Friday, December 26, 2014

The Babadook

"The Babadook" (2014) starring Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall is surprisingly creepy horror movie about a children's pop up book that has a horrible creature that comes to life to terrorize a mom and her young son.

Widowed mom Amelia (Essie Davis) is trying to keep up with the demands of life - working and being a single mom to a very precocious son, Samuel (Noah Wiseman).  Her husband died taking her to the hospital when her son was born seven years earlier.  She is still working through the grief of losing him.  Samuel is quite a handful, getting kicked out of school, causing problems with his cousin and making life very difficult for his mom.

One night Samuel picks out the nightly storybook to read together before bed.  It is titled "The Babadook" and is a scary popup book about a shadowy creature that is trying to get in and terrorize the family in the book.  As Amelia reads it, she quickly sees it escalate into violence between the mother and the son and immediately hides then tries to destroy the book.
However, being a special book, it is returned to them and the Babadook monster, first only seen by Samuel, continues to intrude deeper into their lives.  Soon Amelia, and the viewer, doesn't know what is reality or what is within the characters' minds.

"The Babadook" is a very effective psychological thriller and horror story.  It creates a menacing and oppressive atmosphere as the mother and son become isolated from the world around them as they try to deal with this monster that may or may not be only in their minds.  The cinematography, music, eerie sound effects and great acting by Essie Davis contribute to an enjoyable horror film that will send chills down your spine.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

House at the End of the Street

"House at the End of the Street" (2012) starring Jennifer Lawrence, Max Thieriot, Elisabeth Shue has a mother and daughter moving into a home next door to a house where a family was murdered in this horror/thriller.

After a divorce, Sarah (Shue) moves her daughter Elissa (Lawrence) to a small town where the only house they can afford is next door to a house where years earlier the mother and father were killed by their daughter, Carrie Ann.  Local lore has it that Carrie Anne got away and is living the the woods nearby.  Carrie Ann's brother, Ryan, was away at boarding school during the murders and he has moved back into the home much to the dismay of the neighbors.

Of course Elissa meets Ryan and they hit it off even though Sarah would rather she stay away from him.  Little does anyone know, Ryan has a secret - he has sheltered his crazy sister in a hidden room in the house all these years and she is always trying to escape!  Will Elissa get too close to Ryan and his secrets for her own good?

Jennnifer Lawrence ("Hunger Games") plays an unhappy teen well and Max Thieriot ("Bate's Motel", "Nancy Drew") is great as the mysterious neighbor.  This was a pretty good horror thriller that keeps you guessing and has some unexpected twists and turns.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

House of the Long Shadows

"House of the Long Shadows" (1983) starring Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, John Carradine and Desi Arnaz Jr. is a comedy / horror movie about a man who on a bet goes to a haunted house to write a book.

Kenneth Magee (Arnaz), an American writer places a $20,000 bet that he can write a novel in one night.  In order to concentrate and get in the mood, he goes to an old mansion without electricity to write the novel.  It is supposed to be deserted but soon after his arrival in the dusty old house, other people start arriving.  Who are the assorted characters that keep coming out of the stormy night?  And who else has been hidden away in the house for the last 40 years?

A somewhat fun comedy / horror story that brings out all the classic horror tropes: candlelit walks through a dark, scary house, thunder and lightning, secret passageways and creepy characters.  Classic horror stars Price, Lee and Cushing join in the fun and even though not a spectacular movie, it may just be worth it to you to see these horror greats all together in one film.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Day of the Animals

"Day of the Animals" (1977) starring Christopher George, Leslie Nielsen, Lynda Day George, Richard Jaeckel, Michael Ansara, Ruth Roman and Jon Cedar is a tale of all of nature's animals going crazy and attacking a rural town.

A diverse group of folks are vacationing in Northern California and are taking helicopters up into the mountains for a week long guided hike.  Unfortunately the group picks the day that the Earth's ozone layer has become so depleted that the sun's radiation is particularly strong above 5000 feet and the radiation causes all the animals to go crazy and start attacking the humans.

Animals start killing off our hikers one by one and the group becomes fractured because of two camps of people, one led by the hikers, Paul Jenson (Leslie Neilsen in an off type role where he plays a bad guy) and the other led by the guide and local Native American (Ansara).  Of course, not staying together is the worse thing they can do but who can make smart choices when all the animals are attacking and it seems like the end of the world?

"Day of the Animals" is a fun, nature strikes back horror movie from the '70s.  The characters are over the top, the animals are attacking the horrific fun has just begun!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Nothing But the Night

"Nothing But the Night" (1973) starring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Diana Dors, Georgia Brown, Keith Barron and Gwyneth Strong is a mystery/horror movie about a mysterious girl and the foundation that takes care of her.

