While The City Sleeps (1956 USA)

Fritz Lang’s second to last American feature is one of his most cynical pieces of work, consisting of two plot threads deftly coiled together to create an ironic whole. When media mogul, Amos Kyne, dies his playboy son takes over the seat of power. But, knowing he is unable to manage such an organization, he decides to create an executive directorship just below his role to do all the real work and manage the company day by day. Meanwhile, a maniac–‘The Lipstick Killer’– is stalking the city, strangling young women in their homes. [Read more…]

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Scream And Scream Again (1970 United Kingdom)

This is one of those old British films that let you down but you want to look for the good within the disappointment. Its mildly entertaining but incoherent: 3 separate stories have been forced together. The result is an ultra-long episode of TV’s The Avengers. This is so late ’60’s, with its discotheques, pop groups ( ‘The Amen Corner’ ) and blokes in flowered shirts. Hammer tried to go down the same route later with ‘Dracula A.D. 1972’ but, by then, London had stopped swinging. On the plus side, if any film signposted the direction horror took in the ’70’s, it was Scream And Scream Again. You even get a foretaste of Michael Crichton’s ‘Coma.’
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The Price Of Fear (The Ninth Removal)

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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A Champagne Cork & The Scouse of Distinction (Totally Random Film Quotes)

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Tales Of Terror (1962 USA)

The fourth venture into Poe adaptations for Roger Corman and Vincent Price sees them taking on the portmanteau format with a trilogy of creepers.  Somewhat a turning point in the series. Tales of Terror implements a wicked sense of humour for the first time that’ll become more and more a trademark in the later movies. It is usually very difficult to try to adapt Poe stories to film–similar to the difficulty of attempting to adapt H.P. Lovecraft to film. Both authors write very dense, poetic, often abstract prose, and Poe, especially, is sometimes not very plot-oriented. Although each segment in Tales of Terror succeeds in its own way. [Read more…]

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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Witchfinder General (1968 United Kingdom)

In 1645 the accusing word witch (or papist in England) was enough to have your human rights roundly violated. Today we have the politically powerful elite wielding a similar power with the use of the word racist. Some things don’t change. Witchfinder General’s exploitative elements are tempered by the ever-reliable presence of horror maestro Vincent Price, who manages to keep the film feeling respectable. Proving his versatility as an actor, Price’s performance is surprisingly understated; perhaps he felt that the subject matter was already macabre enough, without the need for his own unique vocal flourishes. Indeed, far from being frightening, Matthew Hopkins comes across as little more than a methodical businessman, his moral quandaries not necessarily absent, but merely set aside to make room for his wages. [Read more…]

The Tingler (1959 USA)

tinglerThe Tingler (hopefully) works on a few levels. As a horror story at the base level, it’s a decent tale of a creature, fear and murder. The blood is minimal. There’s no gore and the language is clean. No nudity. No one is caught with their pants down, porking around in places where they shouldn’t be. As for Vincent Price, this maybe is one of his ten best performances. He manfully delivers each line of dialogue with an intensity worthy of Shakespeare.  [Read more…]

The Raven (1963 USA)

raven02An absurd adventure – styled comedy. The plot is thinner than a supermodel’s waistline and even at 85 minutes it outstays its welcome. But I will be kind. Edgar Allen Poe may have turned in his grave, but the rest of us get to have fun as we see horror gods Vincent Price, Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre, not to mention Jack Nicholson ham it up in style as the weird and wonderful cast of this very silly story of wizards and hocus pocus. [Read more…]

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