Classic Screams Banner

Movie Reviews

---------- A ----------
The Amazing Transparent Man (1959) The Amazing Transparent Man (1959) (b/w) (also known as 'El increíble hombre transparente')

The film starts with good mood setting music. This film is about Bank Robber, Joey Faust (played admirably by Douglas Kennedy) breaks prison with the help of a girl Laura Matson (played by Marguerite Chapman). Julia works for Major Paul Krenner (played by James Griffith), Krenner is who arranged the Jail Break so that Faust will help him on his wish power and riches.

Krenner has forced Dr. Peter Ulof (played by Ivan Triesault) to develop a ray to turn men invisible, Kenner is holding the Doctor's daughter captive so that he will create the ray.

Foust is turned invisible with the ray, this is to allow him to steal more radium to further the experimentation. As always thing's do not go as planned and side-effects happen with the ray that are unexpected.

This was filmed with "Beyond the Time Barrier" by director Edgar G. Ulmer at the same time in Texas.

This film, even though low-budget, has some pretty good acting and the script is average for Drive-In films of the day. Nice atmospheric music and sets. (6/10)

Created: 2011 August 20
And Then There Were None (1945) And Then There Were None (1945)

A definitive telling of the Agatha Christie mystery classic directed by Rene Claire. Ten people are invited to a mansion on an island, each guarding a terrible secret. They start becoming killed one by one, who is the killer? A standard story line then but the film is taut as wire, gradually building up the tension as suspects in the "Ten Little Indians" story are murdered one by one in accordance with the nursey rhyme. The direction makes everyone furtive and a potential suspect with murderous glances, peering through key holes and suspicious actions all round. The acting is top notch from everyone involved with characters well drawn, some for comedy others to carry the story, the film also has the most over the top butler you will ever see. Particularly good are Barry Fitzgerald and Walter Huston, both academy award winners. The setting in the old mansion on a lonely island is very well portrayed and is enhanced by the storms that swirl around the house .The atmosphere that builds may have you constantly trying to figure out who the killer is. The film is like the definitive "Old Dark House" style of horror film with an ending that is genuinely surprising. 10/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
The Appointment (1981) The Appointment (1981)

It is often said that the 1980s was a disappointing time for horror but then most reviewers overlook such films as this one which is subtle and understated, yet chilling and unsettling. This is a quiet, still film of the type not made much any more, much of the film taking place in the minds of the three main characters as they contemplate the impending events. It seems that there is some supernatural link between a child disappearnce threee years ago (seen very scarily in the film) and the precocious and emotionally demanding daughter of Edward Woodward. She is playing in a concert which he must miss, a defining point in their relationship. That night he and his wife separately have nightmares in which they have premonitions of various aspects of his death.

There is much use of symbolism, running dogs in the local streets reappear at a number of points, his watch stopping and constantly showing one time. It's a strange almost surreal unfolding that moves towards the stunningly realised and haunting climax. While you know what is coming, it does not prepare the viewer for it. All the characters throughout the film seem brooding and bothered, as though they know what might happen. We see the daughter back at the scene of the earlier girl's disappearance with momentos of her father, this is never explained and the viewer must decide upon her involvement. There are no easy answers, no humour, just an intense, simple story that will leave the viewer reflecting upon the film for many years to come. 9/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959) Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959)

See Full Summary/Review by clicking "Coming Attractions" (Full Page)
Coming Attracions
---------- B ----------
Beggars In Ermine (1933) Beggars In Ermine (1933)

Although this is not a horror film it shares many of the traits being a revenge thriller and starring Lionel Atwill as a wronged steel mill owner who takes his revenge. His business, wife, child and money are all taken away from him by a power driven co-director. Atwill befriends a blind beggar in hospital and soon creates a society for beggars, the lame and disabled. Their meagre income is invested and their well being looked after. Soon thousands join and their investments make huge wealth. Atwill uses this to buy back the mill through stock market manipulations and sets out destroying those who wronged him.

While filmed cheaply, this film has energy and a genuine feeling for the under privilaged. There is amazing footage of the working in genuine steel mills, hard and dangerous work. Atwill does not play it over the top, but elicits sympathy and compassion. The film jumps a little in places but this does \ not detract from a very enjoyable film. 8/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
Black Magic (1949) Black Magic (1949) (b/w) (aka 'Cagliostro')

"Black Magic" is not a horror film but more of a romantic mystery. The film stars Orson Welles and Nancy Guild. It tells the story about a gypsy boy that must watch his parents unjustly hanged and he himself whipped. He groves up and sells fake potions and when he helps a woman with hypnotism he attracts the attention of a Dr that wants him to help with his hypnotism to heal the sick. He rejects the Dr and changes his name to Count Cagliostro and becomes a famed healer. He is called to cure a girl that resembles Marie Antoinette. He gets revenge on the man that sentanced his parents to death> He makes the woman marry him, but he can never make her love him. (7/10)

Created: 2018 June 30
The Black Raven (1943) The Black Raven (1943)

George Zucco as a sinister owner of a remote hotel populated with criminals and low life's who proceed to kill each other on a stormy night. A creepy atmosphere led by the impeccable Zucco adds to a routine murder thriller in the "Old Dark House" style. Old fashioned and low budget, it still has appeal for a short time. 5/10

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
Bloody Pit Of Horror (1965) The Bloody Pit of Horror (1965)

This is a 1965 Italian Horror Film. In the Beginning the 'Crimson Executioner' is himself executed in the 17th Century. Now flash to the 60's and a group of models with photographer and others go to an abandoned Castle. The Castle is occupied a man who thinks that he is the 'Crimson Executioner'.

Pretty descent film for an Italian Horror of the 1960's. I watched the dubbed version. Would be interesting to see how it plays out with the original Italian with subtitles. (4/10)

Created: 2009 August 01
Bluebeard (1944) Bluebeard (1944)

John Carradine is chilling as a murderous puppet maker who kills the woman who are painted and model for his creations. He is possessed as he kills, possessed by thoughts of a situation that disturbed him and left him the killer known as Bluebeard. Set in Paris this film achieves the level of moodiness and drama it seeks with a gothic style. While major studios were often scared to emphasize the horror during the 1940s and Universal in particular were playing down horror elements, here these are relished and provide the dark side to the film, making it more effective. The film has pace and style thanks to director Edgar Ulmer's flair, here directing for the lowly PRC and known better for such works as THE BLACK CAT. Carradine is excellent but never let's fly until the end, his character concealing his true manner, restrained and suave until unhinged. In this respect the film is similar to LOVE FROM A STRANGER starring Basil Rathbone, however Carradine is not quite a match for the beserk Rathbone in that film. A most enjoyable film that is not often mentioned and manages to rise above it's low budget constraints. 8/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
---------- C ----------
Calling Dr Death (1943) Calling Dr Death (1943)

Lon Chaney Jr leads the first film made by Universal in their Inner Sanctum series tailored for him from the popular radio series of the time. Chaney Jr plays a doctor who believes he has killed his manipulative, selfish wife although there are lots of twists and turns to uncover the killer. David Bruce fresh from THE MAD GHOUL takes good role as the wife's lover and Patricia Morrison is enjoyable as the dubious nurse and potential lover to Chaney Jr. Carol J Naish excels as the ceaseless police investigator. A minor film but fairly enjoyable with a good use of Chaney Jr's mental thoughts on the soundtrack. A couple of good shots with the murder in shadow and events seen through Chaney Jr's eyes add to the atmosphere. Overall Chaney Jr is fairly stiff in the role and it needs more mystery or twists, however an enjoyable way to pass an hour. 6/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
Captive Wild Woman (1944) Captive Wild Woman (1944)

A strong late outing for Universal in a low budget, short length shocker that makes the best use of its running time and doesn't outstay its welcome. John Carradine plays the usual mad scientist looking to create a race of supermen through the implanting of genes. His work leading him to implant human genes from the sister in the film of Evelyn Ankers into a gorilla captured in Africa. This turns the gorilla into a form of human, the sultry looking Acquametta who brings a feral presence to the role and remains silent throughout. She has a power over other animals and works calming the animals in the lion and tiger act at the circus which forms the central location for much of the film. When she witnesses an embrace her gorilla genes destroy her human injections and she reverts slowly to murderous, spine snapping gorilla form.

