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Main Entry: exclusion
Definition: expulsion; forbiddance
Synonyms: ban, bar, blackball, blockade, boycott, cut, debarment, debarring, discharge, dismissal, ejection, elimination, embargo, eviction, exception, excommunication, interdict, interdicting, interdiction, keeping out, lockout, nonadmission, occlusion, omission, ostracism, ousting, preclusion, prevention, prohibition, proscription, refusal, rejection, relegation, removal, repudiation, segregation, separation, suspension, veto
Antonyms: acceptance, addition, admittance, allowance, inclusion, incorporation, welcome
send to Coventry, to refuse to associate with; openly and pointedly ignore: His friends sent him to Coventry after he was court-martialed.
People from the music industry that I respect, idolize or just simply appreciate: Ennio Morricone, Amy McDonald, Daan, David Bowie, Therion, Pink Floyd, Leonard Cohen, Alice Cooper, Neil Diamond, Joy Division, Bobby Darin, the Everly Brothers, Bobby Vinton, Gene Pitney, Herman's Hermits, The Hollies, The Animals, The Byrds, Donovan, Vargoth, Drudkh, Behemoth, Triggerfinger, Falkenbach, Finntroll, Einherjer, The Smiths, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, BB King, Ministry, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rufus Wainwright, The Allman Brothers Band, Johnny Cash, Paul Simon, Raymond Lefèvre, Children of Bodom, Volbeat, Elvis Presley, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits, Anathema, Velvet Underground, Norah Jones, Fatboy Slim, Moloko, Angelo Badalmenti, Sarah Brightman, Lady Antebellum, Enigma, Muse, Army of Lovers, Chris Isaak, Lesley Gore, Kasabian, Pearl Jam, dEUS, Mumford & Sons, The Subs, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Cuff the Duke, Pulp, Oscar and the Wolf,
People from the movie industry that I respect, idolize or just simply appreciate: John Saxon, Mario Bava, Joe D'Amato, George Eastman, Darren Lynn Bousman, Boris Karloff, Enzo G. Castellari, Bo Svenson, Fred Williamson, Antonio Margheriti, Klaus Kinski, Lloyd Kaufman, James Gunn, Rob Zombie, Sid Haig, Matthew McGrory, Karen Black, Dennis Fimple, Irwin Keyes, Tom Towles, Bill Moseley, Wolfgang Petersen, Nicol Williamson, Fairuza Balk, Piper Laurie, Philippe Mora, Tom Holland, Ronny Cox, Lucio Fulci, Christopher George, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Catriona MacColl, Fabio Frizzi, Nicolas Cage, Todd Farmer, Tom Atkins, Paul Verhoeven, Kurtwood Smith, Miguel Ferrer, Ray Wise, Stuart Gordon, H.P. Lovecraft, Jeffrey Combs, David Gale, Barbara Crampton, Fernando Di Leo, Joe Dallesandro, Terence Fisher, Anton Diffring, Hazel Court, Christopher Lee, Robert Stevenson, William Girdler, Rebecca De Mornay, Mako, Ti West, Tom Noonan, Mary Woronov, Paul Bartel, David Carradine, Roger Corman, Adrian Hoven, Monte Hellman, Warren Oates, Harry Dean Stanton, Steve Railsback, Ed Begley Jr., Peter Fonda, Nathan Juran, Lionel Jeffries, James Glickenhaus, Ken Wahl, Joaquim de Almeida, Sam Peckinpah, William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Ben Johnson, Edmond O'Brien, Kurt Raab, Helene Cattet & Bruno Forzani, Karl Freund, Peter Lorre, Colin Clive, William Lustig, Joe Spinell, Caroline Munro, Tom Savini, Charles B. Pierce, Robert Wise, Fred Dekker, Fritz Lang, David Hemmings, Michael Ironside, Jan-Michael Vincent, Bette Davis, Joseph Cotten, Agnes Moorehead, Victor Buono, George Kennedy, Charles Bronson, Richard Fleischer, Elmore Leonard, Paul Koslo, Michael Winner, Brian Garfield, Lee Marvin, J. Lee Thompson, Riz Ortolani, Yul Brunner, Eli Wallach, Robert Vaughn, James Coburn, Steve McQueen, Michael Crichton, James Brolin, Mel Brooks, arry Cohen, Michael Moriarty, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Robin Hardy, Edward Woodward, Britt Ekland, Ingrid Pitt, Peter Cushing, Michael Gough, Herbert Lom, Udo Kier, Michael Reeves, Vincent Price, Ian Ogilvy, Dick Maas, Henri-Georges Clouzot, Paul Naschy, Paul Morrissey, Truman Capote, Peter Falk, Alec Guinness, David Niven, Elsa Lanchester, Peter Sellers, Gene Wilder, Patrick McGoohan, Herb Freed, Richard Kiel, John Landis, Tim Curry, Simon Pegg, Jenny Agutter, Frank Oz, Dario Argento, Quentin Tarantino, Everett De Roche, Stacy Keach, Russell Mulcahy, Brian Trenchard-Smith, Donald Pleasence, George Peppard, Simon Wincer, Narciso Ibáñez Serrador, Gary Sherman, Faith Domergue, Alexandre Aja, Ving Rhames, Christopher Lloyd, Eli Roth, Ishirô Honda, Greydon Clark, Cybill Shepherd, Neville Brand, Vincent Schiavelli, Martin Landau, Jack Palance, Alan Rudolph, Jonathan Demme, Pam Grier, Mark L. Lester, Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Kilpatrick, Don Dohler, Everett McGill, Corey Haim, Gary Busey, Jake Busey, Charlton Heston, Lorne Greene, Walter Matthau, Peter Bogdanovich, Woody Allen, John Milius, Franco Nero, Crispin Glover, Dennis Hopper, Dick Miller, Barbara Steele, Armando Crispino, Sergio Grieco, Helmut Berger, Lee Van Cleef, Robert Forster, John Huston, Melvyn Douglas, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., George Miller, Mel Gibson, Robert Rodriguez, George Hilton, Kane Hodder, Michael Madsen, Tony Todd, Nicolas Winding Refn, William Grefe, Cirio H. Santiago , Joe Dante, Don Coscarelli, Angus Schrimm, Tobe Hooper, Tiffany Shepis, Brad Dourif, George P. Cosmatos, John Boorman, Stephen Boyd, Tommy Lee Jones, Rod Steiger, Brian DePalma, Gunnar Hansen, George A. Romero, Simon Boyes, Adam Mason, Jack Arnold, M. Emmet