, saying she will soon be strong enough to get her revenge. When Helene disappears, Stefan knocks on the door and enters, asking Katarina how long she has been living there. Katarina says she has been there for only 2 months but Stefan says he knows she has been there for over 2 years. Stefan then asks about the girl and when Katarina says that there is no girl, he says he saw her sitting in the chair before he entered. Stefan warns Katarina to leave or he will be forced to kill her and she comments about the previous tenant of the house being Eric, causing Stefan to pause. When Stefan returns to the castle, Von Leppe asks if Andre has left and Stefan tells him no, as he refuses to leave. Stefan suggests killing Andre but Von Leppe refuses, saying he has enough on his conscience without adding another death to it. That night, Andre hears Helene’s voice and goes looking for it but is forced to hide when he sees Von Leppe coming towards him. After Von Leppe passes, Andre follows after him and when Von Leppe enters another room, Andre thinks he hears the baron talking to someone inside. Andre barges in to find Von Leppe sitting by himself and he apologizes for the intrusion and Von Leppe says that Stefan went to get Andre a horse and suggests he leaves as soon as Stefan returns. Andre does so, with Stefan saying it is for the best, but as he rides along the shore, he sees Gustaf standing on a cliff, waving for him to wait. Suddenly, Katarina’s hawk swoops down and attacks Gustaf, clawing out his eyes, and a bloodied Gustaf ends up tumbling off the cliff to his death. Andre races down the cliff to check on Gustaf, who tells Andre that Helene loves him, which is why she saved him, and he must save her tonight. Andre returns to the castle and finds Helene in the chapel and the two kiss, then Helene asks if he will stay with her. She tells him that the crypt must be destroyed but Andre tells her not to worry about the dead and to come away with him to Paris. Helene says she loves him and the leave the chapel but as Andre goes to get his horse, he finds Helene has disappeared. Heading inside the castle, Andre sees Von Leppe opening the entrance to the crypt and heading down into it, so Andre follows after him. Andre watches as Von Leppe begins speaking with the ghost of Ilsa, who asks him to kill himself so they can be together for eternity. Von Leppe says he can’t do that, as his soul would be damned for eternity and Andre calls out to the ghost, knocking Von Leppe aside when he tries to stop him, but the ghost vanishes. Andre carries Von Leppe to his chamber and summons Stefan to tend to him, then asks Stefan for the key to the chapel’s inner room, as he wants to get to the bottom of this mystery. Stefan agrees but they find the hinges rusted shut and head back to get a crowbar. When they notice a light coming from the tower that the baroness lived in, they quickly head upstairs and Andre kicks the door open. Inside, they find a cradle and Andre asks if Von Leppe had a child but before Stefan can answer, Von Leppe appears and orders Stefan to escort Andre from the castle and to shoot him if he refuses to leave. When they leave, Von Leppe is approached by Ilsa’s ghost and she convinces him to kill himself and destroy the crypt so they can be together. When they head outside, Andre and Stefan see Helene in the graveyard and Andre manages to knock Stefan out, then chases after Helene but finds Katarina there instead. Andre tells Katarina to call off the attack on Von Leppe but she refuses, saying that he moment of vengeance is at hand as Eric was her son. Stefan heads back inside and sees the baron heading for the crypt but when he tries to stop him, the baron strikes him, then seals himself in the crypt. When Stefan stumbles outside, Andre grabs him and explains that Katarina is Eric’s mother, which is why she is trying to get the baron to commit suicide. Stefan then says that 20 years ago, the baron did kill his wife but during the struggle, the baron also died and Eric had been taking his place for the last 20 years, no believing himself to have always been the baron. Realizing what she has done, Katarina runs off to try and stop what is happening, while Andre and Stefan try to get into the crypt. Seeing Katarina cowering in the graveyard, Andre grabs her and heads with her to the chapel but she says she can’t enter the House of God as she made a pact with the Devil. When she breaks free of Andre’s grip, she goes to leave but is struck by lightning and set on fire. In the crypt, Von Leppe opens the floodgate to allow the crypt to be flooded, and Helene attacks him and starts trying to strangle him. Stefan manages to arrive and dives into the flooding chamber to try and save Von Leppe but the all end up dying as the crypt starts to cave in. Andre manages to make it into the crypt through the chapel and, seeing Helene floating in the water, drags her out and carries her to safety before the whole place is destroyed. Carrying Helene outside, Andre tells her that it is over and she is free now and goes to kiss her but when they part, he sees Helene turning into a rotting corpse while the hawk cries out above them as it flies off.