With so much plot the film cracks along at a fast pace starting with lions loose on the docks when a cage breaks and speeding through in just an hour. Carradine brings his usual chilling conviction to the role which seems relevant in this new era of real genetic modification and the questions it raises. Evelyn Ankers and Milburn Stone are fine foil and while Acquanetta can't act this doesn't detract from a role that actually demands awkwardness and stilted delivery. The circus scenes are taken from an earlier film and are well integrated, looking fairly impressive for the time although looking cruel by todays standards it is interesting to see how the people of the era found absolutely nothing wrong with caging wild animals. A good little film that seems a cut above similar films like Lugosi's The Apeman of the time. Two follow ups followed but can't quite equal the inspired but underplayed madness of this film. 8/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
The Cat Creeps (1946) The Cat Creeps (1946)

The year this film was made Universal stopped making horror pictures until years later, the "golden era" as it was known had ended. However for Universal it had ended years before with the massive changes that Universal had gone through to survive and the loss of key filmmakers and all the first rate horror actors. Universal did not know how to make effective horror and tempered it with comedy, romance and mystery stories, seemingly scared to shock. Only Gale Sondergaard and Rondo Hatton remained to chill the viewiers. This film was one of the very last horror films produced by Universal in the golden era and shows everything the studio was doing wrong. In truth pales in comparison to the films made by Republic, RKO and PRC at the time who had the courage of their convictions in making the films. To the viewier this is disappointing as the film has been hard to find for many years and yet really isn't worth searching for although it is now easily available.

The story is a confused "old dark house" murder mystery on an island with a search for two hundred thousand dollars, the people in the house getting bumped off one by one off camera and a silly supposed medium who appears from nowhere with her cat. The film doesn't play up the horror elements and has large continuity errors. For example, the annoying wise cracking journalist compulsary in such films meets a lady at the door for the first time, in a few minutes he's kissing her and we find they are lovers of many years. It's all very mediocre and in the end the revealing of the killer contradicts the story too. When you think this was the studio that made FRANKENSTEIN, THE BLACK CAT, THE WOLFMAN and many more, shouldn't we have the right to expect more? It's not a film worth getting angry about, it's just disappointing and ultimately production line filmmaking that is utterly forgettable. 2/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
The Catman Of Paris (1946) The Catman Of Paris (1946)

This is an interesting take on the Wolfman mixed in with elements of Cat People and the visual look of Jekyll and Hyde. A half man, half cat creature is rampaging around the night streets of Paris, slashing its victims to death with it's talons. Paris is stricken with terror and all are searching out this murderer. The police suspect a popular writer tied up in a political conspiracy and he doubts his own mind. The film is fairly literate and has high production values all round. The create is shown stalking through the streets in top hat and tails, its elongated shadow projected against the walls and its hissing piericing the night fog. It's quite moody and does build up an atmosphere. It's a shame the Cat Man doesn't get more screen time but this doesn't detract too much as when it is on screen, it is very effective. A rather unique film that is entertaining and welcome. 8/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
The Creeper (1948) The Creeper (1948)

A film notable for supposedly being the only non-comedy horror film released in America during 1948. Whilst there is little of significance in the film it is good to see a film that is influenced by the subtle style of Val Lewton rather than Universal's more traditional monster film making. Two scientists work a serum that can turn men into cats, why we never know but this provides the backdrop to jealousy and murder. Ralph Morgan and Onslow Stevens, both regulars of low budget horror play it straight and unfortunately this leaves a lot of the film rather dull. There is no glinting evil on show and neither star dominates. The serum turns someone into a cat pawed killed and the scenes showing the paw in shadow are fairly interesting. There is also an attempt to mix in CAT PEOPLE fear of cats in the female lead. However she is far too nice and sexless to radiate any menace, her cat filled dreams are well enough handled but overall there is a lack of scares. In it's own right the film is enjoyable enough if worthy, but compared to it's obvious Val Lewton homage be it CAT PEOPLE or THE LEOPARD MAN, this hardly compares. 6/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
Cry Of The Werewolf (1944) Cry Of The Werewolf (1944)

Not many films genuinely about werewolves were made in golden era of horror, however this film actually does feature a proper transforming werewolf. It's a low budget film but very atmospheric with a mystery as to who the werewolf is. The film is strengthened by a mysterious band of gypsies and a beautiful gypsy princess, the daughter of an infamous werewolf. There is lots of murder with piercing screams and the wolf seen on camera. Thankfully it isn't all explained as some criminal and the film moves effectively towards its conclusion, the confrontation with the werewolf. The film is acted upon an occult museum backdrop giving the film a creepy touch. Overall this is a minor film but its enjoyable for fans of the genre and with a bit more work could have been very good indeed. The film starts very well with two murders in five minutes, one of the lead characters found savaged on the floor with his throat ripped out. If the film doesn't live up to this, then it still is welcome, genuine serious horror film. Who is the werewolf, oh well that would be telling! 6/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
Cube (1998) Cube (1998)

A claustrophobic, suffocating film set in the unexplained domain of a cube containing six people. Each person doesn't remember how they got their or know who is in charge and the purpose of the cube. Their only motive is to escape alive. Each room that is contained within the cube has exits to others, some safe, some filled with murderous traps. The film plays as a character study, studying the shifting base of power from intellectualism through to primative brute force, the dominance of the survival instinct at the expense of all else. It shows the power of stripping away civilisation and how we are fundamnetally unable to cooperate at our own expense. The horror is in the lack of explanation, the unremitting sense of purposelessness. Confined and conflicting the group make their way periliously through the cube, each person having some characteristic necessary to survival. However this isn't morality story or a film about how groups are better than inidividuals, the individuals selfishness comes through showing the exact opposite. Without giving the ending away, only pure innocence seems to be some kind of answer offered. However in not even providing the question to begin with, the film provides the endless riddle seen in something like the more superior The Prisoner. A fantastic concept that was let down by an unhelpful ending. In fact, the ending will have you shouting at the screen and threatening to throw the TV out of the window such is its effect. However, the film will linger in your mind and is fairly unique in its premise, even if the delivery can't quite match ut. 8/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
Curse Of The Doll People (1961) Curse Of The Doll People (1961)

A dubbed Mexican black and white horror doesn't sound like it will be a great film, however in this case the film rises above its origin to become genuinely creepy and unsetting. A group of archeologists steal a voodoo idol and are killed in turn by the voodoo priest. It is the method of the killing that gives the film it's strange creepiness. Each of the men killled are turned into small, three feet dolls which are then animated as killed zombies. Their expressions are frozen and they silently kill their victims with knives. These doll people are very powerful and provide shudder, particularly as they look just like the actors who played them while alive. Children must have been used to play the doll people as they move very convincingly. The voodoo priest hypnotises those who try to stop him and commands other zombies to do his bidding. These zombies have excellent make-up and being black and white the film feels many years older than it actually is.

