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The Tomb of Nosferatu (2023)
Ambitious and Fun!
In this homage to the 1922 F. W. Murnau classic Nosferatu, a husband and wife travel to Germany to visit the graves of the director and stars and the filming locations. While there, they encounter a mysterious presence mirroring the star of that film, Max Schreck.
This modern silent film is a must for fans of the original which captures much of the feel of a silent-era horror film, using colored stock black and white film and interspersing shots from the original film. While based on the earlier film, it takes the characters into a modern-ish present, capturing some of the myths surrounding the film, bringing a new form of evil from celluloid film into a modern reality.
Let's start off by saying this is almost certainly the best movie ever made containing a character named Bum-Suk.
A brother ignores Mother's warning to hold onto his little sister's hand when they go to the playground. The sister vanishes without a trace. 25 years later, the brother is a father himself, and a widower, his wife having been killed by a hit-and-run driver. A mysterious woman appears, claiming to be his long-lost sister, but he has his doubts, even with the DNA match.
Sister tries everything she can to convince him, but when he catches her in a lie, his suspicion grows, even as his family blindly accepts her story. She even tries seducing him, but to no avail. He knows something is wrong.
This film leaves a lot of loose threads and the motivation is sketchy, at best, but it is entertaining.
Truly bad film
Where do I start?
If you can make it through the senseless slaughter of animals--lions, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, elephant--all now endangered species thanks to the gratuitous big game hunting shown on screen, as well as the dull narration (there is no spoken dialogue in the entire film), at the end of this fake documentary comes the big let-down.
Billed as a horror film, the only horrors other than killing magnificent wild animals, is the implied human-ape sex and resulting hybrid humanoids shown in the last few minutes.
Perhaps this was more shocking 93 years ago than it is now, and this early talkie perhaps inspired better films, such as King Kong. But the real horror is watching big game hunters shooting animals for their entertainment and to entertain theater audiences.
Red Skins and Red Heads (1941)
The title says it all...
Some films fail to pass the test of time, and the offensive title clues you in that this is one of them. In fact, the title reveals what you can expect in this dated and dull short.
Well, except the redheads, which may or may not appear in this black and white film--it is impossible to tell.
The western swing music is not bad, but even top musical talent would have failed to save this stinker. It is predictable, dull, and is missing a key element for a comedy film: comedy. It is no wonder the women playing girls in this film are uncredited, because even when this was made, it must not have been the type of thing an aspiring actress wanted her name attached to.
Smoldering tension with a soggy ending
A milquetoast bachelor from a prominent family lives in his family mansion with his sisters: matronly older sister, Hester, and sexy but sickly younger sister, Lettie. They have spent their lives in their small, New Hampshire town. After inheriting the house from their parents, the sisters dote over their brother, a fabric designer at the local mill. Lettie has been suffering from what appears to be a severe case of Munchausen syndrome, causing the family members' roles to blur. The sisters coddle Harry like a little boy, while also regarding him as man of the house, more like a father figure or husband.
When a beautiful young co-worker turns Harry's head, it sends the Quincey house into turmoil. Lettie has learned to tolerate sharing her brother with their older sister, but she is no romantic rival. Harry's new girlfriend is.
The last half-hour is a bit of a letdown. After Lettie gets what she wants, Harry's response is hard to fathom. Rather than enjoying the delights of home Lettie offers, Harry gets all passive-aggressive. Then, to get this naughty tale past the censors, the filmmakers had to pull a trick on the viewers which, frankly, falls flat.
It is still quite an enjoyable film, particularly the smoldering intensity between Lettie and Harry. I just wish they had the guts to give this the ending it deserves.
The Sawmill (1922)
Watch the stunts!
This comedy short contains some fantastic stunt work. I wish I knew how many were done by the actors and which were done by the uncredited stunt performers, but while the film is filled with familiar gags and features an early appearance by Babe Hardy--better known as Oliver Hardy after his partnership with Stan Laurel--the real star of this film is some amazing stunt work. From massive falling trees barely missing the performers to high dive and one amazing double rope swing, these amazing stunts are worth watching just to enjoy for their own merit.
Overall, not a bad film, but just sit back and marvel at the work of stunt men (and perhaps stunt women) long before the days of CGI and all the safety procedures we have a century later.
Real or imagined?
This disturbing short film took a while to sink in. A woman is holed up in an isolated mobile home with two women: a fit, drill-instructor-type who puts her through painful calisthenics and watches every bite of food she eats, and a thick, fun-loving woman who taunts her to binge on junk food, which Jade then vomits in a cycle.
Or, is she?
Is this a real situation or is this a depiction of the duality of nature a person with an eating disorder suffers with?
