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36 reviews in total 
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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Actually the BEST of Karloff's Mexican Movies, 1 May 2009

This tale based on two Edgar Allen Poe pieces ("The Fall of the House of Usher", "Dance of Death" (poem) ) is actually quite creepy from beginning to end. It is similar to some of the old black-and-white movies about people that meet in an old decrepit house (for example, "The Cat and the Canary", "The Old Dark House", "Night of Terror" and so on). Boris Karloff plays a demented inventor of life-size dolls that terrorize the guests. He dies early in the film (or does he ? ) and the residents of the house are subjected to a number of terrifying experiences. I won't go into too much detail here, but it is definitely a must-see for fans of old dark house mysteries.

Watch it with plenty of popcorn and soda in a darkened room.

Dan Basinger 8/10

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
One of Best Post-Lugosi Vampire Movies, 5 December 2007

I enjoy some of the supernatural thrillers from south of the border. My favorite Mexican movie may be "The Braniac" with Abel Salazar. In any case, this could be my second favorite.

This supernatural thriller has a lot of atmosphere and suspense as a doctor arrives to investigate a series of terror attacks from vampires. The resolution in which a chemical substance is isolated which eliminates the fiends is quite original.

The background music adds to the overall eeriness of the film. Indeed, it is really quite haunting and combined with the special effects, can really scare the viewers.

8/10 Dan Basinger

3 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Reasonably Good "B" Science Fiction, 4 October 2007

One of my favorite sub-genres in the field of science fiction involves geological or subterranean motifs (I worked in the geological field for 11 years and loved every moment of it). Examples of these could be found in the works of Jules Verne, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Stanton Coblentz as well as other authors. Among SF films, examples of this are "Journey to the Center of the Earth", "The Monolith Monsters", "Unknown World", "The Land Unknown", "The Lost Continent", and others. This film by Jerry Warren is an example of this type of theme. Although the production values are based on a smaller budget than some other films, this is a very entertaining and stimulating film about explorers undertaking and expedition into the ocean depths. Due to circumstances, they end up within a network of subterranean caves with an air pocket. Eventually the party of explorers is rescued.

The film has a lot to offer in terms of speculative fiction about the ocean depths, geology, and subterranean caves. Definitely a must-see.

Dan Basinger 8/10

16 out of 21 people found the following review useful:
My Favorite of the 1950s "B" Science Fiction Films, 12 September 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I saw this film for the first time when I was about 8 years of age and never forgot a lot of the issues raised during the plot. The first 15 minutes or so, the viewer is shown a rocket traveling from Martian orbit which subsequently takes off suddenly at a fantastic undefined velocity. The special effects imply that it is going through some sort of convulsion or warp. The rocket eventually crashes on some planet.

After the astronauts start to explore the "unknown" planet, they encounter some unearthly phenomena such as a surface reading of elevated background radiation that would be uncharacteristic of comparable measurements on earth. Tnen, inside a cave, they encounter a giant spider (a staple of 1950s SF, somewhat hokey here) which would be impossible on the earth that they knew. Sunsequently, they meet a group of savage humanoids that could be throwbacks to a stone age era. Now, the key point which I never forgot - a visit to an abandoned cemetery that contains monuments dating back to at least the 20th century on earth. This shocking detail reveals that they have somehow returned to earth, but not the earth that they knew. Then, they discover the grave of someone who lived from the years 1985 - 2068 !!! (The astronauts went into space around 1957) The concept of time dilation dates back to the Einstein Special Theory of Relativity and I have been fascinated by the possibility ever since. The astronauts try to speculate about the velocity that they actually attained, beyond 100 miles / second - or, was it 1000 miles/second, 10000 miles/second, or faster still (the velocity of light is 186,000 miles/ second at which fundamental physical concepts such as length, mass, and time undergo fantastic values in magnitude). As one approaches the velocity of light, time becomes asymptotic and at actual light speed, time is reduced to 0. According to physicists, light speed is the absolute limit in the universe. That is why concepts such as warps in space-time are being discussed as possible methods of achieving faster than light conditions. In any case, the astronauts discover that sometime between their departure in 1957 and their appearance on earth several centuries later, there was some horrific atomic world war that decimated civilization as they knew it.

The astronauts are chased into a cave by the savages in another encounter where they meet descendants of survivors of the atomic war living underground. At this point, the plot starts to focus on human interactions and the various behavioral passions and characteristics (including human frailties and weaknesses such as mistrust and jealousy) that seem to be universals in any era of the history of mankind, from ancient times to the present, to the future time of the year 2508. The girls in the movie are all knockouts (especially the bare-legged ones) which are a staple of 1950s SF (such as in "Missile to the Moon", "Queen of Outer Space", and others). After a number of debates followed by an act of treachery by one of the men from the future, the astronauts finally convince the subterranean people to let them fight their way to the surface, fight off the savages, and establish a base upon which the underground people can rebuild civilization.

As the future men and women from the year 2508 rebuild civilization, would they be able to control their negative passions in order to create a world at peace? Or once re-established on the surface, would new kingdoms, principalities, and nations take root again followed by the usual cycles of peace and war ? The saga of human history is marked by cycles of rise and fall and then subsequent rise and fall. Is this all we humans can do ? Or can we do better ? Can the human race rise above the flaws and frailties that made the atomic war (and all of the wars before it) possible ? Or can we learn to put intellect above violence and put an end to war forever ? Would this imply that Homo Sapiens would really learn to live up to its name. The term "Homo Sapiens" means "wise man". How "wise" are men who slaughter each other in cycles of wars that have come close to destroying entire segments of the population ? How "wise" would we actually be to destroy the earth and us with it ? There is nothing "wise" about taking another human life. Wars have plagued us humans from ancient times to the present. Can we eventually learn to control our lower instincts and passions in order to make war impossible? Can we truly create a civilized human order at peace with itself? These are questions that function as the subtext of the movie.


