Sunday, January 26, 2014

Fear in the Night

"Fear in the Night" (1972) starring Judy Geeson, Joan Collins, Ralph Bates and Peter Cushing is a Hammer horror movie about a woman who moves in to her new husband's home on the grounds of a boys' school and keeps getting attacked by a one-armed stranger.

Peggy Heller (Geeson) is recovering from a nervous breakdown and has just married Robert Heller (Bates), a teacher at a boys' school in the English countryside.  On the eve of moving to her new home, she is attacked by a one-armed intruder who has a prosthetic arm.  Her landlady and new husband have a hard time believing her because there is no evidence and of her recent breakdown.

The couple moves into the a cottage on the school grounds between quarters and Peggy wanders through the old Tudor school which is currently empty of students.  She also meets the headmaster and his wife, Michael and Molly Carmichael (Cushing & Collins).  While away on business, Peggy is once again accosted by the one armed man and no one believes her.  She also interacts with the creepy headmaster who happens to have an artificial arm that the viewer notices but apparently not Peggy.

"Fear in the Night" is a film that slowly builds tension and mystery and takes place in the empty school and estate and keeps you guessing until the end.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Insidious Chapters 1 & 2


"Insidious" (2010) and "Insidious: Chapter 2" (2013) directed by James Wan, starring Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey, Ty Simpkins, Lin Shaye, Steve Coulter, Angus Sampson and Leigh Whannell are parts 1 & 2 of a supernatural horror movie that is sure to give you thrills and scares.

The Lambert family: dad Josh (Wilson), mom Renai (Byrne) and sons Dalton (Simpkins) and Foster (Astor) are haunted by the spirit world.  We learn from Josh's mom, Lorraine (Hershey) that Josh has been haunted since he was a child by certain spirits that would show up in photos with him.  Josh was hypnotized by ghost investigator Elise Rainier (Shaye) when he was a child so he would forget about those experiences.  Unfortunately, Josh's son Dalton has similar abilities of astral projection which allows his spiritual body to go to "The Further" which is a place in the spirit world where tormented souls never move on.

In "Insidious", Dalton gets lost in the Further and Josh has to go after him, facing all his childhood fears head on.  He rescues him and brings something back with him.

"Insidious Chapter 2" takes place immediately after the events in chapter 1.  Elise's two assistant investigators, Specs and Tuker,  have returned, bringing a bit of comedy amongst all the horrors found within the film.

The Insidious movies are not gory like James Wan's "Saw" movies.  They are scary chillers that return to the style of old fashioned horror movies by building tension, providing eerie atmosphere and jump out of your seat scares.  If you enjoy a good ghost story, check these movies out.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Initiation of Sarah

"The Initiation of Sarah" (1978) starring Kay Lenz, Shelley Winters, Tony Bill, Morgan Brittany, Tisa Farrow, Robert Hays and Morgan Fairchild is a made for TV horror chiller about a college women just learning about her special powers.

Patty Goodwin (Brittany) and her adopted sister Sarah (Lenz) are off to college together as freshmen and they hope to join their mother's former sorority, Alpha Nu Sigma. Jennifer Lawrence (Fairchild) is the beautiful and mean leader of the sorority and while Patty has the good looks and demeanor that fits right in with the other snobs at Alpha Nu Sigma, poor Sarah does not.

Sarah finds her group of misfit friends at the Phi Epsilon Delta (PED) sorority which has a long rivalry against Alpha Nu Sigma. PED is run by house mother Mrs. Erica Hunter (Winters) who teaches the occult and instantly knows Sarah is the future of their house.  Mrs. Hunter recognizes that Sarah has the power to move things and cause things to happen when she is angry.  Can she focus that power on the vindictive and cruel sisters of Alpha Nu Sigma?

"The Initiation of Sarah" is a fun made for TV movie with Shelley Winters doing an excellent job as the eccentric and mysterious Mrs. Hunter.  Kay Lenz plays the underdog Sarah quite well and we see her struggle to fit in and find some happiness which comes so easily for her sister.  All in all, a fun horror chiller to watch on a lazy Saturday afternoon.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Hammer House of Horror

"Hammer House of Horror" (1980) was a British TV anthology series from the famous horror production house of Hammer that aired during 1980.

