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3 Wicked Witches (2014)
One of the best DeCoteau films in years
This film has a lot going for it. By far, it's one of the most entertaining David DeCoteau films in years. 1). The cast is flawless. In the commentary track, DeCoteau mentioned he wanted his three original scream queens. That would have been a big mistake. These three ladies are far better actors, their chemistry is evident, and it all works. 2) The script is good. It's refreshing to hear dialog that sounds natural. The writer is far better than the one the director usually hires. 3) The location. Good riddance to that over-shot 1313 house. This place is a welcome change. 4) The puppet is effective and scary. A clown was a great choice. It worked. 5) The pacing is what you'd expect from a horror film. And, of course, the guys are hot as hell but that's what you'll find in any DeCoteau film. RapidHeart needs to make more films like this one!
The House of Exorcism (1975)
Better than the reputation that proceeds it
Okay, I like this film. It's one of my guilty pleasures. In 1984, I saw this in a cinema on Grand Street in NYC on a double bill with Terror in the Aisles. I liked House of Exorcism, but even as I watched it, I realized something was up. It seemed disconnected in some way. I read about Lisa and the Devil, and finally got to see it at the Film Forum in NYC in the 1990s. I liked it. But something was .... missing. Flash forward to 2017, and I watched both Lisa and the Devil and House of Exorcism in the same night. Cha...you know what? House of Exorcism is, in some ways, better. More entertaining. Definitely more commercial. It's got Robert Alda, more naked women, frog spewing, gutter language, and some creepy new footage. Go for it!
I don't understand all the negative reviews. Piper Laurie gives an emotional, strong performance as Ruby. The film has atmosphere, is moody, and somewhat original (particularly with the death scenes). Janit Baldwin looks remarkably like Piper Laurie in some scenes (I thought that was Piper Laurie on the theatrical release poster until I saw the film). Roger Davis, an actor with a spotty career, does a good job in his second film for Harrington (he had previously been in Killer Bees). And the ending...I love it! It's both chilling and effective. Check it out!
Don't take your kid to see this. Please.
The performances are outstanding, the film is creepy as hell, but it has no idea how to end. It seems to drag on forever. Great group of kid actors! I'm sure some of these juveniles will be turning up in more films. The time setting (1988-1989) really works. But NOT a film for kids, despite the theme of overcoming ones fears.
Red Heat (1985)
One of Linda's most underrated films
Linda Blair has stated that she was sold this film as a "female Midnight Express." Yes, it has elements of that. But it's more like an adult remake of Born Innocent. Linda's character even has the same name, Chris. Born Innocent represents Linda's best work as a juvenile. Her performance is better in Born Innocent than in The Exorcist. Red Heat may well be her best performance as an adult. Yet this is one of the most difficult Blair films to find. I don't think it ever got a proper theatrical release in the United States, although it may have played the grind house circuit. I first saw in on VHS year ago, and watched it recently again on YouTube. It's a wildly entertaining film that's face-paced and got it all - nudity, rape, cat fights, shower scenes, suicide, etc. You've seen it all before, but the setting in an East German prison before the wall came down (actually filmed in Hungary) adds a great deal to the mood and tone of the film. For Linda Blair fans, this film is essential. For fans of women in prison flicks, it's not to be missed.
Humanoids from Atlantis (1992)
Actually, it's almost not that bad...
The production has things going for it. I saw evidence of INTENT to make a good movie. The love of the genre came through. Some of the action was fairly well staged. What killed this film is the self-depreciation on the part of the filmmaker. You could tell at some point he just said WTF and gave up. That's what's really sad. Yes, it does have people talking in a car in a garage. Yes, there is bad acting. Yes, there is bad dialogue. Yes, the ridiculously self-depreciating end credits are padded out ad nauseam. But the creature costume ain't bad. The locations would have been effective if the cast/crew could stand the cold (I suspect they couldn't). Oh, and the B-movie police intro added nothing. I would have stuck with the movie as is. I paid two dollars plus to rent this. I was marginally entertained, so I am not complaining.
Day of the Dead (2008)
Nick Cannon plays the saddest excuses of a Hollywood stereotype of a black man. I am surprise Ving Rhames didn't take Nick aside and bitch slap him for accepting such a part. This film had potential. All of the other actors (besides the awful Cannon) were good. The efforts were good. The zombie make-up top notch. The dizzy- inducing camera work was bad. The film did capture that same oppressive feeling Romero captured in his original, although the story lines are completely different. But Cannon's presence is about as offensive as it gets.
The Landlady (2013)
It doesn't miss a step. A must see!
Four rules...just four rules. No smoking, no loud noise, no pets and no visitors after midnight. Sounds simple, yes? Ah, no. Not really. The tenants can't seem to follow four simple rules. And what happens to them is worth seeing. Caroline Munro does the strongest work of her career. She's given a well-written part and seems to be having fun with it. The character could easily have been played as one-note, like Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca. But Miss Munro goes all out and gives a solid, expressive performance. The filmmakers have done an outstanding job, and I hope for the sake of all involved this film gets widely seen. It deserves an audience! An the audience deserves this treat of a dark-humored horror film. I look forward to seeing more work from this talented crew.
