October Horrorshow: The Satanic Rites of Dracula

Here we are. October 31st. Halloween. The end of the October Horrorshow. The final film in this look back at Hammer Film Productions is a departure from type. If there’s one thing I’ve picked up on from watching 31 Hammer films in a row, it’s that Hammer basically made the same film over and over and over again. That’s not negative criticism on my part. Hammer had a style, in the same way that a musician like John Lee Hooker had a style or an artist like Willem de Kooning had a style. Listen to an album or see a painting hanging on a wall and it becomes immediately clear who is responsible. Hammer films followed a theme. They developed over time into something that was very much their own. Towards the end, though, they began to switch things up in search of a new formula. Such is the case with today’s film. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Satanic Rites of Dracula”

October Horrorshow: The Kiss of the Vampire

Hammer saw much success with its version of Dracula in 1958. Of course they wanted to cash in further. For reasons beyond the scope of this review, they couldn’t nail down Christopher Lee for a sequel until 1965. But that didn’t stop Hammer. In 1960 they released The Brides of Dracula, which featured neither Dracula nor any vampire that appeared with him in the previous film. It was misrepresentation, plain and simple. In watching it, it becomes clear Brides was meant to be a Dracula film, with Lee in it, but the script had been reworked to put a different baddie in the lead. The Kiss of the Vampire has similar origins, although with this film Hammer had the decency to release it without a false pedigree. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Kiss of the Vampire”

October Horrorshow: Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell

This is somewhat of a melancholy review for Missile Test. Not only is this the last film of this year’s Horrorshow to be directed by Terence Fisher, it is also the last film he directed, period. He directed films for a quarter of a century, sometimes putting out three or four in a year. Before I began this Horrorshow, I had never heard of Terence Fisher, but what I discovered was a workaday director who could be counted on to helm a film with care, attention to detail, and strong pace. He was in no way innovative, and his films display the difference between craft and art. Terence Fisher was a craftsman, and his trade was directing movies to make his producers money. He was very good at that, and he was very good at keeping me entertained. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell”

October Horrorshow: Night Creatures, aka Captain Clegg

I feel like American audiences have been sold a false bill of goods with Night Creatures. The title implies quite a different movie than what we got. While today’s film was titled Night Creatures for the American market, its original title in the UK and elsewhere is Captain Clegg. That title isn’t exactly the best, either, as it makes the movie sound like something Disney would have cranked out for kids, and it’s not that. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Night Creatures, aka Captain Clegg”

October Horrorshow: Alien: Isolation

Alien: Covenant was a profound disappointment, just like every Alien film since Alien 3. But it turns out that fans of the Alien film franchise have been looking in the wrong place for worthy sequels. Since the release of Aliens in 1986, there have been numerous comic book and video game entries in the series. None of it is canon, but it’s all fiction anyway so that doesn’t really matter. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Alien: Isolation”

October Horrorshow: Dracula A.D. 1972

There aren’t very many Hammer horror flicks that take place in contemporary times. For this month, only six of the films I’ve watched up to this point take place around the time in which they were filmed. Only one film from the franchise flicks, Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb, breaks away from its gothic setting. Until now. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Dracula A.D. 1972”

October Horrorshow: The Phantom of the Opera (1962)

Hammer’s version of The Phantom of the Opera may not look it at first, but it is a very significant film in the history of cinema. There have been many, many adaptations of Gaston Leroux’s Le Fantôme de l’Opéra — the most famous being the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical from 1986. But this film, from two and a half decades earlier, was the first Phantom adaptation to feature the phantom playing Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor. That simple decision on the part of the filmmakers to have the phantom banging away on an organ in one scene was the birth of a trope that has crept up in movies, television, and even videogames on a regular basis. Whenever a viewer sees a shadowy figure hunched over an organ and it spits out Bach, it’s all because of this movie. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Phantom of the Opera (1962)”

October Horrorshow: It Comes at Night, or, Misleading Title: The Movie

Writer/director Trey Edward Shults’ psychological horror flick from this past year, It Comes at Night, is well-written, gorgeously shot, well-acted, and deeply disturbing, but it has a bad title. At first glance, It Comes at Night is a great title for a horror flick. It implies that there is an It that will be coming to terrorize cast members, most probably at night. If this were a monster or a slasher flick, or maybe even something more mysterious, this would be a great title for a film. But in a film that has no It, and which places little meaningful significance on the night, it’s a terrible title. Perhaps Shults had this great title and this great screenplay, and decided to put them together, with little regard to whether or not they were beneficial to each other. Either way, the result is the audience being sold a false bill of goods, which is a shitty thing to do to viewers even if the end result is a good film. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: It Comes at Night, or, Misleading Title: The Movie”

October Horrorshow: The Horror of Frankenstein

So long, Peter Cushing! After five films over 12 years, Hammer decided to go in a different direction with 1970’s The Horror of Frankenstein, replacing the iconic, and aging, Cushing with Ralph Bates, who was an entire generation younger. Hammer also decided not to continue the jumbled and confused continuity of the previous films, going for a complete reboot of the franchise. That phrase, ‘reboot of the franchise,’ is decidedly anachronistic when applied to a film from almost fifty years ago, but it is an accurate description of what Hammer did. It’s just a new term for a practice as old as film itself. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Horror of Frankenstein”

October Horrorshow: The Curse of the Werewolf

The Curse of the Werewolf, from 1961, is the tragic tale of a beggar who is imprisoned by a cruel marquis. Then it is the tragic tale of a mute servant girl. Then it is the tragic tale of a young boy who grows up in a rich household with the loving attention of a pair of surrogate parents. Then it is the tragic tale of a young man attempting to make his own way in the world, who falls in love with a woman he cannot have. Then, finally, it is the tragic tale of a man cursed with lycanthropy. I have seen some films with long setups, many of them this month, but the setup in this film is so long and rambling compared to the promise of the title that I was wondering at times if I was watching the wrong movie. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Curse of the Werewolf”