It's been a busy couple of weeks here at the BoH. We've been putting in some OT over at the Blood Sprayer which has been most fun and entirely fulfilling. We will continue to keep you update in any fashion available to get you all the stories from Dr. Terror no matter where they might occur on the internet. Working on a column called "Interrupted Regularly Scheduled Program". This will feature where I've been, where I'm going and where I was (all with the touch of this keypad).
October is going to be an altogether busy month, and you'll find out about that October 1st. It's going to be long. It's going to be arduous. It's going to be everything you've come to expect from this literary vehicle. On to tonight's tale of UN-ordinary madness.
There's a big bad anthology horror movie about to hit you straight in the tramp stamp. Chillerama! I'll tell you now that I have not as of yet seen this beauty of a film. How do I know it's a friggin' Ingrid Pitt level horror film? Because Freddy knows best and he's got the low down right about... HERE!!! Please stop by and read what he has to say about it. I hope to post my own thoughts along time ago in a land far away. So sometime soon, check your hair for the virtual jizz trail of a review I'll most likely write to put my cornball head twist on it. Back to the matter at hand.
Anthology horror films. The portmanteau. Multiple stories. One beautiful film. You know there's historical precedent for this style of picture and that Chillerama isn't the only kid on the block to ride a Mongoose. I want to talk about this sub-genre or story telling method or whatever we'd like to call it now because it's important. Let's get down and dirty with the roots of this style of filmmaking. Start around the very beginning and leave it somewhere around the beginning of the VHS boom. If I leave any out feel free to raise your hand, waive it around for quite a bit and then shout out the answer. In all honesty we're probably only going to go through a couple to get your started and show you where the portmanteau has been and the new face of multi-story dwellings. I am not infallible when it comes to this list. On the contrary, I write because I am complete fallible. Feel free to share your favorites.
"An architect senses impending doom as his half-remembered recurring dream turns into reality. The guests at the country house encourage him to stay as they take turns telling supernatural tales."
With some creepy imagery that will make it into later horror cinema including but not limited to the Twilight Zone with a short tale revolving around a ventriloquist dummy this one helped set the pace for modern anthology films and provided a superb wrap story. Now it's not the first of it's kind, but it's definitely slightly more well known than say Waxworks (1924) outta Germany. As you'll slowly figure out, the Brits dominate this storytelling method with a peppering of other country's taking the helm from time to time.
"Three tales of terror involve a grieving widower and the daughter he abandoned; a drunkard and his wife's black cat; and a hypnotist who prolongs the moment of a man's death."
When you take a Roger Corman picture produce my Samuel Z. Arkoff with a Richard Matheson Screenplay and then stir in Peter Lorre and Vincent Price you'er sure to get a good story. Definitely an AIP film, so if you're into the Corman era Poe pictures this will suit you nicely as will Twice Told Tales. Midnight Movies put out a double feature release of this one. Best of both worlds? Well, it's at least an entry into the anthology genre which is one world. Being a fan of the Poe/Corman/Price sub-genre (yes it's a friggin' subgenre now), it's a perfect for a post Trick or Treat scare film for the kiddies.
"A trio of atmospheric horror tales about: A woman terrorized in her apartment by phone calls from an escaped prisoner from her past; a Russian count in the early 1800s who stumbles upon a family in the countryside trying to destroy a particularly vicious line of vampires; and a 1900-era nurse who makes a fateful decision while preparing the corpse of one of her patients - an elderly medium who died during a seance."
All I should have to say here is BAVA! If you understand what that means you need to see this picture. If you have seen this picture, you love it. If you have seen this picture and love the Wurdalak as I do, go check out the Fright Rags shirt "I, Wurdalak" and purchase it HERE. IT'S ONLY $10!!! Do it. Then enjoy Karloff and the movie that gave Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi and Bill Ward their namesake. Enjoy a the cut that started it all below (this still makes me piss my pants with anticipation):
"Five strangers board a train and are joined by a mysterious fortune teller who offers to read their Tarot cards. Five separate stories unfold: An architect returns to his ancestoral home to find a werewolf out for revenge; a doctor discovers his new wife is a vampire; a huge plant takes over a house; a musician gets involved with voodoo; an art critic is pursued by a disembodied hand."
A true return to the beginning of the film version of the British invasion. Hammer was already out and about strutting it's Universal Monster remakes of class act films. From out Amicus (and not Hammer as commonly assumed) comes this gem starring standard Hammer actors Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee and direct by the Freddie fucking Francis you've got five perfect tales of total horror. Yes, they are a bit cliched, but cliche... remake... redone... rehash... that literature and that most certainly is horror. My favorite chances by the year. Some years I'm all about the "killer plant" tale and get all weepy at poor Rusty (see the movie). Other years I'm amazed by that damn severed hand crawling around especially post fire place. All the tales are good. One will even leave a song stuck in your head that could get your ... :gulp: killed. Oh, did I mention this blogged is named after it? Yeah, I think we've been down this road before. It's on Netflix streaming if they're still calling it Netflix anymore, and if you live in the UK or have a region free DVD player you're in luck. US audiences demand some lazy motherfucker releases this movie in the US proper (and a copy of the 1940's original "movie").
