Hell House (Richard Matheson)

Matheson really was a master of his craft. He took the conventional Gothic structure and threw it out of the window. Assaulting the reader with carnal, palpable terror, from its first page to the very end. Readers new to Hell House will be wondering how far are things going to go regarding the repulsive sexual shenanigans… What would have been shocking and new to audiences in 1971 has become a tad too familiar today, unfortunately. While this speaks volumes to the book’s cultural and literary impact – the fact that it has been copied and imitated by so many on film and on the page detracts from the book’s overall contemporary wow factor. I bet Stephen King used this as some inspiration for The Shining. [Read more…]

Inferno (1970 United Kingdom)

This was the final story in Jon Pertwee’s debut season and, although slow, it is the best of a series that, whilst an improvement on latter period Patrick Troughton, seemed a bit stilted and somewhat stuck. Not least because after a ruling by the Time Lords, Pertwee is stuck on earth to help Unit (a hush-hush military brigade headed by the Brigadier (Nicholas Courtney) and there is no time travel. This gave the whole 1970 season a ‘Quatermass’ vibe that is very cosy and British. The story concerns a mission at a research station to bore through the earth’s crust with a view to harnessing what lies beneath as a form of cheap energy. [Read more…]

If You Could See Me Now (Peter Straub)

The blurb of my copy of the book manages to drop three spoilers in the space of two sentences, and then reiterates one of the spoilers just in case I was slow on the uptake. I shall endeavor to avoid doing something similar. Straub brings class to horror unlike anyone I’ve ever read. He has literary tricks up his sleeve that will keep sophisticated readers happy throughout. He is a master of tone. And not just with the mystery he puts forth in this novel, but with the way he sets up our narrator as this haughty know-it-all faced with a town of plebeians that plague him. This book is a wonderful ride to take for that reason. [Read more…]

A Nice Elevator Piece

The Gauntlet (1977 USA)

This motion picture gets a bad rap for it’s implausible story line and outrageous shoot outs, but if you’re in the mood for that sort of thing, it’s a hard one to top. For the sixth time Clint Eastwood does his civic duty as the film’s director and leading man, here sharing the screen with live-in companion Sondra Locke. (This was before a real life drama where he changed the locks on the house they shared when she was away–years after this) The pasty Locke always struck me as a good looking woman, but only if you caught her at just the right angle. [Read more…]

The Car (USA 1977)

If it weren’t for George Lucas, “The Car” would’ve been the surefire hit of 1977 and we’d all be reminiscing about the classic “Car Wars” trilogy and remembering how incredible James Brolin was as Wade Parent. There might even be merchandise like dolls and a black car for kids to buy. Gathering together some key horror movie elements (small desert town, scrappy desert folk, demonic Lincoln vehicle), the makers of “The Car” must’ve felt they were on top of a goldmine. What went wrong? That bastard George Lucas and his big budget Star Wars for one. And that other bastard Spielberg bad mouthed this as a Jaws-on-wheels rip off. [Read more…]

Lisa And The Devil (1973 France)

“It is true, that which I have revealed to you; there is no God, no universe, no human race, no earthly life, no heaven, no hell. It is all a dream – a grotesque and foolish dream. Nothing exists but you. And you are but a thought – a vagrant thought, a useless thought, a homeless thought, wandering forlorn among the empty eternities!”  Mark Twain “Number 44: The Mysterious Stranger.” While I think the horror films of Mario Bava vary tremendously in quality, this one impressed me. His direction was great—very, very artistic. [Read more…]

The Exorcist (William Peter Blatty)

“The Exorcist” is as superior to most books of its kind as an Einstein equation is to an accountant’s column of figures.”–New York Times.  How can I disagree with the world’s most famous rag? Not on this occasion. By the time I finished the final sentence I felt like a convalescing patient. My sanity stretched to the limit, gasping for relief, my hair literally standing on end. William Peter Blatty had achieved a dubious distinction for a fictional writer: he produced a novel that raped a generation. He’s left a traumatic, permanent mark on millions of people since 1971. He also wrote the filmed version too – traumatizing even more people who couldn’t be bothered reading the book. How dare he?! [Read more…]

The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad (Britain 1974)

golden-voyage-of-sinbadIf you are looking for an enjoyable adventure, full of swashbuckling heroics, colourful characters, and of course the battle of good versus evil, then you’ve found it. All aspects of the production contribute to a fantastic tale of conflict, destiny and glory. This is one of a series of Ray Harryhausen (animator/story) movies about Sinbad, the legendary sailor. In the first ten minutes this film shows its true colours as a fantasy. It will pull you in and keep you musing, wondering, and entertained mostly all the way through. [Read more…]

Deadly Weapons (1974 USA)

deadly_weapons_chesty_morganWritten, directed, and produced by the pseudo-pornographic pioneer Doris Wishman, she was a leading figure in soft-core porn/exploitation flicks during the 1960s/70’s. She helped to fill the local ‘grind house’ cinemas with such fare as Keyholes Are For Peeping and Nude on the Moon where astronauts traveling to the moon are surprised to discover nudists are living up there. But she is most notorious for creating this dilapidated freak show about a woman who uses the only two weapons she has to hit back at the men who killed her husband. [Read more…]

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