It is true that the dubbing isn't brilliant and the acting sometimes wooden, however these do not detract from the film. The film moves at a quick pace and the murderous possessed doll people are introduced quickly providing momentum for the film. The film ends in a very similar way to the preceding year's CITY OF THE DEAD (aka HORROR HOTEL) with the power of christianity being stronger than voodoo. In many respects the film is technically flawed but these are overcome and accepted by the viewier relishing the soulless deeds of the doll people, who most viewers I am sure will never forget. 8/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
---------- D ----------
Dead Men Walk (1943) Dead Men Walk (1943)

A dual starring role for George Zucco in one of his most ghoulis parts enlivens this very low budget vampire story. Playing both an evil devil worshipping vampire and kindly doctor brother, Zucco gives his all with a script full of incomprehension at the supernatural events and fiendish relish from the vampire undead. His rolling eyes peer out of the screen in a way that seems to reek of evil. Dwight Fyre plays his customary insane henceman role to the hilt, crying out "Master" as though he were Renfield. Indeed, this is basically Dracula retold, the story similarities are strong, even having a Lucy figure that the vampire wants to bring over to the undead. The locals misunderstand and accuse the good doctor similarly to The Vampire Bat (1935) and the vampire brother is eventually killed at dawn's cock crow by fire.

Special mention to the start with the disembodied head floating above a fire introducing the film must be made. The wonderful graveyard set with rotting gravestones and rolling fog also adds considerably to the atmosphere. he film was obviously cheaply made but avoids the campness of later Ed Wood Jr films. This makes it sincere in its attempts and the ghoulish tone does work. While no masterpiece, solid hours viewing is ensured. 9/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
Deadly Strangers (1974) Deadly Strangers (1974)

Some films evoke the era in which they were made and this is certainly true of Deadly Strangers. A psychological horror thriller with an escaped maniac from a local asylum on the loose after killing the warders. The maniac is unseen and the viewier does not know who it is. Soon the main characters of Simon Ward and Hayley Mills are introduced and we come to realise the maniac is one of them and that the other is in danger. The film then becomes a travelogue of them studying each other as they move across country to a various destinations. There are hints of attractiveness that become obsessional and also red herrings that changes the viewers perception of which is the murderer. A police operation starts to close in on them, each one nervous and becoming involved with murderous crimes In an attempt to carry on the journey. However we do not know which is the killer right until the very end. They are both disturbed individuals and often the conversation will take a turn that causes them to reflect and mentally picture disturbing events from their past. In the end, the inevitable confrontation and chase does come become the shock, sudden and chilling ending that offers no respite.

A mechanical film, this knows exactly what it seeks to do and delivers effectively. The tension does mount and the viewer is never certain until a twist at the end The two actors portray their nervous, distrubed individuals in an understated way that heightens the tension. The film is small in its ambitions but is most enjoyable and a valuable addition to the dark thriller style. 8/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
Dr X (1932) Dr X (1932)

The film was made right at the start of the horror cycle and ventures into areas almost untouched for decades afterwards. Lionel Atwill is menacing as the leading surgeon amongst a group pushing back the bounds of science. Each of the members is strange and secretive, guarding their possibly unholy secrets. A series of brutal knife murders is taking place on the full moon with flesh eaten and the bodies mutilated. Like many films of the era this has the annoying wise cracking newspaper reporter who in a lesser film would ruin it. Here though with gothic laboratory sets and a brooding sinister feeling, the film rises above the palid jokes to explore the fevered mind of science. From the start we suspect Atwill, he is furtive but then he had a habit being used as a decoy. The prowling camera work, following the full moon along the docks portrays the murderous atmosphere with dialogue that details the perverse horror unfolding with each murder. For 1932 it's strong stuff and at the end as the killer is revealed, having transformed themselves using synthetic flesh into a monsterous fiend, the film reaches a genuinely dramatic peak.

In colour the film has even more atmosphere and the make-up looks brilliant, creepy and repulsive even now. Occasionally talky, often annoying due to the news reported, this film is delerious in its portrayal of madness with it's demented cries of "synthetic flesh!". Now many decades later, the fact that it still unsettles rather than merely charming says something of it's dark power. 9/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
---------- E ----------
---------- F ----------
Face of Marble (1946) Face of Marble (1946)

Not many films manage to combine two horror styles but this does, and is successful doing it. The "disturbed doctor reviving the dead" story is mixed in with voodoo to produce a fast moving, fairly unpredictable film. While following many of the cliches it manages to supercede them with unique elements such as a dead dog revived from the grave to become a vampire and walking through walls. If it sounds crazy, then perhaps it is but it is played totally straight and produces the odd creepy moment. John Carradine is excellent as the questing but sympathetic doctor and the acting is generally of a high standard with the voodoo priestess servent is notable. The sets are good and the laboratory with it's tubing and pulsing electricitiy is particularly fine. The howling ghoul dog is quite unsettling and the ending with footsepts walking into the sea is also genuinely sad. A most enjoyable film that rises above its B-movie roots to be interesting, full of pace and even exciting. 8/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
Fog Island (1945) Fog Island (1945)

A marvellous cheapie that makes great use of the "old dark house" cliches. George Zucco plays a financier wronged by almost all the cast with his business bought down and his wife murdered. He did the time in jail and now he is out on Fog Island. He invites his "investors" to the isolated island where he proceeds to take his retribution against each of them. They certainly deserve all they get, quite literally the most backstabbing, dastardly, murderous lot you have ever watched, making their inevitable demise all the more welcome. Lionel Atwill is at his coniving best as the most loathsome of the bunch. With trap doors, hidden skeletons, water filled rooms and staircases opened by a button on the organ, this could have been made in the early thirties. The fog and combined spark of Zucco and Atwill makes this great fun. 8/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake (1959) The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake (1959)

This 1959 Horror film is about a man, Jonathan Drake, worried about being killed when he arrives home to find out that his brother had been killed and beheaded. This is due to 'the family curse' in which his grandfather and several other men killed a tribe of Amazon Indians. This film stars Eduard Franz as Jonathan, a great actor of the time and also Henry Daniell another great character actor portraying Dr. Emil Zurich.

` Jonathan finds that his worries are real when he awakens only to find a native with his mouth sewn shot standing over him with a knife.

This film, even though low-budget, has some great acting and a pretty good script. Nice atmospheric music and sets. I feel that this is a must see for all B-Movie Buffs. (7.5/10)

Created: 2009 July 31
---------- G ----------
Gargoyles (1972) Gargoyles (1972)

I had never heard of this film until recently. I don't think it has ever been run on UK TV which is a real shame. The film starts with a montage of demonic imagery and an ominous voice over telling us about the demons cast from hell and how they want dominion over earth, how they come every six hundred years and we have captured their look as gargoyles. Then it is straight into the film which moves quickly, scientist author interested in demonology goes with his daughter to a ramshackle house and museum of the strange in the Arizona desert. There they hear Indian tales and see a demonic looking skeleton.