Walsh, James Stewart, Darren McGavin, Kathleen Quinlan, Jack Lemmon, Robert Foxworth, Olivia De Havilland, Michael Pataki, Jerry Stiller, John Carradine, Julian Sands, Freddie Francis, Don Sharp, William Castle, Bill Rebane, John De Bello, Terry O'Quinn, Peter Sykes, Wes Craven, Michael Sarrazin, Lewis Teague, Yaphet Kotto, Sergio Stivaletti, John Phillip Law, Michele Soavi, Umberto Lenzi, Anna Falchi, Lon Chaney, Sergio Martino, Edwige Fenech, Ursula Andress, Michael Sopkiw, Edmund Purdom, Hal Yamanouchi, Barbara Bach, Cameron, Mitchell, Alberto De Martino, Ernesto Gastaldi, Maurizio Merli, John Steiner, Mel Ferrer, Barbara Bouchet, Marty Feldman, Tomas Milian, Bruno Mattei, Lamberto Bava, Luc Merenda, Anita Strindberg, Luigi Pistilli, Ivan Rassimov, Sergio Corbucci, Tito Carpi, David Warbeck, Luciano Pigozzi, Gianfranco Giagni, Florinda Balkan, Rosalba Neri, Mel Welles, Dagmar Lassander, Neil Jordan, Walter Huston, Ray Bradbury, Gregory Peck, Orson Welles, Bert I. Gordon, H.G. Wells, Ida Lupino, Kirk Douglas, David Lynch, Eddie Romero, Bela Lugosi, Al Adamson, Tor Johnson, Edward D. Wood Jr, David Cronenberg, Christopher Walken, Tom Skeritt, Martin Sheen, Dino De Laurentiis, James Wan, Anthonhy Perkins, Curtis Harrington, Julie Harris, Ornella Muti, Ray Lovelock
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This little Twiggy went through one hell of a nightmare!
Occasionally, here on IMDb, you start clicking on some names and then you continue clicking on some more names, and then you suddenly stumble upon a film title you never heard about before but instantly want to see. Deep down you realize there's probably a very good reason why this film is totally unknown, but nevertheless you fanatically track it down because it just *might* be a hidden gem. Sounds familiar? Well, it happened to me a couple of times already, like with "W".
And, moreover, for about 2/3 of the running time, it also actually seemed as if I did stumble upon a hidden treasure! The plot is simple but effective and compelling, the cast contains a few fabulous names (Twiggy, John Vernon, Eugene Roche), and the freak accidents/sabotages that overcome the young couple in the first half are genuinely suspenseful.
Careless couple Katie and Ben live happily, with their two dogs, in a beautiful house with ocean view. Out of nowhere, they both become the targets of a series of vile attacks, and the letter "W" is always left behind as a sort of signature. It turns out Katie wasn't always called Katie and was previously married to a violent and abusive man named Willian "Billy" Caulder. She disappeared and started a new life, but Caulder got accused of her murder and sentenced to prison. Has he escaped and found Katie? They can't go to the police, since Katie never came forward to admit her former husband is not guilty of murder at all.
"W" becomes even better with the abrupt and unpredictable introduction of the new character of a private detective, Charles Jasper, who spontaneously offers his services to the desperate couple. His reasoning makes sense, and several little details indicate he's a professional private eye, but can he really be trusted? Personally, I was very impressed with how the story was unfolding and with the creative angles featuring in the script, but then - alas - follows a hectic, illogical, contradictory, and massively disappointing finale. Caulder eventually shows up, but he surely isn't the evil mastermind-schemer he was made out to be throughout the entire film thus far. Quite the opposite, in fact, he - as depicted by Dirk Benedict - comes as mentally unstable and pathetic, and all the built-up mystery and credibility vanishes in the blink of an eye. Very, very sad.
And yet, based on the first 80 or so minutes, "W" is definitely a mystery/thriller worth tracking down, and it deserves better ratings and friendlier comments that the ones given by my fellow reviewers around here.
Mirror Mirror 2: Raven Dance (1994)
When absolutely nothing makes any sense, just...dance!
There where the original "Mirror Mirror" was a surprisingly fun and atypical early 90s slasher/demonic horror movie, the sequel very much is an unsurprisingly weak and typically annoying mid-90s horror sequel. Gone is the light-hearted atmosphere of the original, and all the likable characters and gory set-pieces with it.
What's even more frustrating, but sadly also typical for 90s horror, is that "Raven Dance" nevertheless holds a massive lot of potential, but the untalented director Jimmy Lifton (whoever he is...) does nothing with it. The convent/orphanage setting is terrific, for instance, but there only seem to be two nuns living there and all the orphans are on vacation. What?! The wicked older stepsister plots to mentally break the lead girl, and pump her full of drugs, but she already falls apart herself when she sees the wrinkles in her own face. The film stars none other than B-movie queen Veronica Cartwright as a hysterical blind nun, but the director keeps her locked up in a dark room pretty much the entire time. The "innocent" 9-year-old can supposedly defeat the evil forces, but he's played by such a dreadfully annoying and untalented kid that you wish for him to die in the most excruciatingly painful way imaginable. And - worst of all - whenever the script becomes senseless or heads towards a dead end (and this happens frequently, believe me) Lifton's solution is to insert endlessly long footage of lead actress Tracy Wells dancing in her room.