The trustees of the Van Traylen foundation which takes care of orphaned children keep ending up dead and it appears to be suicide but police colonel Bingham (Lee) doesn't believe they may be murders.  During his investigation, he seeks the help of his friend Sir Ashley (Cushing) who is a psychiatrist.  One of the orphans from the foundation survives a bus crash and is soon caught up in the mystery.  The sinister goings on lead the policy and psychiatrist to a remote British island where the Van Traylen foundation and orphanage is based.

"Nothing But the Night" is a good mystery / horror movie that is also somewhat of a police procedural.  The mood and atmosphere is filled with a sinister quality that keeps the story engaging.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Five Dolls For an August Moon

"Five Dolls for an August Moon" (1970) starring William Berger, Ira von Fürstenberg, Maurice Poli, Edwige Fenech, Howard Ross, Helena Ronee, Teodoro Corrà, Ely Galleani, Edith Meloni and Mauro Bosco is a psychedelic murder mystery from Italian horror director Mario Bava.  

George Stark (Corra) is an extremely wealthy man who owns a mansion on a remote Mediterranean island.  He invites a group of friends and potential investors for a weekend of relaxation and potential business investment involving a brilliant chemist Professor Gerry Farrell (Berger).  The business rivalries soon end up overriding any friendships and intrigue turns to murder as one by one the guests turn up dead.

"Five Dolls for an August Moon" is like Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None" on acid.  It takes place in the swinging '60s and all the characters are good looking and dressed glamorously.  The music is over the top fun and the extreme sudden close ups of the characters add to the overall visual feast which is this movie.  You'll want to watch the fantastic opening cocktail party scene over and over just for the fun of it!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Night Digger

"The Night Digger" (aka "The Road Builder") (1971) starring Patricia Neal, Pamela Brown, Nicholas Clay and Jean Anderson and written by Roald Dahl is a horror, thriller, melodrama about a daughter caring for her elderly mother in a decaying mansion who are joined by a young stranger on a motorcycle.

Maura Prince (Neal) is an aging woman who is stuck in a life caring for her elderly and blind mother, Edith Prince (Brown).  They live in an old mansion in the English countryside that according to Maura is 'going to pot'. Maura has been offered a full time job at the hospital where she volunteers but her mother is a master manipulator who gets her to remain at home with her.

Needing to make some extra money, Edith was considering a friend's nephew as a tenant but that has unexpectedly fallen through.  Out of the blue, a handsome young stranger, Billy Jarvis (Clay) shows up at their doorstep saying he has been referred by the friend and offers to do work around the house in lieu of room and board.  Edith falls for the young man's charms and she almost convinces herself, as well as her busy body church friends, that Billy is her great nephew.

Billy moves in and soon is fixing up the old house and gardens and even winning over the reluctant Maura who didn't want him there in the first place.  As things get better and better at home, Billy starts getting bouts of depression and heads off on his motorcycle in the middle of the night with murderous results.  Apparently, the Night Digger is a serial killer that has been killing young women in the area and getting rid of the bodies. How will this turn of events affect the Prince mother and daughter?

"The Night Digger" is an excellent psychological love story filled with eerie Gothic atmosphere.     Patricia Neal is superb as the long suffering daughter of an overwhelming mother, who just wants to break out and live her own life before it's too late.  The action is rather slow but the decaying mansion and estate as well as the talented cast of characters and the situations they encounter, make this gem of a film very enjoyable to watch.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Children of the Stones

"Children of the Stones" (1977) starring Gareth Thomas, Veronica Strong, Peter Demin, Ruth Dunning, Iain Cuthbertson and Katharine Levy is a British serial that takes place in a sinister village and is geared toward children but fun to watch at all ages.

Scientist Adam Brake (Thomas) and his son Matthew (Demin) are moving to the sleepy English village of Milbury for three months to do some research on the magnetic forces surrounding the local stone formations that circle the village.  They soon meet Margaret (Strong) and her daughter Sandra (Levy) who also have recently moved to town and start telling them about the weirdness going on in the village.

Milbury is full of happy people.  They say "Happy Day" to each other instead of good afternoon and everything is always well.  They also like to go to the stone circle, hold hands and chant every once in a while in the middle of the night.  What are they all up to?  Well, our group of adults and children work together and try to solve the mystery before it's too late because, you see, all the newcomers eventually turn into a "Happy Dayer".  Not only that, but Matthew and his father are somewhat receptive to the psychic energies and visions coming off the stones.

"Children of the Stones" is a world where the children are smart and the parents actually listen to them.  The village is full of strange characters that just want our characters to be part of the town and join with them and mysteries galore.  A very fun adventure/mystery show with a sinister atmosphere throughout!