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!

Friday, 2 December 2011

The Legend of Harrow Woods

A group of students travel to Harrow Woods; a place that is believed to be where a novelist and his family were killed. As the plot unfolds we learn that a witch was burnt here and put a curse on the land so whoever comes here is killed.

The Legend of Harrow Woods is a House of Fear production. It stars Steven Craine, Rik Mayall and Norman Wisdom. It is written, produced and directed by Richard Driscoll.

Ignore the bollocks review on the DVD cover.

Since I first heard of this back in 2008 (when it was called Evil Calls: The Raven) I tried my best to get hold of it, I couldn't even get it from the official website. It seemed I had missed my window for getting the limited release of this seemingly good British horror film starring Jason Donovan, Rik Mayall and Norman Wisdom. Then this year (2011) it was released properly on the high street under the new title of The Legend of Harrow Woods. At long last the film I've been searching 3 years for was in my grasp. I got it and have just watched. I am so glad a friend of mine watched it before I did and told me it was bad, because if I was expecting the film I thought it was back in 2008 then I may just have put my foot through my TV. This film was so, so, so BAD that I'm not even going to review it. I'm instead going to write a list of everything that I hated about The Legend of Harrow Woods.

1. It's shit.

2. Jason Donovan with an American accent. In fact, everyone's American accent in this was shit and annoying.

3. Jason Donovan clearly has a PC from the 90s yet he's there running Windows Vista on it.

4. It's poorly made. There are cameras set up in the woods so they can stream their investigation online. But instead of one still camera angle (as you would expect from security style footage), the supposedly webcam footage is the same as the footage we the audience are seeing i.e. cutting from face to face within a conversation completely destroying the realism.

5. The story makes no fucking sense. I was with it at the start then it got to a point (I can't even remember what point) where it just went like a hallucination, at the time I'd been eating Jaffa Cakes. This film left me wondering if someone had spiked my Jaffa Cakes. SPIKED MY JAFFA CAKES!

6. This film is “From the special effects creators of The Shining” I don't remember there being piss poor special effects in The Shining. There's obviously fake CGI rain, shower water and blood splatting on the screen. It's like this film was made using Windows Movie Maker and Paint. Also if you plan to make a film that is a rip off of The Shining then don't advertise that it has any relation to that film as a means of promotion.

7. There's a stupid fireball with a raven's eye in it bursting on screen between scenes every now and then. It's like Richard Driscoll is trying to keep waking up the audience from the boring events of this fucking film.

8. Christopher Waken as the creepy narrator reading Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven. This was stupid for 2 reasons, when he's reading the story there's stupid blaringly loud music that keeps overpowering his voice. And secondly, I like Christopher Walken I really do, but all that happened when I heard him reading was I laughed, if they wanted someone with a creepy voice to read it then why not get the guy who read it on The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror?

9. It also annoyed me that this stars Rik Mayall and Norman Wisdom (in very small roles thank fuck). They are (and were) so much better than this shit. It made me feel that bit better that this wasn't technically Normal Wisdom's last acting role as he filmed his scenes back in 2002. But for anyone who doesn't know and is just casually watching it they'll see it as being his last acting role.

10. And on top of all the shitiness and confusion, it's actually rather boring.

In a sense this has hindered my anticipation for the 3rd instalment in Richard Driscoll's Raven trilogy. At least I think it's the 3rd, some websites say Back2Hell is the 2nd and others say it's the 3rd and that the 2nd was in fact a film called The Devil's Disciple. I don't fucking know, it seems Richard Driscoll's method of producing films is as confusing as his storytelling within them.

The Legend of Harrow Woods 0/5

Thursday, 22 September 2011

The Abominable Snowman


A group of adventurers man an expedition to the Himalayas in search of the mythical Abominable Snowman (aka Yeti). Among them are a scientist, a trapper, another guy, a Himalayan local and Tom Friend; the leader of the expedition who has plans to exploit the yeti for his own personal gain. But things soon spiral out of control when misfortune strikes the team.

The Abominable Snowman is a 1957 Hammer production. It stars Forrest Tucker, Peter Cushing and Maureen Connell. It was directed by Val Guest. The story and screenplay are by Nigel Kneale. It's also known as The Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas.

First thing, this is directed by Val Guest the guy who directed the first two Quatermass films, and it's also written by Nigel Kneale the guy who written the Quatermass saga. So this seems to already be off to a good start.

Tom Friend, is it just me or is that a really stupid name? He better not turn out to be a baddie with a name like that.

Now that's interesting. The scientist's theory; the yeti isn't a missing link, but a parallel evolution. During evolution there was a stage at which a creature's evolution split and went in 2 directions; one becoming apes and chimpanzees, the other becoming man. But the theory of the yeti is that the creature in fact evolved in a 3rd direction and became the yeti.

Ah shit! Our first glimpse of the yeti. A big hairy hand reaching inside the tent and grabbing a gun.

They managed to kill themselves an abominable snowman. I say “an” because there's more than one, and they know one of their own has been killed as they howl in the distance. Shit is going down.

Oh shit! A guy (I think in a trance) climbed to the edge of a cliff in all the snow with no climbing gear and jumped off, smacking off a rock as he hit the ground. Dead instantly, eesh.