Soon creatures are walking across the roof of the hut and it is ablaze. From there the film really takes off, the demons being visible in great costumes. Each demon is different and when fighting or killing are shown in slow motion, heightening their impact. They sometimes look very chilling indeed and when they attack cars and bikers, it is quite unsettling. They look down from the desert, it slowly becoming clear that they are breeding again and seeking to remove man from earth. They kidnap the daughter of the scientist and the film moves towards its confrontation climax. The film is short, so it doesn't outstay its welcome and has a lot going for it. The remoteness of the Arizona settlement, the shadows of flying demons overhead, Stan Winston of Terminator II and Jurasic Park's on the whole great costumes all add to the sense of unease. I imagine watching this as a kid, late with your parents asleep in the next room could be quite scary. A minor gem that once seen, isn't easily forgotten. 7/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
The Gorilla (1939) The Gorilla (1939)

The excellent Lionel Atwill and Bela Lugosi are wasted in this old fashioned (even for 1939) horror comedy made as a vehicle for the excrutiating Ritz Brothers comedy team, a poor and annoying Three Stooges copying team. Atwill is always good and plays his role straight as a man told he will die at the hands of the infamous gorilla murderer. Lugosi has fun as a red-herring waiter. Eventually after lots of secret panels and hands reaching around doors, the gorilla appears and the film reaches it's straight forward, unexciting conclusion. In comparison to THE CAT AND THE CANARY made by Bob Hope the same year, this looks very bad and indeed it is extremely hard to sit through with only the promise of Lugosi or Atwill raising their eyebrows once more making it almost endurable. 4/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
The Gorilla Man (1942) The Gorilla Man (1942)

\ Although presented as a World War Two thriller this film is intended as crude propoganda and in this I am sure at the time it was effective. The film concerns wounded war hero stranded ill at a sanatorium run by undercover homicidal nazi's. They try to suppress him getting vital war information through by making others think he is mad and his taking the blame for vicious strangulations one of them performs. In this respect nazi's are shown as evil, plotters with no morals and a murderous, even perverted personality.

The portrayals are salacious and show the nazi's delighting in their evil, while this was popular during the war now it lookings old fashioned, even shocking in its crude depiction. Indeed the daughter of a general is killed and by the end of the film, the genral seems to have forgotten all about it once the nazi's have been caught. However the film is made at a pace and has a quaint view of England during the war, all the English having as outlandish accents as the germans. It's fairly enjoyable and seems to relish the horror touches in the murders "'er 'ead was almost twisted right off" is a phrase used a number of times ghoulishly. Mention should go to John Abbot as the killer nazi who acts in the kind of crazed way rarely found outside of Martin Kosleck films. Overall it's enjoyable but crude by today's standards. 7/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
---------- H ----------
The Hitch-Hiker (1955) The Hitch-Hiker (1955)

A small intimate film that explores the interactions between a desparate criminal posing as a hitch-hiker and kidnapping two friends. The tensions that mount are revealed excrustiatingly, we come to like the victims and care for their suffering. The killer kid-napper is presented as ruthless and cruel, making us hate him all the more. A film with no set-pieces and the desert as its set is allowed to concentrate on the faces at each stage and the police gradually tracking them down. As the tension mounts and the insane edges of the killer come to the surface the film reaches a taut climax. If the climax is too quick and underplayed, it is realistic. The film rises above humble b-movie status and provides an excellent character study. 8/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
House Of Mystery (1934) House Of Mystery (1934)

The proceeds of a middle eastern expedition are subject to a curse in this routine old dark house thriller. The film mixes in many of the cliches secret panels, ape killers, wheelchair bound villians, wise cracking detectives, mysterious servents and more. Unfortunately the characters are developed thinly and without sympathy, indeed, while nobody deserves to be killed, in this film you almost make an exception for one annoying woman in it who really does deserve strangling out of all the characters for nagging her husband but still makes it to the end of the film. The lead characters don't have any kind of presence and the film while starting while with the curse ends fairly uneventfully. Worth watching only on a dull weekend. 4/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
---------- I ----------
---------- J ----------
Jack The Ripper (1959) Jack The Ripper (1959)

In reviewing this film it is important not to confuse it with the Boris Karloff anthology picture of the previous year unrelated to the actual murders of the infamous Victorian killer. Here we have a British film with two token USA actors who thankfully fit snugly into the cast full of wild cockney accents. This is a straightforward atmospheric telling of the murders, presenting a fog bound Whitechapel full of vice and squalor, indeed the setting adds hugely to the film. The sets, costumes and attention to details for a minor film is high and helps make the film having a feeling of the era. The cast is strong with many UK TV actors and solid character actors like George Woodward and John Le Meseriur.

Made by Monty Berman and Robert S Baker who tried to entertain the viewer, also of FLESH AND THE FIENDS and BLOOD OF THE VAMPIRE fame. The film moves at a pace through the narrow streets of old London, with the murders periodically providing the drama. The seediness of the setting means everybody is a suspect adding considerably to the air of mystery. However the glimpses of Jack The Ripper are genuinely chilling, seen in shadow, his horrible rasping voice asking "Are You Mary Clark?", a doctor's bag at his side. His atmosphere of evil and menace is well realised. The killings are remarkably brutal for the time, perhaps only allowed as the film is in black and white. We see blood on the bodies, the knife wounds clearly and violently shown. It is quite shocking and at the time must have seemed particularly gruesome predating the realistic PEEPING TOM by a year.

The entrapment of Jack The Ripper is executed well, eventually he is cornered beneath a descending lift. This gives little away as this scene has entered film legend over the years. There is a sudden splace of red blood in colour, this coming unexpectedly and providing a shock of horror even now in the context. On some prints this is missing, thankfully it is there on the print I saw adding a highlight to an already enjoyable, entertaining film.

In not trying to make a huge statement, but to entertain through efficient plotting, dialogue that isn't ponderous and minimising the extraneous elements, the producers have realised a great shock picture. For that, they should be highly commended. 8/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
---------- K ----------
---------- L ----------
The Lady And The Monster (1944) The Lady And The Monster (1944)

One of the ultra cheap horror films made by Republic studios, this came towards the end of the original golden era for straight horror. Eric Von Stroheim plays the obsessed, chain smoking scientist who seeks to keep a brain alive after bodily death. His motives initially seem honourable but of course as the film progresses this changes towards evil intent. The brain in question, kept after a crash kills the central (but of course unseen) character of Donovan is kept alive and begins to transmit its will telepathically. In truth until this point the film is rather slow with a very long set-up. However once the possession kicks in the film goes into another gear and it's murderous grimaces all round. Eric Von Stroheim looks suitably menacing but seems weary and doesn't give the manic performance needed to lift his part unlike his earlier THE CRIME OF DR CRESPI where madness almost literally exudes from the screen . The madness is left to Richard Arlen who twists his face into evil leers to great effect. As the power of the brain increases the horror is piled on as Donovan tries to straighten out his murderous and fraudulent affairs through Arlen. Of course, in the end the brain along with Stroheim is destroyed and Arlen lives on with his girl, the curiously named Vera Hruba Ralston.

