Friday, November 23, 2012
"I Saw What You Did" (1965) starring Joan Crawford, John Ireland and Leif Erickson is a campy horror/thriller directed by William Castle.
Teenagers, Libby Mannering, her friend Kit and little sister Tess Mannering are home alone for the night while the parents are out of town. The girls are bored so start playing a game where they call random people from the phone book and make prank calls. The game soon evolves into the girls calling and saying "I saw what you did. I know who you are!" As chance would have it, they call Steve Marak (Ireland) right after he has killed his wife in an angry rage!
Not being content with just calling, they eventually decide to drive over to his house (because his voice sure sounds sexy!) to see what he looks like. This is a mistake, because nosy neighbor (and want to be love interest for her killer neighbor Steve) Amy Nelson (Crawford) sees them snooping around and scares them off after grabbing their registration with their address! And you can bet Steve will end up with the girls' address.
This movie is not really scary but is campy especially with the usual over the top performance by Joan Crawford! The music isn't even the usual suspense building horror soundtrack - it's more 60s sitcom music. This is a fun one to watch especially if you are revisiting it from your childhood and especially to see another fun Joan Crawford performance.
"Mystery Mansion" (1983) starring Dal McKennon, Christopher Wynne and Randi Brown is a child centered suspense/mystery movie that is geared toward children.
Susan (Brown) and her brother Johnny (David Wagner) are visiting their aunt and uncle in rural Oregon for the summer. Nearby their house is an old mansion that is connected to their family's history. Susan has been haunted by dreams of what happened in this house at the end of the 19th century, when bandits broke in and the little girl Rachel was killed.
Susan and Johnny team up with the friend Billy after they find a treasure map while exploring the old mansion. They also have befriended Sam (McKennon) the old man who lives in a shack nearby and he helps the kids to solve the mystery of the treasure and Rachel's death. To add more to the excitement, two escaped convicts also want to find the treasure and will it be a situation of history repeating itself? You'll have to watch to find out.
This movie reminded me of the types of books I enjoyed reading as a kid where the children solve a mystery. This movie is out of print on DVD but you can find copies to buy. You can also catch it on cable channels such as Starz.
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
"A Reflection of Fear" (1973) starring Robert Shaw, Sondra Locke, Signe Hasso, Sally Kellerman and Mary Ure is a movie that I had never seen before and has quickly become one of the creepiest that I have ever seen!
Grandmother Julia (Hasso), mother Katherine (Ure) and daughter Marguerite (Locke) all live together in a large seaside mansion. Right from the beginning the creepiness starts! Marguerite is in her bedroom and as she is talking to the unseen Aaron while the camera portrays row after row of old fashioned dolls. We see a shadow of where Aaron is but it looks like another doll. Later, the mother refers to her friend as a doll.
The big news disrupting the isolation of this house is that Marguerite's father Michael (Shaw) is coming to visit. He has come with his fiancee Anne (Kellerman) to seek a divorce from Katherine and to see his daughter the first time in ten years. This sets off a series of events that will change everything!
We have a creepy sounding "doll" talking, someone peeking through partitions in the walls and ceilings, someone in black wandering around the estate and gardens with a long stick, a super creepy relationship between daughter and father and a dreamlike quality that permeates this film. There are even a couple scenes like the dinner party where no dialog takes place, just the background music, as we watch the dinner participants mostly through body language that tells more than just plain dialog. The ending is also one that you most likely will not have figured out! Watch this creepy little horror movie - it's quite an experience!!
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
"Die! Die! My Darling!" (1965) starring Tallulah Bankhead, Stefanie Powers and Peter Vaughan is a thriller that mixes camp with horror.
Patricia Carroll (Powers) is newly arrived in England with her current fiance. Before they start their new life together, she tells him that she has agreed to meet her dead fiance's mother. Upon arriving at the run down country house, Patricia meets Mrs. Trefoile (Bankhead), who won't hear of her leaving right away and asks her to stay for the night.