Friend ironically isn't much of a friend at all. He's so determined to bring back a living yeti that he'll sacrifice the members of his own exhibition to do so. He used one man as bait and gave him a gun filled with blanks so he wouldn't be able to kill the yeti when trying to defend himself. He should have been called Tom Bastard, or Tom Twat.

Wow! I am so disappointingly underwhelmed by the appearance of the abominable snowman. It looks like a hobo with a beard. A big beard. I suppose it was a twist I never saw coming, the yeti looking like a hobo.

You know what? I don't know what just happened. Peter Cushing's Dr Rollason is the last surviving member of the expedition, and he sees the yeti in the flesh. Next thing he's found out in the snow unconscious. Then he's brought back to the local village where he tells the Buddhist people that he didn't find what he was looking for because it doesn't exist. I'm not sure whether he was lying for whatever reason or whether he was traumatised by the yeti so much that he lost his memory. I have literally no idea. That's the ending, so if anyone can shed some light on that for me I would very much appreciate it.

I've been wanting to see The Abominable Snowman for a long time. I wasn't necessarily disappointed, it just wasn't as good as I had expected, especially when it was written by the guy who wrote the Quatermass saga and directed by the guy who directed the first 2 Quatermass films. I can't comment on Quatermass 2 as I haven't seen it yet, but as for The Quatermass Xperiment, I remember watching it nearly 10 years ago and loving it. As for The Abominable Snowman, it is pretty good it's just a bit of a slow burner, which fair enough it's building up the tension but we don't even see our first glimpse of the yeti until 49 minutes in and seen as the film is 86 minutes long that's quite far in. I was also disappointed by the appearance of the yeti, the first glimpse of it was brilliant, just a huge hairy arm. But the actual yeti itself just looking like a hobo was not what I expected. I expected something a bit more monstery, hell I would have settled for the one from Monsters, Inc. The ending confused me, but maybe I missed something I don't know but it's worth another look because it is actually pretty good. There's also some beautifully filmed shots from atop the Himalayas. All in all, it's not bad. It's worth a look to see one of the early black and white Hammer horrors. If you watch it and you can shed some light on the ending I'm confused about then please comment and let me know.

The Abominable Snowman 3/5

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Island of Terror


On a remote island, scientists have been experimenting to create a cure for cancer. But their experiments go wrong and create a creature that goes about killing the locals. Now doctors from the mainland must travel to the island to stop these creatures before they consume the entire population.

Island of Terror is a 1966 Planet Film Productions production. It stars Edward Judd, Peter Cushing and Carole Gray. It was directed by Terence Fisher.

“If we're successful today, we may have the cure for cancer.” Just from that one line alone I now know they're not going to have the cure for cancer and that instead it's going to go horribly wrong. This is reinforced by the title blasting onto the screen just after he delivers that line. ISLAND OF TERROR in massive red on screen text.

Hmm, intriguing a body has been found but there's something not quite right about it. It has no bones. He's just a sort of jelly thing, think Boneless Chicken.

Woh shit! I wasn't sure whether we'd get to see the boneless guy, all we'd seen was the body from obscure angles and seen/heard people's reactions to it. But then we get a shot of his face when the doctors are about to perform an autopsy. It completely got me by surprise. Then on top of that is Cushing's Dr Stanley who delivers the best possible response “Not a very pretty sight.” Classic.

Oh no! This infection is spreading. They head to Dr Phillips' place (Dr Phillips is the one who was working on the cancer cure) to use his lab, but they find that he and others have gone mushy too.

No, not the animals. It's effecting the animals too, a farmer found his horse all squishy.

Ooh! Something slid down the back of the car, we see if from inside the car so it looked like a flat creature. It looked a bit like a giant pancake. It would be funny if it turned out to be Pancake Day and some guy figured he'd try and beat the Guinness World Record, but when he flipped it it flew out the window and landed on the car.

Ooh! They've bumped into two of the creatures back at Dr Phillips' place. (They are not pancakes.)

As it turns out, these creatures are of Dr Phillips' creation. He was creating a creature to consume cancerous cells, but it went wrong and he accidentally created a creature that consumes bone. Now these creatures are running riot all over the island consuming people's bones. And if that isn't enough, every 6 hours they divide doubling their population each time. Additionally, they have a strong exoskeleton so they're hard to kill. So essentially, the people of this island are screwed.

That was brilliant! There's a group of people, locals and the mainland doctors, throwing bombs and shooting the creatures in the woods. But then no one noticed one of them lurking up a tree which then drops down and lands on top of one of the locals. Classic.

Intriguing. A radioactive dog (contaminated from one of Dr Phillips' previous experiments) got eaten by one of the creatures, but it killed the creature. HA! They are effected by radioactive material. The plan: contaminate the cattle and make them radioactive so the creatures eat them and die.

Shit! One of the creatures latched onto Dr Stanley's hand, so the other guy did the only thing he could to to save his life. He chopped Dr Stanley's hand off with an axe. Got me by surprise I was expecting him to cut the creature's tentacle latching thing, but no Dr Stanley's hand. Bit like Evil Dead 2. Holy shit, Peter Cushing running around with a chainsaw for a hand would be awesome.

