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Cult films don't get culty-er than this!
Alien lands on earth and takes on human form only to end-up being a pawn in the lives of a bickering lesbian couple.
The premise of Alien Prey alone will give one a glimpse into the off-beat weirdness that is this strange low budget sci-fi/horror show. Among the crazy offerings you've got animal-men attacking people, an alien in drag, some howlingly bad dialog, a party for a dead fox - its difficult not to find this a tongue-in-cheek effort. Also this bizarre flick has enough sleaze for any exploitation fan thanks to some drawn-out sex scenes. This is all capped off with a surprisingly violent (and bloody) finale and one pleasingly nihilistic ending.
The direction isn't bad and the filming locales are nice. The cast's performances are just erratic enough to add even more weirdness to the film. Sally Faulkner throws out a perfectly 'bitchy' vibe only matched by Barry Stokes' deliciously odd 'stowic' performance as the alien - who you just might be rooting for in the end.
Alien Prey is simply a hoot for cult fans. There's definitely no other film like it and whether you laugh or groan you're bound to be entertained regardless!
*** out of ****
An intelligent and fiendish thriller that deserves to be re-discovered!
This early 70's mystery-thriller from Spain is a film that most genre fans have never heard of, let alone seen, and it's a shame.
A repressed woman living in the Spanish countryside must deal with her disturbed stepdaughter but their world is about to become more troubled when a sexy drifter wonders into their lives. Will he create a void between the two and furthermore does this charming stranger have anything to do with the local family that just got butchered by an elusive killer?
The Corruption of Chris Miller is one slippery thriller. Its wonderfully twisted plot always manages to catch the viewer off guard in every act with some truly surprising turns and revelations. Its one thoroughly well-written tale that's compelling from its sinister opening to its chilling final images. In addition the direction of Juan Antonio Bardem is stylishly done with some nice camera work and lovely filming locations. The lush music score is also a welcomed plus.
One of the biggest highlights here is the cast. Star Jean Seberg is great as the revengeful Ruth, as is Marisol as the lonely and traumatized Chris. The gorgeous Barry Stokes is probably the best of the cast though as his likable, mysterious, and just possibly dangerous character. The supporting cast is solid as well.
For those that take their thrillers seriously The Corruption of Chris Miller is a true lost gem. It has a touch of Hitchcock, a bit of Italian giallo, and even a foreshadowing of the slasher genre. In short it's a wild-card treat for genre fans. Obscure and difficult to find yes, but oh so worth being unearthed!
*** 1/2 out of ****
The Evictors (1979)
Chilling and suspenseful one of Pierce's best
In 1942, a couple moves into an old farm house in Northern Louisiana only to discover all the previous tenants have met with sinister fates. But does this eerie history have anything to do with the ominous stranger that's now terrorizing the young wife?
Director Charles B. Pierce may be best known for his docu-chillers The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972) and The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976), but The Evictors may just be the over-looked gem of his film career. Like his previous films The Evictors has a splendidly gritty, rural atmosphere that gives it a raw believability. This becomes all the more effective when the story builds to some strong tension as our heroine is stalked by a phantom prowler. There are also a number of flashbacks, shot in stylish black and white, that have a chilling creepiness.
The story is fairly well-written, as the plot takes a few unexpected and surprising turns. Its only real flaw is a final revelation that's a bit improbable. Pierce does well at creating a 40's era atmosphere, much like that of The Town That Dreaded Sundown. The camera work is nicely done and the music score solidly spooky. The biggest highlight here may come from star Jessica Harper's understated performance. Harper (best known as the heroine of Suspiria and Phantom of the Paradise) makes a truly convincing role here.
Over all, The Evictors is definitely a film worth checking out for horror fans, particularly those who are fans of Pierce or Harper. This is an underrated effort in need of a new audience.
*** out of ****
A unique and chilling forerunner of the 'possession' sub-genre.
Manhattan socialite begins to fear for her troubled younger brother when he starts behaving bizarrely and he seems to have been friends with a backstreet murderer.
The Possession of Joel Delaney is a dark horror film with much going for it. For one, it's among the earliest horror films to deal with the theme of spiritual possession. Also, it's one of those horror gems that doesn't need to resort to special effects or overt gore and violence to be effectively unsettling. It's a thoroughly well-written film as it blends eerie supernatural horror with a strong social commentary. The plot is compelling and quite off-beat as it builds to some chilling peaks and a finale that's splendidly suspenseful. It's a truly disturbing tale.