"A Scotland Yard investigator looks into four mysterious cases involving an unoccupied house: 1) A writer encounters a strangler of his own creation, 2) Two men are obsessed with a wax figure of a woman from their past, 3) A little girl displays an interest in witchcraft, and 4) A film actor discovers a cloak which gives him a vampire's powers."
Another portmanteau out of Amicus. I won't say it's as good as Dr. Terror's House of Horrors, but I will say that it's certainly as British as DTHOH. The stories are set in more modern times and are based less in traditional monster movie tropes, but with some new spins on what is horrifying. I suppose each story finds itself attached to a traditional horror monster or theme, but the feeling is different. The modern day feelings set us up for one of the finest horror anthologies in the history of the style.
"Five people get lost in a crypt and meet up with a strange crypt keeper who tells them stories of how they died."
With imagery so iconic and stories so unforgettable this anthology based on the EC Comics stories of the 1950's is a nearly perfect series of horrifying tales. It's set in the modern day, but still maintains some semblance of gothic horror. From the opening organ pipes of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor to the closing flames and screams you will find what you are looking for. The look may be dated but the stories are not. My favorite is "Poetic Justice" with star Peter Cushing at his most versatile and a make up job that has scared me since I first laid eyes on a picture of dead ol' Grimsdyke. Crayola blood abounds. Also, "Blind Alleys" gets to me. Patrick McGee is creepy with or without a movie surrounding him.
"Five men trapped in the basement vault of an office building share visions with each other of their demise. Stories revolve around vampires, bodily dismemberment, east Indian mysticism, an insurance scam, and an artist who kills by painting his victims' deaths."
A nice play on the original plot device from Tales From the Crypt, Amicus took yet another stab at the anthology film and created another fun series of stories although not as inspired as the original. The highlight of this picture is Terry Thomas. That's right... Sir Hiss from Disney's animated Robin Hood (among other children's film appearances) and of course, victim of Dr. Phibes. You'll enjoy how Glynis Johns (of MARY FUCKING POPPINS)gains some semblance of revenge on an overly tidy husband. A story not to miss. I had the honor or seeing this at the Exhumed 24 Hour Horror-thon on celluloid. Nothing pleases me more than grainy film and a good collection film.
"Anthology film from Amicus adapted from four short stories by R. Chetwynd-Hayes strung together about an antique dealer who owns a shop called Temptations Ltd. and the fate that befalls his customers who try to cheat him. Stories include "The Gate Crasher" with David Warner who frees an evil entity from an antique mirror, "An Act of Kindness" featuring Donald Pleasence, "The Elemental", and "The Door""
Hey, if it ain't broker don't fix it. Amicus brings you yet another series of horrifying tales. This one stars Cushing, Donald Pleasance, David Warner(!) and Ian Ogilvy. It's been since the VHS days since I've last watched this one, but the wrap around story (the story's vehicle to convey each tale) is what I remember the best. Cushing as the shop owner of Temptations, Ltd. A must watch for the Amicus fan or for folks who like a good tag line "THE CREATURES - They Came From Beyond The Grave! They weren't born!! They were kicked out of HELL!!!" Not necessarily for everyone as its paced slower than the rest.
"Three bizarre horror stories all of which star Karen Black in four different roles playing tormented women."
I've written about this one before and we all know that I am more than slight infatuated with Ms. Karen Black. It's a pleasure to see her get the versatility in a role/roles that she deserves. I think that every horror fan is somewhat familiar with the unforgettable doll-alive warrior that attacks Ms. Black, but the opening story is just as well done and is gives us sexy seductive Karen Black right before she black widows herself into her scream queen persona. Watch out! We have another Richard Matheson script to enjoy, even if it is made for TV.
"Inspired by the E.C. comics of the 1950s, George A.Romero and Stephen King bring five tales of terror to the screen."
Any reader of this column knows how much we 80's freaks like to put this film on the pedestal it deserves for horror iconography. The only new commentary I'll make on this one is that its never seen a proper DVD release (which is true no matter how NOT my idea that is). We've all got our dollar bills ready and waiting. We even enjoy Creepshow 2 although some more than others. Creepshow 3 can be consumed by both Creepshow and Creepshow 2. Maybe they'll crap out a Creepshow 4 worth watching but with the production company switching after number two, we have little chance of seeing a worthwhile follow up.
Others worth mentioning though not featured from the 80's and before are Twilight Zone the movie, The Monster Club, Tales from the Darkside the Movie, Asylum, Torture Garden, Stephen King's Cat's Eye, Two Evil Eyes (which I love but is not necessarily everyone's favorite) and Tales from the Hood. Tales from the Hood is an amazing piece of strange horror cinema and needs to be seen to be believed. The right level of horror and comedy. The Brits would be proud of that one since most of their anthologies seem to have some underlying humor. There's so many anthology's to include... recently Trick or Treat became the cult classic that has inspired a new generation of multi-story lovers and new films attempting to cash in on its success. Let them try. It worked for Amicus in the late 60's and early 70's.