I am not sure if this is real or a depiction of Jade's internal battle, but whichever the case, this is well done and well worth viewing.
The Legend of Lucy Keyes (2006)
The basic story has significant promise It is based upon the actual disappearance of a young Massachusetts girl in 1755. There is plenty to work with: a local ghostly legend, a family curse, family secrets, greed, an ancient property dispute brought into modern times.
A story of modern greed, outsiders drawn into an insular town, a grieving mother unsuspecting their family has bought cursed ground. Add in ghosts and the hint of possession and you seem to have all the elements for a great horror film.
Yet, something is lacking. This film never lives up to its premise. It is a decent film, but never gets scary enough to be horror, and the end bursts on you so quickly the history-repeating angle gets thrown in right at the end. Enjoyable, but disappointing in that it fails to live up to its possibilities.
Curse of Bigfoot (1975)
The curse is on the viewer
This truly insipid, amateurish film raises an existential question: why?
I was told if I can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.
If you wanted to watch a film about Bigfoot, this is not that film. Despite its name, Bigfoot is almost entirely absent from this film. When he does appear, he is wearing a mask off the clearance rack at the Dollar Store.
It moves so slow you'd swear the curse is to be doomed to watching it for an eternity. The hapless amateur actors who appear in this movie were given a nonsensical mishmash of throw-away lines of useless dialogue, which the filmmakers interspersed with scenes of intense inaction. The plot itself, if one can be so kind as to call it a plot, consists of a nonsensical mishmash of poor archaeology, fictional native American lore and things which have little to do with Bigfoot.
Don't say I didn't warn you!
The Most Dangerous Game (1932)
Enjoyable old adventure
I finally saw this film 90 years after it was made. What a pleasant surprise to find how well this movie has aged!
From the gothic castle to the dimly lit jungle scenery, this film captured an awesome dark, spooky vibe I felt watching the old horror films on late-night TV as a kid. Technically, the dark jungle hunt scenes may be too dim, but after a few minutes, it just begins to feel right.
And it is this feel that allowed me to overlook the film's flaws, from the poor Russian pronunciation to the predictable melodrama. This adaptation of the O. Henry classic story is done right, and a true Hollywood early classic!
Dream No Evil (1970)
70s psychological thriller.
I wanted to like this film more than I did. Sadly, the grindhouse filmmaking missed more opportunities than it took.
Brooke Mills carries this little film with her mesmerizing beauty. I simply could not take my eyes off her. Her performance is good, as is that of Edmond O'Brien as her father. But although the basics of a decent story are there, the script left so little to work with that they relied upon her mere presence onscreen. Great as that may be, it simply is not enough.
This film is a fun diversion and time capsule of the early 70s. Enjoy it for what it is, and try to overlook a weak script and journeyman directing that failed to deliver on what could have been.
The Unwilling (2016)
Evil in a box
Decent premise for this overlooked film. An estranged family gathers to hear what their hated patriarch left each of them. Needless to say, what they receive is not what they anticipated.
The concept has promise, and although I wish it had taken a different direction, it is a fun film. Dina Myers looks amazing and gives a fine performance, as do the rest of the man cast. The acting is good, most of the characters developed and interesting, and the menacing feel of impending doom made me want to see what played out. Although the basic plot was obvious from the start, this genre-bender that kept me watching until the finish with plenty of unpredictable twists along the way.
Why not give it a try?
The Red House (1947)
Strong start, weak finish
This film starts off strong, with a spooky feel, complete with theremin music, haunted woods and an innocent teenage girl. Add in a love triangle with a teenage victim, an older brother inexplicably living with his devoted spinster sister and a mythical red house hidden somewhere in the woods Edward G. Robinson and you have captured my attention.
Unfortunately, the opening promise falls apart in the last third. It goes full melodrama, including unexplained madness and seemingly uncharacteristic behavior. That being said, it is fun to watch, particularly the first hour. I just wish the writer and director had kept the plot going until the end!
Road to Perdition (2002)
Bring your son to work day gone wrong
An excellent, immersive film demonstrating the pitfalls of bring your child to work day. Particularly if your job is with the Irish mafia.
The performances are outstanding, and the atmospheric style transports the viewer to the Depression-era gangland in the Midwest. A definite must-watch if you have not seen it.
Trouble in Paradise (1989)
Sex symbol turkey
Apparently, the filmmakers decided a MILFy Raquel Welch wearing lingerie and a wet, torn dress was sufficient to make this film. What they went with is a middle-age Blue Lagoon. Plot optional.
They even toyed with the audience by putting an actual turkey on the set of this turkey.
