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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Night of the Living Dead: 1968

I've been waiting a long time to review this..

   "Residents" of an abandoned house are bombarded by waves of zombies during an epidemic caused by radiation.     

   Ahhh, the zombie apocalypse.  There's nothing more annoying than having a balding idiot yell at you, and have to fight zombies too.  yes, it is a frustratingly frightening experience; trying to survive a zombie outbreak.  With nothing to separate you from them other than a couple of windows, and a door.  This movie is a very good example of having a cult following.  In this review, not only will I be looking at this movie, but why the zombie film genre, "...won't stay dead!!"  

   Actually, let's tackle that first, "why can't we leave zombies alone?"  What is it about them that gives use a satisfying feeling.  Well, I think that I have the answer.  I think that it's because killing a zombie is the closest thing to killing a living human.  We've always had that one guy (or girl) that you just want to bash with a kerosene covered, flaming club.  We are sickly satisfied with killing our own kind.  We understand our kind the best, which can be a reason why most of the time, they are the ones who get on our nerves.  Besides, they're already dead.  They can't feel pain anyway.  So what if you give it to em' ninja style, or go all Rambo on their @#!*% ?  They were gonna eat you anyway!  And that's why we just love zombies.

   "Night of the Living Dead" was in no doubt, the definition of a horror film.  You have suspense, action, desperation, irony, reality clashing with myth, madness, and gore.  With this film the action starts up right away.  You meet two character's that go down to the cemetery to pay respects, and then WAMMO!  THERE COMING TO GET YOU BARBARA...And then right there, they do!  You get all of the exposition in one scene.  The rest is just survival.  However, Barbara doesn't do that much with helping survive the outbreak.  She just sits on the couch...falling slowly into endless cavern of her own mind.  spiraling into an uncontrollable journey of MASS HYSTERIA!!!!!  So, no, she didn't really do anything. 

   This film moves around the basis between the constant struggle of vulnerability and invulnerability.  Some of the occupants of the abandoned house wanted to go into the cellar, while other wanted to stay on the top floor.  While on the top floor, the windows and doors are boarded up, but in the cellar there happened to be a zombie (infected daughter), so it would seem as though the cellar would be the best option...but ya' wasn't.  I'm not too sure though, I think it's a debatable subject.  Anyway, these are surprisingly smart zombies!  One has the ability to think, "Hmmm.  I can't seem to get through the window...well, what if I picked this brick up...and somehow used it's weight to my advantage and force it through the air.  With the correct trajectory, I may be able to break the window so that I can get to the tasty human.."  Or something like that.

   However, there is one thing that has been bugging me.  There is a scene where the zombies pick flesh off of two humans from a burning truck.  They were eating the flesh like good generic zombies and I started to forget which year this film was made in.  This was more like a movie made after 2000!  I don't think many people then were ready to take on a movie like this.  It was in this way that, "Night of the Living Dead" was revolutionary towards the world of cinematic horror.  However, there are some movies made by George A. Romero that might go a little too far with this idea to say the least.  But I suppose after this movie he was like, "Hey...I'm pretty good at this zombie stuff..."  An next thing you know stuff by him starts popping up all over the place.  If you're good at something, you might as well make millions doing it.

   In Conclusion:  "Night of the Living Dead" was wonderful.  I loved every minuet of it. With stressful camera angles, fantastic lighting, and it probably being the goriest film of it's time, this film has launched the biggest cult following of zombie films ever.  What I like allot about it is that although there is some gruesome imaging, it does not go overboard with it.  There are so many other aspects about this movie that can still put you at edge of your seat, without holding a barf bag or a million dollar budget.  This film is great for Halloween, and I recommend this to anyone who enjoy's a terrifically made horror film.  If you're have trouble deciding what your first zombie flick should be, do yourself a favor and go watch this one instead of whatever it was you were thinking of before.  And if you've never heard of this film, then climb out of the hole you've been living in and watch it at the bottom of this review.  Thank you!

I give this film 10 little girl zombies out of 10

Note:  A new series is coming out for next couple of reviews!  This time I'm going to venture into the horror films of french film maker Georges Méliès!

