Twice-Told Tales (1963 USA)

In Twice-Told Tales Vincent Price does what he does best: be mysterious. It’s good enough to compare favourably with the best films in the Price / Roger Corman / A.I.P. series of Edgar Allan Poe adaptations. But the slow pacing and length of the film may not sit well with some viewers, but others will take delight in the atmosphere, the performances, the story telling, and all the trappings of the genre. Possibly the inspiration for “Creepshow,” complete with a skeleton hand turning the pages between stories. Twice-Told Tales is sometimes funny, sometimes ridiculous, but always entertaining in that surreal sixties style I find so charming.
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The Passenger (Lisa Lutz)

book cA fun 304 page romp. Tanya Pitts husband is dead at the bottom of the stairs. She assumes he fell down them, because she had nothing to do with his death. Instead of calling the police, she decides to “cut and run” as the Americans say. She packs a bag, grabs what money she can find and takes off into the night. It becomes apparent early on that this isn’t the first time Tanya has had to run. After making a phone call to a mysterious man, she requests a new name with credentials and some cash. Hair coloured, disposable phones in hand, Amelia Keen is born and off to find a new back roads town to start over in. The big question is why?
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4:50 From Paddington (Agatha Christie)

One of the major joys of Christie’s books is that they manage the difficult feat of being full of corpses and yet free of angst – a trick the Golden Age authors excelled in and modern authors seem to have forgotten. Miss Marple (our “old pussy” as she’s referred to in the book) is at the absolute top of her game. She gives us some nice village parallels to shed light on the characters of the suspects; she twinkles affectionately at both young Inspector Craddock and Lucy; she does a bit of gentle match-making; and she gives us some very ambiguous pronouncements that leave the reader as beautifully baffled as the other characters. [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…]

The Perfect Stranger (Megan Miranda)

Leah Stevens needs to find the Exit sign immediately if not sooner. Her short career as a Boston journalist, newly crossing the threshold, is soon to hit the skids. Leah was following a story in which multiple female suicides had happened at the local university. Suspicion wafted in the air and Leah followed through with her story. Although she never fully divulged the name of the perpetrator in her article, the damage was done and the newspaper would likely face libel charges. Even her boyfriend convinced her to quit and leave town…. [Read more…]

Don’t Look Back (Jennifer Armentrout)

dont-look-backTwo teenage girls go missing for four days…until Samantha was found wandering in the streets. Everyone wants to know what happened but Samantha has no recollection of what’s happened. And now she is in a life that she doesn’t remember and she tries to pick up the pieces and find what really happened. So she has some issues. This is a nice read on a cool Halloween night. At forty six pages you should be able to finish it in one sitting. Male readers should probably avoid, but ladies on the young side, this could be right up your Strassa. [Read more…]

The Man From U.N.C.L.E (1964–1967 USA)

uncleWhat made MFU such a hit? Maybe the male baby-boomers who thought the exciting life depicted here was how life was going to be. Women, travel, women, cool suits, women, weapons, excitement, women, etc,. Did I mention women? Sure beat the work-a-day world their Dads had to live in during the 1960s. They were in for a big surprise when they grew up. No UNCLE organization, no space travel, no huge amounts of leisure time. Meanwhile, the girlies who couldn’t get enough of Robert Vaughn just threw their knickers at the TV screen. What would it take to get his attention & make him desire them? In a word…THRUSH!  [Read more…]

The Night Strangler (1973 USA)

nightstranglercsGet this straight, dear reader. No carnival or hooplah tactics will be tolerated in this review. This isn’t Funtown USA. I have standards here at highteadreams. I will mind my Ps and Qs with this post, Mr Crossbinder. I will hue precisely to the mark. Or I will be banished to Puyallup to live out the rest of my days as a daffodil. Failure to live up to this may result in yours truly going schizoid. He will be wearing robes and a crown soon! Fans of this Kolchak classic will recognize some of the preceding phrases as dialogue from The Night Strangler. [Read more…]

Chase A Crooked Shadow (1958 UK)

chase-a-crooked-shadow-03This one’s main strength is its plot, which spins a fairly gripping early variation on the are-they aren’t-they mad? scenario which proved such a fruitful ground for British suspense films of that era. An isolated victim in peril from immediate family; lingering doubts of the identity of those closest to her; suggestions of beckoning insanity, overtones of incestuousness, obligatory last minute revelations, and so on. This is memorable for its haunting guitar theme and superb Spanish locations looking cool in black & white. [Read more…]

Vertigo (1958 USA)

VHitchcock uses a complicated story, interesting characters, lavish visual detail, and deliberate pacing, plus a fine musical score by Bernard Hermann, to produce a mysterious, almost unearthly, atmosphere. The tension rarely lets up, and the viewer is caught up completely in it, at times almost to the point of discomfort. It’s the kind of film that repays careful attention, as almost every moment is filled with significant detail. [Read more…]

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