Archive for the ‘Classics’ Category

I’m pretty stoked to talk about this one, as it is a film that is dear to my heart. As I’ve mentioned before in my blog, my Dad has always been a huge influence in my love for horror cinema. I began watching movies with the greats at a really young age, and for some reason I really loved Vincent Price’s work. There was something very obscure and classic about him that I’ve always been so enthralled by. In fact I recently found out that my aunt met him in the 80s and they had a lengthy conversation apparently. I’m very, very bitter about that. ANYWAY.

The Abominable Dr. Phibes stars Price, playing Dr. Anton Phibes, a famous organist and musical genius. In 1921 after a devastating car crash that leaves him horribly disfigured and his wife Victoria severely injured, Dr. Phibes goes into hiding after learning that his wife died on the operating table. For several years he plots his revenge against the doctors that killed his wife. Four years after the accident, with the help of his mute sidekick Vulvania, the Doctor begins to put his plan into motion, with a series of grotesque murders.

I love love love this film. It is so completely bizarre and imaginative. For example, Dr. Phibes is left without the ability to speak after the accident, so he uses his knowledge of music to create a device that allows him to speak through a Victrola. To obscure his scarred face, he creates a lifelike mask and wig.

The best aspect of this film in my opinion is the creative death scenes. Each medical professional faces a horrifying and inventive end, obviously calculated with extreme care. This film is really a pleasure to watch. It has been described as having an art deco feel, with its vibrant colors and 1920s fashions.

To put it all together, this is a super great flick with awesomely bizarre characters, fantastic contraptions and a storyline that will keep you interested all the way through. A classic for sure.

For fans of frog masks, animatronics, and embalming fluid.

The Brain That Wouldn’t Die is the story of Dr. Bill Corter, a young surgeon who is obsessed with the possibility of the transplant of human organs and appendages. His increasingly risky operations on the living and the dead cause worry to his father, an established surgeon and his assistant whom he has performed unsuccessful procedures upon. Dr. Corter is presented with his most challenging task yet when he is involved in a fatal car crash with his girlfriend Doris. Doris’s body burns in the crash, but not before her boyfriend retrieves her decapitated head from the wreckage. By using a serum that he developed, he manages to keep her severed head alive in his basement. Now all he needed was a body…


It’s no wonder that this film was used in an episode of Mystery Science Theatre 3000, as it’s completely ridiculous. From it’s comical music to it’s amateur-at-best acting, this movie will have you laughing the whole way through.

In my opinion, the best part of the movie is when the doc decides to go out and find a suitable body for his girlfriend/girlfriend’s head. There is this ridiculous saxophone music playing. Reminds me of a low-budget beatnik porno. He ventures off to a “strip club” where he meets this weird-looking blonde who is both horny and the worst actress ever in history. She never really makes full eye contact with the doctor so it looks like she is reading cue cards the whole time. Then there is a hysterical cat fight out of nowhere. What the f*ck?!


In spite of the limited settings and terrible acting qualities of this film, there was one shred of gold in it. Doris’s severed head is talking about the sadness of being without a body, being a freak of nature and misunderstood. She says, “People fear what they can’t understand, and can’t see”.

I’d say that is extremely relevant to the state of our society, don’t you?

This film is for fans of date rape drugs and corny monsters.

This film was based on the novel Hell House (for some reason WordPress doesn’t allow me to underline this…wtf), by Richard Matheson.

In this film, a dying millionaire hires three people to investigate the possibility of life after death. To do this, they must spend several days in the notorious Belasco house, said to be the most haunted in the world. The investigation is headed by Dr. Lionel Barrett, a physicist who dabbles in the study of parapsychology. His wife Edith has accompanied him during his visit.

Assisting the doctor is a mental medium, a young woman by the name of Florence Tanner, and also a physical medium named Franklin Fischer. Many years earlier Mr. Fischer had been in the house for another investigation, and was the only one of the group to make it out alive.

I own the novel Hell House and as a Richard Matheson fan I was hoping this film would stay true to the story. I was pleasantly surprised with it’s accuracy. The atmospheric qualities of the film created a tension that I love. The minimal use of music made the story feel realistic as opposed to theatrical. No special effects or excessive jump scares people.

What I love most about this flick is the story itself. I don’t want to give it away but it’s pretty dark shit which is good if you’re a freak like me. This is a pretty entertaining movie, some blood but nothing to write home about.

The Legend of Hell House for me was way better than The Haunting. Radical classic haunted house story. Worth a watch. For fans of black cats, amputees, and sleepwalkers.

Horror Hotel (1960)

Posted: November 18, 2010 in Classics

Another good one from Christopher Lee. This is one of my very favorite black and whites. Nan Barlow, a young student, takes a vacation to the small village of Whitewood, Massachusetts to do research on witchcraft for a paper. Nan’s professor who is familiar with the town, suggests the Raven’s Inn as a good place to stay. Nan arrives in the evening at the small village, silent and thick with fog. It certainly seemed a good place for the occult. Upon arriving, Nan is stared at by some of the town residents as if she were an intruder. In addition she is warned by the town priest to flee immediately, for the town was cursed by the spirit of an evil witch. Nan stays, but finds out that there is more to this town than just stories.

