October Horrorshow: Terror-Creatures from the Grave

Pacemaker Pictures, the English-language distributors of Terror-Creatures from the Grave, the 1965 Italian gothic horror flick, sure went all in on the title. Perhaps they had a shortlist and couldn’t decide between Terror from the Grave and Creatures from the Grave so, like some parents, decided to burden their charge with a hyphenated name. It’s a mouthful, but has loads of kitsch to it.

Directed by Massimo Pupillo, from a screenplay by Romano Migliorini and Roberto Natale, Terror-Creatures is plays like a pageant in honor of horror cinema. Shot in stark black and white by Carlo Di Palma, the film relies heavily on early horror film styles and storytelling, while combining it with contemporary trends in Italian cinema. There’s the dark and stormy night, overlayered with endless theremin music, combined with dramatic closeups and the multinational cast mouthing their lines in different languages. It’s like watching an old Universal horror film, and everyone is poorly dubbed. Unfortunately, that dubbing can be somewhat distracting, but Pupillo and company nevertheless made a decent horror film. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Terror-Creatures from the Grave”

October Horrorshow: Terror (1978)

Sometimes when watching a film, a viewer can tell that the whole project barely held together. We viewers tend to hold that film is an artistic struggle carried out by a single individual. The director has a vision and a story they want to share. This is called the auteur theory of film, and is the main reason we heap praise on directors, at the expense of everyone else involved in a production. Less acknowledged is the reality that film is a business. As anyone who ever worked in an office can tell you, folks are just hanging on by their fingernails, hoping against hope that no one notices how much of the job is just faking it until it gets done. Here is director Norman J. Warren on his 1978 film, Terror:

 

[A] search for a story [in Terror] is in vain…There is no real storyline and very little, if any, logic. We had the money for a low-budget film, but no script and no idea of what film we wanted to make…we made a list of all the scenes we’d like to see in a horror film. We handed the list to writer David McGillivray, who incorporated the ideas into a ‘sort of story.’

That’s an excellent description of this film. There is a plot, involving an ancient curse set upon the Garrick family by a witch, but the plot is just a means to get from one death scene to another. It’s those scenes, fleshed out and very atmospheric, where this film truly lives. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Terror (1978)”

October Horrorshow: The Devil’s Hand

Rick Turner (Robert Alda), is, by all appearances, in a happy relationship with Donna Trent (Ariadne Welter). The two of them are clean-cut, 1950s wholesome, and engaged to be married. But, a mysterious, beautiful woman has been appearing to Rick in his dreams. One day, as he and Donna are walking about, Rick sees a doll in the display window of a dollmaker’s shop that has an uncanny resemblance to the woman in his dreams. He goes inside, and sets in motion a tale of evil and death.

Such is the setup to The Devil’s Hand, a kitschy 1961 horror flick from writer Jo Heims and director William J. Hole, Jr. By kitschy, I mean that this film has the look and feel of Ed Wood. I don’t mean a film directed by Ed Wood. I mean the Tim Burton biopic. I have no idea what exact sources Burton found for inspiration. Perhaps this flick was on the list. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Devil’s Hand”

October Horrorshow: The Autopsy of Jane Doe

Is there anything creepier than a room made for the dead? Everything in a morgue or embalming room is cold, antiseptic, and hard. There isn’t a cushion in site on which to rest a corpse. Why would there be? It’s not as if the dead will complain. They’re just motionless slabs of meat and bone, gristle and organs. The difference between the living and dead is rendered stark in rooms like this, where no living person could tolerate lying on stainless steel tables, their heads resting on blocks. Everything about these rooms would cause intolerable pain in the living. But, again, the dead won’t complain. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Autopsy of Jane Doe”

October Horrorshow: The Devil’s Nightmare

At first glance, The Devil’s Nightmare looks like a shoo-in addition to the Shitty Movie Sundays Watchability Index. After a full viewing, however, I can say that it’s not. And since Missile Test is a dictatorship, my opinions have the force of law.

