Author Topic: Danae's 2012 Horror  (Read 7856 times)

Offline Danae Cassandra

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Danae's 2012 Horror
« on: October 02, 2012, 04:46:26 AM »


Island of Lost Souls
Year of Release:  1932
Directed By:  Erle C. Kenton
Starring:  Charles Laughton, Richard Arlen, Leila Hyams, Bela Lugosi, Kathleen Burke, Arthur Hohl
Rating: Not Rated

Overview:
A twisted treasure from Hollywood’s pre-Code horror heyday, Island of Lost Souls is a cautionary tale of science run amok, adapted from H. G. Wells’s novel The Island of Dr. Moreau. In one of his first major movie roles, Charles Laughton is a mad doctor conducting ghastly genetic experiments on a remote island in the South Seas, much to the fear and disgust of the shipwrecked sailor (Richard Arlen) who finds himself trapped there. This touchstone of movie terror, directed by Erle C. Kenton, features expressionistic photography by Karl Struss, groundbreaking makeup effects that inspired generations of monster-movie artists, and the legendary Bela Lugosi in one his most gruesome roles.

My Thoughts:
What a great film!  Great source material, of course, but also well adapted.  The performances are really what carry the film, most especially Charles Laughton's magnificent turn as Dr. Moreau.  He is so arrogant, so sociopathic, and so creepy - a perfect mad scientist!  I was also impressed by how well Kathleen Burke channels a cat's body language as Lota.  Everyone else was also great.  The technical aspects are just as impressive as the performances.  The makeup is extraordinary, especially when you consider what they had to work with in 1932.  It really exposes the dual nature of the beast-men, their innate animal nature; their innate human nature.  The lighting and camera work are equally well done.  Truly horrific in its ideas and implications, with more than a little to say about what it means to be human, I would highly recommend the movie for anyone who enjoys old films and classic horror.

Bechtel Test:  Fail

Overall: 4.5/5
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
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Offline Danae Cassandra

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Re: Danae's 2012 Horror
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2012, 07:23:37 PM »


The Old Dark House
Year of Release:  1932
Directed By:  James Whale
Starring:  Boris Karloff, Melvyn Douglas, Charles Laughton, Lilian Bond
Rating:  Not Rated

Overview:
Weary travelers find shelter in a mysterious Welsh manor in this definitive "Old Dark House" thriller and cult movie favorite by horror pioneer James Whale (the director of Frankenstein, The Invisible Man and The Bride of Frankenstein, and subject of the recent film Gods and Monsters).

Greeted with an animal-like grunt by the mansion's hideously scarred butler (Boris Karloff), three disoriented voyagers (Melvyn Douglas, Raymond Massey and Lillian Bond) find themselves in the unwelcoming company of the psychotic Femm family, whose members include a religious fanatic obsessed with mortality and other matter of the sinful flesh (Eva Moore), her browbeaten brother (Ernest Thesiger), and a scripture-quoting homicidal pyromaniac (Brember Wills)... all watched over by their androgynous, 102-year-old father (Elspeth "John" Dudgeon). Relieving the story's overwhelming weirdness are Charles Laughton and a young Gloria Stuart (Titanic) as two confused visitors to the strange estate.

As witty and surprising as it is darkly unsettling, The Old Dark House is a ghoulishly delightful treat, a one-of-a-kind macabre comedy blanketed with rain-soaked, gothic eeriness orchestrated by one of the foremost directors of the American horror film.

My Thoughts:
Another great little film.  I enjoyed this one as much as Island of Lost Souls, though I think Island is the better film (if by a slim margin).  We have Laughton here again, in a completely different character.  He was a great, versatile actor.  We also have another classic horror heavyweight, Boris Karloff, doing a wonderfully menacing turn as Morgan.  In fact the entire ensemble cast is good, creating unique, and often eccentric characters, even if I did think Gloria Stuart's character was incredibly silly and stupid and I didn't sympathize with her at all. The really great things about the film are the cinematography (this really is an old, dark house), and the dry, witty, darkly humorous dialogue.  Highly recommended if you like old films or classic horror.

Bechtel Test:  Pass

Overall:  4/5
« Last Edit: October 02, 2012, 07:25:36 PM by Danae Cassandra »
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
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samuelrichardscott

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Re: Danae's 2012 Horror
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2012, 12:40:57 AM »
I've always found The Old Dark House to be one of Whale's overlooked gems. Glad you liked it!

Offline Danae Cassandra

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Re: Danae's 2012 Horror
« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2012, 05:06:07 AM »


Fiend Without a Face
Year of Release:  1958
Directed By:  Arthur Crabtree
Starring:  Marshall Thompson, Terry Kilburn, Kim Parker, Kynaston Reeves
Rating:  Not Rated

Overview:
A scientist's thoughts materialize as an army of invisible brain-shaped monsters (complete with spinal-cord tails!) who terrorize an American military base in this nightmarish chiller, directed by Arthur Crabtree (Horrors of the Black Museum). This outstanding sci-fi/horror hybrid is a special effects bonanza, and a high-water mark in British genre filmmaking.