I really love this film! It’s so classic with it’s style. Delightfully atmospheric and a great storyline to keep you interested, if you’re like me and are totally into the occult thing. So metal.

Another quality I can appreciate is the suspensful build-up. There are little clues and lots of foreshadowing that lead to a great final sequence. This movie can be compared to films like Black Sunday.

The Haunted Palace (1963)

Posted: June 4, 2010 in Classics

Another adaptation of an Edgar Allen Poe work, The Haunted Palace is a goofy flick about a man Charles Ward, who inherits a huge mansion from his great-grandfather, who was burned alive 110 years earlier for being a warlock. Ward and his wife journey to the small town of Arkam, where they are most unwelcome. Unbeknown-st to Ward, he resembles very closely his great grandfather, Joseph Curwen, whom the citizens of Arkam blamed for practicing black magic, and causing multiple deaths in the town generations before. Upon their arrival, the Wards inspect the castle and decide to stay only for a short time. That changes however as Charles begins to ask stranger and stranger over the next few days, and begins exhibiting traits that are curiously similar to those of his dead grandfather. Perhaps great grandpa Curwen isn’t so dead after all. He’s back, for revenge. (Isn’t that the lamest thing to say ever? Haha.)

I love me a good 1960’s film, especially adaptations such as this one. They are SO corny, but usually entertaining. This was no exception, to a degree, but it was very difficult to finish since I found myself falling asleep during several parts. This is not a serious film. It’s the type of thing you watch with a group of people so you can laugh about the awful dialogue and inconsistencies of the plot. I found myself cracking up at one scene where a group of mutant zombie things are closing in on Ward and his wife, and they just stand there “frozen in fear” for like 5 minutes. I mean HELLO. Some weirdos are walking slowly toward you, you should probably GET OUT of there.

Vincent Price is pretty good and switching back and forth from one character to another. Bizarrly, whenever he turned to the evil character his face became greenish. WTF? I couldn’t stop laughing at it.

Only praise I can make is the set. The house was great, I found myself wondering if it was real but there are some scenes in the film that make it difficult to believe that it was just an elaborate set. I can’t imagine anyone getting a budget that big for a little film like this.

Anyways, mainly, this film is goofy and worth a watch if you’re bored but nothing I’d go out of my way to see.

Eyes Without A Face (1960)

Posted: February 9, 2010 in Classics, Strange

Based on a novel by Jean Redon, Les Yeux Sand Visage or, Eyes Without A Face, is the story of an ambitious surgeon who goes to great and horrifying lengths to restore beauty to his daughter Christiane’s disfigured face.

What makes this film a true classic is it’s level of artistic quality, from it’s haunting dream-like score to it’s twisted fairytale feel.

What I feel is the most shocking about this film or horrific, is the fact that they show a graphic facial-transplant scene, and they do not cut away. I feel that this was a bold step for a film in this era. Word of advice, do not eat while watching.

Such monstrosity enveloped by the softness of Christiane and her mysterious mask makes this such a treat to watch. An absolute must-see for any fan of horror or film noir.

You can find Eyes Without A Face in the Criterion Collection, among other greats such as The 39 Steps, Carnival of Souls and Repulsion.

I’ve recieved some feedback that some of you would like to see some more classic/older film reviews in here. I agree fully. However, this feels like such a daunting task, but I’m going to do my best to dig back into my memory and re-visit some essential older flicks. Classic horror from the fifties and sixties was essentially what made me fall in love with the genre so I think I will start there. Here is a favorite of mine.

In this adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s story, The Masque of the Red Death features Vincent Price (yay!) as arrogant and satan-worshipping Prince Prospero who taunts helpless villagers as they face certain death from the plague. The prince seeks refuge within the walls of his castle, and throws an exclusive masquerade ball in his castle, for those he deems worthy. The lucky few will not only avoid the deadly epidemic, but shall be lavished with dance, drink and entertainment. All is well until Prince Prospero spies an uninvited guest at the party, one who may bring him to his untimely end.

This film is directed by Roger Corman who’s filmography is most impressive. You can thank him for aiding in awesome flicks such as Chopping Mall, Grindhouse, Dementia 13, and a ridiculous amount of exploitation films.

The Masque of the Red Death has a silly quality that can be found in several Vincent Price films of that era. In the same token there is an air of mystery that is heightened by the surreal and vibrant coloring. As a kid I found the cloaked and mysterious “man in red” to be especially frightening:

Being older now, while I am no longer frightened by this film, I am still enthralled by it’s satanic aspect. I’ve always been fascinated by the occult and satanic ritual. Toward the end of the film there is quite a creepy sequence when Prince Prospero’s significant other offers herself to the Devil.

This is definitely a fun favorite. I own it and still watch it now and then. A must-have for any Vincent Price fan.