The impressive, for such a lousy flick at least, star-power is totally wasted. Next to Cartwright, "Raven Dance" also stars a young Mark Ruffalo (I still don't know whether he's supposed to be good or evil) and the always-deranged Roddy McDowall (can somebody explain to me what happened to his character, by the way). William Sanderson also briefly appears, but as a different and totally unrelated character than he depicted in the original "Mirror Mirror"; - that's how consistent this movie is. I only just found out today there also exists a "Mirror Mirror 3", and even a "Mirror Mirror 4", but I think I'll politely pass on those.
Mirror Mirror (1990)
...on the wall, what movie is surprisingly enjoyable early 90s horror after all?
Not to be confused with the identically titled 2012 romantic comedy starring Julia Roberts (that movie may actually be scarier), "Mirror Mirror" is a pleasantly surprising slice of slasher movie/demonic horror. It was released during the early 90s, but at heart this is clearly an 80s flick, and therefore also comes warmly recommend to all the numerous fans of this wondrous horror-decade. You all know who you are!
Exactly how 80s is "Mirror Mirror", you ask? Well, think emo-kids getting bullied at school but extracting their vengeance via demonic super-powers. Think high-school kids played by actors/actresses in their late twenties. Think Karen Black as a chaotic, selfish, and overbearing mother. Think popular prom-queens dying naked and squirming in the shower. Most of all: think of a plot that absolutely doesn't make any sense or contains any logic, but you couldn't care less.
Legendary horror heroines Karen Black and Yvonne DeCarlo receive top billing, but they're insignificant supportive characters. The young lead actress, Rainbow 'my-name-is-more-colorful-than-my-character' Harvest looks like Winona Ryder's goth twin-sister. She plays Meghan, the new and troubled kid on the block, who becomes bewitched by a giant antique mirror that remained behind in the house she and her mother purchased. The mirror makes Meghan's darkest wishes come true, which is convenient if you are the least popular girl at school, but it gradually takes complete possession of her soul. Hardly original, I know, but it works.
"Mirror Mirror" benefices from a handful of grisly and bloody kills. Some of the death sequences are even somewhat shocking, because the victims didn't necessarily deserve such harsh fates. It's reasonably fast-paced, the soundtrack is catchy, and director Marina Sargenti does an excellent job. There never comes a proper explanation of where the mirror comes from, or why and how it turned evil. Doesn't matter, though, as background information like that is nearly always disappointing and usually gets picked up in the inferior sequels.
She Waits (1972)
And we wait. And wait... wait...
Several made-for-television horror & thriller films from the early 1970s still stand among the most effectively spooky and atmospheric tales, even by today's standards. Alas, though, "She Waits" is not one of them. The story is too mundane, the respectable names in the cast certainly do not give their best performances, and there isn't any shocking end-twist or revelation that usually makes this type of fright-tale memorable. Quite the contrary, in fact, "She Waits" even suffers from an anti-climax. Personally, I found it rather evident for the viewer to assume the husband (David McCallum) didn't murder his first wife, but apparently this turns out to be the major "twist" at the end. If anyone is waiting for something remotely interesting to happen, it's us - viewers - rather than the restless and vengeful spirit of the murdered Elaine.
The most exciting thing about this film was my long search for it here on IMDb. I picked up an ancient VHS-copy with the title "Night of the Exorcist". It's a blue box with the image of a demonically possessed woman standing in front of a window. The box doesn't contain any names of cast or crew members, and the a.k.a. Title is unknown. Some sneaky distribution company wanted to cash in on the tremendous success of the contemporary released "The Exorcist", but this weak TV-thriller obviously hasn't got anything to do with William Friedkin's genre landmark. The box also states the film has 95 minutes of running time, whereas it's only 73 minutes long. Talk about shenanigans!
Nazi zombie-horror done right
Nazi (zombie) horror is a tricky sub-genre because these films always look and sound incredibly cool, but more than often they are utter trash. There are a handful of entertaining titles out there, like "Iron Sky" and "Dead Snow", but these are intentionally funny and shlocky. Steve Barker's "Outpost" is a worthwhile effort, especially because it attempts to be genuinely scary and disturbing (and also partially succeeds), and I haven't witnessed that since the über-classic "Shock Waves".
The set-up is routine: in present day, somewhere in the bleak outskirts of an Eastern European country, a bunch of very unsympathetic and disposable mercenaries are hired for an unclear mission. They soon find themselves trapped in a former Nazi bunker, and they are not alone. Apparently, the underground bunker served as a secret lair where Nazis performed occult experiments, ... and they weren't entirely unsuccessful. "Outpost" works well, thanks to its thoroughly uncanny atmosphere, grim scenery, nasty gimmicks (like the recovered stock footage of Nazi scientists at work in the bunker), and some very good casting choices (notably the natural born freaks like Michael Smiley and Richard Brake). It also certainly helps that the resurrected Nazi soldiers remain largely out of sight, silent, and sober in terms of make-up effects. This makes them a lot more menacing, for sure.
The horror of Wineville Chicken Coop
Despite is age and his Hollywood status clearly emphasizing he has nothing left to proof, Clint Eastwood was one of the busiest directors of the first twenty years of the 21st Century. I nearly haven't seen all the films Eastwood directed, and I certainly didn't like every film he made during this period, but "Changeling" is a haunting and unforgettable masterwork.