The horror is a long time coming and for what seems an age the film plays like a low budget sci-fi film but once it gets going, the excitement is piled on towards the end. Indeed, just keeping up the plot twists concerning Donovan's convuluted beyond death schemes is interesting. The sets are rather impressive for a low budget film with the castle, crackling with electricity and drenched in shadow providing a moody backdrop. A seemingly evil but benign house keeper adds to the mystery and overall the film is lacking a sense of abandoned delerium found in films like THE MONSTER AND THE GIRL (often confused for this due to the title). However, it's still vintage low budget thrills done without humour or campness. The film went on to be remade number of times, notably as DONOVAN'S BRAIN. There are lots of nice little touches and who can forget the line "The brain, it lives". 7/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
Lemora (1974) Lemora (1974)

A low budget horror film that has inspired moments and a true sense for dark fairy tales but cannot sustain them and is let down by the budget. A female vampire lives in remote impenetrable woods surrounded by zombies that wander looking for prey and hordes of ruthless roaming vampires. She draws a young, innocent girl to her and gently corrupts her into the night world of the vampire. There are many excellent scenes of grasping zombies and vampire groups as well as the girls father who has become a zombie himself. Lemora is effectively played hinting at the seductive elements as well as horror. In individual scenes, the film delivers strong moments of impending horror, such as when the girl bursts out of a coffin into a group of vampires.

However the film cannot carry the narrative effectively at a reasonable speed. While it may add to the surreal fairy tale feeling, the slow laboured pacing reduces viewier interest. When not dealing with the set pieces such as the zombies attacking the bus taking the girl through the woods at night, the director has little sense of developing a story or of where he wishes the film to go. The conclusion is fine and inevitable but has not come from within the film itself but is a sudden ending to the film. The dialogue is atrociously recorded and some of the performances are amateur at best. We should not be too cruel though as getting a film such as this made at all in the early 1970s was not easy and the moments of horror are achieved to a high standard. The viewier who perseveres is rewarded but you cannot help feeling that with a tighter plot and pace the film could have been a minor classic. 7/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
Let's Scare Jessica To Death (1971) Let's Scare Jessica To Death (1971)

There are not many films that have the power to scare me as an adult but at the end of this terrifying film, my heart was pounding, I was actually scared. It's beautiful, poetic and subtle film about a woman, Jessica being released from a mental hospital, obsessed with death and previously hearing voices in her head. Jessica, her husband and their friend have bought a remote house amongst forest and lakes, with only a strange, empty town close by. Entering the house they find a traveller, Emily, a beguiling girl who entrances them all, by turns playful and remote. They find a legend of a family, long dead where the girl was reputed to have drowned in her wedding dress, although the body was never found and rumour says she is still alive as some kind of vampiric ghost. The locals are distant, even hostile each with a tell tale cut or bandage.

The film is slow and Jessica begins to see a blonde young girl who disappears and hear voices in her head again. We do not know at first if she is delusional but come to realise the supernatural reality of the circumstances. The horror unfolds, gradually, Emily bewitching the viewer, almost ancient and pagan in her ways. In part it is the horror of the inevitable, we can see it coming. There are some amazing set pieces that cannot be revealed where the ancient drama comes to modern terror. The ending is stark and numbing, although much quieter, it has the power found only in films like THE WICKER MAN or THE WOMAN IN BLACK. Indeed, it has aspects of both and will find immense appeal to those interested in classical ghost story telling. An absolutely brilliant film in every way, the acting, direction and stunning soundtrack mixing folk and synthisizer do justice to this haunting film that will unsettle your mind forever. 10/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
Love From A Stranger (1937) Love From A Stranger (1937)

Basil Rathbone is absolutely incredible in this early Britsh psychological thriller. In a role right at the start of his film career, he gives the definitive performance as a demented mad man posing as a romantic gentleman. He romances young woman with money only to kill them later and take their riches for himself. He lures and marries a young lottery winner but slowly the dementia takes him over once more. However the money isn't the aim, it's the thrill of the hunt, the planning and chase of the murder.

Rathbone in the film has been disturbed since childhood where his fascination for clocks took on a perverse kind of delight and later in the First World War where the terror became a kind of ecstasy to him. He plays music, faster and faster, whirling around as his mind is aflame, the film providing a lustful, delerious madness in these scenes as he loses control and gives reign to his insanity. From sophisticated man he gradually descends as the madness enthralls him once more, his brain reeling with the frenzy to come. Rathbone displays all of this amazingly, you literally cannot look away from his astoundingly demented performance.

The direction builds up to a brilliant conclusion with cat and mouse verbal exchanges as his wife realises who he is and bluffs him to a crescendo of death. To give away too much would weaken the shocking end scenes but they twist the story in a new way and thankfully there isn't a romantic ending or moral message to undermine the drama. Ann Hardin is also fantastic as the wife, you really believe her descent into terror and this is heightened by the excellent, suspense filled direction by Rowland V Lee. The film is hardly ever mentioned yet rates as a classic, all the more for being rare British film from the time. The later film "The Stepfather" to a large extent copies this film as do many others. However don't miss this film and the spine chilling, utterly lunatic Rathbone. 10/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
Lured (1947) Lured (1947)

In 1947 horror was entering one of its most barren periods with only Abbott and Costello really having horror incorporated into their popular comedy films. The studios seemed to have run out of ideas and the stars languished. It is therefore very welcome surprise to see this rarely mentioned psychological thriller that is every bit the equal of classic horror films from any era. The cast is amazing, George Sanders, Boris Karloff and George Zucco all co-star. A murderer is presumed to have killed seven missing women and is sending taunting poems to the police giving clues as to the next victim.

The setting is a very well evoked London full of cobbled streets, street lamps and hanging fog. Lucille Ball in an early role plays a woman who helps the police track the killer becoming entangled with playboy George Sanders. She is very good and plays drama off against moments of comedy delightfully. The film is full of menace and red herrings, the plot twists and turns without becoming convoluted and the viewer constantly has to refine who the killer is in their mind. There are quite startlingly violent for the time fight scenes that provide strong highlights. Boris Karloff plays a suspect, more to be pitied than feared, a demented fashion designer whose mind was lost when his designs were stolen. He replays the launch of these designs that never happened in his run down house, full of pathos and uncontrolled rage. In truth, they could have made a whole film from this one section.

George Zucco is great as the undercover police inspector protecting Lucille Ball, initially full of furtive glances he then plays a light comedy support role to fantastic effect. He clearly relishes the part and it could have been worked into Sherlock Holmes style series that would have been very entertaining. The film moves along swiftly and an hour in you think the case is all wrapped up, but how wrong we are and it changes dramatically. The killer won't be guessed at the start and the person is very effective in an obssessional and delusional part.

