Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Stranger Waits

"A Stranger Waits" (1987) is a made for TV thriller starring , , , and

Kate Bennington (Pleshette) is returning to town after an extended stay out of state while mourning the death of her rich husband.  She returns to town to first take care of the family business and then she is going to stay at their seaside house called 'The Cliffs' in the Pacific Northwest.

Before her arrival, the estate's caretaker is murdered by a man we catch a glimpse of during a thunderstorm.  We later see that same man bump into Kate at the airport and he later shows up on her doorstep bringing her diamond earrings that she had neglected to pick up after they bumped into each other.  That man's name is Mike Webber.  Kate is so taken with him and his honesty that she hires him as replacement caretaker against the objections of Cooper, her butler.

Slowly but surely Mike worms his way into Kate's affections and into a much bigger role in the household.  However, we know Mike isn't what he seems and we know he has something sinister planned for Kate.

This is a suspenseful TV thriller that has some good twists and turns as well as being filmed in some great locations.   

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Attic Door

"The Attic Door" (2009) is psychological thriller starring ,  and  set in the 19th century American West.

Brother and sister Darrell and Caroline live on an isolated farm in Utah.  There is nothing but desert, canyons and mountains as far as the eye can see. The parents left a note for the children saying they had to leave for a few days to go to the doctor to deliver their new brother or sister.  They left instructions that they should not go far from the house because it is too dangerous and that Caroline is in charge.  The viewer doesn't know how much time has elapsed since they left but from the worry we see in the children's faces, it appears to be a long time.

Caroline and Darrell do their best to run the farm and take care of themselves in this lonely and isolated setting.  They spend their days doing chores, reading, going to the stream to get water and even playing a little like any other children their ages.  At night though, there are sounds in the house and the children keep looking at the boarded up attic door with dread. There is something or someone in there and as time goes on, it gets closer to getting out.  What secrets are behind the attic door?

From the very beginning of the film with its sweeping views of the grand landscape, you see just how small the house and children are compared to the natural setting around them.  The scenes of the Utah landscape with a very haunting and lonely musical score adds to the loneliness the pervades the film.  That loneliness also haunts the two children  but their bond keeps them from getting lost in this landscape of solitude and loneliness. In addition to the loneliness the film is also filled with hope and perseverance.  The film is not action packed but instead focuses on the lives of these children and builds to a surprising conclusion.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Dead of Night


 "Dead of Night" (1977) is a made for TV movie from director Dan Curtis ("Dark Shadows", "Burnt Offerings", etc.) that has three stories written by Richard Matheson.

"Second Chance" stars who plays Frank, a man who loves restoring old cars.  He starts by completely restoring a 1920s car which he decides to drive into town using the old country highway.  On his way there, he ends up traveling back into time to his town in the 20s.  Is there a reason he was sent to that time and then back home?

"No Such Thing as a Vampire" stars as Dr. Gheria that takes place in the late 1800s.  The doctor and his wife live in a large mansion but his wife is visited each night by what appears to be a vampire.  Most of the household staff leave in fear, the entire town is in terror of what is happening and a family friend comes to try to help discover why a vampire is targeting this couple.

"Bobby" starring  and will be familiar to those that saw Dan Curtis' later movie "Trilogy of Terror II" which has this same story in its third slot.  A mother who is devastated by the accidental drowning of her young son just outside their oceanfront house, turns to the dark arts to try to resurrect her son while her husband is out of town on business.  Bobby returns to her on the dark and stormy night but Bobby is a bit off to say the least.  He wants to play deadly games with his mother.  Lots of spooky atmosphere and the creepy child's voice tormenting his mother.

For those familiar with other Dan Curtis movies, you'll feel right at home with the music and spookiness he likes to create. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Whoever Slew Auntie Roo?

"Whoever Slew Auntie Roo?" (1972) is a horror / thriller with hints of the old "Hansel & Gretel" fairy tale, starring , , .

The movie takes place in the 1920s in England.  Mrs. Forrest "Auntie Roo" (played by the delightful Shelly Winters) is a local widow who lives in a giant mansion that is so ornate it almost looks like a gingerbread house.  It takes place around Christmas and each year Auntie Roo invites some of the local orphans to her home to stay a few days and enjoy parties, gifts and other Christmas fun. The children love going to her house and being spoiled for once in their lives.

Auntie Roo hides some secrets though.  Her daughter who supposedly went missing is really dead and being kept by Auntie Roo in a secret attic playroom.  She also brings in a local medium to try to contact her dead daughter.  Auntie is a very lonely person and all she wants is her daughter back.  Unfortunately for brother and sister Christopher and Katy Coombs who crash the party, Auntie takes an instant liking to Katy and wants to adopt her.  Christopher, who has a vivid imagination, thinks Auntie Roo is a witch who is trying to fatten them up to cook them like the old fairy tale.  He tries to reveal the real Auntie Roo to his sister before it is too late for both of them.

This is a really good movie.  The setting in the mansion and its estate is spectacular.  Shelly Winters portrays a variety of emotions in this movie and is a very colorful and imposing figure in this movie.  Auntie Roo is a joy to watch.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Footsteps in the Fog

"Footsteps in the Fog" (1955) starring , , is a gaslight thriller that takes place in the early 1900s in England.

Stephen Lowry's (Granger) wife has just died after a protracted illness and everyone remarks how dedicated he was to her until the end. His maid, Lily Watkins (Simmons) knows the truth and quickly brings it to his attention that she knows that he poisoned his wife.  She soon gets a promotion to head housekeeper, much to the chagrin of the elder maid. She also gets the wife's jewels and starts taking care of Stephen and his household.  