Initially, I didn't plan to write a user-comment for it, as I avoid commercial titles. But I feel it's a must. It's been almost a year since I watched "Changeling", but still distinctively remember every tiny detail of the plot and atmosphere, as well as the rollercoaster of diverse emotions it evoked in me. The plot and the historical accuracy are what's most impressive about, but also the authentic late 1920s recreation, the performances, and the direction are stupendous.
Angelina Jolie isn't my favorite actress, but she's amazing as the hard-working single mother Christine Collins during the Depression era of 1928. When her son goes missing, and the police doesn't any leads or clues for several weeks, Christine receives the support of a fanatic pastor/activist who's been accusing the LAPD of sheer incompetence since many years already. In an attempt to boost up the public opinion, the police proudly announce they found Mrs. Collins' son and even arrange for a festive reunion at the train station, with many spectators and newspaper photographers. But the boy isn't Christine'son Walter, and when she tries to rectify this - after recovering from the initial shock and mental manipulations - it is Christine herself who gets accused of being a terrible mother and desperate attention seeker. She's even submitted to a psychiatric ward and, meanwhile, in a chicken farm outside of Los Angeles, the real and truly horrifying crimes are taking place.
The true story of the frustrating and loathsome injustice that overcame Mrs. Collins is already marvelous drama/thriller material, and then I haven't mentioned yet the linkage to the horrific but factual Wineville Chicken Murders case. I read a lot of articles and books, and watch many documentaries and true-crime movies of authentic serial murderer cases, and but the story of child rapist and killer Gordon Stewart Northcott one is genuinely one of the darkest and most appalling tragedies ever; and all the procedural errors and blunders of the police/immigration service only made it worse. "Changeling" is a powerful and uncompromising film, paying a lot of respect to the real-life victims and the nightmarish ordeals they faced. Must-see film, for me on par with Clint's other greatest efforts like "Mystic River" and "Unforgiven".
Bone Tomahawk (2015)
From Bright Hope... to dark hell
Many people, myself included, believe the combo of western and horror movie doesn't work well, and this for the simple reason of the respective genre trademarks being too diverse and practically unmatchable. "Bone Tomahawk" isn't exactly a bona-fide western, and it certainly isn't full-blooded horror, so that's probably why this film works effectively well.
Regarding the first genre, "Bone Tomahawk" is more like a requiem for a western. It's taking place in the final days of the old West, the Sheriffs are fatigued seniors, the young cowboys are either crippled or obnoxious, and the women are strong and independent. There's not a single traditional western character in this film (apart maybe from the black stable boy) and that's a great quality. As for the horror, the posse (all residents of a dying-out town named Bright Hope) hunts for a community of cannibalistic cavemen with Indian roots, and a handful of sequences during the final act are really explicit.
What surprised me most - in a positive way - is how "normal" and "conventional" this film is in terms of narrative, structure, and cast of characters. "Bone Tomahawk" is steadily (arguably even slow-) paced, patiently takes the time to build up atmosphere and give deeper insights into the characters, doesn't jump back and forth chronologically, there aren't any bizarre sub plots or sudden changes in style, and the characters act & react how ordinary people would in their situation. What a relief, in fact. It almost feels as if writer/director S. Craig Zahler totally disassociates himself from all the allegedly hip cinematic trends and styles, in favor to bring an old-fashioned atmosphere and character driven film. Can't be sure, of course, but I bet this is also why he got the best possible performances out of a seasoned and multi-experienced cast (Kurt Russell, Richard Jenkins, Patrick Wilson, Sig Haig,...). With its 132' running time, it's a long film, but for once this didn't bother me. Quite the opposite, in fact, it persuades me to seek out Zahler's "Brawl in Cell Block 99" and the even longer "Dragged Across Concrete".
I'm surprised, and also a bit upset, to notice that so many people gave a ridiculously low rating to "Breeder" and wrote incredibly dumb things in their reviews. This certainly isn't the greatest genre effort ever made, but - come on folks - at least this is REAL horror! Like rarely seen in recent years, "Breeder" features shocking images, loathsome villainous characters, extreme gore, and nasty scenery. I don't use this sentence very often, but this movie is NOT for the squeamish or the faint of heart!
The plot isn't exactly original, since in the fifties and sixties already, there were also horror flicks in which crazed scientists attempted to manipulate the natural ageing process by abducting young woman and performing nauseating experiments on them. But it's certainly better than the series of senseless torture-porn movies of recent years and, moreover, "Breeder" holds a truly disturbing and appalling twist in store. You might want to look away when the heroine opens a certain barrel in the final act of the film.
As for the often-read criticism that the women in this film are stupid, I disagree. They certainly aren't dumber or more naïve than in most films, and the lead heroine - Mia - is a strong and likeable character. The torture sequences are sadist and gratuitous? Perhaps, but certainly not any more or less than in the average "Saw" or "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" installment, and "Breeder" at least provides a bit more content and a morbidly tense atmosphere. Most impressive are the villains. Signe Egholm Olsen is insanely hateful as the relentless female scientist, and particularly Morten Holst catapulted himself straight in the top five of most evil cinematic psychopaths ever with his aptly nicknamed character The Dog. He kidnaps and guards the women, but he isn't in for the money or the scientific value. He's the right man for the job simply because he's a sick misogynic.
Of course, I'll be the first to admit "Breeder" also contains multiple shortcomings. The Thomas-character is weak and implausible, and considering the number of women gone missing, it's incredibly unlikely there isn't a massive police hunt going on. Especially in a country like Denmark. Still, every movie has defaults, but not nearly every movie can genuinely shock and petrify. "Breeder" does, hence I'm calling out to the real genre fanatics to seek this one out.
The Ghost Dance (1982)
Hey, tall and silent Indian companion... Let's dance!