Impressive, very well done, faithful to Toho
It's refreshing to see a Godzilla movie that takes its subject seriously. GODZILLA 2014 is an impressive work by a director who clearly wanted to pay tribute to Toho Studios original creation. Having said that, Godzilla isn't in the film all that much. But he looks realistic and is the Godzilla we know and love. This is one of the few films that actually lives up to the expectations set up by the trailer. There are two other creatures in the film, as well as a few human characters. It's not often I see a film where "big Hollywood special effects" as balance with a good, solid, well-told story. Kudos to all involved. This is a Godzilla film to remember.
I honestly can say I liked this movie
I liked this film. I admit, I am a Dave DeCoteau fan, although I had not seen one of his films in a long time. His films are not for everyone. He has single-handedly created a niche market for homo-erotic horror, and has done it very well. This film looks great. The location is astounding, and is a character in itself. The men are gorgeous (of course) although only one of them, Preston Davis, is a professional actor. Some of the others are quite good (Quincy Ndekwe and Jerrell Pippins); others not so much (no names, please). I doubt the budget was anywhere near what IMDb says it is, but the film does look great. I suspect a hefty part of the budget when to hair and make-up for Trina Parks, gowns for Miss Parks, stylist for Miss Parks. She's the only one besides Preston Davis who gets to wear any clothes. The "plot" of the film could fill a running time of 5 minutes, but that's the not the point of a DeCoteau film. DeCoteau is very good at what he does, and this movie doesn't disappoint. Sure, some of the action happens off-screen and the middle is a little slow, but I would watch it again. Note to the director: there is a reason why Miss Parks hasn't done a picture in 36 years. What next? A vehicle for "Bambi?"
Grefe knew how to churn them out
William Grefe had a knack for turning out low budget yet effective films in the 60s and 70s. STANLEY is one of his more popular releases. The film is very dated (mainly from the guys' clothing), but worth a look. The film is at it's most creepy with scenes of real snakes crawling all over the home of the snake-man. You can imagine what it must have been like to be on the set - Grefe was probably the lone crew man. The film's weakness is in it's running time - more than an hour and forty-five minutes is much too long for this kind of drive-in/exploitation fare. The film would have been more effective if trimmed down to a 90 minute or so running time. Like one character who got bit on the ass, it hurt to sit down that long!
L'isola degli uomini pesce (1979)
I saw this movie on television as SCREAMERS and loved it. I heard an interesting story about this film. When Roger Corman released it to drive-ins in the summer of 1981, his trailer department sent out an advance trailer which was not actually footage from the film. It was allegedly footage of a naked woman being chased around a laboratory set by a monster. During the film's opening at drive-in's, irate customers complained the did not see the movie they paid to see. Theater owners called Corman and said their customers felt ripped off. So Corman had to run off copies of the footage, and send the positive film to theater owners to splice into the film themselves. Since the footage was never part of the film negative, it has not appeared in any video, DVD or television broadcast. Has anyone ever seen this footage? Anyone who saw this film at a drive-in in the summer of 1981 remember this?
The Velvet Vampire (1971)
Underrated, unique take on the vampire tale
THE VELVET VAMPIRE is really one of the most underrated vampire movies, and well worth searching for a copy. Not available on DVD, the film's long out of print VHS tapes have sold for high amounts on eBay. Directed by 70s cult director Stephanie Rothman, THE VELVET VAMPIRE is a very low budget, yet very well done movie. I saw it screened in a theater once, in 1981, on a double bill with DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS. It was a perfect double feature, yet THE VELVET VAMPIRE does not have anywhere near the strong cult following DAUGHTERS OF DAKRNESS has achieved. A young couple meet a beautiful, mysterious woman in an art gallery in downtown Los Angeles. She invites them to spend the weekend at her desert home. They both have dreams of being seduced by her, and the dreams, in one way or another, become a reality. Celeste Yarnall is outstanding as Diane, The Velvet Vampire, and it always puzzled me that she did not achieve greater success as an actress.
Voodoo Academy (2000)
A Horror Film with a Twist
I love this movie. I love seeing horror movies that dare to be different, that don't do the same thing I've seen over and over in horror movies before. VOODOO ACADEMY is a dark, intimate little horror movie about some creepy activities going on at a school for boys. The twist is that it has a strong homoerotic overtone, which works for the story. It's also a good example of how creative horror can be on a minuscule budget. I would have given it a 10, but it suffers from some horrible acting. The female lead spends the whole movie reciting memorized lines, but at no time does she give a performance. And the dude playing a priest...well...let's just say he comes across as someone who may have been in movies before, but never actually had to speak a line of dialogue until now. The young actors playing the students are all great, and more than make up for their adult co-stars' lack of acting ability.