Not quite what I was expecting but this was also not as bad as I thought either. The acting wasn’t that bad, with Jack Nicholson (Andre) and Boris Karloff (Von Leppe/Eric) doing a fairly decent job with their roles, though I will admit that Jack did seem a little stiff in this movie. However, he was not as bad as Dick Miller, who really seemed stiffer than he normally is in his roles. The story was interesting, mixing a ghost story with a good old bit of revenge, but I feel like the whole love angle between Andre and Helene felt a little off. I think they could have done a better job of getting Andre to the castle than that but I will say that it did make for a good shock ending when he saw her rotting away. The special effects were decent and about what you would expect, with some cut-aways serving to mask the need for more serious effects, such as the actual gouging out of the eyes by the hawk, but they weren’t too bad. All said, I think this movie might be getting a bad rep, as there are plenty of movies that are much worse than this out there, and this one is worth a look, if for no other reason than to see a young Jack Nicholson in action.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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action, fantasy, horror, movie, movie review

January 19th, 2018 Movie – Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight

tales from the crypt-demon knight

Ahh, if there is one thing I remember during my late night TV viewing as a teenager, it is definitely the excitement I got when my parents got HBO and I was able to watch Tales From The Crypt. Being a horror movie fan, this was always a fun show to watch as I would get a short dose of horror that was usually a great way to unwind over the weekend. So when I heard that they were making a full length feature film episode, I was excited to go see it but never got the chance to see it in theaters. I did watch it when it came out on video and eventually got it on DVD when I had a chance. Now let’s see how well they did with today’s movie, Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight.

The plot: Prologue: A woman is talking to her lover on the phone and describing how she killed a man and placed him in a pot of boiling water. After inviting her lover over, she goes to take a bath but her victim returns to life and heads up the stairs with a small hatchet. Before he can kill her, the Crypt Keeper yells cut and berates the actor playing the dead man and orders everyone back to their places so they can reshoot it. As he heads back to his chair, the Crypt Keeper notices the audience and starts talking to them before showing them his latest work for Hollywood, Demon Knight.

