Reviews written by registered user

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93 reviews in total 
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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Not bad, but try "Dead of Night" first., 6 April 2005

Okay, five strangers assemble together and tell bizarre tales of their own haunted futures. It's something we've seen before, there was a movie made in 1945 called "Dead of Night" with basically the same premise, but that was a horror masterpiece, far ahead of it's time. This is nowhere near in the same league.

There's a werewolf story, a 'deadly plant' story, a voodoo story, a 'creeping hand' story and a vampire story. The stand-out segment is Christopher Lee's story as the art critic who is stalked by the severed hand of a man he ran over. It was later made as a feature-length Oliver Stone film called "The Hand", starring Michael Caine, but the idea was actually taken from an earlier movie in 1946 called "The Beast With Five Fingers". Oh, well.

It was made by what at the time was an all-star British cast containing Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and others of the Hammer Studios team, but this doesn't save it from being average at best. If you want a really great compilation horror film I recommend watching Dead of Night instead.

5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Not one of Vincent's best., 6 April 2005

You always know what to expect from this genre of low-budget supernatural-historical movies ... peasants with one brain between the lot of them, fine wenches being treated very, very badly, and plenty of over-acting from men wearing tights and funny hats.

Cry of the Banshee has all of these elements, and is fairly representative of the genre. It isn't on the same level as cult movies like "Witchfinder General" (also starring Vincent Price), but it does have it's moments. Here Vincent Price plays a wicked lord with a very strange family. He takes great pleasure in finding, mistreating and executing young witches, until he messes with the wrong coven and his entire family is cursed. They soon begin to get gruesomely killed off one by one by a seemingly unstoppable monster. That'll teach 'em.

Vincent Price gives a fairly memorable performance here as the evil, sadistic lord of the town. He does the best he can with the script, anyway, which is all a great actor can ever do. Nobody else on the cast is particularly noteworthy, but on the whole it's a fairly competent movie as far as the acting is concerned. On the subject of the script, it does seem to be thing that everyone involved struggled with. The movie had already been sold to the distributors, which meant that the director, re-writers and so on couldn't change it as much as they would probably have liked to, so they didn't necessary end up making the movie they wanted to make.

This accounts for the way that some aspects of the film are so much better than others. In some scenes the actors themselves seem pretty bored with it, whereas in others the relish in the opportunity to show their full talent. The scenes involving the witches coven are pretty interesting, and some of the climatic moments are particularly well-shot. Also, the opening credits sequence is instantly recognisable as the work of Monty Python's artist Terry Gilliam, which is pretty neat. However, there aren't enough great moments to elevate it above most other movies of it's kind.

If you're a fan of Vincent Price, or of those trashy period movies of the sixties and seventies, you might want to give this one a look. Otherwise, it probably won't appeal to you that much.

13 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
Vintage Molina., 6 April 2005

Noche de Walpurgis, Nacht der Vampire, Blood Moon, Werewolf Shadow ... the amount of alternative titles that this movie has, annoying as it may be, is a testament to it's international success.

So why is it that the world cared so much about some Spanish horror movie? Well, the fact is, it was simply better than most of what everyone else was doing at the time. But like "I Was A Teenage Werewolf" did in the late fifties, this movie sparked off a whole new generation of similar werewolf movies such as "The Beast Must Die", which attempted to emulate it's atmosphere precisely.

But has it stood the test of time? Lead actor and writer Jacinto Molina certainly thinks so. Others are less certain. For instance, it's easy to put off by the cheesy soundtrack, complete unsuited to what the mood of the movie should be, and the script definitely has it's dull moments. There's a whole sequence towards the end of the movie, when a policeman comes to investigate the murders and seems to spend half an hour in pointless conversation with the villagers. Oh, and the 'romance' aspect of the film feels both rushed and forced. The blood often looks fake, and the clearer the picture is, the less convinced you are by the makeup. It's one of the few movies that fails to benefit from a restored DVD version.

However, there's still plenty of good stuff here that help it to rise above the 'trashy horror' category for some parts at least. There's only a small amount of nudity in the film, gratuitous though it may be, and the dialogue isn't half as bad as most horror movies of this period. The historical sequences are surprisingly good, and the vampires are particularly creepy -- thanks to Molina's insistence that they should be filmed in slow motion. His performance is easily the most notable, and it's likely that if he'd been given more creative control over the production of these movies, they would have been much better.

