Category: Horror

“Peeping Tom” (1960) / Z-View

Peeping Tom (1960)

Director: Michael Powell

Screenplay: Leo Marks

Stars: Karlheinz Böhm, Anna Massey, Moira Shearer

Tagline: WARNING! Don’t see Peeping Tom unless you are prepared to see the screaming shock and raw terror in the faces of those marked for death!

The Plot…

Mark Lewis (Böhm) hopes some day to be a filmmaker.  He currently works on a film crew and after hours he’s a photographer of soft core porn.  People see Lewis as a shy, quiet recluse.  If they only knew he’s a psychopathic killer who gets off by filming women’s faces as he murders them.

When Helen, a kind woman takes an interest in Mark, they begin to date.  Helen’s blind mother feels something is off with Mark and starts to dig deeper…

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

When Peeping Tom was released in 1960, it was marketed as horror and exploitation.  Peeping Tom failed to find an audience.  Over the years Peeping Tom became a popular cult film and its popularity increased.  Martin Scorsese has long championed this film.

While daring for 1960, it seems much less so now.  Kudos for the final scene when Mark realizes he has no means of escape and has planned for this eventuality.

Peeping Tom earns 3 of 5 stars.

“Dustwalker” (2019) / Z-View

Dustwalker (2019)

Director:  Sandra Sciberras

Screenplay: Sandra Sciberras

Stars: Jolene Anderson and Stef Dawson

Tagline:  It walks among us.

The Plot…

An object crashes just outside a remote Australian town.  Shortly after, citizens become infected and turn into fast-moving, zombie-like killing machines.  As the menace grows, a police officer and school teacher attempt to save as many people as possible.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Dustwalker is a mess.  The poster looks pretty cool and that’s about the best I can say for the movie.

What I’m sure the director thought would be tension-building scenes, came off as boring.  How many times and how long can one look at people just staring ahead?  Then there’s a huge dust storm that sits around the town not allowing anyone to leave.  I guess we can figure out that it was put there to stop the “zombies” from going to another city.  Who put it there?  Well, it appears that the scorpion/dog alien that rounds up the turned humans and incinerates them did.  Truthfully, I didn’t care who/what resolved the situation.  I was ready for Dustwalker to end.  It just didn’t resonate with me.  Your mileage may vary.

Dustwalker earns 1 of 5 stars.

“Hideout” (2021) Starring Katie Lyons / Z-View

Hideout (2021)

Director:  Kris Roselli

Screenplay: Kris Roselli

Stars: Katie Lyons, Audrey Kovár, Chris Wolfe, Bryan Enright and Eric Francis Melaragni

Tagline: No One Can Hide Forever

The Plot…

After a botched robbery where Reed (Wolfe) was shot, Sarah, Rick and Kyle need a place to hold up until the heat dies down.  They find a remote farmhouse where an old woman lives with her granddaughter… at least that’s how it appears…

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Hideout begins well enough with an interesting premise.  Four violent robbers on the run take shelter at a remote farm unaware that one of their hostages isn’t what she seems.   Unfortunately once it gets going Hideout doesn’t live up to its potential.  It’s slow with quite a bit of overacting by Wolfe and Enright,  Yelling and raising your eyebrows only takes you so far.  Katie Lyons is definitely the star of the show.

If you like low-budget horror, you can do worse, but I was expecting better.

Hideout earns 2 of 5 stars.

“Run Sweetheart Run” (2020) starring Ella Balinska & Pilou Asbæk / Z-View

Run Sweetheart Run (2020)

Director: Shana Feste

Screenplay: Shana Feste, Keith Josef Adkins, Kellee Terrell

Stars: Ella Balinska, Pilou Asbæk, Clark Gregg, Shohreh Aghdashloo and Marco Khan

Tagline:  None.

The Plot…

Cherie (Balinska) is a single mom, and pre-law student working her way through college working as a secretary for a high-priced lawyer.  When her boss calls saying that he needs her to take his place at a dinner that evening with an important client, she reluctantly agrees.

Cherie meets Ethan (Asbæk) who turns out to be rich, handsome, charming and interested in Cherie.  As the evening progresses, Cherie begins to feel attracted to Ethan.  When they arrive back at Ethan’s house, he invites Cherie in for a drink.  Although hesitant, Cherie says she’ll come in for just one.

Cherie will soon find herself on the run for her life.  Ethan was not at all what he seemed to be.  Who will believe that Ethan is a savage murderer who intends to kill Cherie before sunrise?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Run Sweetheart Run takes surprising turns that some may not like.  I absolutely enjoyed them.  There are times when the fourth wall is broken.  When Ethan and Cherie go for a nightcap, as Cherie enters the house, Ethan turns and looks directly into the camera.  He then makes a go away motion to the audience and the camera backs up.  Ethan then enters the house and from a distance we hear screams, smashing furniture and suddenly Cherie bursts out of the house running for her life.