Yey! It worked. After what appeared to be a failed attempt to stop the creatures as after they consumed the cattle they divided which in turn halved the effect of the radioactive substance. But it just made the effect take longer to kick in. It managed to kill them just in time before the creatures got all the locals.

As the helicopter flies in to land, one of the men says “We're lucky this is an island. If this had have happened anywhere else I don't think we would have been able to destroy them.” Next thing we see is another lab (I presume in China seen as the signs on the door are in Chinese) where a scientist screams as he is killed off screen by one of the creatures.

I rather liked this, I knew absolutely nothing about it so I was expecting a horror but I was pleasantly surprised to find it was a sci-fi. The story seems to me like something you could picture being either a Quatermass film or a Jon Pertwee/Tom Baker Doctor Who story. It's a good story, the acting is good. It's an enjoyable sci-fi. It's got Peter Cushing starring and it's directed by Terence Fisher so you know it's going to be good. I really liked the model work for the boneless people, I thought it was really good and as I mentioned earlier it got me off guard because I was expecting not to see it as it had avoided showing the face for some time then the reveal got my by surprise which was great. It's a good 60s science fiction film, watch it.

Island of Terror 4/5

Tuesday, 16 August 2011



Experimenting with the idea of enhancing the receptors in one's eye to allow a person to see through objects, Doctor Xavier tests his serum on himself. Now with the ability to see through anything, Xavier continues studying it and continues increasing the dosage. But how far will he go? And how long will his sanity last with this God-like vision?

X is a 1963 American International Pictures production. It stars Ray Milland, Diana Van der Vlis and Harold J Stone. It was directed by Roger Corman. It is also known as The Man With the X -Ray Eyes.

Wow, I don't believe he is a real doctor, lighting his cigarette in the lab with a Bunsen burner. It's not like he's experimenting with something important and potentially dangerous, he's only creating something to inject into HIS EYES so lets light up the cigarettes and pollute the air around it.

Xavier's point of view X-ray vision does look pretty cool, especially later in the film when he's taken too much and everything becomes all psychedelic and groovy.

He may be an older gentleman be he knows how to use X-ray vision like a teenager. He's uses his new found snazzy vision to look at people in the nip while they're dance at a house party. This is what X-ray vision was meant for, none of that so you can operate on patients more accurately. Bah, it's for looking at people in the nip, even if Xavier does only look at people's backs and feet. It appears he can see through everything but necklaces, these women may be nude but they're still proudly wearing their pearl necklaces. This is his weakness; pearl. Then again I say weakness, he's not Superman he could be killed by something as simple as a nut allergy.

There are some very bad camera errors in this. They're only small niggly things but there's that many of them that these somewhat little niggly errors are building up and really aggravating me. For many of the Xavier point of view shots the camera isn't even positioned correctly, for instance when he's talking to someone and it's his point of view the camera isn't looking at them as it would be if you were taking to someone, the camera is positioned looking at them from a different angle so the person is side view on even though they're supposed to be looking Xavier in the eye. It's done so many times too, which is so annoying. Even more annoying is the fact that they have a fair few of them done correctly, so why not do them all correct? It's piss poor, that's what it is.

Holy fuck! Xavier pushed Jim (his friend) out of the window in what appeared to be a little shove to get him out of the way knocked him flying out of the window and plummeting to his death. X-ray vision has given him increased strength?

There's more stupid mistakes, unless they're intentional, they're not referred to as being intentional so I can only assume they're mistakes. Now he's gone on the run from killing his friend and is now posing as a psychic at a fairground. He sits on a stage with a band over his eyes and “sees” things about people. But the things he sees wouldn't be possible even with X-ray vision at the distance he is sitting. He is able to see the details of the contents of a guy's wallet even though he's sat some distance away from him. What, does he have zoom vision now?! This wasn't mentioned! It's worth noting that by the end of the film he says he can see the centre of the universe, more zoom vision? Fucked if I know what's going on, for a film about a man with X-ray eyes this film has gone too far beyond reality.

What a tool! If you intend to take on Vegas with the help of your X-ray vision, then don't show off to the extent that you're telling the dealer what the next card in the deck is. Dumb ass!

Ah! His eyes are getting worse, they're now black with gold irises.

Ah! They're completely black now!

He enters a religious gathering and explains about seeing the centre of the universe and no longer liking what he sees (guess that's what you get for not being content and wanting the vision of the Gods). So the Preacher reads out a ling from the Bible “If thine eyes offend thee, pluck it out.” So Xavier proceeds to very quickly pluck his eyes out. END. That is a good ending actually, from all the annoying things that have gone on before it that have “offended thee” that was a good way of trying to make up for them. I liked it.

Apparently there is an alternate ending where Xavier plucks his eyes out then when it fades to black we hear him scream “I can still see!” That would have been brilliant, apparently Roger Corman didn't like it so he stuck with the one we've got, but I personally think that would have been a brilliantly dark and horrifying ending.

