1953. Directed by Ford Beebe

A copy, cut and paste patchwork film made up from a Buck Roger's serial that many a kid enjoyed on a Saturday morn.  The action is incessant, the story lacking any depth and the characters purely shallow - the effects really are something else and have a charming innocence all of their own.    

After crashing a dirigible over the North Pole in 1939, Lieutenant Buck Rogers (Buster Crabbe) and his young sidekick (Buddy Wade) are found 500 years later after being in suspended animation due to the Nirvano Gas they were carrying.  Now the world is ruled by the maniacal dictator Killer Kane (Anthony Warde) and his units of 'super racketeers'.  Resistance to the Killer Kane tyranny comes from the underworld were the scientist Dr Huer (C. Montague Shaw) and military leader Air Marshall Kragg (William Gould) strive to stave off total oppression by the mad leader.  Buck and Buddy are soon helping the resistance and are seemingly unconcerned about being 500 years into the future.  They take a trip to Saturn along with Wilma Deering (Constance Moore) where they aim to win the assistance of leader Aldar (Guy Usher), the Council of the Wise and Prince Tallen (Philson Ahn).  Killer Kane and his men are soon the sticks in the mud and the fight begins between the forces of good and evil - can you guess who wins?  

With shockingly bad effects, dire dialogue and some inconsistency within the weave this shambolic escapade is best deemed as low-grade garbage but, and a big but at that, there is an innocent throwaway charm here and something so slapdash and 'have-a-go' that one can't help but be enthralled. The 'gung-ho and let's do it' approach helps the offering get by and a certain nostalgic element is no bad thing.  



1960. Directed by Anton Giulio Majano 

I must have a fetish for crackpot scientists - I can't help but keep watching films that parade the misdemeanours of these crazed madmen and more often than not I come out at the other end of a viewing very much enthralled by the lunacy of the gifted.  This cut-price Italian horror is another treat for those with the same weaknesses, thank goodness I am not alone. 

Dr Levin (Alberto Lupo) has come up with a strange healing agent known as 'Derma 28', a serum which can be used on people who have harsh disfigurements with the power to remove all signs of the ruined tissue.  When stripper Jeanette Moreneau (Susanne Loret) is facially injured in a car crash Loret uses his wonder drug and ends up falling in love, much to the disgust of his assistant Monique Riviere (Franca Parisi) who adores the disloyal man of medicine.  Alas the serum lasts for only a certain amount of time and when the supply runs out the vain and acidic Jeanette demands that the doctor gets some more.   Levin duly injects himself with Derma 28 and becomes a vile fiend that kills several refugees so as to extract their glands in order to restock the serum supplies.  Things soon go awry, the cursed and cracked doctor is a Jekyll and Hyde victim of love, the finale is adequate, the much put-upon gardener gets revenge, the die-hard and determined lovers of B-movie madness will be left quite satisfied. 

The aging quality of the film, the stiff and theatrical acting are easily overcome by a timeworn tale that has no actual vampires and presents nothing really new under the terror-tinted sun but you get a nice monster, a few scares and of course the scientific nutjob - that will do for me. 



1943. Directed by Lew Landers

Bela Lugosi is the lead vampire in this quite wonderful blood-sucking film.  It is a simplistic, uncomplicated fantasy with a fine atmosphere and with many touches of the horror golden age.  Lugosi is as stiff and as wooden as ever, his supporting lycanthrope is a tortured joy.

Armand Tesla (Bela Lugosi) is on the prowl of the streets of London during the First World War.  Lady Jane Ainsley (Frieda Inescort) falls victim to the fanged deviant whereupon Professor Walter Saunders (Gilbert Emery) is clueless as to the cause. In his quest to finish off Lady Jane, Tesla preys on the professor's daughter Nikki (Nina Foch) with Saunders eventually considering the possibilities of a vampiric attack. Lady Jane and the Professor search for the vampire's crypt, Andreas (Matt Willis), Tesla's enslaved werewolf and henchman, tries to stop his master from getting staked and duly fails. Andreas is freed of the curse and begins working for Lady Jane.  It isn't long before some bumbling workmen bring the vampire back to life, Andreas is back under the curse and Tesla is impersonating a famed doctor.  The bloodsucker still has is blackened heart set on Nikki and operates in a cold and calculating manner, the race is on to save Nikki from a life of undead misery, the atmosphere and tension are perfectly balanced and the finale perhaps as expected, but still rounding off a fine vampiric spectacle. 

This is a personal favourite even though it will never attain classical status.  I like the feel of the film, the mid-paced delivery and the fact that despite being of a low-budget I love the way the film absorbs the attention with its misty and enthralling ambience. Sometimes though one can have a favourite film for no reason whatsoever, it is like being vampirically infected via the flickering celluloid.


1981. Directed by J. Lee Thompson 

An 80's slasher film that does indeed have its moments, but overall comes across as a slightly wishy-washy affair that is a little too drawn out for its own good.  The characters are a trifle weak too but the odd splash of gratuitous horror is nicely executed.