Next Review:  Le Monstre 1903 

    Wednesday, November 23, 2011

    Creature from the Haunted Sea: 1961

    Let's review a B-Movie Creature Feature.

       A crook decides to bump off members of his inept crew and blame their deaths on a legendary sea creature. What he doesn't know is that the creature is real.

       "The Creature from the Haunted Sea" is an example of Rodger Corman's knack for dark humor.  He takes a budget of what looks like less than $200, and turns it into this.  A furry/criminal/stranded/quirky/chuckle/in love/Cuban/monster...and all of it on a boat.  In a way he's a genius, and in another he's...well...not.  But, there is a definite charm to his films, this one especially.  The movie is so strange that I would classify this to be rather stylistic, or at least to some extent.  I do have to note the cartoon opening credits though.  I thought for just a second that it would be, "Santa Clause Conquers the Martians" all over again, but thank goodness that it wasn't.

    Now, I'm not clear as to what the budget Corman was given exactly.  But whatever he wanted to do, I think he did it.  Aside from the poor sound quality he accomplished his task successfully, although it was very difficult to hear the dialog.  This made it very hard to hear the jokes and even sometimes the story.  But even though there was poor sound quality, that didn't stop any of the actor’s voices from hitting an un-hittable frequency.  Honestly, I don't know whether these people want to be caught, or are just lousy spies!  Every scene in which two people are trying to trade, "spy" information, they talk as though nothing's at stake!  "HELLO THERE FELLOW SPY!!!” "OHHHHH HELLO!!!”  "DO YOU HAVE THAT SUPER TOP SECRET INFORMATION ON THE COUPLE SITTING IN THE BOOTH NEXT TO US???”  "WHY, I SURE DO!!!  HERE YOU GO!!!".”THANK YOU FELLOW SPY!!!  GOODBYE!!!".”GOODBYE FELLOW SPY!!!”  It's ridiculous!

       Now let's talk about the monster.  I can tell you that when I saw the poster for this movie, I did not think that it would look like it did.  I'm sure that by now I've gone and posted the monster's picture on this review, but I'll describe it anyway.  It looks like if you took the creature from the black lagoon, and instead of having him be a human fish, you made him a bear/alien.  I guess the monster is pretty funny, so that's another point to the comedic side of this film.  Also, if you look at the synopsis near the beginning of the review, it takes a (sort of) real issue, and mixes it with a myth.  I suppose that it's to flesh the monster out to be more realistic, but I'm not too sure about that.  

       In Conclusion:  For anyone that knows what a Rodger Corman film looks like, then you can expect what you're going to get out of the, "Creature from the Haunted Sea".  It's a cheesy film, riddled with dark humor and an expendable cast to be picked off one by one.  I do respect Corman for both the director and producer that he is, and I also like his films, but in a different way that I like other films.  With him, you know what you're getting into and I enjoy that just as I do with people like Alfred Hitchcock and his twist endings.  And speaking of endings, this film has a surprisingly satisfying one!  If you enjoy a good Corman film, I'd advise you to check this one out!      

    I give this film 3 plungers to the face out of 10

    Next Review:  Night of the Living Dead 1963

    Tuesday, November 22, 2011

    The Monster Walks: 1932

       Welcome to the last review from the Gorilla based movie marathon.  Remember, if you liked this marathon, let me know if you want me to do something similar in the comments section below.  Thank you, and enjoy.

       Residents as well as guests residing in an old dark house are terrorized by a, "killer ape".

       "The Monster Walks" is merely nothing more, than the product of a lazy production.  This is a very slow film even for a mystery/thriller flick.  If you'd like some proof of laziness, look at the poster above!  It says it right there.  Don't get me wrong, because I like it allot.  But that is the twist ending!  It's right in front of everyone!  I know that you could say, "well, that's their technique.  Putting the twist right out in the open like that shows how edgy this film will be."  Well here's what I have to say to you...,"you're wrong".  This poster is way too obvious for that to be an intentional way of advertising.