This is a film I've been wanting to see for the best part of 10 years, I first read about it years ago and thought it sounded brilliant. Only just recently I was able to get hold of it, and unfortunately I was vastly disappointed. It was just no where near as good as I expected it to be, whether it was my years of anticipation that ruined it I don't know, but it just didn't thrill me like I had hoped. It was at times just slow and boring even though it's got a cool plot about a guy going about with X-ray eyes seeing through stuff. I'll admit it is good in areas, the bit when he knocked Jim out of the window completely got me by surprise and instantly caught my attention again. It's doesn't drag too badly as it's only about 75-80 minutes, but for a film of that length you would expect constant entertainment. Ray Milland was good, I liked the groovy visuals which for a low budget 60s film were good. Maybe a second viewing will improve my viewing pleasure for this one because I really wanted to like it but it just left me disappointed. The story is great, I just don't think it was executed greatly, fair enough I understand it was a low budget feature but come on it doesn't take budget to get the camera positioned correctly.

X 2/5

Sunday, 31 July 2011

The Man Who Haunted Himself


After recovering from a car crash, Harold Pelham begins experiencing losses of memory, or so they seem, as people keep telling him about things he did yet he doesn't recall ever doing them. But it soon gets out of hand when he discovers he has a mistress. But is he suffering from amnesia, is he going mad or has he got a doppelgänger?

The Man Who Haunted Himself is a 1970 Associated British Picture Corporation production. It stars Roger Moore, Hildegard Neil and Alastair Mackenzie. It was directed Basil Dearden. It is based on the novel The Strange Case of Mr Pelham by Anthony Armstrong.

Clearly the best way to show someone turn bad is to have them undo their seatbelt and start speeding on a motorway. Oooh you bastard. So yeah, it appears almost as if Mr Pelham has become possessed as he was steadily driving at 50MPH with his seat belt on then just suddenly changed. But then something weird happens, we see a different car with him in speeding alongside him which then merges with the car we originally saw him in. Now from seeing this I instantly figured that I knew the twist ending. My theory is this; Parallel universe, an alternate Mr Pelham, a bad Mr Pelham has somehow crossed over into our universe and merged with Good Mr Pelham. That's my theory anyway. After the cars merge Mr Pelham then loses control of the car and crashes.

He's then rushed to hospital where a stupid surgeon does CPR on his stomach area, y'know cos he needs to get his stomach beating again. Duh!

Ooooh, now that's cool. They manage to revive him but the heart monitor shows TWO heart beats. But one of the surgeons dismisses it by smacking the monitor which then clears the problem up and begins displaying one heartbeat as usual.

Ooooh, Pelham drove off in his car, but then we see what appears to be another Mr Pelham sitting in another car watching. DOPPLEGANGER!

Haha, Pelham (played by Roger Moore, just in case you didn't know) mentioned James Bond when discussing commercial espionage, little did he know he would soon play that super spy in 3 years time. [Evil laugh. Not sure why, but an evil laugh seemed like a good end to that sentence.]

Oh, something is afoot. People have started mentioning stuff to Pelham that he hasn't even done, or has he? He doesn't remember. A guy even came up to him and gave him a fiver saying that's what he owed him as he beat some guy at a game of pool last week. On one hand you're potentially going mad, losing your memory or you've got a doppelgänger on the loose. On the other hand some guy has just given you a fiver for doing nothing. I call that a win.

Oh, shit is going down. As he entered his workplace he went to hand his hat and umbrella in but another hat and umbrella had already been handed in by Pelham (or a Pelham). Now he's certain someone is pretending to be him so he's hot on his tail. He runs from place to place following the trail until it takes him to the pool house, but he's not there. Dead end. Poor Pelham, maybe next time. There's a couple of other close misses, one time he's even on the phone to the other Pelham but he still doesn't manage to catch him face to face.

The other Pelham doesn't waste much time, he's been having his end away with a saucy young photographer, but poor innocent Pelham is there to get mixed up with the other one.

Believing himself to be going mad, Pelham checks himself into a hospital under the supervision of a psychiatrist. Whilst he's in there the other Pelham goes about continuing to live Pelham's life. When he's finished in the hospital the psychiatrist explains that Pelham is a repressed individual and that this split personality persona has been caused by that. So in order to avoid it happening again he must start expressing himself more, wear some brighter coloured clothing, live his life a bit more. And simply stop being so uptight.

Then Pelham manages to catch the other Pelham in his own home, but he's unable to prove who he is to his family as the other one uses his dress sense against him, stating that he'd never wear anything like that. Bloody psychiatrist! Then when he gets him alone the other Pelham explains that he's always been there inside him and the crash allowed him to get out. Whilst on the operating table Pelham was meant to die, but he managed to live this then created the situation of there being two of him. And as the other Pelham puts it; now one of them must die.

Whilst he's explaining to him there's a shot which absolutely has me mind boggled. This is a film from 1970 yet they have a shot where Roger Moore circles another Roger Moore, it's not split screen because he walks in front of him and behind him all in the same shot. That shot is brilliant for 1970, no wait, it's fantastic, I have no idea how the hell they have achieved it.