There were 13 episodes that aired in the U.K. and later in the U.S.  These stories are 50 minutes each and have production values of mini movies.  They carry on the Hammer horror traditions of creating an eerie atmosphere, spine tingling situations, sense of dread and a touch of gore.  

I never saw this series until I found the DVD set which includes all episodes including the 13th episode "Mark of Satan" which didn't air in the U.S. because it was deemed too disturbing for American audiences.  Each episode creates a sense of atmospheric horror that is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat and make you yearn for the days when they made movies and programs like this.  I thoroghly enjoyed discovering this great horror series!

  • "Witching Time" (original British TV air date 9/13/80) 
    • At the isolated Woodstock Farm in rural England, workaholic composer David Winter is depressed because he feels that his wife, actress Mary, is unfaithful. In a dark and stormy night, Lucinda Jessup, the ghost of a witch from the 17th Century and former dweller of the farm, arrives in the barn and possesses David. Mary fights against Lucinda trying to recover David.
    • Starring: Jon Finch, Patricia Quinn, Prunella Gee
  • "The Thirteenth Reunion" (9/20/80) 
    • Ruth, the reporter for the women's section of a magazine, is assigned by her editor to participate in the ten-weeks course of a new weight-loss organization called "Think Thin". According to a letter from a reader, the course is very masochistic and depressing, destroying the self-esteem of the patient. Ruth makes a friend in the course, who dies in a car crash. During the funeral, an employee of the funeral house discloses weird events that are happening in his job. In her investigation, Ruth finds dark and macabre secrets.
    • Starring: Julia Foster, Dinah Sheridan, Richard Pearson
  • "Rude Awakening" (9/27/80) 
    • A real estate broker finds himself having dreams that seem to be incredibly real. They are so real, in fact, that he begins to wonder which is the dream and which is reality.
    • Starring: Denholm Elliott, James Laurenson, Pat Heywood
  • "Growing Pains" (10/4/80) 
    • After the death of their son William Morton, the diplomat Laurie Morton and her husband, the scientist Terence Morton adopt a boy, James. From the moment James moves to Morton's house in the country on, weird things happen with the family.
    • Starring: Barbara Kellerman, Gary Bond, Norman Beaton
  • "The House that Bled to Death" (10/11/80) 
    • William and Emma Peters buy an old house where a brutal murder happened years ago in very bad condition with the intention of restoring it. They move with their daughter Sophie, and become friends of their neighbors Jean and George Evans. However, eerie events happen in the house, inclusive the death of Sophie's cat. In Sophie's birthday party, a pipe leaks blood and they leave the place, disclosing a secret later.
    • Starring: Nicholas Ball, Rachel Davies, Brian Croucher
  • "Charlie Boy" (10/18/80) 
  • "The Silent Scream" (10/25/80) 
    • When Chuck Spillers is released from prison, he tells his wife Annie that he had been visited by an old man, Martin Blueck, along his sentence for robbing a safe, and Blueck had given some money for him to help a fresh start in life. On the next morning, Chuck pays a visit to Blueck in his pet shop to thank the support and is invited to work for him feeding his animals in his private zoo while he is traveling. Blueck explains that he trains animals, conditioning then to obey some signals.
    • Starring: Peter Cushing, Brian Cox, Elaine Donnelly
  • "Children of the Full Moon" (11/1/80)
    • A married couple, lost in the woods, stumble across a creepy mansion and its inhabitants - an overly-kind old women and deadly wolf children that scour the country-side looking for victims.
    • Starring: Christopher Cazenove, Celia Gregory, Diana Dors
  • "Carpathian Eagle" (11/8/80) 
  • "Guardian of the Abyss" (11/15/80) 
    • A scrying glass puts an antiques exporter in the path of a woman fleeing from devil worshipers and the evil hypnotist who leads them.
    • Starring: Ray Lonnen, Rosalyn Landor, John Carson
  • "Visitor from the Grave" (11/22/80)
  • "The Two Faces of Evil" (11/29/80) 
  • "The Mark of Satan" (12/6/80)