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Night of the Living Dead (1990)
Maybe not necessary but still entertaining
The original is a classic as it is the first or one of the first to portray zombies as we know them today, dead humans coming back to life hunting for the flesh of the living. What me always bothered about the original is the characters are not given much background. Here we get to know a bit more about backgrounds and the relations between the characters and that the young couple was actually related to the inhabitants of the house where the group is hiding. Another thing is that in the original Barbara is a vegetable for most of the movie which really got annoying. The remake makes her at least fight maybe a bit too much. I thought her changing into a GI Jane (as if she served in the army) was a bit too radical given I always pictured her as a feminine woman not the tomboy she was here. I prefer the ending of the remake even though still feel sad for Ben but the ending for Mr Cooper was well deserved I think (couldn't help to cheer there) as he was even nastier than in the original. What I miss mostly about this remake that the original got is the creepy atmosphere. I guess the original being in black and white sure helped a lot there as color in my opinion takes away some of that in my opinion. I would say I like both versions equal but I prefer the later Dawn and Day of the Dead (original versions).
The Resurrected (1991)
Takes too long to get going
The movie has certainly its good ideas and spends more than enough time to build-up. Unfortunately the build-up takes so long that I had more the feeling I was watching a drama than a horror movie and my patience was being severely tested. I like build-up and character development but still despite the long duration I still couldn't get much of a bond with the characters. Also a few plot lines ended up just dead such as the pregnancy of the blonde woman and the detective clearly having the hots for this woman. But after 70 minutes the viewer finally gets to know and to see what this big mystery was. The director has certainly taken well care of the effects and the gore and I must say I was rather surprised by its twist. However I also felt that why the need to show how the bad guy was disguised as a certain Dr. Ash in a flashback since we never got to see him before. The finale was OK a bit too flashy and Star Wars like at times with the lasers. It redeemed the movie a bit for me but it was mostly a case of too little too late. I suggest to watch Re-Animator instead.
Blood Feast (1963)
Not bad for an early splatter
I wanted to rate it higher than 6 but I think that would be too generous for it's simple storyline and it's underdeveloped characters. The killer does not really have a clear idea how to revive the Egyptian goddess and also it seems way too easy how he could victimize the young girls which had to serve as sacrifices for his plan. The final victim he wanted to make looks rather amateurish and the way he gets caught made me frown a bit. The ending feels quite rushed too. However where the movie excels and certainly for the time it was released is the graphical (read gore, blood and guts) department. It looks very real and still shocking to today's standards I think. It might not be the first splatter as I have read there is a Japanese movie which name escaped me now that came before it. But for one of the earliest movies in this genre is surely deserves some more recognition.
From Beyond (1986)
A few levels below Re-Animator
Had I seen this one as a kid I might loved it. As an adult I found this one lacking in many departments. The idea of a sixth sense wasn't too bad but the story that surrounds it is incredibly simple not to say dumb and the characters are flat. The only character who was given some kind of background is Dr. Pretorius who is the villain. The slimy effects and monsters are well done but it feels more like a cartoon than actual horror. TO be honest the only reason I wanted to see it was because it starred both Barbara Crampton and Jeffrey Combs whose characters I loved in the Re-Animator. It was also nice to have Ken Foree who was my favorite character in Dawn of the Dead. Too cartoonish, too comedy, too dull. It gets some bonus points for Crampton showing her assets again and looking extremely sexy in a BDSM outfit. Also nice to see Carolyn Purdy-Gordon in a smaller role. I absolutely loved her in the movie Dolls (1987).