All in all, this movie may well be for genre fans only. Most will probably find it dull and dated, but at the time it was definitely something pretty special.

Wolfman (1979)
7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Yup, it's pretty awful ..., 6 April 2005

Well, it looks like there's another contender here for the "so bad it's good" category. This is a werewolf movie that was made towards the end of a very long dry spell, after the glory days of Universal's "Wolf Man" series, and before the year 1981 brought us several great werewolf movies ("American Werewolf", "The Howling" and "Wolfen").

A man returns to his home town when his uncle dies (or, or more accurately, is murdered -- as we know from the first scene). He soon finds out that there is some kind of a curse on his family, which his grandmother is aware of and which involves some kind of an evil priest. The plot after this point is fairly predictable and straightforward. It's film-making for the sake of film-making, and there aren't very many original ideas. However, the look of the film is quite cool, and clearly it's inspired by the "Hammer Studios" productions, in which everything looks kind of like a set but has a very creepy feel to it.

The cast are generally pretty laughable. Seriously, there's no excuse for acting this bad -- hell, I've seen much better actors in local theatrical productions. The leading man has zero charisma, and even less acting ability, as clearly he was cast simply for his 'Wolf Man' appearance. This leads to some pretty hilarious scenes, for example when he delivers sentences along the lines of "Doctor, my grandmother told me that my father was a werewolf and a priest stabbed him in the heart with a silver dagger", in a complete monotone with a straight face and absolutely no emotion, you just can't help but laugh. He doesn't get a whole lot of help from the supporting male cast, but most of the female members actually seem quite competent actresses. Not that it helps much.

On the other hand, there is a sub-culture of people out there who will really enjoy this movie. If you're one of those people that collects Edward D Wood Jr's movies, or if your idea of a good time is to stay in and laugh your way through "Manos: Hands of Fate", odds are you'll really appreciate much of the badness in this movie.

It's bad. It's very, very bad. But if you're a fan of those terrible B-pictures, you'll probably find something to enjoy here.

4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Decent werewolf story., 6 April 2005

It's that old plot device again, the one that has served many, many horror writers over the years ... a couple travelling through the countryside has car trouble, pulls over, and discovers a secluded house in the middle of nowhere. Either the house has no phone or they simply can't reach anyone, so they are forced to stay the night.

So cue the vampires, ghosts, demons ... or in this case a family of werewolves. The supposed owner of the house is an unnervingly friendly old lady played excellently by famous actress Diana Dors, just a few years before her death. She is step mother to eight creepy children. The couple become increasingly worried as strange things start happening. The husband is attacked by a strange creature in the woods, the wife has some odd encounters with the children, and eventually they are locked in their room. He tries to climb out of the window and ends up unconscious on the floor below while she is raped by a werewolf.

Already there's some pretty twisted stuff going on, enough to make me think this could be a great werewolf story. Anyway, the couple then end up in a hospital, the wife seems to have no memory of the events, claiming they simply crashed the car, and the husband thinks it was a dream. Over the next month or so she begins to act strangely, eating lots of meat and increasing her sexual appetite. However, just as it starts to get interesting ... it's the end of the episode. D'oh! I understand that there's only so much you can fit in to an hour-long episode, but if they'd just cut down on the boring scenes it could have all led to a great climax and ended up as a well-constructed, original werewolf story rather than just an interesting idea. Oh, well. I guess if you have nothing better to do, you might want to give this one a look, but don't go out of your way.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
A werewolf classic., 6 April 2005

Director Joe Dante's infamous cult horror movie was released just a matter of months before "An American Werewolf in London", and both are generally regarded as being the most memorable werewolf movies ever made. But has this one aged as well as it's more well-known cousin? Well, it's certainly still original. Karen White, a news lady, is lured into a trap by a psychopath which involves her going into a sex shop, being made to watch a violent porno and then witnessing the man changing into some kind of monster. She is left emotionally-scarred by all this, in a very Hitchcock-ian way, and so a respected psychologist suggests she spend some time as his secluded retreat called "The Colony". As it turns out, the colony is the last place on Earth she wants to be, and both Karen and her husband becoming increasingly unnerved by it's occupants and the strange creatures that seem to stalk through the woods at night.

Some have said that they actually prefer this film to "An American Werewolf", because it's a pure horror film as opposed to a horror-comedy, and thus they rank it as the greatest werewolf movie of all time. There are a few moments of subtle comedy here, but not as obvious as those in John Landis' own film. Also, you could argue that in some ways this is a more intelligent movie, which is really about "the beast in all of us", as Dr. George Waggner states at the beginning. It's a psychological thriller, and a well-structured one at that.