The direction is excellent, the sets plush and the feeling is one of professionalism and quality. I would have no hesitation in recommending this underrated and wonderfully atmospheric film. 9/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
---------- M ----------
The Mad Doctor (1940) The Mad Doctor (1940)

Although titled and credited to give the impression of being a horror film, this is actually a thriller with Basil Rathbone as a murderous psychiatrist who kills his wives. He has a creepy sidekick, Martin Kosleck who doesn't seem to have much to do but later covers up the doctor's tracks. Rathbone eventually falls in love with suicidal beauty but by then his past is catching up with him. While similar to Rathbone's earlier LOVE FROM A STRANGER this film has none of the frenzied pace and story twists of the 1937 film. This film is fairly average in all respects and seems far too long at one and a half hours. Ralph Morgan who was also in other low budger horror appears and in the end the unrequited love of an admirer saves the day as always. There are a few effective scenes with Rathbone putting his patient in trance and the attempted suicide of the lead female, Ellen Drew. However the film is fairly slow and predictable and while Rathbone is always excellent, here is is subdued and not given the material with which to bring his uniquely crazed sophistication. 6/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
The Mad Executioners (1963) The Mad Executioners (1963)

In the early 1960s the CCC and Rialto companies in Germany made many sensationalist films based upon the dark crime writing of Edgar Wallace or his son, Bryan. These stories are full of murderous incident with horror overtones, full of mystery and suspense but delivering shocks too. In those days the stories would have been called "lurid" or "sordid" but these days these are films that deliver their purpose to entertain. Made to entice the viewer with incidents, murders and set pieces the films are now excellent nostallgic fun. Often in B&W they run like a counter part to Hammer's work but I imagine apart from the shocks and fast paced story telling they already looked quaint to a certain degree. Often set in London with dubbed English accents (but very well dubbed) and strong Production values with atmosphere and reasonable scripts, these are enjoyable as films not just as cheap spectactle.

This film has a mysterious group of black hooded self-appointed judges who try those evil people that escape true justice, inevtiably hanging them publicly for their misdeeds. This group uses rope from the Scotland Yard Black Museum and hangs the bodies publicly with a case book of guilt wrapped with the body. The story is related to the police investigation and who may be a member of this shadowy group. Thrown in later is a mad scientist who has been decapitating young women and using their bodies in experiements. If this sounds crazed fun then that is exactly what it is.

With a mixture of horror, shocks and mystery this film crosses many genres but will especially appeal to horror fans. It is geared towards this audience, paced and directed as a horror film made from crime elements. Whilst no classic it is most enjoyable, played straight without camp and seems huge fun after many more serious and tedious films. On the strength of this I would recommend investigating many more of these largely undiscovered gems from Germany. 8/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
The Man In Half Moon Street (1945) The Man In Half Moon Street (1945)

Nils Asthner plays a scientist questing to achieve immortality along with his partner. This involves taking the life of an unfortunate victim every few years as the experiments go wrong. However he is now ninety but still looks very young. His experience makes him interesting and knowledgeable to all around. He becomes attracted to a young innocent girl at a time when his experiments reach a critical stage and the prospect of ageing has arrived. This is a sober, quiet film that burns with a chilling menace, particularly in what the scientists are prepared to do in order to attain their goal, originally for mankind but now for themselves.

The script is fairly well done if a little slow in parts. There are some excellent moments as the old lead character explains about events he should not know to people. The climax of the film is good as the experiments naturally fail (in a film made in such a moral age) as they take too long to arrive and therefore the ageing that had been held back now takes place in seconds. This is an effective scene and the make-up is very well realised. This is an enjoyable film although too stagey and long, this is no surprise as it was converted from the play. Horror fans would like more drama but a lasting impression is left with the viewier. 7/10

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
Man In The Attic (1954) Man In The Attic (1954)

Jack Palance stars in this faithful remake of THE LODGER. In fact it is so faithful it is difficult to tell them apart, whole scenes seem to be recreated word for word. The atmosphere is strong with the swirling fog and grime of old London evoked and in particular the buildings give a strong sense of period setting. The acting is okay, listed by Jack Palance but not as strong overall as the earlier film. The Jack The Ripper murders of the film seem to bring forth the requisite horror from all around but somehow it doesn't quite ignite in the same way as THE LODGER. While Palance is chilling, especially near the end, he doesn't capture the imagination or let us into his world as has been the case in the earlier films. We don't feel sorry for him because he is so obviously a target from his first scene. However this is to pick at the finer details and overall this is a worthy addition to the small Jack The Ripper genre of horror films. Made at a time when horror was effectively finished for a few years, this serious film becomes all the more enjoyable. 8/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
Midnight Manhunt (1945) Midnight Manhunt (1945)

George Zucco stars (although third billed) trying to get the body of a jewel thief mobster he has just killed which managed to crawl away. Zucco lifts the film providing his determined criminal role that is always rather effective. Journalists, incompetent police and humourous workers at a waxworks all complicate matters. The film is one of the body moving around and lots of double crossing. It's entertaining but not on a par with the Sherlock Holme's films being made around the same time. The humour isn't too forced but the film does feel a little long and could have done with a few more twists or shocks. However it's diverting enough and if good natured. 5/10

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
Monster and the Girl (1940) Monster and the Girl (1940)

Enjoyable, low budget thrills. Standard story retold entertainingly. Lacking major star such as Karloff to lift it and George Zucco is good but should have had more of a role. However the "wronged man executed takes revenge from beyond the grave" scernario provides ghoulist relish in this "The Walking Dead" retread. The gangsters who are murdered one by one are particularly good with a chilling menance and the required cowardliness to help us despise them that little bit more. Mixing in George Zucco and his "brain transfer to an ape" generic story line provides weirdness that makes the film somewhat endearingly lunatic. While paced fairly slowly the dialogue isn't bad and overall it's a charming little shocker of the time. 8/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
---------- N ----------
---------- O ----------
---------- P ----------
Passing Clouds (1940)

A rare British ghost film that is for the most part, a dull mannered story of love across the classes rendered by death. The love lorn young man then turns to spritiualism to contact his working class ex-fiance. The film is rather static and the story fairly slow. Later when the man is possessed the film is slightly more horrific with one genuinely chilling moment as he laughs insanely off camera. His possessed grimacing is quite effective but the film does not build to anything and in the end he is redeemed within second through the power of love. All rather sickly in the end and any atmosphere that had built up is dissolved through this. The film is noticeable for a very early appearance by comedy great Irene Handel (still looking old even then). Overall, a disappointment and worth watching only on a rainy, bored afternoon. 4/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
---------- Q ----------
---------- R ----------
---------- S ----------
Scream of the Wolf (1974) Scream of the Wolf (1974)

Plodding bloodless werewolf film produced and directed by Dan Curtis. Very lacking in excitement and acted without making the viewer feel for the characters. An interesting twist towards the end livens up the film and moves it into the territory of THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME but otherwise this is fairly uninspired use of the time. 5/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
Secret Of The Blue Room (1933) Secret Of The Blue Room (1933)

Lionel Atwill is drafted in to liven up this mediocre low budget "old dark house" style murder mystery. With Gloria Stuart playing the elligable, beautiful girl desired by all the males around her. The "blue room", the supposed scene of strange disappearances many years before, now the pattern seems to be repeated. The most keen on Gloria Stuart dares to stay over night in the room and disappears, soon there is murder! An intriguing premise is wasted in this film, Lionel Atwill is given little to do but look moody and direct the proceedings. When you think only the year before he was doing DR X, MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM and MURDERS AT THE ZOO, he must really of upset somebody important in his moe to Universal. Gloria Stuart says he was very self obsorbed and distant.