       However there is one thing that this film has that none of the other films have, and that's a monkey.  A real monkey.  Though it adds nothing to the story whatsoever, other that the culprits scapegoat.  The characters in the film talk of the monkey as a powerful, strong creature when it in no way resembles that of.  It's ridiculous that any character would even assume that the monkey murdered the people in the house.  It's not even as if any lines are said like they actually mean it.  It makes me feel as though this film is severely scripted.  And that's saying allot, considering that the exposition of the film is extremely slow.  In fact, the whole movie could have been cut in half, and the entire story could still be told. 

     To add on, "The Monster Walks" is annoyingly un-scary.  There are no jump scares, or anything remotely fascinating of any kind.  The film gets to the point where everything about it is just ridiculous.  The whole movie is on auto pilot.  Nothing coveys any feeling or emotion.  What really frustrates me, is the fact that I'm reviewing this for the gorilla in the film.  The only problem with this is that there is no gorilla!  Fortunately the monkey is real.  Unfortunately the monkey adds no threat to the characters at all (besides strangling one victim).  I don't know why this movie was made, because it doesn't feel like anyone wanted to make it in the first place.  Maybe I'm overreacting, but that aside I did not like this movie.

       In Conclusion:  For a movie called, "The Monster Walks", there wasn't much of anything regarding a monster.  It was simply a story of jealous rage which results in murder.  Out of all the gorilla based movies to watch, I would still prefer the Lugosi version over all of them, and the Karloff version over this one.  Although those two have nothing in common to begin with.  I suppose you may like it if you liked, "And Then There Were None", but even then, this film is not one I would want to see again.  I hope you have enjoyed this gorilla-based movie marathon, and remember to follow this blog if you want more!  Thank you!

    I give this film 2 1/2 monkey arms out of 10

     Next Review: Creature from the Haunted Sea 1961

    The Ape: 1940

       Welcome to my second gorilla-based review.  Today I will be focusing on the first installment of my last review simply entitled, "The Ape". Enjoy.

       Dr. Bernard Adrian is a kindly mad scientist who seeks to cure a young woman's polio. He needs spinal fluid from a human to complete the formula for his experimental serum. Meanwhile, a vicious circus ape has broken out of its cage, and is terrorizing town’s people.

       "The Ape", is the mentally ill older sibling to "The Ape Man".  This film seemed promising enough during the exposition.  I noticed that there seemed to be much more going on plot-wise.  A gorilla breaks out of a Circus and runs wild throughout the small town of which the Circus happened to be residing in.  It seemed simple enough, and there was also famous actor Boris Karloff to look forward to.  However this was merely the use of the same sales strategy as this movies sequel.  They took a very famous actor, and put him in a film that didn't deserve him.  Fortunately, like this movie's sequel, the actor they put in did the best with what he had.  I admit that their strategy to get more views for this film worked, but it was wrong.  If you want to make a film successful, focus on the actual film.

       The opening credits for this film compared to my last review, is very poor.  Now, I know that whoever composed it was trying to go for a circus theme, but that must have meant that this person only saw the first twelve minuets of this movie because, after that, we never see the circus again!  So, although it's overused, I would go for the Lugosi score over the Karloff score any day.  Another aspect that is not used well in, "The Ape”, is the editing.  There are moments where you can tell there's a cut so well, that it's annoying.  Remember that back then; editing was not done on a computer.  Instead, the film had to be cut and reattached to the film.  This technique of editing is called splicing, and if you've ever wonder where the proses of editing began, than I just taught you something new.

       The very last thing I would like to criticize about this film, are the sub-plots.  There were too many!  This film suffers from a compulsive need to keep you interested by adding new things, and this technique backfires horrendously.  It is for this reason that there are so many ends that are not tied at the end of this movie.  Sometimes, the only thing you should do to a movie is give it one consecutive timeline.  You don't need to branch off into all these different tangents, because in the end you'll lose the viewers interest.

       In Conclusion:  Less is sometimes more, or at least as much as you need.  "The Ape" was unsuccessful at pulling me in, because there were one too many things that this film wanted me to care about.  In effect, I lost interest.  The remake of this film, in my mind, was a bit more reserved and in turn, I was able to follow it from beginning to end.  I don't think at this point the actors matter anymore.  Both of these films didn't utilize their abilities at all, and though I do think of Boris and Bela to be the two greatest horror icons of their time, these weren't films for either of them.  This was also not a horror film!  I've been tricked once more!  It seemed to be coming from a Mystery and Science Fiction side.  "The Ape" was a thoroughly unenjoyable film, and the only thing that you'll lose by watching it is your attention span.

