Director: Victor Halperin.
Starring: Lyle Talbot, Charleton Young, Irving Pichel, Shelia Bromley, Skelton Knaggs . USA. 49m
Based on: A Thousand Deaths by Jack London.
The notable short story from the creative and imaginative Jack London in 1899 saw a mad scientist experiment with death, finding new ways to kill and revive the protagonist with crazed experiments that lead to yet another more deadly invention to aid escape once the experiments get more depraved! This compelling sci fi story inspired the 1932 White Zombie director, Victor Halperin; to develop his rendition, not just based on any ship, but the mysterious Torture Ship.
Halperin speeds through through his story in record timing, and in under an hour he’s arranged a few twists and turns, alongside a whirlwind romance as a group of cons try to go about their daily lives on board a cruise while not giving away their criminal backgrounds but not realising that’s why they have been forced together on this particular ship by a crazed scientist with a fever dream. Continue reading Torture Ship (1939)
Director:William Herbert .
Starring.Laurie Walters, Joe Spano, Edna MacAfee, Harry Bauer, Steve Solinsky, Richard, Veille. USA. 1h 29m.
Warlock Moon is a stange low budget horror that has all the right intentions to be a twisted occult driven grindhouse thriller but it just doesn’t quite reach those dizzying heights, but still remains a hot favourite with a select few enthusiasts.
William Herbert’s confident homemade horror involved a lot of favours and dedication, but that’s what a lot of b movies are all about, making the most of what you can and creatively bending rules on public filming, it also helps to have a cast who are flexible and are fully dedicated to project, in this case, Edna MacAfee wasn’t allowed to wear makeup to enhance her old woman look and Walters and Spano were able to ad lib most of their scenes together which runs natural as they were a couple at the time. Continue reading Warlock Moon (1973)
Director: Howie Askins
Starring: Ryan McCoy, Brett Rosenberg, Ashley Brack, Toby Bryant, Abigail Richie .USA. 1h 18m
Small budget aside this imaginative found footage movie actually outdoes some of the more costly attempts to freak out audiences, with its stereotypical beginnings it ramps up the psychotropic madness as it’s survivors run a gauntlet of terror that’s totally unexpected and wholesomely different and that alone; is worth the wait as this simple but highly effective story plays out.
Howie Askins’s debut Devil Girl (2007) didn’t leave a great lasting impression on its audience, the attempt to revise the ultimate horror road movie with buxom chicks just didn’t pique much interest, sadly the 9/10 review on IMDb comes from someone with the username howieaskins .. funny that. Continue reading Evidence (2012)
Director: Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia
Starring: Iván Massagué, Zorion Eguileor, Antonia San Juan, Emilio Buale Coka, Alexandra Masangkay .Spain. 1h 34m
When we have the truth of our social or cultural climate thrown in our face in graphic ways it’s quite common for people to feel ashamed, disgusted or maybe intrigued by its complexity. Taking something which most are unable to comprehend or actively turning a blind eye too, and reinventing it, is threaded throughout this spectacular Spanish Sci Fi Thriller.The Platform is an incredibly busty portrayal of our current tragedy of the commons but this one is a touch harsher than the Allegory of the Long Spoons fable.
It’s a popular trend for movies made for a more astute audience to often hit the ground running, chucking it’s characters and audience into an odd situation and assuming that grey matter will get them through the fleshing out of the plot, this is so welcomed than a third of the movie being taking by the director hammering home what they want the audience to think. So after watching a Michelin style kitchen prepare perfect foods, Galder opens with the lead Goreng (Massague) waking up on a bunk, on a platform with a strange man who keeps saying obviously.. there should be a warning to buckle up because things are going to get strange, violent and incredibly deep. Continue reading El Hoyo / The Hole AKA The Platform (2019)
Director: Bruce Toscano
Starring: Gary Wallace, Karin Sjöberg, Robert Gerald Witt as Jack, Dean Schoepter, Les Miller, Don Donovan .USA. 1h 25m
Often described as one of the worst of the worst, this trippy sci-fi thriller is packed with a weird psychotropic atmosphere and has an interesting concept and sterling synth soundtrack but it really does write the book on how not to make a movie, while still maintaining that under-developed charm which B Movie enthusiasts really love.
It’s not entirely clear what Toscano was going for with his movie, it starts well but once the random trippiness kicks in his main character spends so little time in the real world there’s not a lot to grasp onto, the ploy is generally simple, but there’s so much imagery which really needs explaining. With attempts to blast the audience with Altered States-esque visual conundrums with alien and religious iconography. Continue reading The Jar (1984)
Director: Emilio Portes.