"The Howling" is one of Dante's best movies. It's certainly the one that got him noticed as a director, and just a few years after this he made "Gremlins" and became an even bigger cult horror icon. This is actually an early movie for him, which is impressive as it shows many signs of an experience and confident film-maker at the helm. The sets are fantastic, as is the lighting and the general atmosphere and pacing of the movie. The script is fairly tight and no longer than it needs to be, and the many references to werewolf movie history are subtly slided in to satisfy the film buffs. For example, there's a character named 'Jack Molina' -- a reference the average movie-goer won't get, but any werewolf movie fan is likely to. Various other characters are named similarly, but I'll let you get those yourself.

The acting is for the most part pretty decent. All of the leads handle their roles well, and watch out for John Carradine in a small but memorable performance. I was especially impressed with some of the special effects on show here. The transformation sequence is at least in some ways on the same level as "American Werewolf", and this was released several months earlier. It may have something to do with the fact that Rick Baker briefly worked on this project before moving over to the other, and so some of the same ideas may have been used.

For genre fans, this movie is pure gold. Others may find it a little cheesy or a little dull in places, but what the hell do they know? :P

6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
The best werewolf movie ever made., 6 April 2005

It's always tricky trying to write a review of a great movie that you've loved for years. Attempting to finally put down in words exactly what makes it so great seems almost impossible ... but I'll give it a shot anyway. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give to you, An American Werewolf in London -- Two American's arrive by truck in the Yorkshire moors, as part of a three-month tour of Europe. As they walk along the country roads, they engage in realistic back-and-forth banter and we learn that Jack is unhappy with the situation and would much rather be in some continental city, whereas his friend David is glad to explore the English countryside. As the sun goes down, they take refuge inside a pub called "the Slaughtered Lamb", to escape the cold. The locals are unfriendly, especially when they ask about a pentagram painted on the wall ... the two of them eventually take the hint, and leave to continue walking through the moors.

Wandering off the road into the dark grassy land, they begin to hear strange and frightening howling noises, and see something big stalking them in the shadows ... suddenly Jack is attacked, and David flees the scene before turning back to help his friend, but he too is set upon by some kind of wolf-beast until the locals show up armed with shotguns. He wakes up in a hospital, and learns that his friend Jack is dead. While there, he falls in love with a beautiful young nurse. As he recovers from his trauma, he has peculiar dreams about monsters, misty woods, and killing. Then he starts having gruesome visions of his dead friend, who warns him that he is becoming a werewolf ...

There are so many memorable sequences in this movie it's unbelievable. My favourite has always been the initial werewolf attack on the moors -- I first saw the movie when I was very young and that was the one that scared me most of all. I also remembered the dream sequences particularly well, and that poor man who is stalked by the werewolf in the London underground. It's an incredibly surreal movie, especially during the excellent hospital sequences, because, well, becoming a werewolf would be a pretty surreal thing to go through! All of this is helped by the high quality of directing from John Landis, and Rick Baker's infamously brilliant make-up inventions.

The soundtrack is also excellent -- Landis' idea was that he would only use songs with the word 'moon' in the title. Since then the songs "Bad Moon Rising" and "Blue Moon" are automatically linked with this movie by anyone who's seen it. The cast is also very notable, and both David Naughton and Griffin Dunne give funny, competent performances as the two Americans, while the all-star British cast is headed by the brilliant Brian Glover, Jenny Agutter and John Woodvine.

Some of the comedy may be a little cheesy, but most of it is still worth a few laughs. You should bear in mind that this was the first real horror comedy ever made, and these days they're a dime-a-dozen. If it hadn't been for American Werewolf, the genre would certainly not have been the same. This is an indisputable classic of the horror genre, and an incredible important movie. Two decades on, it's easily still deserving of it's title as the greatest Werewolf movie of all time.

3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Enjoyable kid's fantasy movie., 6 April 2005

This was one of those movies that I always wanted to watch in it's entirety when I was a kid. The worst thing you could ever do to me back then was to drag me away from a movie half way through for bedtime or bath or whatever (in fact it probably still is ... hmm), and that always seemed to happen with this one so all I ever had were little fragments and images here and there from the movie.

I remembered the boy reading the book in the attic, and the flying dragon/dog (actually a 'luck' dragon), as well as the childlike Empress (hell, what kid could ever forget her?) and the fragments of Fantasia at the end.