Pelham then does a runner and speeds off in his car in an attempt to contact the police. But the other Pelham follows in pursuit. Dazed and confused he begins seeing hallucinogenic images, then next thing we know the other Pelham who was behind him is now somehow in front of him heading straight towards him. So he swerves to avoid another crash and instead smashes off the bridge and heads towards the water. But whilst in mid air as the car plummets towards the water Pelham fades away inside the car. Don't ask me, I have no fucking clue. Next thing, the other Pelham stands and watches the car sink, suffers some chest pains as it sinks but then recovers and that's it. END.

I am so confused. Roger Moore, you sir have confused me. Many people sight this as a very under rated film. I wouldn't say so, it's ok but it's nothing special. I agree with the appreciation of Roger Moore's performance, he's good. After finishing The Saint he wanted to do something different he did another film and this one, the other one was some spy film, but this allowed him to play duel roles and allowed him to express his ability as an actor. Many of Moore's fans sight this as one of his finest performances. As for the film, I like the story, the plot is quite interesting but there's just some aspects of it that are so confusing as I've mentioned at various points earlier. But again the one thing I loved which also completely baffled me is that one single shot of the two Roger Moores I have absolutely no idea how they achieved that in 1970. Besides which British horrors and thrillers weren't exactly the biggest of budgeted films so I am so confused by it, but in a good way (I think). Overall, it's ok. It's definitely worth watching but prepare to be left confused. If nothing else you should watch the trailer and you will be sold on this film as I was, simply by the fact that this is a film starring Roger Moore with a moustache, and if that wasn't enough there's two of him. WAHEY!

The Man Who Haunted Himself 3/5

Friday, 15 July 2011

Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed


After escaping being caught in one town Frankenstein moves on to another and begins his experiments once again. This time he acquires the help of a young couple, one of which is a doctor who works at the local asylum. In the asylum is a colleague of Frankenstein's who before having the chance to reveal how to freeze a brain without damaging it he went mad. But Frankenstein plans to cure his insanity in order to obtain the secret. Easy? Not bloody likely.

Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed is a 1969 Hammer production. It stars Peter Cushing, Freddie Jones and Veronica Carlson. It was directed by Terence Fisher. This is the film in the Hammer Frankenstein series.

Straight into the action. A guy walks down a street then an arm brandishing a sickle from an unseen assailant pops out from around a corner and swipes his head off, a mass of blood gushes onto the wall. Awesome! [Note: as the scene develops it's revealed to be Frankenstein who cut the man's head off.]

You're a mean one, Dr Frankenstein. He overheard a young doctor who works at the asylum discussing with his fiancée about his drug trafficking. Using this to his advantage Frankenstein blackmails them into helping him with his experiments.

The Baron tells the doctor's fiancée to make him some coffee. “You don't need her. Let her go.” “I need her to make me coffee.” He's quite a bastard in this one. Although he did thank her for the coffee before going to bed, at least he has some manners.

Frankenstein's plan is to break a colleague of his out of the asylum and cure his insanity in order to retrieve information from him that he wasn't able to get because of his insanity. The information will allow him to freeze a brain without damaging the tissue. His reason for this is that the human brain is at it's peak of intelligence at the moment of death, and all we do is bury it in the ground to rot. What he wants to do is remove it and preserve it for future use; transplanting it into another body to continue the brilliant mind it once had.

If you are unable to inject your patient with a sedative, then punch him in the gut.

I hate that police inspector, I actually hope he gets killed. He's such an arse. He's sarcastic, snooty, smarmy and he has an annoying voice. Kill that bastard!

Holy fuck! Frankenstein is really dark and sinister in this one. Frankenstein rapes the doctor's fiancée while he's working at the asylum for Frankenstein. I'll repeat that, Frankenstein played by the lovely Peter Cushing rapes a woman. Frankenstein is somewhat darker in this film than he ever was in the other films. Quite an unusual but interesting approach to take on the protagonist of the story, I mean I understand he was always a bit of an anti-hero anyway but this is really sinister. Apparently the rape sequence was filmed against the wishes of Peter Cushing, Veronica Carlson and even Terence Fisher, as it was the Hammer executive who wanted it putting in in order to keep the American distributors happy.

I love how Frankenstein always does his operations fully dressed in a suit, with just an apron covering part of the suit. He's even wearing the tie still, for God's sake.

Frankenstein manages to cure his colleague's insanity, but the wife of the man spots Frankenstein out and about. So she follows him back to the lodge where he's staying, but he welcomes her in and explains everything about how only he could cure his insanity and shows that it worked (what he doesn't tell her is that he transplanted the brain into another head, but she'll never know because his head is bandaged up, hahaha). He gives a demonstration that he is cured, and tells her she can visit any time she likes but he must stay in his care for a week, then after that they can start a new life together. He walks her to the door and as soon as the door closes he turns to the young doctor and says “Pack. We're leaving.” They then relocate to an old abandoned house that looks a bit like Dracula's castle.

The creation awakens and asks the doctor's fiancée for help but in fear she stabs him then he flees. When Frankenstein learns of what she has done he then stabs her. But the creation armed with the brain of a doctor is able to care for his wounds before escaping to look for his wife. But baring the face of another man, this can not end well.

The creation sets up a trap for Frankenstein knowing that he will come looking for him. He must choose to either face the police or face the flames. If he chances the flames then he also chances getting a hold of the creation's secret to freezing a brain successfully. He manages to retrieve the information and get out of the house, but the creation then grabs him and carries him back into the burning building trapping both himself and Frankenstein inside. END.

Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed is an odd one, it's good but it's unusual in the sense of how sinister they decided to make Frankenstein in it. He's never been as sinister in any of the other films as he is in this one. Throughout the previous films he's been portrayed as a dedicated follower of science, willing to murder in the name of science, a slight hero-esque character, an almost father-like figure then in this he's just quite simply a bastard. He is quite easily able to blackmail, rape and murder. Which is such an unusual thing to do to a character who is the protagonist of the story. As I mentioned earlier I know he's meant to be an anti-hero but the things he does in this seem to push the boundaries of that concept quite a bit. Peter Cushing as ever is great, in fact it's always fun to see Cushing as Frankenstein because he usually is always seen as this lovely man and plays good guys, so for him to play an anti-hero is always great but in this it's an interesting change to see him playing a character who is a borderline villain. As for the story, it was good not the best story but it was simple, just Frankenstein wanting to retrieve some information from a man who is in a state that leaves him unable to tell him. That's another thing, the creation in this is quite possibly Frankenstein's biggest success. He isn't a monster like any of the others, he has a scar running around his head but his personality is fully intact he doesn't go about killing people, in fact the only violent act he does is to enact revenge on Frankenstein, but that's revenge not mindless violence. Overall, it's a decent enough Frankenstein film, not the best but it's certainly different from the others due to it's darker, more sinister nature and that alone makes it stand out amongst the others.

Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed 3/5

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

The Skull


Christopher Maitland, a collector and writer, is offered the skull of Marquis de Sade a French madman who wrote about horrific torture methods and such. But the skull holds a dark secret, it has evil powers and is able to possess whoever holds it. Can Maitland resist the power of the skull or will he fall victim to it's unrelenting evil?

The Skull is a 1965 Amicus production. It stars Peter Cushing, Patrick Wymark and Christopher Lee. It was directed by Freddie Francis. It is based on a short story by Robert Bloch; The Skull of Marquis de Sade.

First of all, look at the cast. Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Michael Gough (but he only appears in one scene [sad face]).

Ooooh something is clearly afoot. Maitland and fellow collector (and friend), Matthew Phillips, had a bit of a competition going at the auction over a set of four sculptures of demonic figures. Ending in Phillips paying way over the odds for the bid, then when Maitland asked him why he paid so much when they clearly weren't worth it he replied saying he didn't know, almost as if he were under a spell.

Marco, an unscrupulous antiques dealer, comes to Maitland with a book all about Marquis de Sade, explaining about how he was a handsome young man before he began meddling with witchcraft. After that he changed and became twisted, he began writing books about sex, torture and the like. The following night, as he now knows he has Maitland's interest in Marquis de Sade, Marco comes to his house and presents him with the skull of Marquis de Sade. Then we learn that the skull has powers, it can possess the living, turn them evil and make them do the it's bidding. He tells Marco that he'll think about making the purchase and will let him know later.

I absolutely love that shot. It's a trait of Freddie Francis' even though he only used it in one other film (that I'm aware of), that being The Creeping Flesh. Still, very good shot.

As the plot develops, over a game of snooker Phillips tells Maitland that he had the skull and it was stolen from him, but he's glad it was stolen as it had power over him. For instance, the whole auction hoo-ha was all due to the power of the skull wanting him to get the demonic figures for a ritual that happens on the night of the new moon. So he warns Maitland against buying the skull telling him it's dangerous because he believes that Marquis de Sade wasn't mad at all, but in fact possessed by a demon, a demon that still inhabits the skull even after the man's death. He explains that on the night of the new moon the skull would move around as he would find it the next day out of it's cabinet which he locked the night previous to which only he has the key.

Even the shots panning and fading around Maitland's office are eerie because he collect some creepy fucking stuff. So the creepy objects mixed with the uneasy music don't help but make you feel a little unsettled. Just wait until the skull kicks off, jeez.

The skull begins to take effect on Maitland, giving him a bizarre and surreal hallucination about the police taking him to an empty room where there's a judge who makes him play three rounds of Russian Roulette before sending him into a room filling with gas and where the walls are closing in. And if that wasn't enough, the skull comes floating through the mist towards him. It's then that he wakes up screaming and realises he's in Marco's apartment building, but he doesn't know where Marco lives. Almost as if something was drawing him there. Ooooooh.

Against his friend's warnings Maitland heads to Marco's apartment to buy the skull from him, but when he arrives he finds Marco dead so he hides the skull in the cupboard and calls the police. Maitland then has another discussion with Phillips who once again warns him, explaining that Marco was killed on the first night of the new moon, and that tonight is will be the second night of the new moon and the satanic rituals. Again, against his warnings, Maitland heads to get the skull from it's hiding place but is caught by the landlord who tries to stop him, but the skull takes control and makes maitland strike out pushing the landlord off the top floor and plummeting to his death.

There's some brilliant shots in this film. One in particular is when Maitland places the skull in the cabinet and walks away but the camera remains looking at the skull and we can see Maitland's reflection in the glass cabinet turning back and staring at the skull. My description may not be doing the shot justice, and I can't get a screenshot as I have the Region 1 DVD which I can't play on my computer, so my suggestion is go and watch the film.