Starring. Joaquin Cosio, Tate Ellington, Tobin Bell, Aurora Gil. Mexico. 1h 54m.
Whenever I need a real horror fix I usually find it within the ranks of non English, or at least non Hollywood movies, the last thing which really rocked my boat was the Turkish Baskin (2015) and the aptly named Aterrados/Terrified (2017) from Argentina to name a few, but in nearby Mexico I found a gem in Belzebuth. I was quite pleasantly surprised about this violent demonic film from seasoned director Portes, who’s mainly known for his fast paced action comedies, so to see him traverse this new genre like a pro says much about his outstanding directorial qualities and hopefully we’ll see more from him in the future, with this blinding spiritual sequel to Pastorela (2011). Continue reading Belzebuth (2017)
Director: Todd Phillips
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy . USA. 2h 2m
Unlike a lot of action films that are based on comic characters. Phillips takes a totally different stance on recreating his solemn and realistic Joker in a studious drama focused on a downtrodden clown on the verge of his magnum opus. Last year we had a solemn Suspiria (2018) and now we have a courtly Super Villain, not just because everyone really loved Suicide Squad (2016) but a handful of grown ups wanted something more tangible and .. grown up!?
Generally the origin of the Joker is common knowledge, it’s been revisited many time in various graphic novels and comic series of the the years, but this is the first of a new series of DC comic remakes based in a more plausible world, and this chilling story for Arthur Fleck is outstanding, not only for the new birth of the worlds most favourite bad guy but it stands as a benchmark of Joaquin Phoenix as a truly versatile actor whose masterful adoption of characters that purposely don’t gel with audiences, only make them more lovable. It’s pretty easy to see this as the DC version of You Were Never Really Here (2017) but maybe in reverse but it’s just a tad darker and outlandish with crazier people involved. But in all honesty I wouldn’t want to blend the two films as they stand alone in their own glorious and unforgettable rights. Continue reading Joker (2019)
Director: Philip Escott, Craig Newman
Starring: Richard Pawulski , Danny Miller, Reece Douglas, Natalie Martins, Gary Knowles, Grace Dixon. UK. 1h 20m
Philip Escott and Craig Newmans movie is an intensely controlled, beautifully raw and a bittersweetly acted account of the systematic hunt and brutal murder of an innocent autistic teen. Richard Pawulski plays a peaceful young man, Danny, who heads into the countryside for some camping, ethical fishing and to enjoy the solitude for this Duke of Edinburgh award, but unknown to him, an enamored Julia (Martins) has lied to a violent and jealous Nicholas (Miller) about Danny having sexual relations with his (now) ex, this lie starts to spread and grows into Danny being a pedophile to encourage another friend to help them track him down and teach him a lesson. Continue reading Cruel Summer (2016)
Director: Juraj Herz
Starring: Rudolf Hrusinsky, Vlasta Chramostova, Jane Stehnova. Czechoslovakia. 1h 47m
Based on : The Cremator by Ladislav Fuks
A darkly comedic gothic misadventure into the psyche of a brilliant deranged lunatic. After being lost for several years, Cremator has been resurrected by the Brothers Quay, who painstakingly sourced the film and worked on its resurrection, this extraordinary intense meditation of the political horrors of 1930’s Europe are fantastically chilling in this early Czech New Wave film. Continue reading Spalovac Mrtvol / Cremator (1969)
Director: Vincenzo Natali. Writer: Stephen King
Starring.Laysla De Oliveria, Avery Whitted, Patrick Wilson, Will Buie Jr. Harrison Gilbertson, Tiffany Helm, Rachael Wilson. Canada. 1h 41m.
The penny dropped after the first hour of watching vivid scenes of tall grass swaying and screaming at lost desperate people in this slightly weary thriller, my eureka moment came when I realised I had seen this set up before, in a well known and once brilliant sci fi movie, The Cube (1997) and fuck me sideways, it’s the same director!?! I might have finally learnt my lesson in doing the technical research before settling into a movie. In a nutshell, that’s it, a folk version of The Cube in a field, and despite it’s best efforts, it’s not much more. The film eludes to lots of probabilities to the origins of its mystery but fails to really give solid answers and ends up as a messy mix of dead ends. Continue reading In the Tall Grass (2019)