Patricia is called downstairs by the maid, Anna (Yootha Joyce) for evening services, Patricia begins to see what she is dealing with in this household. She discovers Mrs. Trefoile is a religious fanatic and she is leading services with the maid, handyman and mentally challenged Joseph (played by none other than Donald Sutherland!) all bowing down and listening to verse after verse from the bible before they can eat their dinner. At dinner we learn more, Mrs. Trefoile doesn't allow any salt, saying they don't use condiments of any kind in this household! She also makes Patricia go upstairs and remove her lipstick which is red like the devil!
Before Patricia can figure out it would be better to leave, she finds herself held hostage by Mrs. Trefoile and her household staff. Mrs. Trefoile wants to save Patricia's soul so she can go to heaven where her beloved Steven is waiting for her! What follows is an ever escalating reign of psychological terror and over the top performances from the actors!
This movie doesn't take itself too seriously. The actors, especially Powers and Bankhead seem to be enjoying the roles of these two very strong willed women! From the animated sequence of a cat and mouse at the opening credits to the rather humorous music and asides from Patricia, this movie is a horror campfest that you'll love.
"Games" (1967) starring Simone Signoret, James Caan and Katharine Ross is a psychological thriller that is full of twists and turns, directed by Curtis Harrington.
Paul (Caan) and Jennifer (Ross) Montgomery live an upscale life surrounded by an eclectic mix of friends. One day Lisa Schindler (Signoret) comes by claiming she knows an old friend of Jennifer. Turns out she's a salesperson selling perfumes and soaps. Before you know it, Katharine has invited her to stay because Lisa is between homes.
Paul and Jennifer like games. They have an entire room filled with games. Lisa tells them about some more dangerous games she has played in her past. Gradually we see the three team up in different pairs to play pranks on the other until one of the jokes goes terribly wrong.
The actors are excellent at their parts. Just when you think the movie is going one way, it goes another. This is an excellent thriller to watch.
Monday, November 19, 2012
"Paranoiac" (1965) starring Janette Scott, Oliver Reed, Alexander Davion and Sheila Burrell is another great psychological thriller from Hammer Studios.
The setting is a large mansion on a country estate in England. The Ashby family lives there, including brother Simon (Reed), sister Eleanor (Scott) and Aunt Harriet (Burrell). Oliver Reed is particularly good as the psychotic, alcoholic brother that wants his sister committed so he can inherit the entire estate in a few weeks when the estate comes out of trust.
Eleanor has become a fragile wisp of who she formerly was since the death of her other brother Tony (Davion) two years ago. Suddenly she keeps seeing Tony but no one believes her. One day she decides to jump off a cliff into the sea but Tony is watching nearby and saves her. Much to the dismay of Simon and Aunt Harriet, Tony returns to the house with Eleanor. Neither believes it is really him.
This is another one of those thrillers that has you guessing until the very end. The characters in this very dysfunctional family are very well played. Watch this film and enjoy all the twists and turns!
"The Nanny" (1965) starring Bette Davis, Wendy Craig and Jill Bennett is a psychological thriller that will have you guessing until the end.
Nanny (Davis) has been with the family since Virginia Fane (Craig) was a child. She is also nanny to her children. However two years ago, the young daughter Susy drowned in the bathtub. Her brother Joey was blamed and sent to an institution for two years. At the beginning of the movie everyone is getting ready for his return and the mom isn't sure she wants him back.
Nanny is ever doting and always sweet. She takes care of the mother even more than the son. Upon Joey's return, he wants nothing to do with Nanny. He says she is trying to kill him. No one believes him though. Is Joey a bad seed or is Nanny not what she appears? You'll have to watch this great Bette Davis movie to find out.
Sunday, November 18, 2012
"The Undying Monster" (1942) starring James Ellison, Heather Angel and John Howard and directed by John Brahm is a classic atmospheric horror film that takes place in the early 1900s that I recently stumbled across.
Scotland Yard sends in a scientific investigative team to try to find out what really happened. Scientist Robert Curtis (Ellison) and his assistant Christy (Heather Thatcher) come to the estate to investigate. This duo tries to use the newly evolving scientific methods to solve crimes. These two characters actually add a little humor into the horror movie - especially Christy.
This film has been restored and is a wonder to watch. The scenes are lit with candlelight, people wander seaside cliffs with lanterns, the house has secret rooms and a crypt in the basement and there is some sort of monster lurking around outside. The scenes are beautifully filmed with some really interesting angles and methods. This is a very well done movie that is worth finding and watching. This is definitely one that I will watch again and again in the years to come!