Dellamorte Dellamore (1994)
More surreal than having an actual storyline
Even though it never got boring I must say that halfway I knew that his movie was not going to have a storyline that would stick with me. Actually I am not sure if there is much story in it as the whole picture looked more surreal than anything else. Was it the protagonist's dream or nightmare? A place he cannot get out and one girl he just cannot get out of his head and she keeps returning in several disguises no matter how many times he kills her of. Lots of symbolism that might get over your head (it went over mine since I wasn't expecting that kind of movie). Too bad Rupert Everett's character was quite dull. I don't think he cracked a smile once, looking like sad animated character Droopy in pretty every scene. The character of Ghaghi was much more interesting to me. As disturbing as it was his love for the Mayor's daughter even when she became little more than an undead head was quite sweet. But when this angle was quite literally killed of by our tragic hero my interest in this flick was pretty much over.
Theater of Blood (1973)
Vincent Price again as mysterious killer
Yes this movie has some similarities with The Abominable Dr. Phibes in the sense of Vincent Price playing a killer. Instead of using plagues to kill of his opponents this time he is using the killings in the plays from Shakespeare into practice or of there aren't any deaths he alters it so the person ends up dead. Here Price is a drama stage actor wanting revenge on all his critics who not only gave him bad reviews but also gave the award he thought was his to another younger actor. Even though I pretty much knew there was nothing going to stop him it was still interesting to see how he would do the killings and be able to mislead both the victims and the police. Filled with dark humour before he does his evil deeds in word and/or disguise this surely is an enjoyable piece of cinema. However to label this as comedy before horror is quite a stretch.
The Monster Club (1981)
Cheesy but entertaining
I'm not a big fan of horror anthologies. It is always going to contain one I find silly or bad and it's usually the middle story. With The Monster Club this is no exception. Best story by far is the first containing most drama and horror. The last story surely had potential but the monsters looked more human, even the Addams family like monsters from the Monster Club looked scarier. Still I liked the sequence in the church with the creepy images from the picture book. And except for the first story the movie is not to be taken really serious, more comedy than horror. That we have Vincent Price as the vampire storyteller and host is always a treat and the songs in between were entertaining with the stripping to the bone scene as a pretty cool event. However the only song I thought was memorable was "Sucker for your Love" which felt very eighties and easy to sing along. Heck I even played that song again a few times after the movie was over.
Basically one gory scene after the other
There seems to be a pattern in the movies of Fulci. He does have a story with good to great potential and the graphics (especially the gore) are really well taken care of. However the execution of story and character development often lacks to enjoy the whole picture. Also the endings are not really satisfactory. I have seen this with his City of the Living Dead and House by the Cemetery. However I think I need to rate those movies higher because The Beyond really has nothing else than the gore. The killings which sometimes look like accidents are shown in gruesome details. They look very real, certainly a treat for the fans of graphical horror. And yes the spider scene was really chilling. I assume they were sacrifices to open the gates of hell and it needed to be a certain number. Too bad two very interesting characters in the little Jill and the blind lady were not elaborated on. But every character was a tool in this even the female protagonist. that doctor character he literally made me facepalm and scream "shoot the head, you idiot".
The Evil Dead (1981)
A few excellent things but overall still very disappointing
Things I liked (the good) - well the best parts are in the first half hour or so, decent build-up with the tape recorder, the old book with spells, the bridge that could fall apart every moment. - one of the girls being trapped by branches of tree and/or plants, that was a strong scene - the special effects surely are impressive - and while not the best horror make-up I have seen they surely did a good job there
Things I disliked (the bad) - Yes the story is as generic as the premise - The characters well they don't have background or personality whether they live or die in the end I wouldn't care, yeah maybe the character of Bruce Campbell was the most interesting but that is mainly because he got most screen time - Once hell started to break loose and the gore and splatter started, it will with some short breaks go on until the end. This overkill surely lost its effect on me before the 1 hour mark. At least Braindead kept most of the action and splatter until the end. - No rules how people get possessed/infected. One person becomes a demon while being cut an other doesn't while getting cuts and gallons of blood over him. This was way too random for me, at least give everyone a fair chance and not randomly make someone immune to it. - Not good when you like everyone to die asap and still think 80 minutes feels like 3 hours
Note that the only reason I did give it a chance was that it was a double bill on a DVD with The Brood, a movie I think is great.