These images always stayed with me, because visually it is an incredible movie. But the truth is, when you put the images together you really don't have that much. The story is kind of simple and brief, not exactly epic, and there are plenty of cheesy moments ... and the less said about the soundtrack of the movie the better. In the eighties they had a tendency to ruin perfectly good fantasy movies with some kind of a weird techno/pop soundtrack. Never a good idea.

But if you can just switch off, ignore those things and enjoy the great sets and characters and what could have been the ultimate children's fantasy story, you'll wish it really was neverending.

Ladyhawke (1985)
52 out of 61 people found the following review useful:
Very good fantasy movie, 6 April 2005

Ever since I was a kid, I loved fantasy movies. As a matter of fact, anything with sword fights was great in my book. And since I grew up in the days before Lord of the Rings came along, my favourites were always mid-to-late-eighties fantasy epics like The Princess Bride, Willow, and Ladyhawke.

It's all about an outcast knight and his lover, who have been cursed by an evil bishop to become animals during night and day, so they're never together in human form. He becomes a wolf and she becomes a hawk (hence the title). The knight enlists the help of a young thief to break into the cathedral and take his revenge on the bishop. Aside from the basic premise, it's more of a historical movie than a fantasy movie. There's no magic other than the curse, and no trolls or giants or anything, which was partly the reason I enjoyed it so much.

I've also always loved this movie for it's great storyline and interesting characters. Philipe's conversations with God still amuse me, as does the drunken monk played by Leo McKern ... It comes from director Richard Donner, who of course brought us Superman I & II, the Lethal Weapon movies and so on. This is essentially a well-directed movie, although a lot of people have issues with the choice of soundtrack. It's kind of a techno-poppy thing, which I blame NeverEnding Story for. A lot of eighties fantasy movies went with the same idea, but it works with Ladyhawke better than it works with most others, although I would of course prefer a more conventional and less intrusive score. On the whole, the sets and the props are pretty convincing, although some of the fight sequences aren't particularly great.

Here we have an early Matthew Broderick performance which shows how little his acting skills have developed since. Not that he's a bad actor, just an early bloomer I guess. Cult icon Rutger Hauer, of whom I have always been a huge fan (Blade Runner, The Hitcher, The 10th Kingdom) gives a fantastic performance as the outcast knight, and as we all know it's never a bad idea to have Michelle Pfeiffer in a movie.

You should definitely see this movie if you're a fan of the genre, or of any of the actors involved. It's a wonderful fantasy adventure for all ages.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Not King's finest moment., 6 April 2005

At their best, Stephen King's movies are dark, wonderful and clever. At their worst, they're schmaltzy rubbish with a couple of good ideas thrown in. Unfortunately, "Silver Bullet" mostly falls into the latter category.

It's not all that bad, though ... the acting is mostly competent, although nobody is particularly notable except for Corey Haim as the young ten year old boy, who is actually very good. Everyone does their best, as most of the characters are fairly cardboard, and as usual in Stephen King movies the kids are pretty much all innocent and pure while the grown-ups are drunken idiots who flail around a bit and then most likely get killed. But there are a couple of interesting scenes here ... there's a great one where the townspeople are hunting the beast in the fog, which may not be that convincing, but it's a very cool idea cinematic ally. There's also an excellent scene in a church which I won't spoil for you.

In fact, both of the good ideas take place within the same five minutes, so maybe you could just skip forward fifty minutes into the film, watch those, and not bother with the rest. The problem with it is, there aren't enough interesting or original ideas on show. It's clear that Stephen King did little, if any, research into werewolves, and apparently he hasn't thought at all about exactly what makes them scary. Any truly great writer should really think about the essence of what he's writing about, and attempt to define it in a new and original way. Stephen King knows how to do that, but here he just hasn't bothered. The voice-over from the grown-up sister was a bad idea, and the execution of it is really bad. And pretty pointless too. Just because it's an adaptation of a book, doesn't always mean a voice-over is necessary.

The idea of the lead character being a small, helpless boy in a wheelchair on the run from a werewolf is promising, but doesn't pay off. We also fail to sympathise with the werewolf (except for perhaps in one of the two great scenes), something that they understood was necessary even way back in the 1930s.

Aside from a couple of shining moments, this is ultimately an a fairly dull movie, far short of what you expect from Stephen King, and not one that I'd really recommend.

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