Escape from New York (1981)

Escape from New York is John Carpenter’s iconic 1981 science fiction action adventure flick about breaking into the world’s toughest prison. The prison is Manhattan. In the future world of the movie the whole of Manhattan Island has been turned into a maximum security prison, this being seen as the only answer to the ever-increasing crime problem.This is a prison that nobody ever leaves. Once you’re there you’re there for life. There are no … [Read more...]

The Village of the Damned (1995)

There are certain movies that I tend to go out of my way to avoid seeing, for varying reasons. One of the movies I’ve avoided is John Carpenter’s 1995 version of The Village of the Damned. In this particular case my reasons for avoiding the movie were quite clear-cut. First off, I liked Wolf Rilla’s 1960 version so much I couldn’t see how anyone could possibly improve on it. Secondly, I’ve always disliked movies that Americanise English subject … [Read more...]

The Bat (1959)

By 1959 the Old Dark House movie was getting rather long in the tooth as a concept but it was a genre that seemingly just wouldn’t die. The 1959 The Bat, directed by Crane Wilbur and starring Vincent Price and Agnes Moorehead, was yet another version of the venerable stage hit written by Mary Roberts Rinehart and Avery Hopwood. There had been a silent version in 1926 and a sound version (with the title The Bat Whispers in 1930).Agnes Moorehead … [Read more...]

The Fog (1980)

The Fog is an early John Carpenter film that manages to be classic gothic horror whilst still having a very contemporary feel. It’s an old-fashioned ghost story but with some of the techniques of the slasher film. When the movie was completed it was realised that a 1980 audience was going to expect much more overt thrills so extensive reshoots were done. The movie ended up doing surprisingly well at the box office despite being a bit of a … [Read more...]

Tarzan the Ape Man (1932)

Tarzan the Ape Man was the first of the MGM Tarzan movies starring Johnny Weissmuller and Maureen O’Sullivan (although there had been plenty of previous Tarzan movies going back as early as 1918). Tarzan the Ape Man was a major hit and spawned numerous sequels. The MGM Tarzan movies defined the character for several generations of movie-goers.There are some crucial differences between Tarzan as played by Johnny Weissmuller and the Tarzan of the … [Read more...]

The Killer Likes Candy (1968)

The Killer Likes Candy (Un killer per sua maestà) is a 1968 French-Italian-West German eurospy movie.It starts out promisingly, with a harmless priest feeding the pigeons in a Roman piazza but as we will soon discover he is no priest. He is a very high-priced assassin.His target is the King of Kafiristan, Kafiristan being somewhere in central Asia. The Americans want Kafiristan’s oil and to get it they need to keep the king alive and that’s the … [Read more...]

Colossus and the Amazon Queen (1960)

I’m rather fond of the peplum genre but it has to be said that on the whole these are movies that you don’t want to try to take too seriously. Mostly they’re enjoyable as silly fun. Colossus and the Amazon Queen (the original title is La regina delle Amazzoni) dates from 1960 and is slightly unusual in that it was intended from the word go as a comedic take on the genre.The dubbed version which hit the U.S. in 1964 pushes the comic elements even … [Read more...]

The Monster That Challenged the World (1957)

The Monster That Challenged the World, produced by Gramercy Pictures and released through United Artists, is essentially a stock-standard 1950s American monster movie, its main distinguishing feature being that it’s fairly competently executed.The U.S. Navy has a research establishment on the Salton Sea. They do all sorts of things there, including the testing of parachutes. Navy personnel make parachute jumps into the Salton Sea and … [Read more...]

Drácula (1931, the Spanish version)

In 1931 if you wanted to reach non-English speaking markets dubbing and subtitling were not options. You had to shoot a second version of the film. In 1931 Universal decided to shoot a Spanish language version of Dracula as well as the Tod Browning-directed English-language version, and to do the two films simultaneously, using the same sets. Browning shot his version during the day. At night George Melford and his crew shot the Spanish … [Read more...]

Dracula (1931)

I’ve seen Universal’s 1931 Dracula quite a few times and it’s never impressed me but since I now own it on Blu-Ray I thought I’d give it another try.Of course the biggest single problem with this movie is that it was so influential and has been imitated, quoted, homaged and parodied so many times. Everything about the movie became a horror movie cliché. What you have to keep always in mind is that in 1931 these were not clichés. At the time of … [Read more...]

Yambaó – Cry of the Bewitched (1957)

Yambaó (also known as Cry of the Bewitched) is a 1957 Cuban/Mexican voodoo horror musical, which has to be one of the rarest of all cult movie sub-genres!Jorge (Ramón Gay) and his wife Béatriz (Rosa Elena Durgel) live on a sugar plantation in Cuba. They’re slave owners but Jorge is an enlightened master and life is generally peaceful. Or at least it was peaceful, until Yambaó came back. Yambaó (Ninón Sevilla) is the grand-daughter of the witch … [Read more...]

Drum (1976)

Drum was a kind of sequel to Mandingo, which in 1975 had (for a short time) put the slavesploitation genre on the map. Mandingo actually took itself more seriously than you might expect, trying to be more than just trash. It was trash, but trash with some pretensions. Drum appeared in the following year and it is pure trash. Pure trash, but deliriously entertaining trash.Drum is the name of a slave. We start with a brief prologue about his birth … [Read more...]

Psycho II (1983)

Psycho II is, quite obviously, a sequel to Hitchcock’s 1960 masterpiece. Now personally I think that making a sequel to a Hitchcock movie is a seriously bad idea (just as remaking a Hitchcock movie is a seriously bad idea). The chances of falling flat on your face are just so overwhelmingly high. Nonetheless someone at Universal decided that a Psycho sequel would be a fine idea and Australian director Richard Franklin was given the assignment of … [Read more...]