I can see how this could have inspired Braindead
No real expectations with this movie, my initial thought was some weird comedy horror. While some things look silly and there is certainly humour in it, overall I do think the movie is serious. They actually do make a very good effort to present a good story and interesting characters. It is a simple Frankenstein like story, small cast of characters which relationships among each other are worked out pretty well. Especially our 2 scientists and the lovely Megan were likable, people I liked to root for. Even Megan's father wasn't that bad after all. It's not overly gory, I would say it's the right dose of it. It never gets too much if it would go the Evil Dead way it would have lost its effect on me. It even has moments that are truly heartbreaking and touching. I don't think without this movie we would have had movies like Braindead!
Lot of potential hindered by budget and/or time
I thought this was an enjoyable movie from Fulci pretty low on the gore part if you want to compare it to City of the Living Dead. I hear people say there was little budget and also little time to film this movie that's perhaps while the movie feels so rushed in certain places and also quite incomplete. There is quite some holes in the plot and while the ending was more satisfying than the movie I mentioned before there were still a few questions I had and things I would have liked the director would have elaborated on. Especially the killer is not given much of a background. And next to the killer there was the babysitter who looked mysterious and creepy but eventually had nothing to do with the evil, wasn't even that vital to the plot. Best parts were when little girl May is involved. Especially that scene where she notices were she sees in a symbolic what is going to happen to the babysitter. Nice chemistry between the kids. Visually good and appropriate horror atmosphere.
Dead & Buried (1981)
Original concept but I knew way too soon the outcome
Surely in 1981 this was a quite original concept and I think it's still interesting and different than the living dead movies we see today. Still despite this the movie was for me a drag to sit through. Sure we have this mystery of why people get killed in such a violent way and how comes they suddenly show up again in exactly the same or even better state. Well the answer is somewhere before halfway that there is some kind of witchcraft involved that violent deaths can bring people back to life. Way too soon I knew though that the sheriff's wife was one of those living dead and it came as no surprise to me in the end that the protagonist himself apparently had forgotten he was one too. Of course if he knew that in advance there would be not much of a movie or story to tell. Can I really blame the movie for being predictable that way? I think it is because I have seen it already quite a few times before. However the movie didn't provide me with really interesting characters either except for the mortician. The others including the sheriff as protagonist were dull as dishwater to me.
Witchfinder General (1968)
Good as a piece of documentary
The movie is definitely horror with the torture scenes in order to get a confession of witchcraft out of the poor victims as the main attraction, Next to the torture scenes (being called interrogations by the witch hunters) there is the hanging, the water test and burning at the stake accurately showing how cruel the witch hunting must have been and many died innocently just because witch hunters were greedy, abused the superstition or fear of people. Anyone making trouble for the authorities was likely going to be accused of witchcraft. Even though it is as usual another great performance from Vincent Price as the titular character he has not really that much screen time. To give the movie not too much of a documentary feeling they did put a story in it from a girl and her husband (who is a soldier) seeking revenge upon the witchfinder Matthew Hopkins for falsely condemning the girl's uncle of witchcraft which resulted in death by hanging. How accurate this story of the witchfinder general is, I have no idea. I don't think it ended the way it did. The ending I believe is to create still some sort of feel good and it clearly feels rushed.
Le notti del terrore (1981)
It looks cheap but it sure isn't
Normally I wouldn't give such a high rating to a movie with such a poor script and let's be honest not so interesting characters. There were only 2 characters I cared about and perhaps for the wrong reasons. Indeed Evelyn and her son Michael who were so obsessed with each other that one could easily call it incestuous. This actually led to a few scenes that were perhaps more disturbing than the zombies biting and ripping their victims apart. Even though Peter Barke who played Michael was an adult (in his twenties) and could technically not be Evelyn's son and his face also looked adult his size and his voice were very much of a child so somehow it worked for me. Now the zombies look really good in a creepy way, as if they have really been rotting for decades in a crypt or under the ground. And even though slow as all classic zombies they still did somehow had some useful brain capacity in using tools. There was even one among them very accurate in knife throwing. Even though I pretty much knew the outcome it was entertaining from start to end. The nudity scene wasn't even needed as it never got boring.