Who hasn't daydreamed of being marooned on an island with Raquel Welch and a bottle of Stoli that magically refills overnight? Raquel looks amazing, and that is the entire point of this film. There is literally no other reason to watch this movie. Somehow, it is almost sufficient justification.
It is impossible to understand why they made this film.
Apparently, that is what the filmmakers were thinking, too, as they didn't even try. And their lack of trying is what is inexcusable.
MST3K did it justice.
Tell Your Children (1936)
Stoned Bullet Theory
In a movie with more plot holes than plot devices, there is one which invites closer scrutiny than the others: Mary Lane's murder.
I am not talking about how she goes from being sexually assaulted by Ralph in one shot to unzipping her dress to help him sexually assault her in the next. No, I am talking ballistics.
JFK had the "magic bullet theory", but here there is the Stoned Bullet Theory.
When Jack and Billy are fighting over the gun, Mary is behind themat approximately the 4:00 position. The gun is pointing down when fired, somehow misses the two men hunched down over it, emerging between the 1 and 2:00 positions, then flies in a parabolic trajectory' rising toward the ceiling before diving down to where Mary is lying on the couch, striking her between the shoulder blades from what appears to be a direct angle.
Normally, bullets don't do this. They travel in straight lines [albeit, over long distances, gravity does distort the line of travel slightly down. And wind can affect the trajectory. But this was indoors and over a distance of 10-15 feet, so I discount those factors in this analysis].
The only possible explanation is that this bullet was suffering the effects of marijuana intoxification. This bullet was stoned AF.
This is a subtle point, and the one thing these filmmakers lacked is subtlety, so I do not understand why the film did not hammer this point home. Marijuana cannot only make you schizo--which this film conclusively proves--but it can also make bullets behave as crazy as it makes clean-cut teens act.
Dr. Alien (1989)
Makes you glad no aliens survived the Roswell crash
Even by teen sex comedy standards, this is a stinker. If you like cheese and women exposing their noobies--in several cases, poorly done implants, at that--then maybe this film is for you. Even a lacy lingerie-clad Audrey Landers as the teacher who seduces her student is not enough to salvage this spaceship trainwreck. It is not funny, sexy or interesting, but it is predictable.
The House Where Evil Dwells (1982)
Seriously--just get out!
This movie tries really hard.
But it fails.
The sex scenes and the Japanese settings were nice touches, but insufficient to save this stinker. They should simply have left...and so should you.
The Europeans (1979)
Filmed in typical lush Merchant-Ivory fashion, this film left me feeling confused. I wanted to like it, and certainly enjoyed the sumptuous visuals, but it simply failed to lift off the launch pad.
The filmmaker made an exploitation film, featuring several nude scenes, in the guise of a public-service film about mental illness. He injected several silent-era written descriptions of various psychiatric illnesses at what appears to be random places, as little more than scene breaks. It falls together in a funny mishmash that is fun to see almost 90 years later.
De dødes tjern (1958)
If Agatha Christie was Norwegian
This mystery is classified as horror because of the supernatural elements, a century old ghost story centered upon the cabin in the woods where this group of people came to stay with its missing owner. I won't ruin it with spoilers, but I saw this as a classic whodunit with a paranormal element. Filmed in glorious B&W which adds to the starkness, this film has a couple of spicy elements which must have been quite scandalous in its days: the big reveal about the twins and the revealing, see-through neglegee Liljan, the female twin wears. It is more cozy now, with an endearing group growing more suspicious of each other as the events unfold. This will take you back, yet with a fresh take on where the whodunit and horror genres meet.
Embrace of the Vampire (1995)
I first saw this years ago for the same reason everyone else did: Alyssa Milano. I recently rewatched it for the same reason. There are plenty of reasons to hate this film, most pointed out by other reviews here, and there really is only one reason to enjoy this film: Alyssa Milano. It is cheesy, contrived, full of massive plot holes and exploitive. And, I usually loathe movies like this. But, for some reason, I still enjoyed it.
You can probably guess that reason.
Operazione paura (1966)
Cheesy Spaghetti Horror at its best
I love cheese, and this movie serves it up. Sure, it has plot holes big enough to drive a semi through, but it is the kind of gothic horror film I loved as a kid, and brought back that late-night horror show vibe soon as it started. The gothic locations are top-notch, and while it relies heavily on standard horror gimmicks of its era, it someone ends up satisfying.
Treasure of the Amazon (1985)
Watch the RiffTrax edition
This is a bad movie. Its purpose was to film bare breasts, which are plentiful. But those bare breasts, beheadings, even a man married to his daughters cannot save this film. RiffTrax gives it what it deserves!