Horror films like "The Ghost Dance" are the most difficult ones to rate and review. On one hand, it's quite dull, incredibly slow-paced, and suffering from too many budgetary restraints. On the other, however, it takes its subject matter seriously and the cast and crew really do try hard generating a suspenseful atmosphere and a couple of authentically tense moments. The concept is quite like "The Mummy", namely that an important archaeological discovery comes to life, turns out to be pure evil, and goes after the scientists who dared to disturb its final resting place. Here, it's the spirit of a raging Indian warrior that possesses a tall Indian medicine man and turns him into a silent killing machine. Writer/director Peter R. Buffa, who didn't really accomplish any other things in his film career, does an admirably fine job during a handful of sequences, including a spooky cat-and-mouse game on a highway at night, and a suspenseful confrontation inside the museum's research room. The performances, from an overall unknown cast, are rather good as well. Still, though, it's painfully obvious to see why "The Ghost Dance" is so obscure and doesn't have any cult status whatsoever. Although featuring three or four vicious and explicit murders, the overall pacing is too slow, the characters are bland and dull, and the killer isn't menacing enough.
She's been through the desert on a horse... and no shirt!
"Haunted" starts with a prologue written on the screen and, immediately after, the same text is processed into a sequence as well. It certainly isn't the biggest blunder you can make, but it does somewhat illustrate the intelligence level of the film. Either you do a written text or you do a sequence, but not both. Then again, the pre-opening credit sequences, taking place during the US Civil War, are undeniably the best parts of the entire film.
A beautiful Indian woman gets falsely accused of witchery by a corrupt priest, and she's sentenced to a very strange and perverse death. The poor girl, named Abanaki, is tied to a horse, stripped naked, and then sent into the dry and hot desert to die. Some say - and I quote the prologue - that her spirit roamed around for more than a hundred years for revenge. And guess what happens a hundred years later!
"Haunted" is also the type of clichéd horror film in which characters reincarnate as exact replicas of their ancestors. The corrupt priest reincarnates as a grumpy ranch owner, and Abanaki returns as a beautiful traveling girl whose car breaks down at that same ranch. This film had the potential to be a simple but effective supernatural horror tale, but writer/director Alessandro De Gaetano stuffs his screenplay with lots of senseless nonsense, dead-end twists, dull sub plots, and insignificant supportive characters. There's a phone booth in the middle of a cemetery, sinister wooden statues without any purpose, an elderly blind lady playing the organ and fantasizing about sex with her deceased husband (while she actually has the plump and hairy Aldo Ray on top of her), and two dorky brothers chasing after the lewd Abanaki-reincarnation.
I can tolerate quite a lot of weirdness, but the complete lack of action and gruesome deaths in "Haunted" is unforgivable. There's one notable highlight, involving spilled petrol and a spark from a light bulb, but it's not enough. De Gaetano put too much time and effort in the dedicated soundtrack, and the casting of Anne Michelle (in a successful attempt to find a girl with perfect breasts).
The Intruder (2019)
Watch out, folks, it's Dennis the Menace!
The last time I saw Dennis Quaid put on his evil grimaces and psychopathic stare was in "Beneath the Darkness" in 2011. That was a rather weak and derivative B-movie thriller, and to be entirely honest, so is this "The Intruder". But hey, Quaid can surely portray a menacing and downright terrifying psycho! His performance is pretty much the sole reason to check out this otherwise clichéd and predictable thriller. Newlyweds Scott and Annie find their dream house an hour and a half outside of San Francisco, but original owner Charlie Peck obviously has difficulties leaving his previous property behind. You know how this goes further: at first, Charlie popping up every five seconds is just a nuisance, but he gradually becomes more intrusive and scarier. Add to this the typically overused sub plots and stereotype characters, like the young couple themselves going through marital issues, the obnoxious best friend becoming too curious, grim secrets from Charlie's past coming to the surface, etc. It's more than okay to watch once, but it will also be soon forgotten again.
The Face Behind the Mask (1941)
This is the face... The face of lost hope and shattered dreams
Based on the starring of Peter Lorre, and the promise in the plot synopsis that his face would be disfigured, I admittedly expected this to be a slice of B-movie horror, but it certainly isn't. "The Face behind the Mask" massively transcends the simple providing of cheap thrills, as it's a tragically harsh and saddening allegory on immigration and the backside of the American dream at the start of the 20th century, brought to an even more superlative level by Lorre's performance.
In my humble opinion, Peter Lorre's legendary roles in "M" and "Mad Love" are impossible to surpass, but he does come darn close here, with his depiction Janos Szabo; - a Hungarian immigrant arriving in the United States full of hope and enthusiasm to find employment as a watchmaker and contribute to society. His naivety and unconditional friendliness gain him the respect of several New Yorkers, including a police inspector, but then a tragedy occurs when Janos' face gets horribly disfigured in a tenement fire. Janos is forced into a life of crime, even if it were only to pay for a half-decent mask, because without he's unemployable and downright terrifying to be around. He's disgusted by having to give up his own norms and ideals, until he finds the true love and redemption of the blind Helen (lovely Evelyn Keyes). But even that little bit of happiness isn't meant for him.
Let's take a moment and stand still at what a brilliant (but sadly underrated) actor Peter Lorre was. Not only does his character goes through a whole spectrum of emotion as well as two completely opposite personalities, but also Lorre's own unique physical features can apparently replace special effects. The ending should have featured a bit more action and fierceness, but overall a masterclass 40s movie.
"Face" has a problem on his chest. And not even the A-Team can help!
It's rather childish, I know, but I automatically associate Dirk Benedict with his role as ladies' man Face in the 80s hit-series "The A-Team" and find it weird to see him in different roles, especially - like the case here - as a sleazy and unreliable gambler/murderer. The idea of this installment is imaginative, but the film is overlong and tedious, which is the issue in most of the "Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense" episodes, in fact. In desperate need of money to pay off a gambling debt, Frank Rowlett accidentally kills an oriental tattooist but gets stung by his ink needle. The wound develops into a massive tattoo depicting the crime, and that's quite unpleasant when you are about to get married.