Zombies in the jungle
This movie is not going to win any prizes on good story or clever character development. However if you just want to be entertained by some old school zombie action with quite a bit of gore this is a good movie to pick. It starts quite chaotic with something going wrong in a factory that starts people turning into zombies. Next we have people taken as hostages which leads to a fire fight between army and hostage takers with the army guys winning easily. And we see a family in the jungle ready to leave but some of them are already turning into living dead. The rest of the movie is as the premise says two journalists, a man and a woman, together with the army guys seeking a way through the jungle. Together with some nice animal shots there is lots of zombie action. There are a few nice sequences such as the one with the native tribe where the female journalist goes in topless and body-painted. Even though it might not have been a cannibalistic tribe with Cannibal Holocaust still in mind having zombies in there seemed quite fitting. Another nice surprise was the cat leaving the stomach of the old zombie lady. All in all enjoyable but not one to revisit often.
The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)
Maybe not the best movie of Price but still pretty good
A movie that clearly is more about mystery and atmosphere than a character study. The story is pretty basic about a man calling himself Dr. Phibes (Vincent Price) who seeks revenge for the death of his wife and his own disfigurement. Though he cannot move his mouth he was clever enough to invent a machine that recreates his voice. Very nice setting where he lives with some great contrasts. He has his own private opera with organ and wax figures playing other instruments and a beautiful young lady (who I believe never says anything) occasionally playing violin or dancing. When one of the doctors who he holds responsible for his wife's death dies he symbolically burns the face of the wax image he created of them. Even though the killings are technically not by his hands he surely has a creative way of invoking them with 10 plagues from the Thora (Jewish) as his guide. Very creative indeed. Surely this has inspired later movies. With the operation scene in mind I had to think of the Saw movies. And the plagues might have been an inspiration for movies such as The Reaping while the killings also reminded me of the method that the killer in Seven was using. Very inspirational film indeed.
Good visual horror but incoherent story
Only have seen 2 Fulci movies so far, Zombi 2 and this one. Just like Zombi 2 it excels here in the visual horror department which I thought served as build-up for a strong finale. The finale however was rather a let down. And even though the living dead not being flesh eating zombies here, what they caused to their victims was quite disturbing and something I wouldn't want to get through. The most shocking scene however is when a man gets angry with a young guy (I guess he saw him as rapist and threat to his daughter) and drills the guy's head with a machine! The story and build-up are quite decent however the character development is quite poor. We have multiple story lines but some of them just run dead or are hardly elaborated on. Personally I think less characters or spend some more time on the protagonists surely would have helped me appreciating it a bit more. But it was nice to see the real protagonists come together towards the end. However the finale remains quite underwhelming and the ending where 2 of the protagonists seem scared of the joyful kid running towards him didn't make any sense to me. This really looked like some bad edit or nonsensical change last minute. I just found out this is part of a trilogy and at least it made me curious to see the other two.