Main Movie: Frank Brayker is driving down a dark road when he notices that he is being followed by another car. Brayker tries to avoid the other car but his car stalls out so he begins shooting the car, setting it on fire. When the other driver, The Collector, doesn’t stop heading for him, Brayker manages to get out of his car before the second car impacts it, causing both cars to explode and seemingly killing the other driver. As Brayker stands up, he looks at his hand, which has a star form next to 4 other stars already on it, and he quickly starts walking away. Brayker attempts to steal a car but a little kid sees him and calls out to his father, causing Brayker to run away before he is caught. As he catches his breath in an alley, Brayker encounters Uncle Willy, a local drunk, and Willy agrees to take Brayker to a place he can crash for the night. Back at the crash site, Sheriff Tupper and Deputy Bob are discussing the crash when The Collector appears and asks if they had seen Brayker. When the two confused officers attempt to question The Collector, he tells them that Brayker is dangerous and if he is in town, something bad will soon happen. Back in town, Willy takes Brayker to an old church, which has been turned into a boarding house and Brayker rents a room. While there, he meets the residents of the boarding house; the owner Irene, a prostitute named Cordelia, a postal worker named Wally, and a prisoner on work release named Jeryline. As Brayker is eating, a restaurant cook named Roach enters the church and as he prepares to spend time with Cordelia, he tells them about how someone had tried to kill his bosses car. Meanwhile, Tupper and Bob are interviewing the people about the attempted car theft when they get a call from the station, saying Irene called about Brayker, saying he was acting suspicious. When they arrive at the church, Brayker holds a knife to Jeryline’s throat and tells them to back away but The Collector says that he won’t kill her and Brayker reluctantly lets her go. After Tupper puts Brayker in handcuffs, The Collector sits down and asks him where his artifact is, telling Tupper and Bob that it is shaped like a key. Bob searches Brayker’s room but doesn’t find it and after they repeatedly question Brayker about it’s whereabouts, Willy says he knows where Brayker stashed it and pulls it out from underneath the table. As The Collector opens his suitcase and asks Willy to dump the liquid inside the artifact and place it inside, Tupper receives a call and grabs the key from Willy, saying that both cars were stolen and that he is taking both of them to the station to figure things out. The Collector punches his fist through Tupper’s face and as Bob goes for his gun, Brayker grabs the keys for the handcuffs and frees himself. Brayker uses the key to burn The Collector’s face, forcing him to jump out a nearby window. The Collector yells at Brayker and the others, then slices open his hand and begins splattering the ground with his blood, summoning demonic creatures from the ground where his blood touched. The creatures begin attacking  the hotel and Brayker defends the group, then uses the liquid from the key to form barriers on the doors and windows, killing the creatures if they try to cross. Roach wants to run, convincing Cordelia to come with him, but when they get attacked, he leaves Cordelia out there to die while he heads back inside. Wally, who is in love with Cordelia, manages to save her but he is injured in the process, and Brayker and Cordelia drag him back inside. After securing all the entrances, Brayker says they need to wait out the night cause if they step outside, the creatures will kill them, but Roach gets angry and says that the creatures are only after him and the key and they should just turn him over to them. As Brayker works on securing the upper floors, Jeryline tries talking to him and asks who he really is but he just answers that he is an old man running out of time. After Brayker is done, he heads back downstairs only to find that Jeryline’s cat has somehow made it back inside. Fearing it might be possessed, Brayker chases after it down to the basement, followed by Jeryline, Willy, and Irene, and after catching it, he determines it is safe, then discovers the crack that the cat had come in from and Bob and Willy say that there are some mine shafts that run under the town and it is probably one of them. Upstairs, Roach tries talking to Wally to convince him to work with him against Brayker but Wally refuses and Cordelia sticks up for Wally. Roach takes Cordelia to her room and smacks her and after he leaves, Cordelia hears The Collector talking to her in her head and she ends up being possessed. When Wally goes to check on Cordelia, she attacks and kills him, then attacks Brayker when he goes to investigate the noise. When Brayker goes for the key, Cordelia knocks it away from him and Irene grabs it and tries to use it but Cordelia rips her arm off. Brayker is finally able to kill Cordelia but the event causes everyone to rebel against Brayker and want to try and escape through the mines. Roach breaks down the wall and they head out, with Brayker forming a seal and following after them. As they are making their way through the mines, Jeryline finds Danny, the boy who had spotted Brayker trying to steal his dad’s car, hiding in the mine and as she goes to grab him, they are attacked by the boy’s parents, who have been possessed. They manage to escape and Brayker has everyone head back to the church, killing one of the demons as he leaves. After they are all safely inside, Roach decides to shoot his possessed boss but the resulting explosion from the demon destroys the seal, allowing them to enter the church. Brayker has everyone head upstairs to the second floor, where they are safe as some blood had created a seal when the key was knocked form Brayker’s hand during the fight with Cordelia. When everyone pressures Brayker to explain what is going on, he explains that during the creation of the Earth, the demons had 7 keys which they used to control the power of the cosmos to keep the world in darkness but God created light, which scattered the demons and the keys across the universe. The demons had managed to collect 6 of the keys and the 7th was on Earth but had been filled with the blood of Jesus and guarded by a thief. When the blood runs low, the guardian has to fill it with his own blood and hand it off to a new guardian, with Brayker himself having gotten it from his lieutenant in 1917 during WWI. After finishing his story, Jeryline notices Danny is missing and they split up to find him but Roach secretly steals the key from Brayker. As Jeryline looks for Danny, The Collector tries tempting her to help him but she refuses. Irene and Bob head up to the attic, where they find Willy up there drinking and Danny reading a comic book. Irene tells Willy to take Danny downstairs and get Brayker up there with the key, while she stays up there with Bob and they discover that Wally had a chest full of weapons that he was going to use to attack the post office. Brayker and Jeryline go looking for Willy and Danny only to have Brayker be attacked by a possessed Willy. Brayker manages to cut off Willy’s head but when the body keeps attacking him, Danny grabs the head and impales it’s eyes onto some deer antlers. Roach tries to bargain with The Collector for his life but after giving The Collector the key and erasing the seal on the stairs, The Collector has the demons kill Roach. As The Collector and the demons go after the others, Brayker shoots The Collector in the eye with an arrow, then grabs the case with the key. Bob and Irene tell Brayker, Jeryline, and Danny to head upstairs into the attic while they hold off the demons, then Irene pulls the pins on the grenades she is carrying, killing both her and Bob in order to kill the demons. In the attic, Danny ends up being possessed and mortally wounds Brayker before Jeryline can kill him. Brayker then tells Jeryline to refill the key with his blood and initiates her as the new Guardian. When Brayker dies, the seals he created all disappear and The Collector heads up to the attic. Jeryline attacks him with the key and heads downstairs to finish him off but The Collector attacks her and breaks her wrist. As he goes to finish her off, Jeryline stabs him in the eye with the key and while he is distracted, she takes a drink of blood from the key. The Collector continues to taunt her, saying he wants to take her with him back to Hell but Jeryline spits the blood into his face, causing him to explode. The next day, Jeryline boards a bus out of town, using some of the blood to form a seal on the doors. As the bus makes it’s way down the highway, it stops to pick up a man carrying a briefcase, the man starts to board the bus but stops and says he will wait for the next one, indicating that he is the new Collector. As the bus drives off, the man starts walking after it, whistling the Tales From The Crypt theme song.