The direction, cinematography, and urban locations are all good but the true highlight is the stars. Veteran actress Shirley MacLaine is great as her bewildered, yet unsympathetic character. However the show is truly stolen by young Perry King who puts on an excellent dynamic performance as his potentially unhinged character. It's easy to see why King went on to a notable career after this debut.
All around The Possession of Joel Delaney is one of the finer low-key horror films of the 70's. It's a film that wisely chooses the intelligent, non-camp approach to its subject matter and it comes off a solid effective chiller because of it.
*** 1/2 out of ****
The Haunted House of Horror (1969)
Tense finale in an otherwise routine camp-fest.
London "hepcats" grow bored at a party one night and decide to go explore an old nearby estate that's supposedly haunted. Once there one of the gang is brutally knifed to death and the group is left to wonder if one of their own is a killer.
The Haunted House of Horror (also known simply as Horror House) is a swinging 60's British chiller that's a bit of a mixed-bag for horror fans. On the good side there's a couple of effectively shocking (and bloody) murder scenes, a nicely moody music score by Reg Tilsley, and the climax of the film is pleasingly intense. Unfortunately the rest of the film is hampered by a sluggish pacing and a fairly routine setup. The uneven performances from the cast don't help things either.
Still, overall Haunted House of Horror has enough going for it to make it an interesting watch - particularly for fans of British horror from this era or maybe for people who just hate Frankie Avalon.
** out of ****
A delightful comic riot from beginning to end!
A young man must cope with life in the midst of a zombie apocalypse as he joins a tough redneck and two sisters in a fight for survival, romance, and twinkees.
The zombie genre has always seemed to make for the best horror-comedies. There's Return of the Living Dead (1985), Dead Alive (1992), and Shaun of the Dead (2004), just to name a few; now we have a little gem called Zombieland and it certainly lives up to all the previous "zom com's". Zombieland is a terrifically fun film. It has lightning-fast pacing, hard-hitting action, and a fantastically colorful sense of humor. This is one excellently well-written comedy that packs genuinely effective laughs into nearly every scene - which is a feat in itself. The dialog is often hilarious and the comic gags are clever. The characters are endearing and very likable. The direction is quite good and there's plenty of gruesome zombie chaos for genre fans to enjoy.
The cast is great. Jesse Eisenberg is a joy as the wimp-turned-lovesick-hero. Woody Harrelson has never played a more colorful character and he's a complete hoot. Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin are solid as the two sisters. Bill Murray is a welcomed sight as he makes an uproariously funny cameo - playing himself no less.
Zombieland is one of the most entertaining movies I've seen in ages. It's a comedy that more than delivers on what it promises and becomes a superior horror-comedy that's not just for zombie fans. It is destined to be a cult classic. See it!
**** out of ****
Il rosso segno della follia (1970)
A fiendish and colorful psycho drama from the great Mario Bava.
Handsome bridal shop owner is troubled by mysteries from his childhood which seem to drive him to murder brides-to-be. However he may have other problems after the ghost of his vindictive wife starts to haunt him.
Hatchet for the Honeymoon is one deliciously strange and darkly comical chiller from the great Mario Bava. As usual Bava's direction is excellent and inventive; particularly the dynamic camera-work and vivid imagery. The story is quite compelling as it goes against the norm and takes the killer's point of view and makes us surprisingly sympathetic toward him. The plot also takes some nicely off-beat twists as it brims with moments of macabre humor, sharp suspense, and some touches of dream-like surrealism. In addition the music score of Sante Maria Romitelli is jazzy and quite beautiful at times; a nice contribution to the colorful cinematography.
The cast is fairly solid too. Star Stephen Forsyth does a wonderfully brooding performance and makes his psychotic character strangely likable (one wonders if Bret Easton Ellis saw this film before writing American Psycho). Forsyth is perfectly matched by co-star Laura Betti, who does a fiendish performance as Forsyth's domineering wife.
Hatchet for the Honeymoon is a real treat for fans of Bava and the giallo genre, or those that just enjoy odd-ball horror films. It's one of Bava's most interesting works and remains perhaps the most overlooked of his films.
*** 1/2 out of ****
Lisa e il diavolo (1973)
Eerie, surreal, and strangely beautiful - one of Bava's best!