Les raisins de la mort (1978)
This movie goes absolutely nowhere
You know I was going to try to be nice because the movie does have nice visuals (considering landscapes not in the make-up department because that was absolutely awful)and even though the nudity thrown in was quite gratuitous it was a welcome distraction for an otherwise dull experience. According to some the nudity however is quite few and tame for a Rollin film. I wouldn't know since I haven't seen other films from this director and I doubt I will after watching this. I'm not demanding that everything is explained but the actions of pretty much the whole cast including the female protagonist are either weird, questionable or stupid. In other words the director had no clear idea what he wanted to do, which direction he wanted to take this film. Also the happenings are quite repetitive, female protagonist getting helped by a female but that helping hand ends up dead with clothes ripped showing naked breasts. The killers are the village people mostly men infected by some pesticides as we find out in the end. It doesn't make them zombies even though they do walk just as slow but relentless killers. However why they do leave that blonde girl alone and why she acts as some kind of leader to them, not explained. But they do kill the poor blind girl half-nude nailed to the door with her brother beheading her and screaming he loves her. And all the heroine does is watch it and scream. Just like the dad killing his daughter after ripping her blouse open, it shows how the director wants to disturb rather than make an interesting film. Maybe the way the protagonist acted in the final scene wasn't so weird considering she and others been doing ridiculous things all film long. Still that was the final nail in the coffin for me to give it a bottom score.
Zombi 2 (1979)
Good as prequel to Dawn of the Dead
Zombie movie with cult or classic status, some unofficial sequel or prequel to Romero's Dawn of the Dead. Looking at the ending it looks more like a prequel actually explaining how the zombies actually got in the States as shown in Dawn of the Dead. Does Zombi 2 deserve this status, I think so. It's a slow build up until the last half hour when we get some kind of zombie invasion, still on a small scale if you are going to compare it to Romero's movies. But we actually get a decent back story about what might have caused people getting sick, dying and coming back to life again as zombies. However still vague it didn't bother me that much to enjoy the movie as Dawn of the Dead didn't give much explanation to the cause either. But that doesn't mean nothing interesting happens in the first hour. There are a few scenes with a zombie attacking a human and even a nice one where a shark on the hunt actually becomes the prey. The gore is pretty graphical even though the camera doesn't focus for a long time on it (which isn't necessary). The make-up of the zombies is well done, you can see they really did a great effort to make it look real. I was particularly impressed when the zombies were rising from their graves digging themselves up from the ground, that's something I haven't seen that often and in such a threatening way. My only complaint is the cliché of ladies showing nudity actually implied a sure death. Both leading ladies were a nice treat to the eyes.
Shock Waves (1977)
Nice concept but the execution wasn't much to shout about
The concept of zombies that are at advantage under water created by the Nazis during World War II was interesting the execution though is much less exciting. It started of well with the boat of 7 people almost hitting a ghost ship only to find out it changed into a wreck the next day. Stranded on an island with only a retired SS officer (Peter Cushing again) and Nazi zombies who are out to kill them. Not for blood or to eat their flesh, they just want to kill. It's the run of the mill body counting stuff and you know who is going to survive since you see her right at the start of the movie trying to remember what happened. Character development is almost non-existing, the most background story was there for the zombies who wore sunglasses because they couldn't stand the light. No suspense and as usual with flicks like these the victims do stupid things making it too easy for the killers. Thank God the final girl regularly gave some bikini shots or this would have put me to sleep long before the end came.
The Ghoul (1975)
The title is very misleading
If I'm not mistaken a ghoul is a human being that got some kind of curse upon him because of an unholy act such as robbing graves thus becoming a monster. Mr. Sardonicus was a movie that dealt with this legend well. The Ghoul in this one is more like a zombie even though he is not undead and when we get to see his face in the final scene he really doesn't look monstrous at all. The fact that the ones he killed were scared of him was not because of his looks but the fancy and sharp dagger he was wielding. The first killing looked almost like a tribute to the shower killing scene from Psycho. How did he become a ghoul, it's hardly explained. The other characters both victims and the one keeping this ghoul alive also have very little background. There isn't anyone who deserves sympathy so I wasn't really unhappy most of them ended up dead. Especially that gardener or whatever his job was, was extremely unlikable. The fact that Peter Cushing was mourning the recent passing away of his real life wife in this movie was indeed a nice touch but I don't think this movie was the right one to do this.
