Herschell Gordon Lewis was a trash filmmaker. None of his films was ever an attempt at producing art, or even quality. A Chicago ad man by trade, Lewis got into filmmaking as a way to make a quick buck. His films exploited gaps in the market to bring in high returns on a small investment. When enforcement of the Hays Code began to slacken at the start of the 1960s, Lewis filmed cheap nudie-cuties that only had the barest threads of competent filmmaking. When returns on those flicks were hurt by nudity moving into mainstream films, Lewis turned to horror. Like the good marketer he was, he found an opening in horror flicks he could exploit. That opening was gore. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Blood Feast”
The 1976 remake of King Kong might be peak Dino De Laurentiis. The legendary Italian producer’s films whipsaw back and forth between the grandiose, the absurd, the exploitative, and the just plain shitty. King Kong is a prime example.
Clocking in at an interminable 134 minutes, this King Kong is meant to be an epic retelling of a cinema classic. Everything about this film, directed by John Guillermin, seems meant to showcase how film has improved and grown in the forty years since the original film was released. The original King Kong was severely limited by what was possible at the time, yes, but it never felt like a failing. Nor is this film an indictment of what came before. But this film does live and die on an implied promise that it will be a better technical film than that which came before. Other than making money, there really isn’t much more reason for this film to exist. Continue reading “Giant Monstershow: King Kong (1976)”
Horror films work quite well when they embrace spectacle. Over-the-top gore and special effects are a hallmark of the genre. But splattering blood all over isn’t the only way to make a horror flick. Sometimes a filmmaker goes for the soul underneath the flesh, and makes something disturbing.
A Dark Song is the feature film debut from writer/director Liam Gavin. From 2016, the film tells the story of two people carrying out occult rites in an isolated house in Wales in order to contact a guardian angel. This is no lightweight ritual, either. As occult expert Joseph Solomon (Steve Oram) explains to the woman who hired him to carry out the ritual, Sophia (Catherine Walker), it will be months before they know if it’s working. During that time, the two will not be able to leave the house, nor will they have any contact with the outside world. Nor could they, as there isn’t any power in the house. Or heat. Did I mention this house is in Wales? Because one would not want to live in an unheated house in Wales. All of this makes the stakes quite a bit higher than something one would see in an old Hammer flick. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: A Dark Song”
This is an important day for the October Horrorshow Giant Monstershow. The featured auteur of this month of reviews has returned. For the seventh time this month, a review features a film by Bert I. Gordon. Yes, a filmmaker that showed mastery at failing to master the art of filmmaking is back. Today’s film, from 1976, also shows that although more than twenty years had passed since Gordon’s first movie, he stayed true to his unique abilities as a filmmaker. Continue reading “Giant Monstershow: The Food of the Gods”
Three years after horror auteur Dario Argento gave us the vibrant classic Suspiria, he waded back into brilliant color and dreamlike atmosphere by writing and directing Inferno. Described as a thematic sequel to Suspiria, Inferno is the second film of Argento’s Three Mothers trilogy. Whether this film was truly intended to be related to Suspiria or if such a decision was commercial in nature is debatable. Either way, sequel or thematic cousin or whatever, Inferno is clearly an Argento film. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Inferno (1980)”
The October Horrorshow Giant Monstershow continues on with a putrid mess of a movie. From 1975, The Giant Spider Invasion comes to us via screenwriters Robert Easton and Richard L. Huff (who also produced). Bill Rebane handled the directing. According to the internet, so it must be true, this stupid movie, despite its low budget and general incompetence, was a moneymaker for Huff and company. How a movie this bad, starring a disguised Volkswagen as a giant spider, ended up being profitable is beyond me. It feels something of a crime against the art of film that this movie found success. Continue reading “Giant Monstershow: The Giant Spider Invasion”
It’s the near future — just a couple of years past the present day. The human race has been devastated by an invasion of ferocious creatures. Where the creatures come from is never made clear, although space is as good a culprit as any. The creatures are sightless, but have extraordinary hearing. Among the cacophony of sounds that a planet and all its inhabitants make, the creatures are able to pick out even the slightest of sounds made by a human, and hunt them down quickly. All remaining people are forced to live a life of silence that would try even the most devoted of monks. Such is the setup to A Quiet Place, the film from director/star John Krasinski, and writers Krasinski, Bryan Woods, and Scott Beck. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: A Quiet Place”
The October Horrorshow Giant Monstershow carries on with one of the most ridiculous premises one can come across in film. Night of the Lepus, a terrifying tale of nature run amok after the arrogant interference of man, is about a plague of giant rabbits. Cute, cuddly, merciless and carnivorous rabbits. No matter how serious those involved treat this material, it’s impossible to get around the fact that the bad beasties in this flick are bunny rabbits. Continue reading “Giant Monstershow: Night of the Lepus”
Mario Bava was a giant of horror. His Black Sunday is an atmospheric horror classic that should be on any horror fan’s list of films to see. Shock, released in the United States as Beyond the Door II (it bears no relation to Beyond the Door — the title was strictly promotional), was Bava’s last film before his death. It’s not a bad way to go out, but it’s also a workaday horror film, missing the weirdness that made Bava’s other works, and Italian horror films in general, so special. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Shock, aka Beyond the Door II”
What’s this? Orchestral soundtrack? Hand-illustrated title font? Technicolor? Hey, wait a minute…did this film have a respectable budget? Sacrilege!
The October Horrorshow Giant Monstershow carries on with Gorgo, Britain’s very own kaiju film. From 1961, Gorgo was directed by Eugène Lourié (making his third appearance in the Monstershow) from a screenplay by Robert L. Richards and Daniel James. Continue reading “Giant Monstershow: Gorgo”