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Showing posts from March, 2009

It’s Alive

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1974
Dir. Larry Cohen

Larry Cohen is renowned for his low budget, high octane and surprisingly thought provoking B thrillers. After penning and directing the blaxploitation movie Black Caesar (1973) and its sequel Hell Up in Harlem (1973), Cohen hit pay-dirt with his outrageous and highly satirical B shocker It’s Alive, a cult hit that crossed over into Seventies mainstream cinema and highlighted the sly wit and subversive bite of Cohen.

Married couple Frank (John P Ryan) and Lenore Davis (Sharon Farrell) are plunged into a nightmarish world after the birth of their second child: a monstrously mutated toddler with an insatiable appetite for blood!

With quite a startling premise, Cohen really wastes no time in cutting to the chase and evoking surprising emotional depth from the outset. Sociological and environmental issues are addressed throughout the film. The over-prescription of drugs to expectant mothers like Thalidomide in the 50s and 60s, and external dangers in the environment,…

The Nanny

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1965
Dir. Seth Holt

Returning home from spending two years in a juvenile psychiatric hospital after the suspicious death of his younger sister, Joey (William Dix) finds it difficult settling into his family home again. His insensitive and neglectful father Bill is still as distant and nearly always absent from the house; his mother Virginia still as fragile and in the depths of depression as she was when he left; and his loyal and somewhat overbearing Nanny (Bette Davis) still as domineering and quietly sinister. Joey was blamed for his sister’s death and his precocious behaviour makes it hard for his parents to accept him back again and does nothing to alleviate his parents’ suspicions of his suspected derangement. Insistent that he can look after himself, he goes out of his way to ensure his contact with his Nanny is minimal. He refuses to take the room she has prepared for him or eat any of the food she has cooked. He alleges that she was responsible for the death of his sister and…

Random Creepy Scene # 416: Salem’s Lot

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Adapted from Stephen King’s best selling 1975 novel of the same name, Tobe Hooper’s uneven but supremely creepy TV mini-series follows writer Ben Mears (David Soul) as he travels back to his hometown of Salem’s Lot in order to research the old Marsten house.

The house’s latest tenants are causing quite a stir in the town. One of them, sinister Richard Straker (James Mason), runs a small antique shop in the town; the other resident, the mysterious silent partner Kurt Barlow, has yet to be glimpsed by anyone.
It becomes clear as the series unfolds, that Barlow is an ancient master vampire and is gradually turning the residents of Salem’s Lot into vampires.

One of his first victims is a young boy, Ralphie Glick. Glick disappears soon after Straker and Barlow move into town. His grisly fate becomes clear later in the series in a scene that makes the blood run cold and hairs prick up…

Ralphie appears floating outside his brother Danny’s bedroom window, feebly scratching at the glass and…

Session 9

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2001
Dir. Brad Anderson

An asbestos removal firm headed by harassed and down-on-his-luck Gordon (Peter Mullan) begin working in an abandoned asylum. Under pressure to get the job finished in as little time as possible, the close-knit group begin to fracture and unravel as the oppressive atmosphere of the building entwines itself with their already troubled and fragile psyches, leading to the unveiling of sordid secrets, mental break-downs and murder…

In the wake of films such as The Blair Witch Project (1999) and The Sixth Sense (1999), many horror films utilised a more subtle approach in their efforts to terrify and extract more cerebral chills from their audiences. The ‘less is more’ approach of film makers such as Val Lewton is strongly evident in Session 9, a film that perversely revels in its icy suggestiveness and shadowy menace.
Even without showing us something scary, Anderson conveys a particular tone of psychological horror in much of the dialogue: characters discuss the …

Hell Night

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1981
Dir. Tom DiSimone

The early eighties was officially a good time for slasher movies. From 1978 to round about 1985 is generally considered the slasher heyday. From Black Christmas to Halloween, Friday the 13th to, well, Friday the 13th Part 5: A New Beginning, and everything in between; the output of the horror genre at this time usually involved some masked psycho or other stalking nubile teenagers in a specific location, killing them off in grisly fashion, one by one, until only a single female character was left to face the brute alone, with nothing but her underwear and resourcefulness.
Hell Night is one such film, but its ominous atmosphere and gothic trimmings mark it as one of the better ones.