A group of elite and highly privileged kids at Crawford Academy known as the schools 'Top Ten' start getting bumped off via various ghastly ways - a cut throat, a trapped scarf in a motorcycle and a crushing of the throat via some rather heavy weights.  Virginia 'Ginny' Wainwright (Melissa Sue Anderson) is a popular lass and part of the group, it comes to light however her past is rather traumatic with her having undergone experimental brain tissue restoration after a crash in a car with her rather bitter mother.  Dr Faraday (Glenn Ford) is Ginny's psychiatrist and has his concerns about his patient's behaviour after various flashbacks and scares see Ginny get quite hysterical.  Deaths ensue, a grave is uncovered, blood is spilled, a few cocky characters are done away with.  The film unwinds with a very disturbing and outlandish ending with the killer revealed and many questions answered.  One twist is trumped by another and the film ends on a firm and satisfying note. 

This is far from a great film and has many flaws, but come the final credits one or two memorable moments are had and the closing scenes are very pleasing for the lover of the bizarre and truly unsettling.  This isn't a film I wouldn’t rush back to but I am sure there are a few aficionados who would love this.



1976. Directed by Peter Walker 

A tale about a crackpot vicar done in the era when fashion was debatable but these low-cut British horror flicks were instantly recognisable.  A host of familiar faces appear and one or two performances are quite memorable in a film very much overlooked. 

Father Meldrum (Anthony Sharp) is taking confessions and hears from a girl known as Jenny (Susan Penhaligon) that her dubious boyfriend Terry (Stewart Bevan) has forced her into having an abortion.  Meldrum is a crackpot, a self-appointed bringer of divine justice who isn't afraid to punish those deemed as sinners.  Meldrum, after assaulting one of Jenny’s friends, invites her to his presbytery where he lives with his unsettling housekeeper Miss Brabazon (Sheila Keith) and his locked away and very feeble Mother (Hilda Barry).  A conversation is taped, blackmail is attempted, hot-shot Terry arrives back on the scene, tries to rough-house his way to sorting matters and gets his comeuppance.  Jenny's sister Vanessa (Stephanie Beacham) eventually starts to believe her sisters claims about the cracked vicar as does her boyfriend and catholic priest Bernard (Norman Eshley).  It looks as though Meldrum is going to be exposed but the man of the cloth is no fool and manipulates his way through matters even after learning of a long tern adoration by his housekeeper.  The closing dialogue and general horror leave one all the wiser and as Meldrum exits we are left slightly... unsettled.  

There is something quite cold and sinister about this film and of course, as with all Peter Walker productions, there is a very earthy feel to matters.  This is one of the directors best, Penhaligon and Sharp put in two excellent performances and let’s face it, everyone is afraid of a crazy priest. 



1954. Directed by John Brahm 

A very rewarding mystery-thriller starring the always believable Price in the role of a wannabe magician who has been let down in love and who is surrounded by dubious characters who deserve, and duly get, their comeuppance.   

A simple tale about a one Don Gallico (Vincent Price), a man of magic, a man of many faces, a creator of magical effects. During a performance dressed up as The Great Rinaldi, a headlining rival magician, the show is stopped by the quite obnoxious businessman Ross Ormond (Donald Randolph) and his lawyer. The magician's assistant Karen Lee (Mary Murphy) saves her head whilst her boyfriend detective Lt. Alan Bruce (Patrick O' Neal) duly intervenes.  It transpires Gallico is under contact and under the cosh and all his creations are the property of Illusions Inc. Clashes ensue between Gallico, the repulsive Ormond and the arrogant Rinaldi (John Emery).  Ormond loses his head after taunting Gallico with a few home truths about his disloyal, ex-wife. Gallico becomes the impersonator and takes up residence at the home Alice Prentiss (Lenita Lane) who is an author of mystery novels. The nosey writer and her 'know-your-place' husband are a couple of characters who are wiser than they appear, Gallico’s wife is a scheming  element thrown into the mix and Rinaldi is soon put in his place.  Gallico is a man unhinged and duly cornered, the finale may come as no surprise with our lead man taking a trip to the 'crematorium'. 

The smooth flow of the film, the fact that Price is at the helm, and the easily digestible story all make for a very agreeable watch.  The film has a comfortable feel and a few of the nasty characters add depth.  For me this is a fine example of reliable 50's horror. 



1959. Directed by William Castle 

William Castle at his gimmick-laden best presents a supremely far-fetched fiasco that concerns the manifestation of a strange spinal creature when someone is scared to death.  The plot is ludicrous but the delivery and whole feel of the film a joy, I for one always lap up this kind of madness. 

Dr Warren Chapin (Vincent Price) comes across a creature that appears in the spine of those undergoing a state of extreme fear.  'The Tingler' as it is appropriately called, is a parasite that feeds on fear with the outcome being a crushed spine for the victim.  The victim however can survive if a scream is released.  As part of further experiments Chapin removes one of the tingle-inducing beasts from the deaf and mute wife of movie-theatre owner Oliver Higgins (Phillip Coolidge), a friend of Chapin who appears to be a rather timid fellow.  These initial judgements on the husband of the deceased prove to be utterly wrong with Higgins exposed as the killer of his good lady.  From here all manner of madness ensues with The Tingler on the loose, a theatre show crowd screaming for their lives and Higgins facing his worst nightmare and being unable to scream.  The closing quote is pure corn but perfectly timed. This is a superb film from first to last - what a belter. 

