The Oblong Box (1969 United Kingdom)

Owing virtually nothing to Edgar Allan Poe other than the title, American International Pictures (AIP) did like to insult the public’s intelligence. The critics of the time did not have much enthusiasm for this flick, which is often surprisingly nasty for that era, but I think this has enough entertainment value for at least one viewing. The director, Gordon Hessler, who replaced Michael Reeves after his untimely death, does a good job of making the film into a reasonably compelling narrative, even if he is a little too fond of extreme close-ups.
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The Man With The Golden Gun (1974 United Artists)

 

This is another 007 adventure which gets trashed by many critics. Perhaps because it’s subdued in tone, possibly abnormally so for a Bond movie. As if the film itself is depressed. Well, in 1974 the world was in a depressed state–because of the energy crisis, which M and Bond remind us of in one of their dialogue exchanges. The vibe surrounding here is the most peculiar of them all: it’s very Asiatic/kung-fu in tone, and very downbeat. It’s definitely no extravaganza like, say, The Living Daylights, but an attentive viewing of the Man With The Golden Gun should prove very rewarding. This is the last of the ‘old-fashioned’ Bond films. [Read more…]

Around The World In 80 Days (USA 1989)

You should know the plot and shame on you if that’s not the case. A 3 part TV miniseries rendition with an all-star cast. There are many cameos and bit parts by so many top actors from back in the day. (Darren McGavin as Mudge was the most pleasing surprise for me) There are some scenes that are not in the book, but they didn’t bother me as they were just as entertaining as the ones that were. Filming on location in Germany, England, Yugoslavia, Macau, and Thailand, adds a lot of grandeur to the series that it otherwise would have lacked. [Read more…]

Dracula A.D. 1972 (United Kingdom)

(I dedicate this post to Peter Cushing, who always maintained his dignity even when his hands were full.) Moving on…no prizes for guessing which year this baby was released. T’was a leap year in horror. A vintage year for being a vampire trapped in St Bartolph’s churchyard, London. Although it feels slapdash, with its day-as-night shots, total lack of continuity and sloppy script, this film succeeds as a comic masterpiece. A bit like the Beatles disastrous Let It Be sessions, Hammer’s Dracula run-at-the-top was also nigh. Right nigh. And there was little Peter Cushing or Christopher Lee could do to stop the rot except to throw as much middle aged, Anglo-Saxon gravitas at the latest concotion they had found themselves roped into. [Read more…]

Dr Terror’s House Of Horrors (1965 Britain)

The first Amicus anthology movie was a sizeable hit on release, and was also liked by the critics. Producer Milton Subotsky dusted off some scripts he’d had knocking around since the late 1940s, but he didn’t make much of an effort to update them for the swinging 60s.  The linking story sees five seemingly ordinary travellers board a train. A sinister sixth traveller boards the train at the last moment. He carries with him a deck of tarot cards. Each traveller taps the cards three times and their fortunes are told. Unlike later entries in the series where everyone would willingly, without objection, subject themselves to such commitments, this opening film shows characters who have doubts or ridicule the whole thing. [Read more…]

The Gorgon (1964 United Kingdom)

The Gorgon should be viewed more as a doomed love story featuring a legendary horror character. To call this a horror film is just wrong, and marketing it as such has done the movie few favours over the years. Director Terence Fisher always thought of The Gorgon as one of his best films, and he was right to do so for it’s a hauntingly beautiful piece of work. Definitely one of Hammer’s most visually accomplished efforts. And if anyone dares laugh at the special effects they will be turned to stone! And if you are a connoisseur of facial hair, this one’s for you, Grandma. There are plenty of hairy men on display, frowning impressively. [Read more…]

Number 13 (M. R. James)

The Mummy (1959 Britain)

hammer_classics_1This was the third time a visceral contest between Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee had been crafted for an ever increasing box office audience. And yes, there is much dignified violence and spectacle, but there is a melancholy undertow as well. Hammer’s Mummy is less a remake of Karloff’s 1932 version, more a re-imagining. And, like its Dracula and Frankenstein bedfellows, it’s a cracker. Do not let the PG rating put you off. Or the obvious studio backlot that has to convince you its a swamp. This was part of the low budget charm of Hammer. There is enough colour and elegance to The Mummy to off-set the weaknesses. [Read more…]

Taste The Blood Of Dracula (1970 UK)

taste the blood of dracula“Taste the Blood of Dracula” starts where “Dracula has raised from the Grave” ended, when traveling salesman by the name of Weller (played by Roy Kinnear) is pushed from the wagon he was travelling in. After a brief moment he pulls himself together and hears a loud scream from deep in the forest. He goes to investigate and finds the Count impaled in a golden cross, watching in horror as Dracula disintegrates into a red powder-like substance. [Read more…]

The Face Of Fu Manchu (1965 UK/West Germany)

films-1965-the-face-of-fu-manchuThis motion picture exists in a weird 1920s/1960s hybrid. The male fashions and the cars suggest the 20s, but the women are pure 60s. There is enough mystery and action to keep things from slowing down too much, though the film does drag in parts. Fu’s plot is evil enough to propel things, with murdered villagers and a drowned woman to add a bit of grisly horror. But this film didn’t have the budget to portray the horrors of the books. [Read more…]

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