October Horrorshow: Birdemic: Shock and Terror

Films like Birdemic: Shock and Terror exist on a rare plain where traditional criticism and traditional standards of film quality no longer apply. There is no way possible that I could point out, any more effectively than the film itself, just how God-awful it is. This is, without a doubt, the single worst movie I have ever seen. There is nothing in it, at any point, that appears to be the result of a professional film production. It has a staggering amount of ineptness in everything — from pacing, plot, dialogue, cinematography, editing, sound, direction, acting, or anything else I can’t be bothered to name. Possibly the costumes were passable, but I’m not going back to double check. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Birdemic: Shock and Terror”

October Horrorshow: Scars of Dracula

These Hammer Dracula films are showing serious signs of franchise fatigue. Scars of Dracula is the sixth film in the series, and I can’t be sure that anyone involved cared one whit about the project. Unlike the Frankenstein films, which had their ups and downs, there was still great care in producing a viable film. But Scars of Dracula looks and feels cheap. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Scars of Dracula”

October Horrorshow: The Man Who Could Cheat Death

Terence Fisher directing, Jimmy Sangster writing, and Christopher Lee in a supporting role. The Man Who Could Cheat Death, one of Hammer’s efforts from 1959, should have been among the best films in this month of reviews. But it’s not, and that’s because while three of Hammer’s top names appear in the credits, a fourth, Peter Cushing, does not. He had been set to star in this film, but the lead role instead went to Anton Diffring, who was not equal to the task. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Man Who Could Cheat Death”

October Horrorshow: Maniac Cop

With a title like Maniac Cop, there’s no way this movie is going to be good, right? The title is simple and to the point, and instantly conveys a large amount of plot to any potential viewer that happens to pass by the marquee. But boy, oh boy, it sounds like a first draft title. If all other films had used their initial titles, we wouldn’t have Alien, 2001: A Space Odyssey, or Unforgiven. Instead we would have Star Beast, Journey Beyond the Stars, and The Cut-Whore Killings (although it would have been ballsy for Clint Eastwood and company to try that last one). Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Maniac Cop”

October Horrorshow: Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed

The title of this film is apt. The character of Frankenstein has gone through many metamorphoses from film to film in the Hammer series. In the first two, The Curse of Frankenstein and The Revenge of Frankenstein, he was an obsessive driver, unable to see that his experiments were beyond the bounds of ethics. He wasn’t an evil man, but nor was he good. He was somewhat sociopathic, oblivious to the offenses his work caused. In The Evil of Frankenstein he was a weak copy of the Frankenstein from the Universal films, which was no coincidence, as Universal distributed the film. In Frankenstein Created Woman, Frankenstein was almost benevolent, using his experiments, though twisted, to restore life to a pair of unfortunate lovers. But in today’s film, Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed, Frankenstein is evil to the core. He extorts, kidnaps, imprisons, murders, and rapes the poor people whom he encounters. Indeed, a person like that needs to go. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed”

October Horrorshow: Bad Ben

What a glorious age in which we live. Sure, there are problems. American democracy is eating itself alive, with Russia giving us an unwanted assist. Capitalism no longer promises the kind of wage gains necessary to sustain a middle class over the long haul. Technology companies are being hacked, and our personal information is being stolen on a seemingly daily basis. That’s actually less disturbing than it could be, because those same technology companies have shown they don’t have our best interests at heart, anyway. No one can be trusted, whether it’s in our political lives or our technological lives. But at least in this new age, one man can write, film, star in, edit, and release his very own movie. It may not be a good movie, but all the gatekeepers that had been in place to prevent free expression in the art of film are now gone. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Bad Ben”

October Horrorshow: Suspiria

A viewer would hard-pressed to find a more beautifully shot, atmospheric horror film than Dario Argento’s Suspiria. Argento’s, and cinematographer Luciano Tovoli’s, vivid production has become legend among horror fans, and for good reason. The film exists within a reality all its own, shifting back and forth between dreamlike and nightmarish, soft and menacing, as the situation requires. No study of horror films, and film in general, is complete without seeing this classic. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Suspiria”

October Horrorshow: The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll

Before I began watching The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll, I thought that the film was probably going to be analogous to one of Hammer’s Frankenstein films, only the monster and his creator never share screen time. If one were to describe this film with broad strokes, such a description is accurate, to a point. Hammer horror films are all kin to one another. They were made quickly, cheaply, and often back to back. Developing an overarching style that applies from one film to the next was an outgrowth of that. So, yes, The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll does bear similarity to any of the Frankenstein films, as do those films to the Dracula films, et cetera, et cetera. It’s in the details where each of these films, including today’s entry, are given the opportunity to stand out. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll”

October Horrorshow: Maniac (1980)

[This is where a trailer for the film would normally be, but the trailer spoils a shocking moment in the film that I think is best experienced without firsthand knowledge. Seek it out elsewhere if one must see it.]

 

This is not a horror movie for those looking for traditional scares. This is a horror movie for those who have become accustomed to the sight of a specter in a mirror or a zombie just around the corner. This is a horror movie with a killer of no less eccentricity than a vampire or a werewolf, only the killer in this film blends in. He’s a next-door neighbor or a familiar face at the neighborhood grocer’s. He’s one of us. And when he’s explored he’s not shown as some unholy or supernatural freak. He is, just like the title, a maniac.

Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Maniac (1980)”