    I give this film 3 gorilla doctors out of 10

    Next Review:  The Monster Walks 1932

    Friday, November 18, 2011

    The Ape Man: 1943

       And so it begins.  My gorilla-based movie marathon is now in effect, all until I get to my twentieth review.  So sit back and enjoy!

       Conducting weird scientific experiments, crazed Dr. James Brewster, aided by his colleague Dr. Randall, has managed to transform himself into a hairy, stooped-over ape-man. Desperately seeking a cure, Brewster believes only an injection of recently-drawn human spinal fluid will prove effective. With Randall refusing to help him, it falls to Brewster and his captive gorilla to find appropriate donors.

       "The Ape Man", is an interesting little piece of work that famous actor Bela Lugosi just happened to be a part of.  His acting is...well, let’s just say that it’s the same as any other film he's been in.  He does what he can with what he has, and what he can do is act.  His character as The Ape Man looks a bit like The Wolf Man with a hunched back, but he still has a human side to him.  But that's kind of what I'm trying to get at; none of the characters have character added onto them during the movie.  Your first impression of every actor will stay the same throughout the sixty three minuet duration.  I do like how the majority of the film focuses on the character that is the most interesting, and that's The Ape Man.  However there is less emphases on who he was before he was turned into a human/ape hybrid.  But I suppose that doesn't really matter because aside from his appearance and posture Bela Lugosi doesn't act any differently from a human being.

        The sound quality ranges throughout the duration of the film. In the exposition it is very poor, but nearing the end you begin to understand the dialog better.  Being this not a huge problem at first glance, it does have an effect on the movie in its entirety.  Since the sound is not that great during the beginning, there leaves allot to be desired to understanding the exposition of the film.  To be fair though, you do infer what you missed by the context of the movie later on.  Speaking of, the movie’s plot has a very distinct resemblance to, "The Invisible Man".  You have a scientist who says, "Stand back!  I'm going to try science!", and in effect has something go horribly wrong.  The scientist then spends the remainder of his days trying to concoct an antidote in order to reverse the effect.  They will never learn.

       "The Ape Man", was an interesting movie.  I managed to have a neutral feeling from start to finish.  Just from the name I could tell that this wasn't going to be that great of a flick.  Though to be fair it’s not something I wouldn't mind viewing again.  However, I do respect Bela Lugosi and I don't think that this movie respected him as an actor.   After all of the sophisticated roles that he's been in, it’s really insulting that he be re-casted as a human-monkey hybrid!  It’s the last thing I would expect from a horror icon such as him.  But, alas, any good business is better at marketing than at what they actually do, and I believe this is the case for this film.  They must have known that if you take a big star and put him/her in a not so big production, it’ll pay off.  I will admit that this was not Bela Lugosi's best role, but if you're interested in a bit of this legends history, I would recommend this to you.  Besides, at sixty three minutes, what have you got to lose?


    I give this film 4 spinal fluid injections out of 10

     Note:  It has come to my attention that I have looked over one major problem.  This movie is a virtual remake of, "The Ape", from 1940.  I should have reviewed that movie before this one but all I really want to do now is post this. So join me next time as I delve into the first installment of this film starring Boris Carloff!


    Next Review:  The Ape 1940

    Friday, November 4, 2011

    Dracula vs. Frankenstein: 1971


       Alright, no more stalling any longer.  I know that I've been cutting back on the content in my reviews after, "The Phantom of the Opera".  But no longer!  This time I'm going to go back.  Back to when I took a week to write reviews and it was worth it.  I'm really sorry to those of you reading, so think of this review as my apology to all of you.  For this review I've picked something I'm really going to hate for a reason.  The same reason I picked, "Santa Clause Concurs the Martians" so for this film I'm only really curious as to how bad it really is.  I hope you'll enjoy the torture I'm about to go up against in today's review of, "Dracula vs. Frankenstein", and as always, enjoy.