As part of their initiation into the revered fraternity Alpha Sigma Rho, four young pledges must spend the night in the exceedingly creepy Garth Manor, were legend has it, many years before; disturbed patriarch Raymond Garth slaughtered his wife and monstrously deformed offspring bef…

Sewage Baby

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1990
Dir. Francis Teri

AKA The Suckling

If shoddy, distasteful and dire bargain-bucket horror is your thing, then Sewage Baby will no doubt have you positively convulsing with shameful delight. A monstrously mutated foetus runs amok in a whorehouse and kills its unsavoury inhabitants. Meanwhile, Daily Mail readers across the nation become inconsolably outraged.

A dumb college couple unexpectedly discover that they are going to be parents. Before you can say ‘come to daddy’ he whisks her off to an illegal abortion clinic that also doubles as a brothel. Cue some random and queasy nudity. Sporting a fetching yellow cardigan that must surely belie his virile masculinity, the rather camp boyfriend claims they have no other choice. The girlfriend assertively points out that ‘I’m gonna do, whatever I wanna do.’ She is soon drugged by the domineering and matriarchal ‘Big Momma’, who makes it her business to make an executive decision for the blustering girl. After she performs the terminati…

Night of the Creeps

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1986
Dir. Fred Dekker

‘What is this? A homicide, or a bad B Movie?’ – Det. Cameron

Night of the Creeps wears its B-Movie status proudly on its sleeve. Lovingly made by blatant fans of B movies for other fans of B movies, it plays out like a homage to 50s style sci-fi films such as Invasion of the Body Snatchers, with elements of Night of the Living Dead, Shivers and various slasher movies thrown in for good measure. And Tom Atkins as a hard-boiled and ridiculously cynical detective! What’s not to love?

The opening scenes really succeed in setting the tone of the film as an outrageous horror/comedy. Bizarre miniature aliens are battling in a spaceship. They eventually flush their unseen enemy out of an air-hatch and into space. It crash lands on earth in the 1950s near a university campus. On what looks distinctly like Lover’s Lane, two college kids make out in a parked car. The guy notices the comet and goes to see where it landed leaving the girl waiting in the car. On the radio is …

Random Creepy Scene # 72: Darby O’Gill & the Little People

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In the aftermath of St Patrick’s Day I thought it appropriate to feature what is perhaps one of the all time creepiest moments in a film about Leprechauns EVER!

Produced by Disney and starring a young Sean Connery, Darby O’Gill & the Little People follows the exploits of amiable town drunk Darby O’Gill (Albert Sharpe) and his ‘hilarious’ attempts to outwit the King of the Leprechauns in order to obtain his fabled gold. Well, his attempts were hilarious when I was about 7 or 8 and was too young to realise the underlying pathos of this lonely old drunk’s situation: spinning tales of the supernatural and the fantastic to try and win his fellow villagers’ admiration and acceptance. Desperate town drunkards. Funny.

Anyway, Darby works as a grounds keeper for a well to do family on the outskirts of the village. Because he spends most of his time in the pub, neglecting not only his work but also his daughter Katie (Janet Munro), his landlord understandably decides to hire Sean Connery t…

Irish Horror Films

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With this week’s St Patrick’s day celebrations still ringing in your ears, why not spend the weekend unwinding and descending into the darker side of Irish culture and indulge in a few Gaelic tinged horrors… While some of these aren’t exactly Irish films, they do have connections (some more tenuous than others) to Ireland and creepy Irish folklore.

