Saturday, November 23, 2013

Death Moon


"Death Moon" (1978) is a made for TV movie starring Robert Foxworth, Joe Penny and Barbara Trentham  about a werewolf that stalks and kills guests at a resort on Kauai, Hawaii.


Jason Palmer (Foxworth) is an over achieving and over stressed businessman who according to his doctor, needs a vacation.  He decides to go to Hawaii where he is descended from missionaries.  He flies to a resort in Kauai where he tries to relax and forget about work.


Something from his family's past is going to catch up with him here in Hawaii.  The ancient Hawaiians put a curse on his great grandfather and all his male descendants because he imposed his religion on them and made them stop practicing their "Pagan" religions. A mysterious Hawaiian woman is keeping track of Jason. Guests at the resort are being killed in the night by some savage creature.


Jason meets Diane May (Trentham), a businesswoman there for a convention, who he falls for.  They do the tourist things and have an affair but she soon learns that Jason is not who he seems.


Part horror movie, part police procedural, this movie is a fun made for TV movie.  The special effects are laughable but it is a 70s TV movie.  And come on - a horror movie filmed in beautiful Hawaii - you don't see many of those!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Black Sabbath

"Black Sabbath" (1963) is a trio of atmospheric horror tales hosted by Boris Karloff and starring: Michèle Mercier, Lidia Alfonsi, Boris Karloff, Mark Damon, Susy Andersen and Jacqueline Pierreux.

There are two versions of this film, the original Italian version and the American Version from American International Pictures (AIP) dubbed into English. The language is not the only difference between the versions, there story order is different and one of the tales is quite different between the two versions. Also, the music is different in both versions and there are some different story intros by Boris Karloff.

The three tales with the story order for the different versions in parentheses:


"Drop of Water" (American 1 / Italian 3): Helen Chester (Jacqueline Pierreux) a nurse, is called in the middle of the night to a client’s mansion by the maid (Milly) who informs her the old lady is dead. Helen arrives at the mansion on the stormy night and is led through the decaying mansion filled with cats to the old lady’s room. There we see the dead old lady with eyes wide open and a grin of terror on her face. Helen’s job is to dress the lady for the caretaker the following morning but on the dead woman’s hand is a ring with a huge jewel that is calling out to her. Helen cannot resist and she takes the ring off her finger. When she gets home and tries on the ring, she is haunted by an increasing level of terror from beyond. This is my favorite story and the scariest and most haunting.


"The Telephone" (American 2 / Italian 1): The young and beautiful Rosy (Michèle Mercier) returns home from a night on the town and someone keeps calling and harassing her. She soon discovers it is her ex-boyfriend Frank and he seems to be able to see her right in her apartment. In the Italian version, Frank is supposed to be in prison and has escaped plus Rosy’s friend Mary (Lidia Alfonsi) isn’t as innocent as she seems. In the American version, Frank is supposed to be dead, the revenge plotline is missing and it is more of a ghost story. Either way, the tension poor Rosy is experiencing is more than palpable and the story is filled with thrills and dread.


“The Wurdalak” (American 3 / Italian 2): Nobleman Vladimire d’Urfe (Mark Damon) is riding his horse in the Italian countryside where by the river he discovers a headless corpse with a knife in its back. He rides further to the nearest house where he finds a family of siblings Pietro (Massimo Righi), Sdenka (Susy Andersen) and Giorgio (Glauco Onorato) and his wife Maria (Rika Dialina) and son. They confirm the dead man is an evil man who their father Gorca (Boris Karloff) had left 5 days earlier to find and kill. But, Gorca warned his family that if he should return any later than 5 days, they must not let him in because he will have been turned into a Wurdalak or Vampire. When he returns just after the fifth day, he is not the same and the family and visitor will soon find out who or what has really returned. Great acting by Karloff and constantly foggy and eerie atmosphere make this another standout in the anthology.


As of this writing, the Italian version with English subtitles is the only version available on DVD but the American (AIP) version is available for streaming on Netflix.

Black Sabbath” is an excellent example of atmospheric horror and great storytelling no matter which version you watch!

Sunday, November 10, 2013


"Frogs" (1972) is a campy horror movie starring Ray Milland, Sam ElliottJoan Van Ark and Judy Pace about the wealthy Crockett family that gets together around the 4th of July at their patriarch's mansion on their private island in Florida just in time for all of nature's creatures to attack!

Pickett Smith (Sam Elliot) is a freelance photographer / environmentalist who is canoeing around the swamps and lakes of Florida getting shots of nature under attack by human waste and garbage.  Clint (Adam Roark) and Karen Crockett (Joan Van Ark) are siblings out for a joyride in the family speedboat and they carelessly swamp Pickett's canoe.  They offer to bring him to Grandpa's house so he can get dried out.  Little does Pickett know what is about to occur on the island.

The Crockett estate is a beautiful southern mansion on its own island.  Jason Crockett (Ray Milland) is the crotchety head of the family who gathers his children and grandchildren to his estate for a couple weeks each summer.  During that time they have meals and play the same games according to all the family traditions.  Each of the family members seems to have issues but all gladly come to the island each year and takes his orders in hope that they will remain in the old man's good graces and thus his will.

As soon as Pickett arrives, he hears everyone complaining about all the frogs in and around the estate this year and how they keep them up.  Jason asks Pickett what poisons they can use to get rid of them. Well, over the week - Pickett keeps getting pulled in deeper and finds a love interest in Karen, all of nature's creatures in the area go on the offensive and start killing off the family members one by one.  There are snakes, spiders, lizards, birds, alligators and frogs all taking their turns going after the humans that have been poisoning their environments.  Who will get safely away from the island!  Will it be any better on the mainland?

"Frogs" is pure 70s horror fun!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Count Yorga, Vampire

"Count Yorga, Vampire" (1970) brings the story of vampires from the ancient times to the "modern" Los Angeles of the early 70s.

Donna has a party and has invited her deceased mother's lover, Count Yorga from Bulgaria.  He is conducting a seance in an attempt to reach her deceased mother.  When she becomes hysterical, he calms her by hypnotizing her and commands her to do anything he says whenever he says.  Paul and Erica offer to drive the Count home in their VW bus.

Upon arriving at the Count's estate gates, they are met by his manservant, Brudah, who lets them into the estate and up to his eerie mansion.  After dropping him off, the couple gets stuck in the mud on his estate and decide to sleep in the van.  They are attacked in the middle of the night but all they don't remember all the details but Erica is left with a bite mark on her neck.

She goes to see family friend, Dr. Hayes, who says she's lost a lot of blood and prescribes that she eat lots of rare steaks!  Later when Paul brings Michael (Donna's boyfriend) to Erica's house to investigate why they can't reach her, they find her house in disarray and Erica sucking the blood out of her cat!  Dr. Hayes is called in and he breaks the news to the men that they may be facing a modern day vampire.

This is a fun 70s vampire movie.  Count Yorga is dashing and mysterious as the vampire and he has a host of scantily clad female vampires doing his bidding.  For a good retro vampire thriller, check it out.