Thursday, October 13, 2011

31 Weird Tales: Tormented

Director Burt I. Gordon is better known for his fits of giant mayhem a la Amazing Colossal Man, but this is a very interesting if flawed one off. A musician who is about to marry into wealth has an unwelcome visit from a former flame end with her taking an unintended but very beneficial spill off a lighthouse onto the rocks below. Thinking the problem solved he tries to turn his attention to his new life only to start noticing ghostly footprints in the sand and other signs the dead aren't so at rest. The lead gives an unusually shaded performance for a Gordon flick, but the primitive effects do keep this from being a minor gem in the Lewton tradition as there is no doubt that this is a supernatural event and not the antihero's guilty conscience coming home to roost. Still, for something off the path in fifties black and white monster movie tradition it's worth a look.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

31 Weird Tales: The Apple

Xanadu may be the better known disastrous disco musical of 1980 but this is much more fun, and much more insane. From the producers that would give us about 141 different Death Wish and Missing in Action sequels comes a biblical allegorical glam rock disco musical, complete with production number set in Hell. Jaw-dropping, and a great party disc, take a bite.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

31 Weird Tales: The Corpse Vanishes

One of Lugosi's more entertaining goofball poverty row entries. He plays a scientist of the Mad variety killing brides on their wedding days to harvest their glands to restore his wife's looks. And that's not the weirdest part of the flick even.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

31 Weird Tales: Tenebre

Sold giallo entry from Dario Argento that's as cold, cruel, and stylish as a switchblade. An American mystery writer in Rome finds himself a most unwelcome fan who appears to be making the plots of his books come to horrible life. Great score by Goblin too.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

31 Weird Tales: Scream of Fear

Hammer adapted to the post Psycho shift in horror most adroitly with a series of "Mini Hitchcocks", films that were a sampler box of the former director's greatest hits. Beautifully shot and well cast this is a perfect programmer for a rainy afternoon.

Friday, October 07, 2011

31 Weird Tales: Secret Ceremony

Director Joseph Losey should be better known today than he is, but he was entering a period of critical and audience rediscovery when he helmed two notorious Elizabeth Taylor vehicles. One, Boom!, is virtually unwatchable, the other is a delightfully baroque psychodrama just waiting for cult rediscovery. Taylor and Mia Farrow play two damaged people who unwisely enter a relationship of mutual desperation and delusion and it quickly spirals out of control. Hypnotically strange and unfortunately hard to find, look for it to sometimes turn up on TCM.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

31 Weird Tales: The Car

Sometimes films are much better than they have any right to be, and this, a Jaws cash-in (from Universal no less) about a Satanic Lincoln terrorizing a small southwestern town is one of them. A nifty, effective b picture that Hollywood used to be able to turn out with regularity. It makes effective use of the harsh beauty and isolation of it's locations, the diabolical vehicle in question is a great George Barris custom job, and it's smartly paced and well acted too, check it out.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

31 Weird Tales: Sunset Boulevard

Maybe not first to come to mind at the phrase "horror film", but Billy Wilder's magnificent, black hearted gem only grows in my affection with each passing year. Bleak, funny, and mad it's still the best movie Hollywood ever made about itself.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

31 Weird Tales: Eye of the Devil

A beguiling, unjustly forgotten gem with Deborah Kerr and David Niven. Kerr unwisely follows her husband, Niven, back to the ancestral home only to find a chilly welcome from the locals and secrets best left uncovered. Sharon Tate has an eye catching role as a local waif, watching everything unfold with a dry smile. Shot in beautiful black and white it plays like a marvelously sinister fairy tale.

Monday, October 03, 2011

31 Weird Tales: The Abominable Dr. Phibes

A marvelous dark confection with Vincent Price as a mad genius seeking revenge on the doctors he holds responsible for his wife death and using the 10 Biblical Plagues of Egypt as his template. That only begins to scratch the surface of this mescaline soaked Art Deco gem. Perfectly arch in tone and performances and unusually lush looking for AIP. Most recommended.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

31 Weird Tales: Black Sabbath

Mario Bava directs a trio of tales of terror. A sumptuous visual stylist, Bava often reveals more plot and character in the colors and lighting he uses, meaning his films are treats for the eyes but can be hard to follow as straight narrative. No matter, the anthology format serves him well as he skillfully tightens the noose around three hapless protagonists.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

31 Weird Tales: Count Yorga, Vampire

31 Weird Tales fights back from the grave with a groovy vampire tale. With their characteristic pragmatic effectiveness AIP reacted to the collapse of interest in Gothic horror with a vampire story set in then present day Los Angeles. Smartly, they did not update the vampire into a tragic antihero but kept him a ruthless monster operating under the facade of a smooth, predatory visiting Count. Robert Quarry ably carries the title role, and the hurriedness of the production gives it a grim, gross feeling perfect for a vampire story. As vampires are not sparkly boyfriends in waiting but desperate, parasitic creatures leeching out the life-force of every one around them. (Inert joke about ex-boyfriends here.)