Daughter of Dracula (1972)

Daughter of Dracula (1972) movie poster

director Jesús Franco
viewed: 05/02/2018

Daughter of Dracula is a little confusebslls but what good Jesús Franco flick isn’t? It does, however, feature a more substantial acting role for Jess than in a lot of other films of his.

What is it about Jesús Franco that makes him compelling? Not simply that he cranked out movies prodigiously more than competently. Per IMDb, Daughter of Dracula is one of nine films he directed in 1972 alone. He displays sometimes amateurish skills, heightened by passion and aesthetics, often incoherent but sometimes cohesive yet still inconsistent. 

A lot of people seem to see Daughter of Dracula as more giallo than horror. True, it’s got a detective working a series of killings. It’s also got a girl turned vampire upon her mother’s deathbed confession relating a family history and then, yes, Dracula (Franco stalwart Howard Vernon). And lesbian sex scenes.

Don’t get me wrong. I like Franco. I just can’t articulate why exactly.

Terror on Tour (1980)

Terror on Tour (1980)

director Don Edmonds
viewed: 04/30/2018

“Send in the clowns
Don’t bother, they’re here”

These Clowns are a horror rock group, looking more like a reject gang from The Warriors than a KISS wannabe band. The real band, The Names, from Rockford, IL, is actually kinda good, sporting a sort of power pop sound rather than the metal you might guess they’d play. And the band members actually act in the film, too?

Terror on Tour is more a murder mystery than a slasher. It all starts when someone dressed up like a member of the band starts killing chicks. And since the band isn’t actually on tour, nor is the terror, all this is going down in a seedy old, but cool-looking, theater, and the detectives come in to solve the crimes.

The detective pulls in a a drug bust prostitute girl and coerces her into going undercover. Kinda cool that she’s semi-heroic, though, as in real life, the cops put her in danger and she has no power to choose.

Not the best, and not the worst.

Creating Rem Lezar (1989)

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director Scott Zakarin
viewed: 04/29/2018

I’m late to the game on the Creating Rem Lezar funfair. But better late than never.

Apparently, in earlier times of ye olde internet, people had to post clips from this direct-to-video children’s odyssey oddity, because back then you couldn’t get the whole thing on YouTube. Well, nowadays, you can see the whole thing there, in its ripped from VHS glory and its astounding astoundingness.

Is there anyone who has watched Creating Rem Lezar who didn’t think “stranger danger”?

I don’t have much to add to the Creating Rem Lezar dialogue, other than to wonder if there was anyone who actually saw it back in the day, as a target audience kid, and what they thought at the time.

Chatterbox (1977)

Chatterbox (1977) movie poster

director  Tom DeSimone
viewed: 04/27/2018

Is that a boom mike dangling there or are you just really glad to see this movie?

Chatterbox is the movie that dares to literally ask the question: “What would you say if I told you my vagina could talk?”

And I can tell you that this is definitely a man’s idea of if a vagina could talk. And sing. Circa 1977. 

Unsurprisingly, a sex organ with a voice and personality turns out to be a total pain in the ass for Penelope (Candace Rialson), especially once Virginia the vagina takes to showbiz.

It’s amusing, if not actually funny.

Nice to see Rip Taylor though.

Space Invasion of Lapland (1959)

Space Invasion of Lapland (1959) movie poster

director Virgil W. Vogel
viewed: 04/27/2018

I began Space Invasion of Lapland as the Jerry Warren version Invasion of the Animal People with John Carradine. But midway, I switched over to Terror in the Midnight Sun, which is a less bastardized American version of this Swedish 1959 sci-fi horror flick filmed in English. It’s interesting that IMDb doesn’t give Warren credit for his version. Maybe he didn’t add or change enough.

Both versions feature the super pretty Barbara Wilson, an American in Sweden, who just happens to coincide with the landing of an alien ship, the slaughter of a bunch of reindeer, and eventually a big ol’ hairy monster guy, a kind of outer space King Kong landed in snowy Lappland.

You know, it’s got a lot to recommend it, though it’s also slow and draggy at times. The monster sequences are good fun, a forced perspective giant beast, hairy as all get-out. Is he big enough to be a kaiju?

Oh, and the aliens. When they suddenly start appearing on screen, it’s almost a modernist comic alien Death from The Seventh Seal.

Weird and cool.

 

Demon Witch Child (1975)

Demon Witch Child (1975) movie poster

director Amando de Ossorio
viewed: 04/25/2018

“What the devil’s going on?”

In the Seventies, we were taught not to take candy from strangers and that there might be razor blades in apples and all but not to beware of gypsies bearing gifts, like demonic totems and necklaces. It’s pretty funny how right after accepting this totem, little Anne (Lone Fleming) instantly turns into The Bad Seed with a foul mouth.