The movie takes on a supernatural aspect about three quarters of the way through, although there have been hints along the way.  Ella Balinska is excellent as the “girl on the run” who will have to survive by her wits and toughness.  Pilou Asbæk is believable as the charming date at one moment and terrifying killer in the next.  If you’re a fan of movies that break the mold and take chances, then Run Sweetheart Run may be for you.

Run Sweetheart Run earns 4 of 5 stars.

“Three Pests in a Mess” (1945) starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

Three Pests in a Mess (1945)

Director:  Del Lord

Screenplay: Del Lord

Stars: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Curly Howard, Christine McIntyre, Vernon Dent and ‘Snub’ Pollard

Tagline:  Three screwballs on the loose!

The Plot…

Larry, Curly and Moe are inventors who become enamoured with a gold digger who thinks the boys are loaded. When she finds out they’re not, she calls in her partners to rough up the boys.  While making their escape Curly accidently shoots a mannequin.  Thinking that Curly has killed a man, the boys put the “body” in a bag and take it to a cemetery to bury it.  What could go wrong?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Three Pests in a Mess is another Stooges classic.  Curly’s interactions with the gold digger and his shirt “preparedness” are priceless.  The cemetery scenes at night with Larry, Curly, Moe and the folks from the masquerade party (A devil, skeleton, and mad magician) are classic.  Curly shines when carrying the bag containing the mannequin and with each step he takes gets slapped in the head by the mannequin’s hand.  Three Pests in a Mess is another great example of how comedy and “horror” work so well together.

Three Pests in a Mess earns 5 of 5 stars.

“Alligator” (1980) starring Robert Forster / Z-View

Alligator (1980)

Director:  Lewis Teague

Screenplay:  John Sayles from a story by John Sayles, Frank Ray Perilli

Stars: Robert Forster, Robin Riker, Michael V. Gazzo, Dean Jagger, Sydney Lassick, Jack Carter, Henry Silva, Buckley Norris and Sue Lyon 

Tagline:  It lives 50 feet beneath the city. It’s 36 feet long. It weighs 2,000 pounds…And it’s about to break out!

The Plot…

An alligator that was flushed into the Chicago sewers twelve years ago begins feeding on discarded animal remains used in experiments.  This causes the gator to grow to a gigantic size with an insatiable appetite.  When body parts of missing city workers show up, police officer David Madison (Forster) and a rookie cop are sent into the sewer to investigate.

They discover the alligator, or perhaps it’s better to say the alligator discovers them.  Madison barely escapes but his partner isn’t as lucky.  Madison reports that there’s a giant alligator living in the sewers system, but no one believes him until the gator comes to the surface… and it’s hungry!

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Alligator is a better movie than you might think a low-budget Jaws knockoff would be. That’s  thanks to the folks involved.  Lewis Teague (Death Race 2000; Cujo) knows how to get the most bang for the buck directing low budget horror.  John (The Howling; Piranha; Lone Star) Sayles provides a story with more depth than expected from a giant alligator movie.  Robert Forster is joined by Michael (Godfather II) Gazzo, Sydney (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) Lassick and Henry (Sharky’s Machine) Silva.  Dean Jagger and Sue Lyons also appear in what would be their last film roles.

There are two cool Easter Eggs in Alligator: 1) The first sewer worker to go missing is named Edward Norton which is a tip of the hat to The Honeymooners.  2) There’s graffiti on a sewer wall near the end of the movie that says, “Harry Lime Lives”.  This is a reference to Orson Welles character in The Third Man who escapes through a sewer.

Bryan (Breaking Bad) Cranston worked on the film as a production assistant for the Special Effects department and became friends with Robert Forster.

Alligator isn’t a great film, but it’s better than you might expect.

Alligator earns 3 of 5 stars.

“Count Yorga, Vampire” (1970) / Z-View

Count Yorga, Vampire aka The Loves Of Count Iorga, Vampire (1970)

Director:  Bob Kelljan

Screenplay:  Bob Kelljan

Stars:  Robert Quarry, Roger Perry, Michael Murphy and Judy Lang

Tagline:  Because of Certain Shock Scenes We Suggest You Don’t Come Alone!

