This blog is a place for Me to review classic British films (in particular horror films) by Hammer, Amicus and the like. But I will occasionally branch out and review international films as these are the international counterpart to the British films, some of which will include works by American International Pictures, Mario Bava et al. I hope you enjoy!

Sunday, 19 June 2011

The Kiss of the Vampire


After heading off course and running out of fuel, newly weds Gerald and Marianne Harcourt become stranded in Bavaria until they can refuel their motorcar. Whilst there they get caught up in a vampire cult. Two out-of-towners against a full cult of vampires, not good odds.

The Kiss of the Vampire is a 1963 Hammer production. It stars Clifford Evans, Noel Willman and Edward de Souza. It was directed by Don Sharp. This was originally planned to be the third Dracula film in the Hammer series, and Hammer's second go at a Dracula-less Dracula film, the first one being The Brides of Dracula.

Woh! The film starts with this nice, slow paced funeral sequence. Then Professor Zimmer walks over to the coffin, presumably to pay his respects. Then he whips out a spade and whacks it into the coffin right into the “dead” person's chest. Blood and screams ooze from the coffin. Then it's revealed she was a vampire! If that's not a great opener then I don't know what is.

The newly weds have been invited to dine at Dr Ravna's home with his family. This can't be good, it's never a good idea to accept an invitation to someone's home in a Hammer film.

Oh no! A vampire tried to remove the spade that Professor Zimmer put into the dead vampire's chest, but Zimmer intervened. Then there was a bit of a struggle, well more of a kerfuffle really. A kerfuffle that ended with Zimmer getting bitten on the hand by the vamprie. Rut-Roh! Ah, he's ok. He used the Peter Cushing's Van Helsing technique for curing vampirism; burn the wound. Although Van Helsing used a dash of Holy Water in there too.

Oh that's nice, blame the wife. What a dick. Gerald explains to Dr Ravna that they ventured off course from where they were meant to be and that's how they came to be in Bavaria. “That's over thirty miles away. You WERE off your track.” “My wife is not a very good map reader, I'm afraid.”

Hmm, Dr Ravna's son and daughter pop to see Gerald and Marianne at the place where they are staying to invite them to a masked ball, but at the discovery that the sun is coming out, they suddenly panic and run off. I wonder why.

Holy Shit! Giant Creepy Devil Mask! I don't think I could ever go to a masked ball, I'd probably shit myself, even more so if I got drunk. I'd probably forget it was a masked ball, look in the mirror and scream.

Oh you sly vampire bastard. Putting on the same mask as Gerald so you can trick Marianne into thinking you are her husband and then locking her in a room with you're vampire dad. You bastard.

Oh! Double sly bastard. After getting Gerald so drunk he collapses that when he wakes up the party is over and Dr Ravna's son tells Gerald that he doesn't have a wife, and that he arrived alone. But it's not just Carl who's keeping up this charade he's also got the town's people so scared that they are also keeping the lie going. Professor Zimmer is the only one who tells Gerald the truth and also helps him to plan a way to save his wife.

After getting caught by the vampires Gerald is then tied up. One of them scratches his chest and goes in for the kill. But before she manges to bite him he escapes and smears the blood on his chest into the shape of the cross. Nice!

What? How can a swarm of black magic controlled bats kill a cult of vampires? That ending doesn't make sense to me. No wonder Peter Cushing didn't want that as the ending for The Brides of Dracula, instead they went for something simple and rather cool involving a windmill.

For a film that started out so well, I was left a bit confused and disappointed. That ending should have been good, a swarm of killer bats conjured up by black magic, but no it left me disappointed. As for the rest of the film, it was ok, nowt special. This film seems to get heralded as this all great hammer film, and a quint-essential of their Gothic films, I wouldn't quite say that. It's ok but it's by no means quint-essential viewing and whatnot. It's an average Hammer vampire film, see it if you like but don't expect the full film to stay as good as the pre-credits sequence.

The Kiss of the Vampire 2/5

Thursday, 9 June 2011

The Mummy's Shroud


Set in the 1920s, a team of archaeologists go in search of the lost tomb of the boy Pharaoh Kah-To-Bah. They are warned about a curse, but still they proceed to open it anyway only to receive more than the bargained for.