Amando de Ossorio‘s witchy take on The Exorcist, Demon Witch Child, is a gnarly and loopy knock-off. Which I definitely enjoyed.

Its charms are a mixture of things, like the super clunky dub, the rather good makeup when Anne becomes the witch, the weird subplot about the priest and the prostitute, and literal emasculation by a possessed little girl.

Wonky fun.

La Loba (1965)

La Loba (1965) movie poster

director  Rafael Baledón
viewed: 04/23/2018

Oh, Man. La Loba starts off on a tear,  with the lady werewolf climbing from a grave, leaping like a ninja, and killing everyone in sight. The first 10 minutes are virtually dialog-free, and sights and sounds, action, attacks and blood-letting exuding at times elements of Silent Cinema.

The whole of La Loba is atmospheric and melodramatic, a Mexican Gothic, in which a beautiful young woman (Kitty de Hoyos) is cursed with lycanthropy, though managed by her family and in house scientists. 

Having watched this “sin subtítulos”, I’d be speculating about some of the relationships, but it does indeed seem that her lover is also a werewolf, and that there is also a werewolf hunter who has a special dog that kills werewolves too.

What I don’t have to speculate about is that this film is pretty awesome, even if it doesn’t achieve that same level that the first 10 minutes reached. It’s stylish and well-shot, sort of gory in an old black-and-white horror film way, and pretty damn fun.

I can definitely see Guillermo del Toro digging this.

The Blue Hour (1971)

The Blue Hour (1971) movie poster

directors  Sergei Goncharoff, Ron Nicholas
viewed: 04/22/2018

The Blue Hour is sort of like the sexploitation  Stranger Than Paradise.  Not that it’s Jarmuschian but that it’s a sort of immigrant’s tale with arthouse vibe.

Of course, sexploitation means there’s always more “ploitation” than “sex”, and that is very much the case here.

Tania is new to America and experiencing the open sexual mores of the time, which trigger memories of her coming of age on an isolated Greek island. The Blue Hour is strange and inconsistent, but winds up being sort of evocative, feeling somehow very personal.

Not sure I know what to do with it, but it was not uninteresting.

 

Bride of the Gorilla (1951)

Bride of the Gorilla (1951) movie poster

director Curt Siodmak
viewed: 04/21/2018

“White people should not like be too long on the jungle.”

Curt Siodmak’s 1951 B-picture Bride of the Gorilla is pretty preposterous, pretty racist, and at the same time, pretty interesting. Possibly I would receive the most dissent over that final adjective.

Curt Siodmak might not be a major name in classic American horror films, but he certainly deserves a spot somewhere in the next tier. Best known for his original script for The Wolf Man (1941) and Donovan’s Brain (1953), he wrote numerous horror and science fiction scripts, mostly of the B-picture variety, and even got around to directing one or two. Bride of the Gorilla is his first.

It stars heavy Raymond Burr as an upstart on a rubber plantation, who sort of kills his boss and marries his boss’s wife, Barbara Payton, toot sweet. Only he’s got an even heavier Lon Chaney, Jr. as the local cop on his tail. And more worrisome, the local native gypsy who throws a curse on him.

What ensues is a psychological horror, in which Burr goes more than native. In fact, he goes full on ape. In his head, at least.

Siodmak churns out a poor man’s Val Lewton type of picture, and not the best of Val Lewton, but still interesting.

I also found it interesting to finally see a Barbara Payton picture. An interesting read on her here at Sunset Gun.

Cardiac Arrest (1980)

 Cardiac Arrest (1980) movie postere

director Murray Mintz
viewed: 04/18/2018

Unheralded, probably because it’s not very good, Cardiac Arrest is a detective thriller on the streets of San Francisco. Going by the movie poster, it was marketed as a horror film, and sadly, that’s a guarantee for disappointment.

Clumsy writing and directing in this picture is probably a testament to why it’s one of very few Murray Mintz movies.

But one thing it does have going for it is that it’s very fucking local San Francisco crime horror picture. The locations are very neighborhoody, not places non-locals would know or recognize largely. And it’s a lot of a city that no longer exists.

The most recognizable star is Max Gail (then Detective Stan “Wojo” Wojciehowicz of Barney Miller). But it also features local actors Michael Paul Chan and Marjorie Eaton, as well as then local newscaster, David McElhatton.

It’s so local they even mention the Main Street in my neighborhood, Taraval. So it’s that local.

Yeah, it’s no great shakes, but the old San Francisco angle made it worth my while.