My Thoughts:
What a fun little horror film!  So obviously a B-movie, but also so well done for a B film.  I loved their choice to keep the monster invisible for most of the picture.  I think it really added to the terror of them.  The cast was good, the camera work effective, the sound guy obviously having a great time with the fiend's noise.  It's a 50's film set on a military base, so there's naturally a nod to keeping an eye on the Russians.  Also there's the not-subtle-at-all fear of atomic power and science run amok.  But that's what makes a good 50's monster movie!  If you like these sorts of films, this is highly recommended.

Also, who wants to bet Gary Gygax saw this film?  The fiend is so obviously the inspiration for the intellect devourer. 

Bechdel Test:  Fail

Overall:  3.5/5
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
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Offline Danae Cassandra

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Re: Danae's 2012 Horror
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2012, 10:49:49 PM »


Masters of Horror: Haeckel's Tale
Year of Release:  2005
Directed By:  John McNaughton
Starring:  Derek Cecil, Leeta Savasta, Tom McBeath, Jon Polito
Rated:  TV-MA

Overview:
In a time when the laws of science battled the secrets of magic, medical student Ernst Haeckel (Derek Cecil) believes the power of life, death and resurrection lay in his arrogant hands. But on a journey to visit his gravely ill father, he finds shelter in the home of an older man and his seductive young wife (Leela Savasta) who cannot be fulfilled by mortal hungers. Somewhere in the darkness of a nearby necropolis, a defiant necromancer (Jon Polito of BARTON FINK, MILLER'S CROSSING) will now summon them all to an orgy of the undead and unleash the ultimate depravity for those who do not heed the warning of HAECKEL'S TALE.

Directed by John McNaughton in association with horror legend George A. Romero, this startling mix of erotic desire and gut-ripping horror is adapted by series creator/executive producer Mick Garris from the short story by Clive Barker.

My Thoughts:
So, I unexpectedly had the day off (after working a double yesterday) and thought I'd check out something more modern than my usual fare and possibly one that might not be one to watch together with my mom.  Hence, this.  

This of course was originally made for the TV series Masters of Horror, but I'm going to refer to it as a film anyway.  Not a bad little film at all.  A bit more gore than I normally like in one scene but not so much that I wouldn't watch it again.  This is the story of a beautiful necrophiliac and the handsome young medical student who becomes taken with her.  And it is the story of what happens when man tries to overcome death, to return the dead to life.  It had a nice creepy atmosphere that I really liked.  A bit more distance let me notice a large continuity error I hadn't before, so I revised the overall rating.  Still, recommended, even with the obvious-in-hindsight error, if for nothing else than  the T&A.

Bechdel Test:  Fail

Overall:  2.5/5
« Last Edit: October 11, 2012, 01:25:20 AM by Danae Cassandra »
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
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Offline Danae Cassandra

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Re: Danae's 2012 Horror
« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2012, 04:11:30 AM »


Yabu no naka no kuroneko  (Kuroneko)

Year of Release:  1968
Directed By:  Kaneto Shindo
Starring:  Kichiemon Nakamura, Nobuko Otowa, Kiwako Taichi, Kei Sato 
Rated:  Not Rated

Overview:
In this poetic and atmospheric horror fable, set in a village in war-torn feudal Japan, malevolent spirits are ripping out the throats of itinerant samurai. When a military hero is dispatched to confront the unseen force, he finds that he must struggle with personal demons as well. From Kaneto Shindo, director of the similarly terrifying Onibaba, Kuroneko (a.k.a. Black Cat) is a spectacularly eerie twilight tale, with a shocking feminist angle, evoked through ghostly special effects and exquisite cinematography.

My Thoughts:
What a magnificent film!  The cinematography is so perfect, so gorgeous, the unconventional use of lighting, the play of darkness and shadow in the film, the eerie fog that heralds entering the supernatural realm.  The look of the film and its atmosphere are so wonderfully done, the use of black and white so appropriate that I can't imagine what this would look like in color.  The actors are all great as well.  Poetic, tragic, symbolic, chilling, I would highly recommend this for any fan of classic or Japanese horror.  Avoid only if you can't watch a subtitled film (in which case, I feel sorry for you).  Any other horror film I watch this month has a high bar set by Kuroneko.

Bechdel Test:  Fail

Overall:  4.75/5
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
-- Thorin Oakenshield

Offline Achim

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Re: Danae's 2012 Horror
« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2012, 05:01:25 AM »
We have Laughton here again, in a completely different character.  He was a great, versatile actor.
If you haven't seen it already I reommend Laughon's sole directorial effort to you! The Night Of The Hunter even would match this marathon...

I think I might watch Island of Lost Sous later based on your review...

Quote
Bechtel Test:
I may simply have missed the related post so far (catching up slowly after a few days away from the forum). What is this Bechtel thing? A Google search only had me getting confusing results.

Offline Jimmy

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Re: Danae's 2012 Horror
« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2012, 05:11:53 AM »
What is this Bechtel thing?