A baddie that is just simply a skull, so simple but so effectively scary. The shots of it slowly gliding through the air and placing itself in new locations just staring at Maitland are brilliantly creepy.

Oh no! Maitland got possessed by the skull and it made him go and steal the demonic figures from Phillips' house. But Phillips caught him so Maitland walloped him in the head with one of the figures. Maitland is now completely under the power of the skull, he even goes to kill his own wife. He is about to plunge the knife right into her chest but at the last moment catches sight of the cross hanging around her neck and manges to shake off the skull's possession. So he returns to his study and places the skull into a glass cabinet and wraps a holy relic around the handle so that the evil of the skull won't be able to touch it.

He thought he could stop the skull, HE WAS WRONG! The skull simply smashed though the glass and repositioned itself on the table, once again taking possession of Maitland. But again he managed to shake it off by remembering the cross and stabbed the skull right in the eye socket with the knife, then assuming it's all over goes to bed. Again, HE WAS WRONG. The skull simply locked him in his bedroom and appeared in there with him slowly approaching him as he screams. Then the next day, Maitland's wife wakes up to find her husband dead in the other room with a knife sticking out of his chest. The police inspect the crime scene comparing it to the Marco case, asking “What's the connection?” “Witchcraft?” “Not in this day and age...not in this day and age.” END.

The Skull is a great film, great acting from great actors, a great story and visually thrilling. I can clearly see how this film could have terrified people years ago, the sequences where the camera moves though the corridors with the skull slowly gliding before it is creepy as hell. In addition to the eerie tale about a possessed skull is the fact that Marquis de Sade was in fact a real person, so they've taken real facts and tweaked them a little to create a terrifying tale. Also an interesting bit of trivia, the skull of Marquis de Sade was exhumed from his grave in the asylum where he was buried for scientific analysis, but it was later lost and it's whereabouts are still a mystery today. There's nothing more really to say, except it's a really good film, so go seek it, find it and watch it.

The Skull 5/5

Friday, 1 July 2011

The Uncanny (REVISITED)


Writer Wilbur Gray visits his publisher to try and sell him the idea for his new book to him. A book that reveals the true terrifying nature of cats. To do so, he tells three tales of feline terror.

The Uncanny is a 1977 The Rank Organisation production. It stars Peter Cushing, Ray Milland and Samantha Eggar. It was directed by Denis Heroux.

Peter Cushing's Wilbur Gray doesn't seem to have a good relationship with cats. They don't like him and he's shit scared of them. This is all because Wilbur has knowledge, knowledge that (if it got out) would change the world for ever.

He arrives at his publisher's house and is left uneasy as he discovers he has a cat, so the cat is present for the whole time Wilbur is telling his three tales.


1912, a rich old woman dies and leaves all her earthly possessions to her huge collection of cats. The servant girl (Janet) seizes the opportunity to steal the will for her own personal gain. But the cats have other plans.

Nice bit of foreshadowing from the old woman. “That girl will be the death of me one day, I'm sure of it.”

The old woman missed out her nephew from the will (because I think he's a bit of a dick). But he's knocking about with Janet, so the plan is for her to steal and destroy the other copy of the will hidden in the old woman's safe, so that he gets all the money and Janet gets to be married to a “very, very rich man”.

Just when all seemed to be going well, she'd opened the safe and had hold of the will. Then a cat jumped on the bed and woke up the old woman who startled Janet making her drop the will on the floor. Before she was able to alert anyone to what Janet had done, Janet suffocated her with a pillow. But the cats were watching the whole thing. Believing her to be dead, Janet stopped pressing down on the pillow and turned around facing the other way. What she didn't see was the old woman had survived, oh wait no she didn't. I mean what the fuck? She clearly survived suffocation as she was able to sit up and grab Janet's shoulder but then she suddenly just passed out and died. Surely if she survived the suffocation then she should still have been alive after sitting up. So what the fuck killed her?!

When the old woman startled Janet she dropped the will on the floor so all she has to do is pick it up. Easy. Or is it? Every time she goes to pick it up off the floor a cat's paw comes from off screen and claws her hand. It just looks so funny though, it happens several times. Oh how I laughed. And to think I was terrified of this years ago.

AH! CATS! They all start pouncing on her and clawing through her clothes and her skin. So she takes refuge in the pantry. She spends several days in there, surviving on scraps of food and a jar of brown stuff that doesn't look too appetising, even she borks when she eats it.

These cats are fiendishly clever. They're like the Cravendale Cats with opposable thumbs, but minus the opposable thumbs. They rip open the post (or Mail for my American readers) that comes through the letterbox.

I'm assuming the brown stuff must have pushed her beyond her limits because not long after eating that she takes her chances amongst the cats, armed with only a bread knife she tries to get the will one last time. AH! The cats have been eating the old woman in order to survive. Then they kill Janet, she didn't stand a chance against man-eating cats. The old woman's nephew then comes to the house with the police (because there's been no reply at the house for days) only to find Janet dead and his aunty mostly eaten. Then he tries to get the will and the cats kill him too. They bite him right on the throat.