Saturday, November 17, 2012
"The Selling" (2011) starring Gabriel Diani, Janet Varney, Etta Devine and Jonathan Klein is a comedy about a man Richard Scarry (Diani) and his friend Dave Ross (Klein), both real estate agents, who purchase a cheap house so they can fix it up and flip it. It turns out there's a reason it was cheap - it's haunted by the ghosts of victims of the Sleep Stalker serial killer.
Shortly after buying the place, the ghosts make themselves known and they don't want anyone else buying the place. The real estate duo hold open houses only to have all the people fleeing in fear after seeing bleeding walls and other scary stuff. Ghost Blog writer/waitress, Ginger Sparks (Devine) soon becomes friends with Richard and tries to help him figure out how to calm the ghosts so he can sell the house.
The scares here are mostly for laughs instead of scares. The film is well done and characters are actually well acted for a film that I had previously never heard of. If you want a mix of humor and haunting, give "The Selling" a try.
"The Screaming Skull" (1958) starring John Hudson, Peggy Webber and Russ Conway is B Horror movie about a widower, Eric Whitlock (Hudson), who brings his new wife, Jenni (Webber) back to his large mansion and estate where he used to live with his deceased wife. The gardener, Mickey, has lovingly been keeping up the gardens and estate in memory of Eric's dead first wife while he has been away.
The house does not yet have the power turned back on so all night scenes are lit by candlelight. Jenni starts hearing noises at night and soon finds a screaming skull that's haunting her. Eric suspects it's Mickey that is up to no good and trying to scare her. Eric's first wife is haunting the estate but what does she want?
This movie has some great atmosphere. Moving around the big old house by candlelight. Creepy gardener wandering around the estate at night. Eerily screeching peacocks wandering the estate. This is definitely a B Horror movie so go in knowing this and enjoy.
"See No Evil" (1971) is a horror/thriller starring Mia Farrow, Dorothy Alison and Robin Bailey . Sarah (Farrow) is a woman who lost her sight in an accident and is returning to her uncle and aunt's estate in England a couple years later. Sarah gets used to being back and getting to know the lay of the house and goes out with her old flame, Steve. While out, her family is murdered and when she returns she is completely unaware of the tragedy and that the murderer is still on the estate.
This is a very well done movie. The viewer never does see the killer's face, just his cowboy boots so we never know who the murder is until the surprise unveiling near the movie's end. Mia does an excellent job going through a host of emotions in this movie. I ran across this movie on Turner Classic Movie (TCM) channel and it was a very good find!
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
"Dominique" (1978) starring Cliff Robertson, Jean Simmons and Jenny Agutter is a story about a vengeful ghost.
Dominique Ballard played by the wonderful Jean Simmons believes she is being driven mad by her husband, David. She finds a figure with her bracelet hanging in the conservatory one night but when she and David go back, it is gone. After not finding any help, she eventually does hang herself.
Shortly after the funeral, David starts to hear her voice calling him. He sees her across the street at work. He finds out a woman matching his description has purchased his headstone to put right next to hers with a date of death that says "soon". It appears that Dominique is exacting her revenge upon her not so loving husband. Yet, appearances can be deceiving.
This thriller turns out to be not what one expects at the end.
"Scream of Fear" (1961) AKA "Taste of Fear" starring Susan Strasberg, Ann Todd, Christopher Lee and Ronald Lewis is an excellent thriller from Hammer Films.
A wheelchair bound woman, Penny Appleby (Strasberg) returns to the French Riviera to her father's estate after a 10 year estrangement. When she arrives, her step mother Jane Appleby (Todd) informs her that her father is away on business and doesn't know when he will return. Shortly after arriving, Penny starts to see her dead father in different areas of the house. No one will believe her though. Bob (Lewis) the chauffeur becomes Penny's confidant and together they try to figure out what is happening.
This thriller has more twists than you can imagine! Just when you think you know what's going on, you'll discover it's something else completely! The film is gorgeously shot in black and white and the rich estate and beautiful location shots becomes even more mysterious with the use of darkness, light and shadows. This is a must see classic thriller!