Throughout the entire episode, I was distracted by how dumb the lead character is, and how easily he could have prevented all his agony. His fiancée and her father are filthy rich, and she loves him to death. Couldn't he at least have tried to lend the money, and to solemnly swear to pay back the amount or to work if off? I honestly get upset over things like that. The gradually expanding tattoo on Face's chest is a nice piece of work, Jenny Seagrove is a beautiful woman and a talented actress, and Val Guest (at the end of his rich career) is a good director, but the supermassive plot-hole is inexcusable.
The Man with Nine Lives (1940)
Dr. Kravaal is as cold as ice. And willing to sacrifice many lives
One of my best purchases in recent years is definitely the Blu-Ray DVD-boxset of "Karloff at Columbia", which includes this little-seen gem as well as a handful of other forgotten 30s horror treasures like "The Black Room" and "Before I Hang". Everybody knows Boris Karloff as the great horror icon in legendary Universal classics like "Frankenstein" and "The Mummy", but this man was one of the greatest actors in history and appeared in so many other stupendous movies.
Karloff was a genius when it came to portraying devoted scientists, varying from misunderstood, over to dangerously obsessive, towards downright mad. In "The Man with Nine Lives", his character goes through all these stages in one massively entertaining film. In 1930 already, Dr. Leon Kravaal was a pioneer in the use of cryogenics for complex surgeries and treatments, but the rest of the medical world wasn't ready yet, and they accused him of murdering a patient. At his secret laboratory in Silver Lake, near the Canadian border, Kravaal saw no other option than to freeze himself, and the four men who accused him. Ten years later, a slightly less successful and talented believer in cryogenic science travels to Silver Lake with his fiancée to find out more about Dr. Kravaal's research. They find and "defrost" Dr. Kravaal, who immediately continues his work, regardless of any ethical objections.
Admittedly, there are several illogical moments and dumb little errors in "The Man with Nine Lives". The number in the title being one of them already, in fact. It's hard to believe that basic items, like blankets and strong coffee, form vital elements in a complicated medical procedure, for instance. It's even more difficult to believe that six prominent people remained missing for nearly a decade, while a random doctor and his nurse can locate their bodies instantly as they arrive at the cabin. Nevertheless, though, the script is massively compelling, and Karloff's performance is nothing short of phenomenal. There's also plenty of action for a 1940-movie, and a few grisly images to please the diehard horror fanatics.
Come on baby, light my fire. Try to set the world on ...Fire!
Due to personal beefs and a couple of prejudices, it took me several decades to watch "Firestarter", but now the joke is largely on me, since this is a more than adequate and enjoyable mid-80s horror/action movie. Stephen King pimps his own "Carrie", with the story of an 8-year-old girl with pyrokinetic abilities. Charlene 'Charlie' McGee's parents gained telepathic powers after participating in a medical experiment, and now the girl is on the run with her daddy, because a sinister government department known as "The Shop" is after her for further research.
The plot isn't likely to win any Nobel prizes for literature, but director Mark L. Lester ensures a fine and constant level of suspense, and two or three fantastically spectacular action-highlights. When the little girl gets upset, hell literally breaks loose. The undeniable biggest strongpoint of "Firestarter" is the cast. Drew Barrymore gives the best performance an eight-year-old could possibly give, while David Keith, Art Carney and Louise Fletcher are endearing as her protectors. As usual, however, the bad guys are the coolest. Martin Sheen is terrific as the stone-cold and emotionless federal big shot, but notably George C. Scott catapulted himself straight into my top five of all-time favorite villains as Rainbird. He wears an eye-patch and has a ponytail, he masters the death-punch, he describes excruciatingly painful ways to die for little girls, and he may very well be the reason why Venice is sinking! Brilliant character.
Rage - Fuoco incrociato (1984)
URanium? This is MYranium!
The opening minutes state immediately clear what kind cheap, trashy, and derivative piece of action/Sci-Fi fodder this will be. "A Man called Rage" starts with a montage of clichéd archive footage, primarily of nuclear explosions intermixed with images of crying children in 3rd world countries, and dense traffic in metropole cities. This should be enough information for the experienced viewer to deduct that the entire world was destroyed, and only small groups of people still roam around in a post-apocalyptic landscape. What comes next is a very mundane and unexciting story of a lone warrior (the titular Rage) teaming up with a few others and trying to find a cave full of uranium before another posse (led by a guy named Slash) does. I still don't fully understand why they are looking for uranium, though. Do they intend to blow up whatever is left of the world as well?
Instead of uranium, they find a cave full of old books and philosophical messages, which makes this flick a bizarre crossover between "Mad Max II" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark". Makes sense as Italian exploitation-directors were never too ashamed of ripping off several blockbusters at once; - and Tonino Ricci was one of the most shameless ones of them all. "A Man called Rage" is a weak film, with as main defaults uninteresting lead characters and a severe shortage of extreme & gratuitous violence. There are also positive notes, namely the outfit of the heavenly beautiful actress Taida Urruzola, the dazzling score by Stelvio Cipriani that deserved a better screenplay, and an ingenious battle sequence of an old train wagon verses a bunch of dune buggies and motorcycles.
Hold That Ghost (1941)
Luckily, there's Lou...
My very first encounter with the duo Abbott and Costello was a tremendous success. It was "A&C meet Frankenstein", and I absolutely loved it. Since then, however, every next film I watched of them was a little less fun and a little less clever. For this "Hold that Ghost", I had particularly high hopes considering it was one of their first pairings, but sadly it's the dullest and most disappointing comedy of all their movies thus far.