Epilogue – The Crypt Keeper says Jeryline lives happily ever after, as he received a post card from her saying she is traveling the world. The Crypt Keeper then heads out to the premier of his movie, only to have the producers place him in a guillotine and cut off his head, causing him to laugh.

Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight met with mostly negative reviews from the critics, holding a 38% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, the critics all seemed to feel that it was lacking enough scares or substance to truly stand on it’s own. The movie was to be the first in a trilogy of Tales From The Crypt movies, with the Crypt Keeper giving the title of the next movie after the credits, but the original trilogy plan fell through and two different movies ended up finishing off the trilogy. The movie was a mild hit at the box office, earning $21.1 million off of a $12 million budget.

This is a pretty fun movie to watch and definitely fit well with the general theme of Tales From The Crypt. The acting was pretty good, with Billy Zane having a lot of fun as The Collector, while Thomas Haden Church did a great job as Roach but I was not too impressed with William Sadler, as I felt his portrayal of Brayker was kind of boring. The story was interesting, though I felt like the whole Biblical aspect was a little unnecessary. I also liked the open ended way the movie ended, as it really left it open for a sequel, like it was intended to be. The special effects were decent, but I honestly expected a little more since it was a feature film as most of them looked like it was basically from an episode of the show itself, not just a movie. As much as I enjoyed the movie, I probably enjoyed the soundtrack equally as much, if not more, and thought it fit perfectly with the movie. A fun movie to watch and definitely something any horror fan will want to watch.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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