       What can you say about cross-over’s?  It’s the guilty pleasure of the American film addict.  Many crossovers from around the world have experimented on their pop culture icons colliding as well.  To note a few, "Freddy vs. Jason", and basically 90% of the Godzilla franchise.  However, where Godzilla movies were looser with teaming and pitting their characters together, this crossover is a very difficult and delicate procedure.  Great time and effort would have to be spent to create the battle between two of the most beloved horror icons in America.  The era that they tried to accomplish this in was the 70s, and they failed miserably at all of them.  This movie in particular is the more famous one.  However, while in production, this film wasn’t necessarily meant to have Dracula or Frankenstein in it.  In fact, they were added in after they started shooting!  Anyway I'm writing today to tell you what I think of,"The Kings of Horror Battling to the Death"!

       We open in Oakmoor Cemetery, where we see someone, or something stealing a body from a grave.  This scene is really dark (as in I can’t see anything), and I'm surprised that the actors could even act in such lighting.  The park ranger (or in this case,"grave ranger") hears something, and goes outside to meet face to face with...Dracula! And he's got a fro! Wait, what?  Hold on!  Stop the review!  Here's a little Vampire 101 for you.

    Vampire 101

    1.     Dracula is Hungarian (unless Zandor Vorkov is Hungarian)
    2.     Dracula has no super strength, therefore he cannot grave rob single-handedly
    3.     Dracula doesn't have a fro!

       Its like instead of telling his barber to give him, "the usual" he says to him, "surprise me".  Well Dracula, you've certainly surprised me!  The next scene shows a young woman walking barefoot in the fog at night, with some very strange lighting for...wherever she is.  We see a couple of tombstones the farther she walks, and then...SHE GETS DECAPITATED!  Wait, why was she outside in the first place?  Why was she barefoot?  Why would someone go out in the fog to walk through a graveyard?  Do you find this quaint?  Because it isn't!  Do you know how many people there are who would agree to me asking, "Hey there!  Do you want to take a walk with me outside, at night, barefoot, in a cemetery, where there are probably people that get there before you waiting with an axe to kill you?"'d actually be surprised but that's beside the point!  After this gruesome decapitation, we are addressed to the other writer who thought that this was a completely different movie!  

       We go from a beheading by an axe murderer, to the beginning of the 70's musical.  One of the performers, Ms. Fontain has a sister that was reported missing.  We cut to a fair where we see that a,"freak show" is one of the establishments residing there.  A young couple pays a small person a dollar to go inside...and he eats it.  This is not a typo, he eats the dollar.  I guess it’s to show how, "freaky" he is but he's only small!  That's it! You’re telling me that he is one of the freaks?!    That’s.....just......depressing.  The couple goes inside and they watch a bunch of unexplained weirdness, and one of them is played by Lon Chaney Jr.!  Unfortunately he doesn't have any talking roles, and even worse, this was his last movie he ever starred in.  We also meet another character who owns the Freak show, Dr. Durray, who also starred in "House of Frankenstein", as Dr. Frankenstein's assistant.  Unfortunately this was also his last role as an actor as well!  The couple walks out of the exhibit and away to get ready for a seminar for something.  

       Meanwhile,  the Doctor and Groton, played by Lon Chaney Jr. prepare to experiment on a young woman....the very same woman that was decapitated in the cemetery!  We see that the doctor has managed to capitate her head to her neck.  He talks to Groton about making a serum from her blood, because if you survive getting your head cut off, you now have super special blood.  So, the doctor injects Groton with what I think is the young woman's blood, but nothing seems to change about Groton.  Only, the doctor acts like the serum worked!  Anyway Groton heads outside to the pier.