The plot starts with an irrelevant and overlong clip set in a fancy restaurant, where Ferdinand (Costello) and Chuck (Abbott) are waiters, and the former naturally does a whole lot of clumsy things that upset customers and his supervisor. All the restaurant footage is purely added just to showcase the starring of contemporary popular crooner Ted Lewis, and the singing trio The Andrew Sisters.
The actual plot comes after that, with the two working at a gas station and - due to an unlikely series of events - suddenly become the heirs of a notorious gangster. They inherit a mansion where allegedly a fortune is hidden somewhere, but it soon turns out to be haunted. Or, at least, something or someone wants them out of there as soon as possible.
The film is clichéd, even for 1940s' standards, predictable, and quite unsuccessful in making the viewers laugh. Many of the intended gags fall flat, and none of the extended cast members bring any added value. Luckily, of course, there's Lou Costello, whose comical timing is always perfect and whose grimaces and overall persona always make you chuckle automatically. Costello's witty comebacks and one-liners, and his behavior during stretched out running gags (like with the metamorphosing rooms or moving candles) still make this half worthwhile.
Moonlight Murder (1936)
See the hero on the stage, see him dying with much grace...
The show must go on. This legendary expression was never more applicable than here, in this modest poverty-row movie mixture between mystery, comedy and musical. When the tenor and lead star of a fancy Hollywood Bowl opera production gets murdered live on stage during his big performance, the show (and the movie...) continues with grotesque singing for another 10-12 minutes straight before the curtain falls. Which immediately also brings me to point out the biggest default of the film. "Moonlight Murder" has a running time of barely 66 minutes, but at least half of that exists of singing, rehearsing for the live show, and the live show itself. So, unless you have a fetish for both murder mysteries and classic opera (which sounds like a very weird combo to me), you are likely to get annoyed by all the opera blah blah.
And yet, in between all the extravagant set-pieces and opera singing, there's a very neat and compelling mystery plot hidden that is well worth discovering! The opera house setting itself is impressive already, the murder - when it eventually occurs - is extremely ingenious, and the denouement is original and surprisingly unpredictable. I swear, the climax easily could have come straight out of the imagination of acclaimed whodunit authors, like Agatha Christie or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Eccentric opera star Gino d'Acosta is a man with many enemies. He has two mistresses at once, married ones, he deliberately obstructs the career possibilities of his stand-in and ambitious personal assistant, an escaped mental patient claims d'Acosta stole his compositions, and he simply is an overall jerk to everyone during the rehearsals and backstage. Prior to the big premiere, d'Acosta receives several warnings not to sing if he wants to live. He stubbornly does, of course, but inexplicably falls dead during the show. Who is the killer, and how did he/she managed to commit a murder in front of thousands of spectators?
Forget the singing. Forget the weak attempts at slapstick. What remains is approximately 20 minutes of positively engaging mystery and suspense.
Curse of the Undead (1959)
Vampire gunslingers needn't worry about who shoots first...
This humble and fairly obscure late 50s Universal Pictures' film entirely earns its reason for existence even if it was only for one small but ingenious gimmick. It states clear that vampires in a Western setting will normally always win a shooting duel! The bullet of their opponents cannot kill them, so it doesn't matter whether they draw fast of slow. If their aim isn't too far off, the vampire will win the duel! There are two cool scenes in "Curse of the Undead" where the bloodsucker clearly fires his pistol after the challenger, and the unlucky loser mumbles "I'm sure I hit him first..." as last words.
Anyway, even besides that, "Curse of the Undead" is an overall enjoyable effort and one of the best amalgams between horror and western I have seen thus far. Admittedly, and luckily, there aren't that many horror-western crossovers out there, because the typical genre trademarks don't go well together. Also here, many things don't make sense. The vampire - Drake Robey - can simply walk around in broad daylight. He only complains that the sun hurts his eyes a little, whereas any other vampire in cinema history already would have vaporized. But hey, his background story is fascinating, the script at least contains a handful of strong ideas and a bit of suspense, and there's a reliable cast of B-actors (Michael Pate, Edward Binns, John Hoyt, ...)
Based on a so-so country song... Enough said.
"Convoy" was my daddy's all-time favorite movie, so I still have fond memories of seeing bits and pieces of this movie when I was around 8-10 years. What I remember vividly are the legendary scenes with an endless line of trucks driving and honking on the highways, and the car chases (and subsequent crashes) on the dusty roads. What I clearly don't remember - or probably never even realized - is that "Convoy" is a comedy rather than a hard-boiled action flick. I always assumed it was similar to my pop's other favorite "White Line Fever", but instead it's more like "Smokey and the Bandit".
What is there to say, except that I'm disappointed? The plot is inspired by the lyrics of a country song, so it's not exactly very in-depth. It's not even a very good song, for that matter. Also, I'm not too keen on movies that constantly feature fights, crashes, destruction, and explosions, and yet not a single character dying. It's my own fault to expect mayhem and violence in a film where the lead hero is named "Rubber Duck", but I also blame Sam Peckinpah? I mean, wasn't he the guy who director raw, gritty and disturbing movies like "Straw Dogs", "The Wild Bunch" and "Bring me the Head of Alfredo Garcia"? You wouldn't say so.
The Evil Below (1989)
The deeper below, the better!
They sure loved their aquatic Sci-Fi/horror tales at the end of the 80s! In less than two years, no less than six similarly themed movies were unleashed upon cult-loving audiences. Of course, of all those, only James Cameron's "The Abyss" is a REALLY good film, and the other five vary from mediocre to abysmal. "Deepstar Six" and "The Rift" are titles I proudly rank among my guilty pleasures, but together with the horrendous "Lords of the Deep", this "The Evil Below" is the worst of the worst.