Dead Meat (2004). Mixing chills with thrills, Conor McMahon's Dead Meat is an Irish comedy horror in the same vein as Shaun of the Dead or Boy Eats Girl. The first horror film to be funded by the Irish Film Board, it features a twisted tale of zombies, mad cows and cannibalism, oh my. After accidently hitting a man with their car, Helena and her husband bundle the body into their car and continue on their way. What with this being a zombie movie though, the body doesn’t stay dead and attacks Helena’s husband. Making a run for it, Helena stumbles across an isolated farm and battles a few of its undead inhabitants before teaming up with a…

Deadly Blessing

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1981
Dir. Wes Craven

Wes Craven burst onto the horror scene in the 70s with his distinctive brand of gritty, survivalist horror with such titles as Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes (both of which have been remade, with the former's 'reimagination' due in cinemas any day now). Before the success of A Nightmare on Elm Street in 1985, Craven dabbled with a number of wildly uneven films including the made-for-TV Linda Blair vehicle Summer of Fear and his adaptation of DC Comic’s Swamp Thing. In between these two films, Craven directed the oddly interesting Deadly Blessing, a quietly haunting tale of fanaticism, obsession and fear. Starring Sharon Stone in one of her earliest roles.

Following the suspicious death of her husband John involving a slow-motion tractor accident, Martha (Maren Jensen) is visited by her two girlfriends from the city. They are slightly freaked out by the fact that Martha lives right next to an odd settlement of Amish-like Hittites ('T…

The Town that Dreaded Sundown

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1976
Dir. Charles B. Pierce

Loosely based on a true story, this quite often creepy little flick follows a straight talkin’ Texas Ranger as he attempts to track down a hooded maniac who’s been terrorising the residents of a small town in Arkansas, 1946, with a series of soon to be dubbed ‘Moonlight Murders.’

A documentary style approach has been utilised by director Pierce to lend his film an air of authority and realism. The narrator puts things in context for us throughout proceedings and paints a wonderfully vivid picture of post war small town America trying to return to some form of normalcy. Newspaper headlines flash up on screen and keep us abreast of the grisly goings-on.

Just after WWII, the predominantly working class community of Texarkana have welcomed home their soldiers who are trying to find work and battle the post war blues. Just as they thought that things couldn’t get anymore downtrodden, a lunatic wearing a sack over his head begins to menace canoodling couples on…

The Final Terror

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1981
Dir. Andrew Davis

AKA
Campsite Massacre
Bump in the Night
Carnivore
The Creeper
The Forest Primeval

A group of forest rangers and their girlfriends head up into the wild woods for a few days hiking. Unbeknownst to them they are being stalked by a vicious and deranged killer who begins to pick them off one by one… Trespassers will be prosecuted, indeed.

This probably sounds familiar by now, right? A group of people in the middle of nowhere, being murderlised one by one by a largely unseen and obviously unhinged lunatic with sharp things. The early eighties were saturated with slasher movies set in the backwoods of rustic Americana, where sexed-up, dope-smoking and, more often than not, idiotic teens from the city were hacked and slashed without mercy by inbred redneck cannibals when investigating strange noises in dark forests alone. Friday the 13th (1980), Just Before Dawn (1981), Madman (1982), The Burning (1981), The Prey (1984), sorry, getting a bit carried away, I’m sure you get…

Night of the Ghouls

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1959
Dir. Ed Wood

Whilst investigating reports of dubious activities and ghost sightings at an old house in the middle of nowhere, Lt. Dan Bradford, a specialist in supernatural crimes and lover of opera, encounters the rather odd and obviously phony physic Dr. Acula. It turns out Dr. Acula has been conducting fake séances and ripping off bereaved individuals desperate to contact their dead loved ones. However, it turns out that Acula’s dabbling in the occult may actually have summoned forth a few bewildered and vengeful spirits and as the night unravels, it won’t just be his collection of skeletons that are going bump in the night. No. It will also be the rickety sets, plodding pace, atrocious acting and the unnecessarily overlong scenes of exposition rife throughout Night of the Ghouls. This is after all an Ed Wood production, so what do you expect?

Director Edward D. Wood Jnr. has (posthumously) garnered a reputation over the years as the worst director to ever work in cinema. Th…