The Mummy's Shroud is a 1967 Hammer production. It stars Andre Morell, John Phillips and David Buck. It was directed by John Gilling. It is the third of Hammer's four Mummy films. There is a narrator at the start who is uncredited and sounds remarkably like Peter Cushing but there is no record to confirm this belief.

Essentially, it's much the same thing again. Some people disturb a cursed tomb and the curse (involving a Mummy coming to get them) is fulfilled.

Ooooh one of the members of the expedition searching for the tomb is psychic. That could come in handy. Ooooh, she's predicted that there will be danger after they have discovered the tomb and after they have left the desert, a danger of which not all of them will survive.

Woop woop. Roger “The Master” Delgado plays Hasmid, one of the locals. Guess what? He's a baddie too.

They found the tomb but one of the members of the team got bitten by a snake, then he did something (off screen) with a knife. I have no idea what he did but it must have been bad as the other members pulled squeamish looking faces as he did it.

When asked if he's concerned about the apparent curse that they were warned about, Stanley Preston (I think he's the guy funding the expedition) states that they aren't concerned about it. Fair enough, I mean it's not like the same thing has happened in the LAST TWO FILMS. There's always a curse on these bloody things and yet they always ignore the warning, resulting in the Mummy coming back to life and hunting them down one by one. These people deserve to die, stupid bastards. If I saw there was a curse on something I wouldn't even touch it let alone open it. In fact, I would probably run away screaming.

There's another psychic, and she has a sense of humour. She was talking to the man who was bitten by the snake.
“You will soon die, but not the way you think.”
“I just want to rest.”
“But soon you will be dead, you can rest then.” [laughs]
I like her.

Woh! I think the Mummy crushed the guy's skull. It was off screen so I'm not sure but it did clamp it's hands onto his head, then the camera cut away as he screamed. But when he's discovered he's found hanging from a rope round his neck. I prefer the first one, it was cooler.

Another cool moment, again on the Mummy's behalf. It smashed a bottle of flammable corrosive liquid onto the photographer. First it burnt through his clothing on impact then it ignited and set him alight burning him to death.

CROWNING MOMENT OF AWESOME (Again all thanks to the Mummy)

Longbarrow (played by Michael Ripper) awoke to not be able to find his glasses, as he searched the floor he accidentally crushed them and began to cry. Poor Longbarrow, as if his day wasn't bad enough, he tried to make his way out the room without his glasses. But he was greeted at the door by the Mummy who wrapped him up in his bedsheets (ah, to suffocate him? You'd be wrong) then he picked him up and threw him out of the window. It got me completely by surprise that it turned my feeling sorry for Longbarrow into laughing in hysterics at him being thrown out of the window.

Stupid Hasmid. As the good guys try to stop the Mummy by speaking the sacred words that will send him back to the grave, Hasmid holds out the shroud and says “HAHAHA. Only he who holds the shroud can speak the sacred words.” So the police officer shoots him and takes the shroud off him. You never know maybe he'll have better plans when he becomes The Master. He might even have a dummy in a rubber mask.

Another cool moment. The Mummy's destruction, after they speak the sacred words he starts to crumble into sand and bones, it looks really cool.

Overall, it's not bad. From what I've heard The Mummy's Shroud is considered a B-Movie amongst the Hammer films. I wouldn't say that, it's not that bad but it's also not that great either. When it started I was completely engrossed. Then as the film progressed my interest began to deteriorate, but then as it began to near the end as the Mummy started killing more people my interest grew once again. I don't know what it is but maybe I'm just not that into Mummy films, because of the 3 I've reviewed I've not been that fussed about them. Don't get me wrong I like them, but they just don't rank very highly like other Hammer films do for me. It wasn't in any way a bad film though, it's decent enough but I think it's just an average Hammer film. Also lets give the tagline a mention: Beware the beat of the cloth wrapped feet. It's better than the tagline would lead you believe. It's not great, but it does have it's odd moments of awesome as I've mentioned earlier, and it's worth watching even just for them.

The Mummy's Shroud 2/5