The film is obviously an insert job using previously shot footage, probably German and then weaving the events into it through judicious editing. This gives the film fragmented feeling however some of the FRANKENSTEIN sets are reused for the house. However this does little to compensate for the stilted dialogue and ultimately while the murder is a surprise, the film does not really add up to much and it doesn't have the atmosphere needed. 4/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
The Spectre Of Edgar Allan Poe (1946) The Spectre Of Edgar Allan Poe (1946)

It is difficult to see what this average film is trying to achieve. Lenore, an early relationship for Poe that dooms his life is unfortunately buried alive and committed to an asylum where dark deeds are perpetrated and a water and torture instrument filled cellar hide secrets of the owners. Essentially a long winded mission to rescue Lenore and defeat the owner, this has little of the gothic fatalism we associate with Poe, his life being a backdrop for an average horror thriller. Compared to the gothic Italian films of the 60s this is weak and Cesar Meredith doesn't dominate the film or have a strong presence. The story is confused and we never really know why the asylum owners are doing what they are, seemingly to solve the madness of Meredith's wife. This is revealed towards the end but is hardly surprise. There are moments of horror, Poe tied to a dias in the cellar as water rises, the mad wife, the dark corridors. However they do not actually amount to anything and overall it is a forgettable film, a shame when Poe was such an unforgettable person. 5/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
The Spider Woman Strikes Back (1946) The Spider Woman Strikes Back (1946)

After the success of Gale Sondergaard as the menancing, evil Spider Woman in Universal's "Sherlock Holmes and The Spider Woman", Universal gave Sondergaard her own film with the added attraction of Rondo Hatton , known as "The Creeper" having given films like "Pearl Of Death" a chilling, murderous feeling. The film is therefore something of a star vehicle and was one of the last serious horrors made by Universal in the golden era. Without Roy William Neill's pacy direction this plays more like a reasonable B-movie from the Republic studio than a main feature.

Gale Sondergaard is effective once more as the evil Spider Woman, now pretending to be blind and breeding spiders and plants to kill off and scare away the locals in order that she can claim the land. However shes misses a decent foil to lay against, Rathbone as the brilliant Holmes provided a spark on screen that is missing here. Her fiendish plans are now really quite evil enough to raise the film and make us root for the limp Milburn Stone, we never see her plotting or involved in the deeds carried out in her name. Hatton is once more chilling as the mute servant murdering and extracting blood from the girl bought in to assist Sondergaard, although in reality her next victim. There is an unrequited love theme for Hatton that is never picked up which is a shame. By this time, Hatton's real physical problems were distorting his face and hands to a large extent and you cannot help but feel for him, his genuinely deformed presence is both disturbing, fascinating and saddening in equal measure. The film is very tied to one small set and lacks the added element that would have made Sondergaard a real diabolic human monster. Instead, the ending comes with fire in her laboratory and a joke. Surey not fitting end for what had potentially been a major but unrealised horror film heroine. 6/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
The Strange Case of Dr RX (1942) The Strange Case of Dr RX (1942)

A shadow is cast against the wall of a hanging body rocking gently and the newspaper headlines scream out "Dr RX claims fifth victim". It's a great start that unfortunately isn't built upon. Dr Rx is killing the guilty murderers who are found innocent in trials, a great potential scenario. The set-up to the film of a reluctant freelance detective called Church (played by Patric Knowles being hired by his Lawyer friend, his being tricked into meeting a past love and the police calling upon his services takes up far too much laborious time in this short but seemingly long mystery thriller. While the body count from the unseen Dr RX rises there is little sense of menace. A lot of the film was improvised and the dialogue seems disconnected from the story which itself is edited so poorly as to be almost incomprehensible. One moment Church meets his old love, the next they are married. It's all very confusing and almost makes you stop watching in frustration. But the hints of a very underused Lionel Atwill being RX are strong enough to keep you watching. Atwill has little more than five minutes screen time and only a handful of lines but still dominates proceedings. It's a total waste and obviously the film should have been built around him.

Towards the end Dr RX kidnaps Church and there is a great scene of him demented in hood, preaching about his duty and saying he will transplant Church's brain to somewhat crazed and caged gorilla (sound familiar?). It doesn't fit into the film at all, but it's by far the best moment in this talkie saga. Atwill turns out to be helping Church to massive sighs of astonishment, the killer being the Lawyer friend who hired Church rather incredibly. All in all, most disappointing but worth a watch for collectors. Mention must be made of the awful racial stereotyping of Mantan Moreland who plays the bumbling butler stooge with all the comedy lines, we are directed to laugh at not with him and now the role would be thankfully entirely unacceptable. Despite getting about a third of the film on screen, he is unbilled. Why was Lionel Atwill wearing such thick glasses? We will perhaps mercifully, never know. 4/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
Stranger On The Third Floor (1940) Stranger On The Third Floor (1940)

Even though he only appears in this film for little over fifteen minutes at the most, Peter Lorre dominates the film totally with his marvellous, skin crawling portrayal of a psychopath, homeless and desparate wandering the streets. The film starts with a journalist being the key witness in a throat slashing murder trial and helping to convict a seemingly innocent man. Then his annoying neighbour is killed the same way and he discovers the body. The evidence points to him doing the murder and the real killer, hiding in the shadows looks to go free. The journalists girl friend hunts down the killer and once found, tries to befriend him as a trap.

Eventually all works out in a moment of sadness and drama. Peter Lorre acts not only as a psychopath but also as a mentally damaged, instutionalised and abused man, a man who has been created by society. This is done with the most subtle of inflections and looks, genuine sadness being radiated. It's a masterful portrayal that lifts an ordinary noirish thriller into higher realms through his riveting performance alone. This does not have the definitive feel of M but is still strong and shows just how underrrated Peter Lorre really was. 8/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
The Strangler Of Blackmoor Castle (1963) The Strangler Of Blackmoor Castle (1963)

A balaclava clad man strangles and decapitates victims around a remote castle in a quest to retrieve diamonds he believes the man renting the castle has. The finger of suspicion is pointed at everyone with an illegal diamond cutting scheme going on and various mysterious types around. The film is badly edited but it is determined to entertain using horror conventions to tell a crime story. Effective use of misty marshes, secret passages, the unknown strangler and the like liken the film to 1930s old dark house film and while no classic it is enjoyable. One of many West German dark thrillers made in the early 1960s. A special mention for the unsettling soundtrack performed on very early synthisizers and sounding both quaint and futuristic 7/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
---------- T ----------
Terror Creatures From The Grave (1966) Terror Creatures From The Grave (1966)

The five people who betrayed an occultist dominating those around him, Dr Hauff aregradually killed in turn for revenge as he seems to have returned from the grave. His spirit directs the killing in a castle connected with the plague deaths, where the cut off hands of the plague victims are displayed in a cabinet. A solicitor is bought in seemingly by the dead man to do his will, the instigation to the carnival of death. Barbara Steele stars as his treacherous wife and while she provides sultry, moody presence in this film she is given little to do and the film suffers for it. The direction is slow, the deaths taking place mainly off screen leaving the film without incident. For much of the film it plays like a gothic giallo before the build up towards the end.