The Plot…

Donna’s mother recently died.  She invites her boyfriend, Michael (Thompson), and close friends Paul (Murphy), Ericka (Lang) and Jim (Perry) to a séance performed by Count Yorga.  After the séance Donna says that Yorga and her mother dated shortly before she died.  The next day Erica shows up with what appears to be bite marks on her neck that she can’t explain.  She has little energy and has lost a large amount of blood.  As Paul, Michael and Jim follow the clues, evidence points to Count Yorga being a modern day vampire!

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Count Yorga is a low-budget release from American International originally conceived as a soft-core porn film.  Producers wanted Robert Quarry as the vampire.  Quarry said, he’d star, but only if they dropped the porn aspect.  The producers agreed.  Still, as you can tell from the poster, producers emphasized the sexual aspect and made sure there were scenes of women bathing, in nightgowns, etc.

Count Yorga is definitely a low-budget movie of the late 60s/early 70s.  With that said, it was also much better than I anticipated.

Count Yorga, Vampire aka The Loves Of Count Iorga, Vampire earns 3 of 5 stars.

“Return to Glennascaul” aka “Orson Welles’ Ghost Story” (1951) / Z-View

Return to Glennascaul aka Orson Welles’ Ghost Story (1951)

Director:  Hilton Edwards

Screenplay:  Hilton Edwards

Stars:  Orson Welles and Michael Laurence 

Tagline:  None.

The Plot…

Orson Welles is driving late one night on a nearly deserted road.  He spots a stranded motorist beside a car and asks the man if he could use a ride.  The man accepts and they drive off.  To pass the time, the man begins to tell Welles of an incident where, at the very same spot the man picked up two women who were stranded…

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Welles actually made Return to Glennascaul while he was on a break from filming Othello.  When Welles picks up the stranded motorist, he asks him what’s wrong with his car.  The man replies, “Trouble with the distributor.”  Welles replies that he’s had problems with his distributor as well.  Welles is of course referring to the producers of Othello which is a cute inside joke.

Return to Glennascaul is a short ghost story that is enhanced by having Orson Welles as the “star” narrator.

Return to Glennascaul aka Orson Welles’ Ghost Story earns 3 of 5 stars.

“El Vampiro Negro” (1953) / Z-View

El Vampiro Negro (1953)

Director:  Román Viñoly Barreto

Screenplay:  Alberto Etchebehere, Román Viñoly Barreto based on the screenplay M by Fritz Lang & Thea von Harbou

Stars:  Olga Zubarry, Roberto Escalada and Nathán Pinzón.

Tagline:  None.

The Plot…

A serial killer that the press labeled El Vampiro Negro (The Black Vampire) continues his killing spree of little girls.  Late one evening Amalia (Zubarry), a singer in a less than reputable nightclub, accidentally spies the killer dumping a child’s body in a sewer drain.  Amalia is frightened and afraid to go to the police.  When detectives ask questions of the nightclub’s employees, Amalia lies and says she didn’t see anything.

El Vampiro Negro continues to murder little girls. When police find their bodies, there is no evidence left behind. The killer is both smart and lucky.  As a patron of the nightclub where Amalia sings, the killer comes into contact with Amalia’s young daughter.  She will be his next victim…

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

El Vampiro Negro is a re-tooling of Fritz Lang’s M.  Although the title might make you think El Vampiro Negro is a silly horror film, it is far from being silly.  I’m surprised that El Vampiro Negro isn’t better known since it is well written and beautifully directed.  The black and white cinematography by Aníbal González Paz is mesmerizing.  The camera loves Olga Zubarry and she’s excellent in her role.  Peter Lore became an international star after his performance as the killer in M.  Unfortunately Nathán Pinzón didn’t receive the fame, but his performance is just as powerful.

El Vampiro Negro earns 5 of 5 stars.

Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows (2007) / Z-View

Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows (2007)

Director:  Kent Jones

Screenplay: Kent Jones

Stars: Martin Scorsese (narrator), Orson Welles, Val E. Lewton, Roger Corman, Jacques Tourneur, Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Robert Wise.

Tagline:  None.

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Val Lewton began his career as a writer of pulp fiction.  He had two published novels before he took a job at MGM.  There Lewton wrote promotional copy and film novelizations.  Lewton later became publicist and assistant to David Selznick.  Under Selznick, Lewton worked as a story editor and uncredited writer on Gone with the Wind.

In 1942, Val Lewton left MGM to become head of the horror division at RKO studios. He was given carte blanche if he followed three rules: 1) Each film had to be made for $150,000 or less.  2) Each film had to run 75 minutes or less.  3) Lewton’s supervisors at RKO would provide the film titles.  Surprisingly, given these parameters, Lewton made a name for himself by taking control of all other aspects of the films he produced.

