Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh

"The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh"  (2012) is a new horror movie starring  and   that is filled with an eerie atmosphere that will keep you wondering what is real and what is imagined. 

Leon Leigh (Poole) is an antiques collector who inherits his mother's house after her death. He is visiting for a weekend to go through her rather large collection of antiques.  He and his mother have been estranged for many years and we gradually learn the reason for this during his stay in the house.  His mother, who is voiced by Vanessa Redgrave and only briefly seen in flashback or vision, narrates a large part of the film as her presence remains in the house and wants to communicate with her son.  

The house itself is a vision to behold and becomes a character in itself.  Every room is filled with stone angels, statues and other assorted religious knickknacks.  Leon discovers that his mother was part of an alternative religious cult that worshiped in a chapel hidden inside the house. We learn through the mother's narration and Leon's visions that his mother's stern religious fanaticism is what drove him away.  As he explores the house and by extension his mother's life after he left, he also must discover what is in her locked bedroom.

The film's masterful cinematography is like nothing you have ever encountered in a horror film.  The camera flows through the home, touching on various curios and bric-a-brac as we learn about the eccentricities of the house and by extension get an inner look at the mind of the unseen but ever-felt mother.  The camera meets up with our solitary character as he also is on a voyage of self discovery.  

  The film is loaded with spooky atmosphere: noises that only we can hear, dark cellars, thunder and lightning and eyes glowing from the shadows.  The tension slowly builds as something other than his mother's ghost eventually manifests itself to us and to Leon.  This is a good creepy movie best viewed alone and in the dark.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Curse of the Black Widow

"Curse of the Black Widow" (1977) is an ABC Movie of the Week film from director Dan Curtis, starring: A mysterious woman who turns into a spider is terrorizing local men and a private detective is on her heels to solve the mystery.

Private detective Mark Higbie (Franciosa) is in a local bar, a mysterious and beautiful woman enters and lures one of the patrons outside to help with her car.  Shortly after, screams are heard outside and a man is found dead and wrapped in some sort of cocoon - drained of blood!  The local cops aren't sharing and Higbie believes they are covering up what is really going on.  The PI starts his own investigation that leads to two sisters: Leigh and Laura Lockwood played by Donna Mills and Patti Duke respectively.

PI Higbie discovers that one of these women was bitten by a spider when she was an infant and according to local Indian legend, can turn into a spider woman at full moons.  Will he find out who it is before it is too late?

This movie uses Dan Curtis' tried and true formula of a private detective on the trail of a supernatural being, much like his Kolchak movies and series.  The number of characters were hard to keep track of at first and you don't know how they are all connected until later.  Once you see the creature, it's somewhat laughable but that is just because the time period it was made.  The film is still filled with plenty of suspense and horror to keep you interested.

Watch the original TV intro from 1977

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Haunted By Her Past

"Haunted by Her Past" aka "Secret Passions" (1987) is a made for TV movie starring  and   in which two couples vacation at a haunted colonial inn.

Eric Beckett (James) wants to surprise his wife Karen (Lucci) with a stay in the colonial town of Unionville where she has always wanted to go.  Their best friends, Rita & Charles Kamen, join them.  On the way into town, Karen sees a sign for an antique shop / inn.  She gets Eric to take a detour and they end up at an  old inn in the middle of the woods.  Karen falls in love with it and convinces him that they should stay here instead of in town.  Looking at the rooms, Karen goes through an open door into a dusty old room.  The innkeeper is shocked that they are in it as it's been kept closed for centuries and doesn't have any running water or electricity like the rest of the inn.  Karen, wanting an authentic colonial experience, finally gets the innkeeper to rent the room to them.  In the room is a giant intricately carved mirror that Karen soon becomes obsessed with.

The couples explore the nearby town that caters to its colonial past by having people walking around in costumes of the long gone era.  Back at the inn, Karen starts to act less like the prim librarian type she arrived as and more as a flirt and seductress.  Her appearance and personality changes so much her husband no longer recognizes the same woman.

Eric does some investigating and finds out that there were murders in the room where they were staying and that's why the innkeeper had it closed off.  Meanwhile, Karen starts to see and communicate with a ghost in the mirror who soon informs her of her connection to the town and a curse that may ruin her and Eric's relationship forever.

A somewhat fun made for TV movie like something you might find on Lifetime. It's enjoyable to see Susan Lucci in her evolution from prim and proper to sexy and dangerous.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Howling

"The Howling" (1981) starring , and   is a classic werewolf movie from the 80's.

Karen White (Wallace) is a TV news reporter who goes undercover to try to interview a serial killer who has agreed to meet with her.  After the encounter turns disastrous, Karen is traumatized by the experience and a self-help guru, Dr. Waggner (Macnee) sends her to his community called the Colony on the California coast.  She goes with her husband Bill and on the drive there hopes the people there aren't too weird.  Little does she know how weird they really are!

The residents of the Colony are not what they first appear and Karen will soon find this out.  Her friend from work, Terry Fisher (Balaski) is researching the serial killer and she is soon called up to the Colony by Karen to join in the mayhem.

"The Howling" is a fun 80's horror movie that has a bit of blood but is not overdone.  The werewolf transformations are extremely unique to this film and they also don't play by all the same rules that have been established in other werewolf movies.  The movie is filled with spooky atmosphere including lots of foggy forest shots and wolves howling in the night.  The musical score is also unique in that it uses an organ which really fit with the film's feel. There is also just enough humor to offset the horrorific situation the characters are going through.  I really enjoyed finding this gem of a film!

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Boogens

"The Boogens" (1981) starring Jeff Harlan and  is a slow burn horror movie about a group of young adults who rent a home in the mining town of Silver City, Colorado and find the town overrun with vicious creatures.

Trish and Jessica are a couple of college friends who are taking a winter break in Colorado before they go off and start their careers.  They are renting a house with Jessica's boyfriend Roger and his friend Mark.  Roger and Mark are working with a small crew to reopen a local silver mine that has been closed for a hundred years since a major disaster closed it.  Reopening the mine turns out to be a major mistake for the entire town as the old mine reaches far under the town and even under the houses and into our favorite characters' basement!

This is a fun old fashioned 80's horror movie.  We have our young people that just want to have some fun but horrors from this town's past will change that; an old man who remembers the original mining accident from stories from his father and doesn't want the mine reopened; a dog that is a real scene stealer; creepy creatures that we know are lurking in the dark shadows of the house but we don't see for the longest time until their final reveal and the exciting conclusions of the film.  "The Boogens" has a lot of suspenseful atmosphere that will keep you creeped out!  I enjoyed discovering this movie which has recently been released on Blu-ray.