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It's like a Lucha Cinema "Greatest Hits" Collection!
Mil Mascaras still has charisma and looks great after all these years. The man has possibly the most recognizable rib cage in the Western World! This film is a love letter to the great Lucha classics of the Sixties and Seventies, and a fan's wish list come to life. Practically every scene is an homage to a trope from the classics. You get an Aztec Mummy, shambling Momias, wrestler vs monster scenes, plenty of ring action, sultry Aztec cult dancer, superhero wrestler HQ, some light bondage, blood and body-slams! And there are cameos from the modern legend legacy wrestlers like Hijo del Santo and Blue Demon Jr among others. You can keep your hyperactive CGI flash-cut action scenes! Give me a pack of masked wrestlers lumbering into battle with the Undead any day! The movie suffers a little from some loose editing and pacing issues. The acting ranges from quite good to, well, not so quite. I sometimes get the feeling that the screenplay looked perfect on paper, but the execution struggles to keep up with it in places. Still, the film never fails to entertain and is a heartfelt homage to a bygone classic genre, starring one of the greatest legends of that genre! How can you go wrong with that? I'm looking forward eagerly to more Lucha Cine action to come!
Frankenstein vs the Creature, in classic Retro-Horror
When I was a kid it always used to bother me that the Creature from the Black Lagoon was listed among the Classic Universal Monsters, but never encountered any of the others. My favorite Universals were always the "monster rallies", such as "Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman" and I've had a terrible hunger for more such films, but sadly there just weren't any more to be had.
As an adult, I've always wanted to see "Retro-Horror" films, films in the style of the Classics I loved.
"Frankenstein vs the Creature from Blood Cove" is a Monster Rally in the grand old sense. FINALLY I get to see a "Creature" interacting with another classic monster. This is as close to "Frankenstein vs the Creature from the Black Lagoon" as we will ever get to see. It's not just a fun film, it is the realization of a dream I've had since I was a kid. And it is proof that "Retro-Horror" CAN be done and that there is a market for it.
FvtCfBC features not just the two lead monsters, but also has a Werewolf, a Bride of Frankenstein, the ghost of Dr. Frankenstein and more--all in designs that are spectacular, given the limitations of the film's budget! "Frankenstein vs the Creature from Blood Cove" may not please some of the stuffier fans of the classics that inspired it, but nevertheless it is a great fun romp of a movie, made with a profound love of those classics and with a wee bit of spice for the modern audience. In that regard, it has a lot in common with the AIP b&w classics of the '60's. It's sort of Frankenstein meets the Creature on Del Tenney's beach. Sort of.
Destined to be a Cult Classic!
Midnight Skater (2002)
"Skate or DIE!" yup.
This is actually a groovy-neat little flick, made on absolutely no discernible budget with shot on video crinkliness . It takes a little while to warm up to it. The acting is so bad that it soon acquires a zen-like charm. After a few scenes, you stop noticing the awkward lines or rehearsed sound of some deliveries. The characters all develop a quirky charm, especially "Richard". Forget Anthony Hopkins, Maidens is the guy I'd hire to play a raving psychopath. He just seems to enjoy it so very much! Mixed in with the scenes of mad-slasher gore and zombie infestation are some truly visually effective shots of the title character, "The Midnight Skater" zooming through the campus in a black hoodie, looking for all the world like a cross between the Grim Reaper and, say, The Silver Surfer. These shots make the sometimes ludicrous things the characters say about the Skater seem almost ominous. The soundtrack features some very fun Garage-Punk tunes and the raspy, raucous meanness of it meshes well with the film's mood. Thumbs upish, I say.
Low-Budget but fun Schlock.
A low budget, low brain-power film that is nevertheless quite entertaining. This film was a staple of late night and afternoon horror/SF movie shows when I was growing up. I never missed it. Disappointing at first, since there is no "Frankenstein" to speak of, only the android "Frank". But the Spacemonster is low-budget gruesome. The crash-burned android looks sufficiently frightening but is still sympathetic. The Martian invaders are something out of a low-grade exploitation film and make me giggle every time I watch the film. If you're looking for production values and crisp scripting, you probably ought to look somewhere else. If you're looking for a light-weight romp, something to swill soda and eat popcorn to on a rainy evening, then you could do much worse.
Bandh Darwaza (1990)
Seriously Scary Vampire, seriously long film.
"BANDH DARWAZA" may well be my personal favorite of the Ramsay Brothers horror flicks. It is in some ways the most approachable for non-Indian viewers. It's monster is a standard black cape wearing, fanged Vampire and the plot is fairly easy to follow, even without subtitles. The best part of the film is it's monster. There is nothing "suave" or "seductive" about this vampire. He's a MONSTER, plain and simple. Appearance wise, the vampire here sort of reminds me of Rondo Hatton with fangs and a cape. He's kind of a nightmare version of a cartoon Dracula, complete with black silk cape with high collar, very white fangs, and a fright-mask like face. But he's SCARY! Let me tell ya'! I'm a jaded horror film fan and this is one of the just plain nasty scariest vampires committed to film! His dialog consists mostly of "Gnaaaaarrrrghh-sssss", usually shouted while smashing through a wall or a door, or just stalking relentlessly toward the frightened protagonists. The closest American counterpart I can think of is the vampire from "THE NIGHT STALKER", all predatory beast with not a drop of Lugosi to speak of. But, at 2 1/2 hours long, the movie will try the patience of all but the most dedicated fan, and will probably send casual viewers running for their remotes. If you can stick it out through the song and dance numbers and the lengthy conversations, BANDH DARWAZA delivers with the chills!
Bava-flavored, Hammeresque fun
"VEERANA" is one of the best of the Indian horror films I've managed to find, to date. Like the other Ramsay Brothers productions I've watched, this one has the same Bava-like use of colored gels mixed with atmospheric sets. There's an over-the-top evil Tantric Priest who might have stepped directly out of an Indian horror comic-book, a wonderful Femme Fatale monster who preys upon the predictable weaknesses of men, plenty of fight scenes--of varying qualities, and some genuine demon-possession/monster chills. The song and dance numbers are relatively easy to take, compared to other films in the genre. Overall, this has been my favorite film to show to friends as an introduction to the Indian horror genre since I bought it.
Dak Bangla (1987)
There's a Mummy in my Basement!!
Another fun Ramsay Brothers Indian horror flick! This one features a spectacularly fun monster, a sort of "mummy" made from the stitched back together bits of a dismembered would-be rapist, powered by the blood of an Evil Tantric Sorceror, and stowed away in the basement of a rural palace turned "guest house". The film has all the usual distractions one has to expect from an Indian flick, song and dance numbers, comedic subplots, uneven action sequences,etc. But it makes up for most of that with an atmospheric setting, lots of cobwebs and stormy nights, and--of course--there's a murderous MUMMY buried in the basement just waiting for a chance to stagger about inflicting grievous harm on everyone in range. Did I mention that the Mummy-monster also has magical Tantric powers and it's forehead throbs whenever it uses them? Great fun!! Particularly interesting for fans of Mario Bava, since this flick uses similar lighting techniques, lots of green and orange and blue gels against walls to produce a visually rich, if sometimes odd, horror flavor.