So Achim are you back from Germany or you post from there?

Offline Achim

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Re: Danae's 2012 Horror
« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2012, 06:34:13 AM »
Thanks Jimmy. That's actually what I found on Google (slightly different spelling), but I expected it to be closer to horror than the more general test.

The lady showed Alien 3 in the list of movies that don't pass. But I find that is unfair. Anyway, it is indeed interesting to see how many films, even big and popular ones fail the test, which means women are more decoration than an element of the film.

So Achim are you back from Germany or you post from there?
No, not yet. I will go to Germany next week, for a total of three weeks. I was gone for a few days hiking in the Taiwanese mountains. Highest peak was 3,742m. Given that I had not any sort of training for years and the last time I did something similar was 20 years ago I think I did quite well. Very glad to have a holiday today though (10/10 is Taiwan's National Day), I am quite exhausted overall.

Offline Danae Cassandra

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Re: Danae's 2012 Horror
« Reply #9 on: October 10, 2012, 09:32:34 PM »
Yeah, I have accidentally been misspelling Bechdel for some time.   :-[  I watched that video, and have been keeping track for my Around the World marathon, so I thought I'd just keep track for any reviews I did. 

I really enjoyed Island of Lost Souls.  I hope you do too.  I think I've seen the remake of Night of the Hunter, but not the original.  It's now a Criterion release, though, so I'll pick it up eventually.
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
-- Thorin Oakenshield

Offline Danae Cassandra

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Re: Danae's 2012 Horror
« Reply #10 on: October 10, 2012, 09:50:17 PM »


Christina, princesse de l'érotisme  (A Virgin Among the Living Dead)

Year of Release:  1971
Directed By:  Jess Franco
Starring:  Christina von Blanc, Britt Nichols, Rosa Palomar, Anne Libert, Howard Vernon, Jess Franco, Paul Muller
Rated:  Not Rated

Overview:
After losing her mother at an early age and being raised at a boarding school, Cristina Reiner is notified of her father's death and summoned to Monserrat Mansion for the reading of his will. Other members of her strange, accursed family are found there awaiting the imminent demise of Cristina's ailing stepmother, Hermione, whom she has never met. When Death finally visits the castle in the person of an elegantly attired Queen of Darkness, Cristina is approached by the ghost of her father — the noose of his suicide permanently around his neck — who advises her to flee the castle and her cold-skinned, bloodthirsty relatives. But is it already too late?  Has she already lost touch with reality?  Learn the answers, if you dare, in this legendary cult classic from Jess Franco — uncut in America for the first time!

My Thoughts:
This is a beautiful, bizarre film and I'm not completely sure what to make of it.  It has beautiful cinematography, a haunting score, great use of outdoor locations, a suitably creepy atmosphere and a gorgeous, and often nude, female lead.  On the other hand the plot is sketchy and more than a bit surreal.  Is it a haunted house, are they vampires, is Death really calling for her, or is she simply deliriously imagining the whole thing?  I think the director intended us to question what was going on and if I'm right he succeeded.  I'd definitely be willing to watch it again, perhaps I'd get more out it.

Given some of the titles he's reviewed, I think this might be right up Jimmy's alley.  Could be wrong though.

Bechdel Test:  Pass

Overall:  3/5
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
-- Thorin Oakenshield

Offline Jimmy

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Re: Danae's 2012 Horror
« Reply #11 on: October 11, 2012, 12:34:55 AM »
Given some of the titles he's reviewed, I think this might be right up Jimmy's alley.  Could be wrong though.
You are right, but few Jess Franco's movie please me (of course the fact many of them are cut and in bad shape doesn't help)...

Offline Danae Cassandra

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Re: Danae's 2012 Horror
« Reply #12 on: October 11, 2012, 01:29:00 AM »
Given some of the titles he's reviewed, I think this might be right up Jimmy's alley.  Could be wrong though.
You are right, but few Jess Franco's movie please me (of course the fact many of them are cut and in bad shape doesn't help)...
The package says this one is uncut, and the print didn't appear to be in bad shape to me.  There was a section of "deleted scenes" which included stuff that other reviewers indicate are from an entirely different movie (they certainly don't match this film at all).
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Offline Jimmy

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Re: Danae's 2012 Horror
« Reply #13 on: October 11, 2012, 01:42:22 AM »
The package says this one is uncut, and the print didn't appear to be in bad shape to me.
Is the running time 1h32? It's the complete uncut version and I think it's only available in Germany but the DVD is OOP and costly.

Offline Danae Cassandra

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Re: Danae's 2012 Horror
« Reply #14 on: October 11, 2012, 03:10:56 AM »
No, runtime is 1h19. 

Comments on IMDB talk about it being later padded with footage from a film called Lake of Zombies.  Certainly two large segments of the deleted scenes are filled with zombies in scenes that don't match this film at all.

There's also a rape scene in the deleted scenes, but the same scene, played a bit shorter, is in the film. 
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
-- Thorin Oakenshield