It's an indescribably tedious and uninteresting story of a hermit boat captain in the Caribbean teaming up with a mysterious woman to search for a sunken 17th century Spanish galleon named El Diablo. The ship supposedly still hides great treasures, but it's protected by supernatural forces and whoever tries to enter it unleashes a curse. Or something like that, at least, I must admit I wasn't paying attention the whole time. This is clearly more of an adventure flick than a horror movie, and it's even worse if they are boring. None of the characters, good or villainous, are worth mentioning and even the underwater footage isn't the least bit remarkable.
Deadly Deception (1987)
Good thriller, but a parent's worst nightmare
Whenever the name John Llewellyn Moxey is mentioned as the director of a certain film, I'm confident that it'll be a decent, solid, and professionally made production. This veteran-director specialized in grim and atmospheric TV-thrillers during the seventies, but still also made a couple of notable efforts in the 80s, like this intense - but sadly obscure - "Deadly Deception".
The script touches on some very sensitive and delicate themes that are particularly impactful if you a parent. A young mother and her newborn get lured far away from their home, but later that night she's found hanging from a rope in a motel room and her baby is missing. According to the investigation, Marge Shoat suffered from postnatal depression and threw her baby in a river before committing suicide in the motel. The father, Jack Shoat, is convinced his child is still alive, and goes on a fanatic search together with a local newspaper reporter.
Although not always realistic and plausible, the plot of "Deadly Deception" is every parent's worst nightmare: standing around helpless while losing your partner and your child at the same time. The mystery and thriller elements are well-spread throughout the film, and there are sufficient action sequences and plot twists to keep even the more demanding viewers alert. Very proud to own this on baby on ex-rental VHS.
One cool gimmick doesn't make a good slasher movie
In 2013, I found "Discopathe" one of the freshest and most inventive slasher movies in a very long time and put the name of writer/director Renaud Gauthier on my little list of promising new directors to follow. I might not remove his name again after seeing "Aquaslash", but my enthusiasm has tempered for sure.
The setting of this retro-slasher (in a waterpark) is original, and the whole thing builds up towards one gory horror-gimmick, namely razor-sharp blades that are shaped like an inescapably X in the middle of a waterslide. The gimmick is admittedly awesome, and the term 'bloodbath' is certainly apt, but shouldn't a slasher revolve around slightly more than just one highlight? Personally, I love short running times, but usually when a film is only 70 minutes long, the plot comes straight to the point. "Aquaslash" still unfolds like a regular slasher, with stereotypical teenagers getting introduced and the uninteresting liaisons between them. The end-twist, revealing the identity of the killer, is probably one of the least surprising ones ever, and the attempts to pay tribute to the heyday of the genre - the 80s - are quite weak. But hey, that first moment when the first trio of girls gets chopped up (almost) makes everything worth it.
Ten Seconds to Hell (1959)
Before "The Magnificent Seven", there were ... "The Explosive Six"!
"Ten Seconds to Hell" doesn't fit into the category of films I usually watch and review, but I couldn't resist the names involved in the production, and neither the intriguing storyline. The film is a Hammer production, for starters, and directed by none other than Robert Aldrich. This man made two of my all-time favorites, with "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane" and "Hush, Hush... Sweet Charlotte", and I also absolutely love lead star Jack Palance; - although I think I'm more a fan of his choice of roles rather than for his performances.
After the war, six German soldiers freshly released from a British prison camp arrive in Berlin and accept jobs as bomb disposal unit for non-exploded Allied explosives laying all over the destroyed capital. As if their task isn't hazardous enough yet, the two macho squad leaders (Palance and Chandler) turn it into a gambling game.
Brilliant idea, although it feels rather weird to see bona-fide American actors (some of which with Jewish heritage, even) depict German soldiers without any sort of accent whatsoever. The bomb dismantling sequences are extremely tense and nerve-wrecking, obviously, but the rest of the script - and ditto for the performances - is tedious and should have been a lot more energetic. Ernest Laszlo's grim cinematography is definitely a big plus.
The Supernatural loves to make you look foolish.
I'm almost halfway through the first (and only) season of "Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense" and have to say I already considered giving up on the series a couple of times. Not that the individual episodes/short films are terrible, but so far none of them are really stupendous (like it was the case with "Hammer House of Horror"), and all of them do share the same shortcomings and nuisances.
For instance, all five installments I watched thus far suffer from a too lengthy running time for the very thin plot outlines they bring to the table. Again here, "In Possession" would probably have worked very effectively as a 30' episode - "Twilight Zone" style - but as a 70-minutes TV-movie it rapidly becomes tedious and repetitive. Also, all stories are similar in terms of build-up and narrative structure. Partially, this is logical, since all of them are mystery & suspense tales, but at least some variety would have been welcome.
"In Possession" revolves around a married couple who, shortly before moving to Botswana to start a new life, becomes entangled into a family tragedy that unfolds in their own apartment and before their own eyes, but they cannot interfere. They witness how an elderly lady is mistreated and even killed by her husband, but they are merely spectators. It drives them to the verge of madness, obviously. In fact, it's one of those typical tales where the supernatural loves to mess around with people's head and make them look like fools. Meaning, whenever the protagonists call in witnesses or search for help, everything turns back to normal.
The story has a fantastic ending. And I do mean a really and downright fantastic ending. It's the kind of ending that, if you would claim to have seen it coming, you'd be lying for sure. The climax perhaps isn't entirely waterproof (example: what about the birdcage?) but it's the best possible ending this overall dull and disappointing tale could receive. It cannot compensate for the general disappointment, but together with the steady direction of veteran Val Guest and the hysterical performance of the always-adorable Carol Lynley, it at least made "In Possession" worthwhile. So, I guess I won't be giving up on the series just yet.