       After Groton leaves to kill more people wandering outside, the Doctor is visited by Dracula.  Now, I've gotten past the fro by now, however, Dracula the green head from The Wizard of Oz.  I don't know...just listen to this:

      It looks like he's bored playing the role already, but also sadistic as he does it.  Oh, and if you’re wondering, "does he always talk with an echo?", then yes.  Yes he does.  We find out that Dr. Durray is the last of the Frankenstein's.  And while they are talking, Dracula can’t stop blinking.  Bela Lugosi would never do that!  However one thing Lugosi doesn't have is a hypno ring that shoots fire! Wow...I honestly didn't expect that Dracula would carry something like that.  So, we see that the doctor and Dracula are willing to strike up a deal, which is the doctor’s serum in exchange for the body of Frankenstein's monster.  We cut to Groton taking a nice long stroll on the beach with his axe.  The stars are out, the waves are calm, and there's another young couple making out on the sand....Wait!  Watch out!!!  ...Too late.  We then cut to the protest the other couple at the fair were talking about going to.  From what I can tell the protest is ...just a plot device to see them get murdered.  Inside of a club, Ms. Fontain is sitting at a table when a man drugs her.  She starts to take a trip, while the music plays backwards.  I'm starting to wonder if the writers for this film were taking the same thing she was.  But for a movie made in the 70's, there's really no wonder that a scene like this would appear here.  We cut to back at the lab where the doctor is experimenting with an exploded potato.  It looked like this:


      Wait, why does the potato have a bull cut?  And on a completely unrelated note, where's Frankenstein's monster?  It's been a half an hour and we haven't................oh my.  OH MY.  NOOOOOOO!  Why movie?  Why?  Why desecrate Boris Karloff's image that started his career like that?  He looks like a baked potato that you would serve to somebody you hate!  He looks like a mutant mushroom!  He looks like the dried remains of somebody in a cake batter fight!  You know, I wonder how the actor feels to be under all of that make up.  Or better yet, I wonder how he agreed to this job offer.  Actually I know; they showed him this poster:

       Now that's what I want to see!  However, the majority of the time, the artist for the cover of books and sometimes movies don't actually watch or read the movie or book they're making the title for.  This might be the same case here, where the cover artist might have thought the same as us by thinking, "Wow!  "Dracula vs. Frankenstein"?  That sounds awesome!  Time to make a cover that will capture the incredible magnitude of these grades A monsters duking it out!".....Okay, so maybe he/she wasn't thinking that exactly, but I'm sure there was some excitement.  

    Now let’s just calm down a second.  I know what you want to see.  Yes!  Dracula and the Frankenstein monster battling!  Let’s skip to that, shall we?  

    (One viewing later)

       It’s not worth it.  None of it is.  The whole movie is a waste.  Do you really want to know what happened?  Well here it goes:  The actual fight starts outside, and it’s not really clear as to why they are actually fighting.  Heck, they’re not even fighting!  It’s just a struggle until they move from the building to the forest and when they get there you can’t see a thing!  At one point I could make out Dracula tearing the monster's arms off.  Wait!  Shouldn't it be the monster doing that to Dracula?  Why?! Why?!

    Conclusion:  Well that's it!  I can't do it!  This was a thoroughly bad movie, from start to finish.  The acting is bad.  The tone they are trying to set is indefinable.  The casting is terrible. This movie will leave a bad taste in your mouth if you watch it! My hopes for a good horror icon crossover film has been dashed away, and the fact that this was made sets a good cross over film back about twenty years.  But, you know what?  Even though an actual movie hasn't been made yet, the battle between these two icons have lasted all throughout their actors carriers.  Boris Carloft, who played the monster, and Bela Lugosi, who played Dracula.  These two films were both released in the same year of 1931, and gave the actors playing the roles their career.  Ever since their pairing up on the big screen, they've been battling to be better than each other.  This movie never had and never will come close in emulating this epic battle!  I'm not even going to cast this in the same place as, "Santa Clause Conquers the Martians"!  I'd go as far to say that I would put this in the category below it!  And I cannot even fathom what that category would be titled as.  Well, I guess I didn't go in for this movie thinking that it would be executed like this, but I sure as @#!*% hoped something like it would be remade the way I wanted it to be made.  I suppose that's kind of selfish, but I can’t possibly be the only human who actually wants to see this!

    I can't be.    

                Guess I'll never figure that one out...


    I give this "film" 1 Frank Zappa Dracula out of 10

    Watch this one if you dare...

    (The next three reviews will be gorilla based.  Why, you ask?  'Cause  I wanna, that's why!)

    Next Review: The Ape Man  1943