One evening when Lily goes out into the foggy night to post a letter, Stephen follows and mistakenly kills a different woman in the fog.  Stephen is captured and goes on trial but Lily is his most ardent defender.  Why has Lily fallen for this murderer and isn't she afraid to remain with him?   

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Talk About a Stranger

"Talk About a Stranger" (1952) is a film noir / mystery / coming of age tale starring: , , and .

 Robert Jr ("Bud") is a young boy living with his parents on their citrus farm in California.  Next to the farm is an imposing old house that the local children treat like a haunted house.  One day while throwing rocks into the windows, they discover that someone has moved in.  That man is named Matlock and he is a recluse that doesn't want to get to know his neighbors.  Bud takes an instant disliking to him.

One day Bud finds his dog poisoned near Matlock's house.  Of course Bud blames Matlock who claims to know nothing about it when confronted by the father.  Bud will not let it go.  He starts talking to people in town, asking questions about him and stirring the pot.  Soon the entire town is gossiping about Matlock and trying to figure out why he has to keep to himself and imagining all kinds of sinister things about him.

This is a great movie to catch someday on TV.  It's a slice of small town America during the 50s and shows under the polished and civil surface of society is the part of humanity that attributes darkness to those that we see as different from us.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

"Lord of Tears" available for Pre-Order

The buzz is building for the upcoming horror film, "Lord of Tears" (see the trailer here)! The Kickstarter page continues to gain backers and it is currently the only place you can pre-order the DVD or Blu-ray or pick from many other rewards for your pledge!  Additional good news: "Lord of Tears" will be screened at San Diego Comic Fest in October!

Check out this video of viewers caught on screen reacting to seeing the film's stalker/antagonist Owlman for the first time!

Show your support for this upcoming chiller!

Monday, March 11, 2013


"Hitchcock" (2012) is a docudrama about Alfred Hitchcock and his wife Alma Reville during the period of time when he was making the classic horror movie "Psycho" in 1959.  The movie stars: , , , and

This film tries to take you into the mind and life of master director Alfred Hitchcock (Hopkins).  In 1959, he was a very popular and influential director known for his mysteries and thrillers. He was yearning to try something different and came across the book "Psycho" about the infamous serial killer, Ed Gein. Hitchcock decides he wants to base his next movie on the book "Psycho" and jump into the horror genre - much to the dismay of the Hollywood establishment.  They just want him to pump out another of his movies based on his well established formula for success. Unable to obtain financial backing for "Psycho", Hitchcock decides to finance it himself by putting his family mansion up as collateral.   

What this film excels in is capturing the very close and somewhat bumpy relationship between Alfred and his wife Alma (Mirren).  We see the contradictions in their relationship, the comfortable closeness, the lack of intimacy and ultimately the close collaboration that they shared that made him a success.  Alma was once Alfred's boss on a movie set but later fell back behind his rather large figure to work in the background with him.  She helped him find the right movies to make, she had a keen eye for detail and editing movies to make them better and she was always her husbands constant supporter in all that he did.  She was the woman behind the famous man and you soon believe without her support he may not have risen to the level that he became known for. 

The making of the movie Psycho within this movie is also interesting to watch and see the new actors playing the title roles (Johansson as Janet Leigh and D'Arcy as Anthony Perkins).  It's very interesting to see how much Hitchcock had to fight to get this movie made and discover without the help of his wife Alma, it never would have soared to the heights it has.  


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Hotel Transylvania

"Hotel Transylvania" (2012) is an animated horror/comedy starring the voices of , , and a host of other stars.

The story is about Dracula as a single parent raising his young daughter, Mavis, who is just becoming an adult (at 118 years old!).  Dracula runs a resort for monsters only in a castle he had especially designed in Transylvania.  The resort is a place where monsters from around the world can visit and get away from those pesky humans that are always out to get them.

Mavis is just growing up and yearns to see the world outside of her sheltered life in the castle.  She wants to see humans for herself but her father is a tad overprotective.  One day, a young backpacker named Jonathan somehow finds his way to the castle.  Dracula is horrified that a human has found their sanctuary and tries to get rid of him unsuccessfully.  Instead he makes him up to be a monster so the other guests don't find out.  Of course Jonathan plus Mavis together is going to make for some "zing".

This is a fun movie, especially for kids.  You get to see all the monsters you can think of all hanging out in a spooky castle and having fun to boot!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Twilight: Breaking Dawn part 2

"Twilight: Breaking Dawn, part 2" is the final episode in the Twilight saga, starring: , , .

Bella Swan is just awakening from her death and rebirth as a vampire.  She joins the Cullen family including her love Edward.  She and Edward also have a newborn half human half vampire girl named Renesmee who has a rapid growth rate and looks about 8 for the majority of the movie.  Vampire pal Jacob Black is back and he has imprinted to Renesmee and becomes her protector.

A report has been made to the Volturri (the vampire authority) about what is thought to be the Cullens making an immortal child which is a big no no in the vampire world. Alice Cullen sees the future and sees the Volturri coming to kill the child and punish the Cullens.  The Cullens in turn want to convince them that Renesmee is not an immortal child, but also half human and they go around the world to find family friends who will come and witness for them and if necessary stand with them against the Volturri.

I really enjoyed this final chapter in the Twilight series.  I haven't seen such an enjoyable one since the first movie.  The characters stories are all brought to some resolution and Bella finally gets her wish to become a vampire so she can be with Edward forever.