Lewton’s first RKO film, Cat People became RKO’s biggest hit of the year.  Lewton developed a friendship with it’s director,  Jacques Tourneur.  They reteamed on two other films (I Walked with a Zombie and The Leopard Man).  Lewton gave Robert Wise (The Curse of the Cat People) and Mark Robson (The Seventh Victim) their first opportunities to direct.  Boris Karloff also appeared in three of Lewton’s films (Isle of the Dead; The body Snatcher and Bedlam). Karloff credited Lewton for helping rejuvenate his career.  Val Lewton always wrote the final draft of the films he produced, but seldom took a writing credit.  In the two cases where he did accept a credit, Lewton used the  pseudonym Carlos Keith (which he also used for some novels).

Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows focuses on Lewton’s career at RKO and the (mostly horror) films he produced there.  The films were:  Cat People (1942); I Walked with a Zombie (1943); The Leopard Man (1943); The Seventh Victim (1943); The Ghost Ship (1943); The Curse of the Cat People (1944); Mademoiselle Fifi (1944); Youth Runs Wild (1944); The Body Snatcher (1945); Isle of the Dead (1945) and Bedlam (1946).

Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows earns 3 of 5 stars.

Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities, Season 1 / Z-View

Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities (2022)

Episode 1: “Lot 36”
Director:  Guillermo Navarr
Teleplay:  Regina Corrado and Guillermo del Toro based on the short story by  Guillermo del Toro
Stars: Tim Blake Nelson, Sebastian Roché, Elpidia Carrillo and Lize Johnston

Episode 2: “Graveyard Rats”
Director:  Vincenzo Natali
Teleplay:  Vincenzo Natali based on the short story by  Henry Kuttner
Stars: David Hewlett and Nabeel El Khafif

Episode 3: “The Autopsy”
Director:  David Prior
Teleplay: David S. Goyer based on the short story by  Michael Shea
Stars: F. Murray Abraham, Glynn Turman and Luke Roberts

Episode 4: “The Outside”
Director:  Ana Lily Amirpour
Teleplay:  Haley Z. Boston based on a webcomic by Emily Carroll
Stars: Kate Micucci and Martin Starr

Episode 5: “Pickman’s Model”
Director:  Keith Thomas
Teleplay: Lee Patterson based on the short story by  H. P. Lovecraft
Stars: Ben Barnes and Crispin Glover 

Episode 6: “Dreams in the Witch House”
Director:  Catherine Hardwick
Teleplay:  Mika Watkins based on the short story by H. P. Lovecraft
Stars: Rupert Grint 

Episode 7: “The Vewing”
Director:  Panos Cosmatos
Teleplay: Panos Cosmatos & Aaron Stewart-Ahn
Stars: Peter Weller, Steve Agee, Eric André and Sofia Boutella  

Episode 8: “The Murmuring”
Director:  Jennifer Kent
Teleplay:  Jennifer Ken based on the short story by Guillermo del Toro
Stars: Essie Davis and Andrew Lincoln 

Tagline:  None.

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities is a horror anthology series.  Each episode is a self-contained story introduced by Guillermo del Toro.  I enjoyed all the episodes and each earned 4 of 5 stars.

My favorites were:

1. “The Autopsy”

4 “Lot 36”

5 “The Vewing”

I hope we get a season 2.

Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities, Season 1 earns 4 of 5 stars.

“Mindcage” starring Martin Lawrence, John Malkovich & Melissa Roxburgh – The Poster and Trailer are Here!

I like the poster and dig the trailer for Mindcage starring Martin Lawrence, John Malkovich and Melissa Roxburgh.  It took me a second to accept Lawrence in a serious role, but this could work.  What do you think?

In this spellbinding thriller, detectives Jake Doyle (Martin Lawrence) and Mary Kelly (Melissa Roxburgh) seek the help of an incarcerated serial killer named The Artist (John Malkovich) when a copycat killer strikes. While Mary searches for clues in The Artist’s brilliant but twisted psyche, she and Jake are lured into a diabolical game of cat and mouse, racing against time to stay one step ahead of The Artist and his copycat.

Starring Martin Lawrence, Melissa Roxburgh, John Malkovich, Robert Knepper, Jacob Grodnik, and Aiden Turner.

“Troll” – The Poster and Trailer are Here!

I liked the Troll teaser and am really diggin’ the Troll poster and full trailer.  Deal me in.

When an explosion in the Norwegian mountains awakens an ancient troll, officials appoint a fearless palaeontologist to stop it from wreaking deadly havoc. This fantasy-action film stars Ine Marie Wilmann (“War Sailor”) and was directed by Roar Uthaug (“Tomb Raider” and “The Wave”).