With a storm, the plague dead returning from the grave and the disembodied hands moving their fingers the tension does start to mount. A scene showing the basis of the betrayal is fairly effective and there are many useful stock items such as cracking mirrors and ticking clocks that help provide some atmosphere. However in the end it really doesn't amount to much and you can't help feel the film should have had more work before filming. It really isn't scary enough although the basic ingredients are there. The setting is excellent and in the hands of someone like Mario Bava this could have been a minor classic. However it feels merely functional and in a year that saw surreal ghost classics like KILL BABY KILL, the definitive zombie film PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES and an effective gothic slasher in MURDER CLINIC, this feels like a routine fifties film rather than of its time. The ending of purifying rain destroying evil is strong but done in a fairly average way. Any power established in the film is through the deployment of horror symbols and sweeping camera work. However in direction the film is dragged into cliché with little flair for the genre. Worth a watch but not in comparison to the Fred, Bava or Margherreti films of the time. 7/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
The Drive By Night (1937) The Drive By Night (1937)

Excellent film about a criminal falsely accused of murder trying to clear his name while on the run. Set in the UK it seems an authentic representation without the glamour of Hollywood or contrived accents. Ernest Thesiger lights up the screen as sinsiter patron of a dance hall who knows the man is innocent. For the time this has lots of action as the criminal is chased from London across country. It's tense, moody thriller that pre-figures the "film noir" style and is only marred by slightly perfunctuary ending that wraps the film up nicely within a minute. Otherwise this is a gripping story that works all the better for it's down to earth casting and sets. 8/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
---------- U ----------
The Undying Monster (1942) The Undying Monster (1942)

A fairly dull werewolf film that seems scared to play upon it's horror theme and instead implies a family inherited mental condition and acts like a meandering detective film. The sets are fialr excellent but underused apart from a fantastic night time chase scene along a cliff top path, swirling in fog as the wolf howls in the night. In this scene the film comes alive briefly and the film is tense and dramatic. However soon it is back to the house full of creepy butlers and secret rooms. The film doesn't seem to know whether it wants to be an Old Dark House style detective story or a proper werewolf story and in the end does not succeed fully at either. The story doesn't allow the characters to come alive and the identity of the wolf is obvious from the start. However all the characters are so similar it's difficult to tell them apart. The film does wake up towards the end as the wolf is chased again along the cliff towards its demise and revealing. By this time it's too little too late though. Notable moments are the moments of moody landscape and the piercing howls in the night. 6/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
The Unearthly (1957) The Unearthly (1957)

John Carradine stars as the determined doctor who will stop at nothing to find the secret to immortality. He runs a hospital where he experiments on people resulting in mutant zombies who live without feeling. Tor Johnson lumbers around as Carradine's servant, the result of one of the experiements. Myron Healy tries to stop his fiendish deeds in this effective shocker. The film is interesting as it came just before Hammer studios and yet while in black and white it is perhaps one of the first films to have gore make-up. John Carradine seems similar in to Peter Cushing's Dr Frankenstein. The resulting monsters are quite shocking for the time and the make-up is not allowed to look silly. The ending has a genuine shock as the patients and zombies rise up against the doctor, this gives little away as they always do in such films. The film is enjoyable and feels as though it belongs more to the 1940s than the late 50s. While strictly an old fashioned B-movie, it does deliver and Carradine can always be relied upon for the fanatical scientist type roles. 7/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
---------- V ----------
Voodoo Island (1957) Voodoo Island (1957)

Voodoo Island released in February 1957, produced by Howard W. Koch and starring Boris Karloff, Elisha Cook Jr. and Rhodes Reason. The film is about a wealthy industrialist that plans on developing the island but he must prove the island isn't cursed.

The films starts out with a slow pan over a model of an Island Hotel, fading into a room with Boris and a group of people looking over a Zombie. The industrialist explains his deliema and how Boris can help.

A group (headed by Boris) goes to Voodoo Island to investigate the Island when trouble seems to happen around every corner. They take the "Zombie" back to the Island.

This is a very low budget b/w film with a large part being shot outdoors in Hawaii. "Special Effects are few and not the greatest quality. The script is decent and acting is pretty good. Always fun to watch Boris Karloff (even though he would be nearly 70 years old at the time) in a film though so it get extra marks (Elisha Cook Jr. is great to watch also). It is worth a watch for fans of low budget flicks. 5.5/10

(This is also the first film of Adam "Batman" West in a very small, uncredited role.)

Created: 2009 July 31
---------- W ----------
What The Peeper Saw (1973) What The Peeper Saw (1973)

A strange film also known as THE NIGHT HAIR CHILD, made jointly in Spain and the United Kingdom. Starring Mark Lester as a confused but malicious but coming to terms with the death of his mother by driving mad his father's new wife played by Britt Eckland. He is evil beyond his years and determined to drive his father and stepmother apart, a fairly ordinary scenario hieghtened by the salacious glee of Mark Lester.

The film is a psychological horror thriller that plays games between the characters before leading to three key shocks at the end. The film denounces itself three times by changing in fundamental ways at the end. Just when you feel the film will end with a delightful twist along comes another until a blunt, deliberately pointless ending. The ending is fairly numbing and annoying after the clever work in the last twenty minutes of the film. There is a seedy feel to the film with dark hints of voyeurism, cruelty from children, almost incest and patricide. Mark Lester is fantastic as the young boy with maturity, full of inventive spite. The film seems fairly empty and doesn't build very well but it's fairly interesting and the odd moment will leave you quietly gasping. 7/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
Whistle and I'll Come To You (1968) Whistle and I'll Come To You (1968)

This story written by M R James is one of the most haunting ghost tales ever written, with a gradual building of fear at an encroaching presence that comes closer until inevitable death. A tale about the folly of arrogance at the hands of incontrollable supernatural that seeps atmosphere. Jonathon Miller as director for the BBC though, renouned for his artistic understanding and stage direction, is unable to portray this as a straight ghost story and instead it becomes a piece on isolation and remoteness. He mistakes the lonely setting of the story as the object of study rather than concentrating on the core story outlined. The majority of the short film does not cover the story at all and studies Michael Horden's existence at remote hotel, mentally self obsorbed this feels more like a study of Jonathon Miller than a depiction of a ghost classic.

Eventually the story is told but in a fragmented way that gets it out of the way in little more than ten minutes. This misses an essential point of the story, that the horror is gradual and therefore more powerful. The appearance of the phantom moving ever closer in shown in only three shots and does not show this haunting presence corroding the confidence of the central character. Rather, it is perfunctary with no feeling for the mechanics of ghost fiction. There are very effective individual scenes of Horden waking up in the night, his heart racing, a figure chasing him. However effective they are, without being placed in context of impending horror and the encroaching fear, they are merely set-pieces that do not contribute to an overriding sense of terror.

The ending, one of stark and sudden but importantly inevitable and understood terror comes without any preceding setting. Because the film has been done in such disjointed way without coherence, we do not have any understanding why the phantom has appeared and how he has haunted Hordem. The film has been made by Miller for those who have already read the story and therefore can piece together the events. Particularly Miller is not interested it seems in ghost stories, but in the space they allow him to study an interesting and flawed man.

All of this is particularly disappointing as the film has taken on legendary status, having not been seen for many years. Indeed many horror collectors felt this to be lost film. Many items never live up to their legendary status but this does more, it's betrays its status. When we compare the M R James and Charles Dickens ghost stories done masterfully also the BBC in the late seventies and eighties they show how poor this is, how stage bound Miller's direction is and how little feel for ghost stories he has. 5/10.

Special Thanks to Mark Coyle for this Movie Review.
---------- X ----------
---------- Y ----------
---------- Z ----------

If you would like to review films for this site please submit them on our Contact Us Page and how you would like them marked (your name or e-mail or however you wish.) We will let you know if we use them.  Please include your contact information so that we can add it to the page (or let us know if you do not want your contact info on the page).

Copyright © 2009 - 2018 by the author, Jess Oliver. All rights reserved