The main reason why one would think this is shitty is that the movie doesn’t look all that good. It doesn’t appear to have ever gotten a restoration before release to Blu-Ray, and, as of this writing, it wasn’t available on streaming. The print I saw was from a horror compilation DVD set, formatted for CRT televisions. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Devil’s Nightmare”

October Horrorshow: Blood Sabbath, or, My Soul for Some Strange

Blood Sabbath movie posterWhat a bucket of sleaze. Blood Sabbath, the 1972 exploitation horror flick from screenwriter William A. Bairn and director Brianne Murphy, is exactly the kind of movie that gets the pious all worked up. Gratuitous nudity only begins to describe the amount of flesh in this movie. This is one of those drive-in classics packed full, from start to finish, with butts, boobs, and bush. Add in witchcraft, and one would be hard-pressed to find an R-rated film more capable of moral corruption. It’s spectacular.

The film follows Vietnam War vet David (Anthony Geary). He’s having a rough time with what he experienced in the war, and has gone on a walkabout that takes him, I think, into Mexico. The film isn’t clear on that. While there, he is accosted in the night by three naked partiers and chased through the woods. He trips and falls, hitting his head on a rock and falling unconscious. When he awakens, he finds himself being cared for by a buxom young lady named Yyala (Susan Damante). She’s a water spirit, or something similar, and the two fall in love with each other. But, David can’t get past first base because, according to Yyala, she has no soul, and it’s forbidden for her to be with someone who still has theirs. So, David makes it his mission to rid himself of his soul so he can get laid. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Blood Sabbath, or, My Soul for Some Strange”

October Horrorshow: Insidious: Chapter 3

Leigh Whannell has had one of the most impressive runs in horror films so far this century. He’s responsible, with James Wan, for the Saw and Insidious franchises, and has even managed to amass over thirty acting credits. Insidious: Chapter 3, from 2015, is his first time in the director’s chair. A prequel to the first two Insidious films, the film doesn’t feature the Lambert family this time around, but Lin Shaye, Angus Sampson, and Whannell all reprise the characters they played. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Insidious: Chapter 3″

October Horrorshow: The Werewolf of Washington

Writer/director Milton Moses Ginsberg had something to say about the rot infecting Washington D.C. in the early 1970s. It was the time of Watergate, when the president, the attorney general, and all the rest of the president’s men were a pack of felons working to undermine the rule of law. How times have changed. Ginsberg’s response to the constitutional crisis posed by the ongoing criminal conspiracy that was the Nixon administration, was to make a movie satirizing the president. And he chose to make it a werewolf flick. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Werewolf of Washington”

October Horrorshow: Girl on the Third Floor

Haunted house flicks are often very formulaic. A family, or a couple, or just an individual, moves into a home they’ve purchased, and not long afterwards, strange things begin to occur. These ghostly tricks and shenanigans are harmless at first — basic funhouse trickery. As the movie goes on, the disturbances become stronger and have more effect, leading to denouement in the final act. It’s a formula that has worked for decades, from The Haunting to The Conjuring. But, the formula can get stale, especially when there are piles of bad movies that utilize it. Girl on the Third Floor, the 2019 film from screenwriter Trent Haaga and director Travis Stevens, starts out as if it will adhere to the formula, then veers into something that, while totally unique, displayed a substantial amount of originality. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Girl on the Third Floor”

October Horrorshow: The Shed

What would you do, dear reader, if you woke up one crisp morning to find that Frank Whaley hiding in your backyard shed and he won’t leave? This is the question posed by writer/director Frank Sabatella in his magnum opus from last year, The Shed. Oh, wait. I forgot one detail. Frank Whaley was turned into a vampire right as the sun rose, and the shed was the first place he could get to before he was roasted to death, as this horror flick sticks to the vampire trope that the rays of the sun are lethal to vampires. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Shed”