Wilbur gets even more anxious once his publisher lets the cat out and he sees it “talking” to the other cats. Presumably telling them about Wilbur and his knowledge.


Lucy's parents died in an accident and now she has to live with her aunt and uncle and their daughter Angela. She's been allowed to keep her cat because it's all she's got, but Angela isn't suited and soon becomes jealous of Lucy having a cat.

Apparently “Cats can talk, it just takes time before you can understand them.” Thanks Lucy.

Wow, Angela is really jealous of Lucy having a cat. Her mother said that Lucy is allowed to have a cat because her Mam and Dad died. So Angela asks “If my Mam and Dad die would I be able to have a cat then?”

Angela continues to try and steal Lucy's cat from her, it seems that if she can't have it then no one can. So she starts doing stuff around the house and blaming it on the cat until eventually her parents take it to get put down. What a bitch.

Angela is such a bitch! At one point she even shouts at Lucy “You haven't got a Mummy! You haven't got a Daddy! You haven't got anybody!” Oh I do wish someone would just use some black magic to shrink her to the size of a mouse and then stand on her. But like that's ever going to happen.

Even though Angela's parents took Wellington (Yes, the cat's called Wellington. Probably should have mentioned this earlier. Nevermind.) to get put down, somehow he must have escaped because on the night he turns up at the house. He even opened a book of witchcraft for Lucy to use. It essentially told her to use it. Bad kitty!

Oh what do you know. Lucy used witchcraft to shrink Angela to the size of a mouse, she let Wellington toy with her a bit then she stood on her with a splat and a crunch.


Wilbur continues to be fearful of the cat, now the publisher has let it back in the house after talking to it's cronies and it's just sat there watching him.


1933, the actor Valentine De'ath's (I know, he's called Mr. De'ath. But his initials are also VD) wife is killed during a death scene gone wrong for a film. So he gets his lover to replace her but his late wife's cat has a few bones to pick with him over that.

This tale is about an actor in the 1930s played by Donald Pleasence so why when Wilbur showed his evidence was there a photo of Donald Pleasence as Blofeld in You Only Live Twice? Stupid Cat Movie.

After Valentine's wife is “accidentally” killed by what was meant to be a prop pendulum blade thing, Valentine then recommended his wife's stunt double to replace her, she just so happens to be having an affair with Valentine.

“Oh, VD, I love you.” Yeah I laughed, the awkward pause after she said it added to that too. I wonder if it was intentional.

Fuck! Valentine's late wife's cat gave birth to some kittens, so he flushed them down the toilet. What the fuck? That's horrible! But it's ok, the cat then goes about exacting revenge on VD and his bit on the side. I don't fucking blame it. First of all it tried to kill him at work by chewing through the rope holding up a light which fell and narrowly missed him. VD and his lover have a few failed attempts at killing the cat so they leave out some traps before going to work. But this cat isn't stupid. Another Cravendale Cat.

At work they are rehearsing a death scene where she is killed via a box filled with spikes, but the cat is on hand to lock the safety door of the box so that she is actually killed by the spikes. In a fit of rage VD chases the cat off screen where we hear some screams from the cat. Next day, one of the film's crew members walks on set talking to VD who is sat in his chair. In response to VD not answering him he says “What's the matter? Cat got your tongue?” then he sees the cat dragging a tongue along the floor and that VD is sat in the chair dead with a mouth full of blood.


Wilbur's evidence suggests the idea that instead of human's being the masters and cats being the pets it is in fact the other way round. So he wants his book publishing so that he can get his word to the masses in order to warn people about cats and their manipulative ways. After Wilbur leaves, the publisher's cat who has heard the whole conversation stares at him until he eventually burns the evidence and then goes and gets the cat some milk then says “I can't deny you anything can I?” All the while Wilbur is chased by cats until he is eventually attacked by them, falls down some steps and breaks his neck. Poor Wilbur.

Right, The Uncanny. Well, it's ok. It's not great by any stretch of the imagination, the idea behind it I quite like. The whole taking something we see as one thing, in this case cats we see them as pets and then flips it on it's head to create this idea of horror that human's aren't the dominant species after all. But the problem there is you would assume this will be a collection of three tales where innocent people are killed by evil cats, but instead it's three tales of evil people getting stopped by the cats or the cats taking revenge on them. So from these three tales I'd say “Yes cats are fiendishly clever, but they're also like vigilantes helping the good people by stopping the bad people. They're like batman.” So the three stories kind of miss the point of the overarching story's theme. It's funny watching this now, because I remember being scared of this as a kid, it left me terrified of my own cat. I specifically remember the first story where the cats eat the old woman and being cautious of my cat for days wondering if it was going to eat me, suffice to say my cat has not eaten me... yet, but she still has time. Clearly the best bit of this film is Peter Cushing as the petrified Wilbur Gray, he's great. Even Donald Pleasence is a bit iffy in this but maybe it was meant to be a bit of an over the top performance, then again maybe he just couldn't be arsed. All in all, it's ok but not great, even if you really like Peter Cushing (LIKE ME!) it's not really worth your time. Peter Cushing is great but the film is just ok.

The Uncanny 2/5

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