The Frightening (2002)
Interesting horror flick with one major flaw
Well written, well acted, well photographed, well directed but absolutely hideously edited horror film. Good editing should be invisible. It should never call attention to itself. The editing in THE FRIGHTENING makes the film unwatchable. There are these absolutely ridiculous and unnecessary flashes of white every two seconds. This makes watching THE FRIGHTENING about the same as experiencing Chinese water torture. What were they thinking? Brinke Stevens makes a nice cameo appearance, and the lead actor who plays her son is very good. I can't believe a director as accomplished as David DeCoteau would give his movie to an editor who made the film an unwatchable experience.
Stazione Termini (1953)
Often dismissed as a failure in the film history books, this is actually an outstanding gem which deserves to be seen. I have not seen the Criterion disc, but I have seen the film twice. In a theater, it was re-released in the uncut version as STATZIONE TERMINI some time in the 1980's. I also saw the much shorter INDISCRETION OF AN American WIFE, which is also very good. The film works due to the outstanding performances of Jennifer Jones and Montgomery Clift, and also due to the outstanding location filming. Produced by Jones' husband, the camera adores her. She looks radiant (she was about 34 at the time), and the camera seems to be on her in nearly every frame of the film. Well worth checking out in any version!
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Astonishing...an awesome film which earns it's place in history independent of the original
DAWN OF THE DEAD is one of the most astonishing films I've seen recently. When I heard it was being re-made, I rolled my eyes. The original was fine, thank you very much. I missed the theatrical release, and just saw the uncut version on DVD. What makes DAWN OF THE DEAD so good is that at no time does it draw comparison to the original. Although the basic story line is the same, the style and interpretation is so different, that DAWN OF THE DEAD (2004) earns it's place in history independent of the original. For a remake, that is unheard of. It's one of the best remakes I have ever seen, along with THE AMITYVILLE HORROR (2005). If you are curious about the WORST remake in the history of cinema, check out PSYCHO (1998).
DAWN OF THE DEAD benefits from an outstanding cast, lead by Sarah Polley and Ving Rhames. The director, Zach Snyder, should be in the horror hall of fame for making such a great film. He seems to be a director more interested in action than horror, but he pulls no punches with the gore.
Stepfather III (1992)
Much better than expected
I recall starting to watch this on cable when it made its debut back in 1992. My first impression was that it looked cheap, and I didn't finish watching it. Now, in 2005, I finally got to see it from beginning to end. It is surprisingly good for a made-for-cable movie, and it stands up to Stepfather II, at the very least. Terry O'Quinn does not return to his role in this one, he is replaced by Robert Wightman. The change in appearance is explained (and shown) by plastic surgery. In fact, the whole plot seems to revolve around it. The plastic surgery sequence is particularly unsettling, as the stepfather undergoes the procedure without any anesthesia, and by a 'back-alley' plastic surgeon. Unfortunately, Robert Wightman is the weakest part of the production. His acting, when he is suppose to be normal, is just awful. He only shines in his moments when he loses his cool (that is probably how he got the part, auditioning as the 'crazy' stepfather). Priscilla Barnes carries the whole movie. She is very good, and it's a serious, dramatic role for her. Season Hubley is also very good in a strong supporting role. Worth checking out, it makes a good 'guilty pleasure.'
Mesmerizing, but not for everyone.
I saw EMPIRE at the Whitney some time circa the early 90's. I watched the first 90 minutes of it, which I thought was an appropriate feature length. The film is silent, which makes it difficult to watch in a theater. It's easy to get distracted by the sounds of viewers shifting in their seats, or the talking among the blue-haired ladies who had no idea what they walked into. The film works (at least the first 90 minutes) because the Empire State Building goes from dusk to night, so there is a change slowly occurring on the screen. The film is mesmerizing, and I don't think I have ever looked up at the Empire State Building since without thinking about this film. There is something captivating about staring at it's fixed image, flickering on screen at 16 frames per second (which is what it was shot at, and a projector at the Whitney was modified to run at that frame rate). I wouldn't sit through 8 hours of it, but it's worth viewing for the experience of seeing this rare film.
strange documentary about a strange woman
I had the distinction of seeing this film in a movie theatre. Well, sort of a movie theatre. It was called the Lighthouse Cinema on Suffolk street in Manhattan. If I remember correctly, it was sometime in 1996. The film was listed in the New York Daily News. I was the only person who showed up for the Saturday afternoon screening. The theatre owner, who was also the projectionist, screened the 35mm print for me anyway. The documentary featured Maila Nurmi, the Finnish-born actress who created the character "Vampira." She had her own show on a local Los Angeles TV station in the 1950's, and is believed to be the first "horror" hostess. Her show was canceled after one season. She tried to sue Elvira for stealing her act, and lost. SEX, DEATH & TAXES reveals Nurmi to be homophobic, paranoid of her "fans" who try to get in touch with her, and living on welfare. No longer in the small apartment she had for years, she now lives in a modest house. At the end of the documentary, the filmmakers create a short, scripted narrative for Nurmi to "star" in. I'm not quite sure what to make of this, as the filmmakers don't seem to be very objective. The film was financed by Finnish television, and features a Finnish-born subject, and doesn't really explore Nurmi or her mystique as deeply as it could have.