Yes, I make no apology for loving this film, it has all the ingredients for a really inoffensive beauty done in the most pure, escapist way.  When you see an actor like Price so utterly absorbed in his role and so ruddy convincing, it is so easy to fall in line and become truly taken.  I shall be tuning in again real soon. 



2019. Directed by Ti West 

What appears to be a budget TV movie turns out to be a slow-brooder that brings nothing new to the terror table but serves up a finale that is unsettling, gore filled and at opposition with the first three-quarters of the production - I was quite enthralled come the final credits. 

We follow the life of the financially struggling Samantha Hughes (Jocelin Donahue) and her response to a baby sitting ad.  She attends an interview at the strange Ulman mansion with her best friend Megan (Greta Gerwig).  Samantha is interviewed by the strange and seemingly troubled Mr Ulman (Tom Noonan) and is requested to sit for one night tending to his Mother-in-Law.  Megan leaves Samantha at the house but casts her doubts on her friends safety, Samantha seems unperturbed and takes to the task at hand whilst Mr, and the unsettling, Mrs Ulman (Mary Woronov) go off on who knows what business. Megan's car breaks down whilst leaving the property where she meets her demise at the hands of a man we come to know as Victor (A. J. Browen).  Back at the house and Samantha becomes increasingly unsettled, finds evidence of things not right and succumbs to a drugged pizza delivered by a face we are already familiar with.  What follows is a bloody riot of satanic madness with a vile fiend thrown into the mix, a splattered showdown and a lunar eclipse seemingly the causal agent of such going's-on.  The final scenes leave one wondering as to whether or not there will be a follow-up, the closure is perhaps corned but rounds off a somewhat surprisingly decent film. 

Predictable in many ways, slow going at times and perhaps lacking in the initial grab-factor, this film however rises up and uses the 'satanic panic' hook very well and pays homage to early efforts in its own pleasing way.  The acting is more than adequate and the slow-burn execution works well, this is a modern treat and does what it sets out to do with a good degree of success. 



1965. Directed by Silvio Narazzano 

A strange film that lacks any obvious punch and has some moments that are quite bizarre and borne from the usual mix of seclusion, religious fanaticism and of course, the always reliable, insanity.   

Patricia Carroll (Stefanie Powers) is the main focus of the film, an American woman who arrives in London to marry her lover Alan Glentower (Maurice Kaufman) but first she needs to visit Mrs Trefoile (Tallulah Bankhead), the mother of her deceased fiancé who died in a car accident several years prior.  Mrs Trefoile blames Patricia for her son’s death whereupon it is revealed that marriage was never on our lead lady's mind.  Trefoile becomes incensed and appalled and sets about reforming the outlook of Patricia.  Aided by her servants Harry (Peter Vaughan) and Anna (Yootha Joyce) she holds Patricia captive and plans to use her religious powers and bigotry to exorcise the young lasses soul.  Escape is attempted, Harry reveals himself to be in cahoots with Anna but also to be a lecherous lout and a real financial schemer.  The culmination of the abduction, the plans to purify and the ranting and raving is, as per, death and perhaps, eternal damnation - who the Hell knows? 

A fresh and active film with a good impetus and penned by that famed scribbler Richard Matheson.  This is far from a gem and is too similar to other films that exhibit religious maniacs and screaming victims.  It isn't a bad film though and with a cast of familiar faces (including Donald Sutherland as a mentally disabled gardener) this is certainly worth a look.  Hammer Studios did do many better films but this is a fair addition for any collectors set. 



1971. Directed by Bernard McEveety

A cheap and somewhat failing film that brings to the fore all manner of corned and cracked Satanised goings on with weak acting, a lack of suspense and a absence of gore the most noticeable factors.

Ben Holden (Charles Bateman), his girlfriend Nicky (Ahna Capri) and his daughter K. T. (Geri Reischi) witness a car wreck complete with human remains. They then enter the town of Hillsboro to report the incident and are attacked by Pete (L. Q. Jones), the towns sheriff. The trio flee before Ben crashes the car due to the strange apparition of a young girl.  Nicky, K. T. and Ben return to Hillsboro and encounter a town riddled with nervous anxiety due to the recent violent deaths of 26 residents. Adults are being killed, their children are going missing, Dr Duncan (Strother Martin) seems to be concerned and to be an all round nice bloke but is in fact the leader of an aging Satanic cult who are hellbent on reincarnating themselves into the bodies of the abducted children.  After an attempt is made to increase the tension levels the film hurtles to the finale where the race is on to stop the witches from transferring their souls into the mind-melted minors - there are few shocks along the way and a final semi-twist ended fails to add weight to a film that is found wanting in many areas.

A somewhat poor flick this with weak performances all round, a rather shabby script and a somewhat cheap 'straight to video' feel.  Salvation is found in the leader of the cult who is a right crackpot but more could have been made of the whole escapade and some real scary moments had.  A chance missed and a film with too many similarities, the final silent stare may be one of utter disbelief.


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