Dan Basinger

11 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Interesting Monogram Thriller, 24 August 2006

Next to "Invisible Ghost" and "The Corpse Vanishes", this is probably the best of the old Monogram series. ("The Devil Bat", my number one favorite of the "Poverty Row" thrillers was not Monogram, but PRC). Bela Lugosi plays a mad psychologist who moonlights in the dark of night as a master criminal who uses a charity mission as a front. In this film, Lugosi demonstrates not one, but three different personalities. Moreover, the plot gets slightly convoluted compressed into a quick 62 minute running time. Some scenes such as the basement graveyard and the undead zombie attack during the film's climax are very hair-raising indeed.


Dan Basinger

8 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
My Favorite East Side Kids Movie, 23 August 2006

Being a fan of old "B" moves from the 1930s and 1940s, this is a real gem from one of the so-called Poverty Row studios, in this case, Monogram Studios. Some of these so-called Poverty Row films have a charm all their own. I am a fan of both Bela Lugosi on one hand and The East Side Kids on the other. The East Side Kids started off as a group called the Dead End Kids from Warner Studios and I prefer their films that they made for Monogram. Other good movies of the series are "Ghosts on the Loose" (also with Bela Lugosi as well as a young actress named Ava Gardner), "Bowery Blitzkrieg", and "Mr. Wise Guy".

Anyway, "Spooks Run Wild" is the best of the lot with fine old fashioned atmosphere (great cemetery scenes and a creepy old house), great wisecracks, and hold-on-to-your-seat suspense with a misanthropic villain called the "Monster Killer".

Great film for Holloween.

Dan Basinger

8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Neat Little "B" Programmer, 21 August 2006

I am a fan of the old Universal, Columbia, Monogram, PRC, etc. supernatural, suspense, and mystery thrillers from the 1930s and 1940s. I was wondering when or if this little "B" ( or "C" ) mystery was going to be on VHS and so I found it via Sinister Cinema.

This little thriller is worth watching to see due to the fact that it is a murder mystery with supernatural overtones. I first saw this at the age of 12 (when I started to become a fan of this genre) and found some scenes hair-raising. I think this is due to some of the acting and the way some of the action occurs, especially when Mrs. Williams talks about the creeping cat. Overall, it is not a bad film to have in one's collection and I recommend for other fans of Universal mystery and suspense.

Goonland (1938)
6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
My VERY FAVORITE Popeye cartoon, 10 August 2006

This has the best cartoon art in the series. This is one of the finest things to come out of Fleischer studios. The Popeye and Betty Boop cartoons are classic.

The story starts with Popeye heading toward a mysterious island in search of his pappy. We get an idea of Popeye's age when he states that his pappy was missing for forty years. The island upon which he arrives is atmospheric, mysterious, and downright spooky.

The goons are brilliantly hideous, comparable to the kind like the characters from the classic thriller "Island of Lost Souls" (1932).

The goon is another brilliant Segar character. From the comics, I remember a neat character called "Alice the Goon".

Now we are finally introduced to "Poop-Deck" Pappy, a great character in his own way and obnoxious as can be, but he shows his true meddle by eating the can of spinach and breaking out of the prison in order to save his son Popeye's life in a thrilling climax. (I won't reveal it here, but the ending is just great.)


Dan Basinger

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
The VERY BEST of the "Poverty Row" Thrillers, 26 July 2006

This is the very best of the old PRC-Monogram type thrillers. It is difficult to distinguish one studio from the other. They all seem to be cut out of the same production crew with identical sound tracks and values. I am not sure whether Monogram was combined earlier with another studio called Republic Pictures and then re-established again as a new studio, but the PRC and Monograms thrillers from the late 1930s and early 1940s are great fun. From the studio called "Monogram", my favorite film is "Invisible Ghost" followed by "The Corpse Vanishes". From PRC, I especially liked "Hitler - Beast of Berlin" (a well-produced story about the German anti-Nazi resistance), "The Black Raven" and "Dead Men Walk". But the best of the PRC films was "The Devil Bat". Indeed,if one considers all of these "B" film quickies, the best by far is "The devil Bat".

Instead of being the vampire, Bela Lugosi is the "vampire maker", a mad chemist who has a vendetta against his employers. He creates a giant vampire bat and sends it to kill members of the Morton-Heath families. After a number of attacks, the mad chemist is destroyed by his creation. (There is a moral here). Good old fashioned monster movie with a neat cast of characters. And of course Susan Kaaren is great eye candy throughout. And of course that exotic French maid cutie!!!

Watch it with popcorn and soda.

10 out of 10.

Dan Basinger

10 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Probably My Favorite of the Alfred Hitchcock Hour Series, 27 June 2006

This is a classic piece of Ray Bradbury about a country man who buys a mysterious jar from a carnival and becomes a sensation in his small town as a result.

Night after night, a group of citizens meet at his house to discuss the jar and its contents and to try to discover what it it is. each of the citizens ventures a guess, some very complicated like Grandma's explanation, and some very simple like the young girl who thinks that the contents is "the boogieman". Like most of Alfred Hitchcock's hair raisers, this segment has a surprise ending. In addition, in this particular segment, it has a very gruesome ending at that.

Dan Basinger

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