Lovely tourist Lisa becomes lost in a European town and soon finds herself at an isolated estate where she's plagued by bizarre and frightening occurrences. The handsome master of the house seems to think Lisa is the reincarnation of his dead lover, a phantom stranger may or may not be a ghost, and the smug family butler is possibly the devil himself!
Lisa and the Devil is perhaps the most unique of the great Mario Bava's horror films. It broods with the lavish and colorful direction that the great filmmaker was well known for and it has a terrifically weird atmosphere. The story is a compelling mosaic of mystery, murder, and otherworldly surrealism as it provides for one effectively nightmarish journey. The fluid camera-work is excellent, the Gothic scenery and sets are nicely captured, and the haunting music score is perfectly pitched to give this film a stylish and chilling atmosphere.
The cast is also quite good. Gorgeous Elke Sommer gives a strong performance as bewildered Lisa. Dashing Alessio Orano is terrific as the master of the house. Veteran actress Alida Valli is great as the blind countess. However the biggest show-stealer is Telly Savalas as the charismatic and possibly fiendish butler. The supporting cast is also quite solid.
Lisa and the Devil is simply a must-see for all fans of Bava and particularly for fans of surrealist horror. It's a truly original horror gem and one of Bava's greatest works.
Footnote: Avoid a terribly re-edited and re-worked version of the film re-named House of Exorcism. This was a poorly constructed version of the film forced onto the market after distribution problems. Stick with the film that Bava intended to make instead!
**** out of ****
Sorority Row (2009)
Surprisingly fun slasher flick and a decent remake.
When a prank goes awry, a group of sorority sisters are left with a dead body on their hands. They cover up the accidental murder, but on graduation night someone begins to brutally kill everyone involved in the deadly prank.
Admittedly I went into Sorority Row with low expectations because I've always had a soft spot for the original House on Sorority Row (1983) and I feared that this would be another weak insulting remake, i.e. Black Christmas 2006 or Prom Night 2008. However I found myself rather entertained by this polished and energetic remake, it was an engaging ride all the way. Sorority Row has a typical slasher film setup, some hokey dialog, and the usual MTV-style direction, but it manages to build some good suspense and action throughout its interesting plot. Also it has some effectively funny moments of dark humor. In addition there's some flashes of nudity thrown in along with some inventive and bloody murder scenes.
Cast-wise the actors are adequate enough though their characters are typically paper-thin. The biggest standout is definitely Carrie Fisher as the amusingly tough housemother Mrs. Crenshaw. She deserved more screen time.
Over all Sorority Row is a fun slasher guilty pleasure that thankfully doesn't tarnish the memory of a horror classic. It's a worth-wild watch for horror fans, especially if you don't take it too seriously.
** 1/2 out of ****
Dellamorte Dellamore (1994)
A wickedly wonderful black comedy with a surprising amount of depth!
It's been called one of the best horror films you've never seen, and I would have to whole-heartedly agree! Italian director Michele Soavi (who gave us such great horror films as Stage Fright and The Church) makes perhaps his biggest genre landmark with this unique masterpiece.
Cemetery caretaker Francesco, along with his dim-witted assistant, spends his days re-laying the dead to rest when they rise from their graves. But, is there something more to life than keeping zombies down?
Dellamorte Dellamore is an excellent black comedy/zombie film, yet it is very unlike any other film of its genre. Gianni Romoli delivers a weird and frequently off-beat story, based upon characters from the graphic novel by Tiziano Sclavi. This film has a kind of oddly philosophical depth to it, as well as a genuinely heart-felt hero. Of course it also packs plenty of exciting action with loads gore, sex, and dark humor. Dellamorte Dellamore is a truly wild and often fun ride from its humorous opening sequence to its mystifying conclusion. Michele Soavi's direction is terrifically colorful, flaring with beautiful imagery and dark atmosphere. The settings are very nicely detailed and give the movie a great comic book feel. The special FX makeup is outstanding and the music score is perfect.
The greatest highlight however comes from the cast. Franois Hadji-Lazaro is very animal-like as Francesco's faithful assistant. Lovely Anna Falchi shines as not only one, but three different characters that become love interest to Francesco. And of course the best of all is our hero Rupert Everett. Everett builds a character that's deep, bizarre, funny, dark, and very sexy. Frankly, he's the force behind this film.
Dellamorte Dellamore is a delightful oddity in the zombie genre, it's a film that invites you to figure life out, while you fight off some murderous zombies in the process. A must-see!!
**** out of ****