The Masque of the Red Death (1964)
Certainly one that makes you think in the end
One of the last Poe movie adaptations directed by Corman starring Vincent Price. I'm glad I watched this one as last and not The Tomb of Ligeia. Finally one that together with House of Usher and Pit and the Pendulum was really enjoyable and actually did have decent story and characters you could either root for or despise. I couldn't say that for the 4 other Poe Corman movies even though Tales of Terror has its merits. About Masque well clearly set in the Middle Ages were life was rough on the common people who had to work hard, starved and were plagued by diseases (the red death instead of the black death) while the nobility had the comfort of the castle walls were they had enough food and drinks and have parties as much as they liked. shocking indeed when just a level lower in the dungeons people got tortured. All of this is perfectly shown in a breathtaking beautiful (and sometimes macabre) setting. The cruel master, sadistic and a satanist, is masterfully played by Vincent Price. Even though he is rarely the one doing the cruelties giving order to it hardly showing emotions the moment someone dies or suffers, tells me he is almost the devil himself. The movie has a surprising end with a message that will give the viewer some food for thought.
Often zombie movies have this apocalyptic feeling that it is all happening on big scale. Here we have one that takes place in a village, the English countryside where agriculture is an important part of life and living. Some scientists have invented a machine that makes insects attack each other so they leave the crops alone. No more need for pesticides, great isn't it? It doesn't harm the people, not the living ones. They forgot one thing though, it does affect and infect the dead. Indeed they come back to life. Like in Night of the Living Dead it starts with one, in this case a tramp. No they don't spread like flies here, it goes slow and it's up to a young man and woman who met by chance to warn the others. It's not only the living dead that are a threat but even more of an opponent is the police disbelieving their stories since they never seem to witness the "zombies". Just when you think that the macho head of Police is going to be the big hero in the end thinking there was never such a thing as dead coming back to life he is in for a surprise. Yes be careful what you wish for I thought when watching that end scene. No, wouldn't call it a classic but for a movie that looks low budget an enjoyable effort.
The Tomb of Ligeia (1964)
A few good horror scenes
This being the last adaptation by Corman of one of Poe's stories it surely wasn't a memorable closure. For me it remained way below the level of the first two adaptations "The House of Usher" and "Pit and the Pendulum". Still it was better than "The Raven" and I would say on the same level as "The Haunting Palace". Yes The tomb of Ligeia is actually more about visuals and a few nightmarish scenes starring a black cat than telling an interesting story. Also the characters remained largely underdeveloped. Vincent Price as noble man Verden Fell not being able to forget his deceased wife Ligeia also fell quite flat. With him wearing dark glasses in most of the scenes it almost seemed he was someone from the future having traveled through a time machine. Elizabeth Shepherd beautiful as she was playing both deceased (Ligeia) and new wife (Rowena) of Verden, does not do much else than running and screaming in here. The way Rowena fell in 'love' with Verden was one of the most unconvincing I have ever seen.
The Haunted Palace (1963)
Felt like a poor man's version of Black Sunday
Even though it has some nice visuals and Vincent Price is great playing both heir and his evil ancestor (a warlock which is the male equivalent of a witch) this movie wasn't really as enjoyable as I hoped to be. The introduction scene made me think the movie would bear resemblance to Black Sunday starring Barabara Steele playing both witch and one of her descendants. Here it is not about the resurrection of the witch but heir Charles Dexter Ward getting possessed by his ancestor warlock Joseph Curwen and this by means of a painting with the most penetrating eyes. However it all seemed to go so easy. The revived warlock goes on a revenge spree on the descendants of those who burned him over 100 years ago. Funny enough these descendants are an exact copy of their ancestors. Well yes after 3 he stops even though there are still names left on the paper. And than there are the deformed children as part of the curse expressed by the warlock. And there is the warlock's wife being resurrected, how did she die in the first place? And conveniently Charles Ward's wife needs to be a sacrifice to let out some demon residing in a hole. It was a bit of everything, chaotic and had a few dead ends and clearly I must have lost my interest at some point. Also the ending felt really rushed. Not bad by any means but somehow it didn't click with me.