Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Movie Review: Valley of the Zombies (1946)

Valley of the Zombies
VALLEY OF THE ZOMBIES - Poster Image

Dr. Terry Evans...Robert Livingston
Nurse Susan Drake...Lorna Gray
Ormond Mercks...Ian Keith

Written by Dorrell & Stuart McGowan
Directed by Philip Ford

VALLEY OF THE ZOMBIES - Title Screen

Ormond Mercks, a mental patient, supposedly died while on the operating table but he somehow came back...with a thirst for vengeance and human blood.

When some medical professionals are found murdered--and professionally embalmed--police suspicion lands on Dr. Terry Evans and his gal pal Nurse Susan Drake. Desperate to prove their innocence, the duo play Junior Detectives and embark on an investigation.

VALLEY OF THE ZOMBIES - Nurse Susan and Dr. Terry

Robert Livingstone and Lorna Gray are suitable as Terry and Susan, respectively. He's the adventurous type, leading the investigation much more effectively than the police, while she's the fraidy cat prone to fits of panic. Both are adept at cracking one-liners at the most inappropriate of times.

I wish we had spent more time with the two homicide detectives, who, though not particularly good at their jobs, carried themselves with that old school tough guy attitude I love so much, their dialogue peppered with ridiculous hardboiled street slang.

Ian Keith is effective as the classically creepy Mercks, dressed all in black and soliloquizing evilly with perfect diction. He's the smooth talking, well educated gentleman villain that you haven't seen much of since color film became all the rage. Kind of a Barnabas Collins crossed with Bela Lugosi.

VALLEY OF THE ZOMBIES - The Fantastically Creepy Mercks

The title is pretty misleading. There is no valley, and there is only one zombie. That zombie isn't even what we think of as a zombie in the modern age. If anything, he's a vampire, with his blood drinking and talk of mesmerism.

This isn't even truly a horror film. It's more of a mystery than anything else, and the murderer just so happens to be undead--or something akin to it. It has the tone and sensibilities of an Old Dark House movie despite the fact that it isn't confined to any singular location.

What's most interesting (at least to me) are how far back some of our most well-known genre trappings really date. The movie starts off with Susan uncovering what she thinks is a corpse lying on the examining table, only to find that it is her horny boyfriend trying to frighten her--a scene that can still be found in just about every horror film that takes place in a hospital setting. This being an older flick, though, he's not looking for a hot quickie, just a little smooch to get him through the day. We've also grown accustom to seeing the cheap Animal Jump Scare, usually with a cat leaping out of the darkness to give our heroes (and hopefully the audience) a good jolt...but this is probably the only place you'll see it done with a cow.

It's far from a great film by any standards, but the camera does manage to capture some easily-appreciated horror imagery and there are enough interesting elements to hold your attention, at least for the brief running time.

VALLEY OF THE ZOMBIES - Nurse Susan

1946
Not Rated
56 Minutes
B&W
English
United States

"I have discovered a world in between. A world of living death."
--J/Metro

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My World Is On Fire

Heya, hipsters!

I've been saving up my Amazon gift cards and Swagbucks for a few months now, and the day has finally arrived.  I am now the proud owner of a brand new KINDLE FIRE HD.  I'm still getting use to its little quirks and such, but so far I am very pleased.  It' s going to be nice to be able to blog without pulling out the laptop, and reviewing books on the same device that I read them on should be pretty convenient.  Although all of this could be achieved on my iPhone, the tiny screen (not to mention the inherent software conflicts between the iPhone browser and Blogger) always made it more trouble than it was worth.

I'm not saying that this is going to revolutionize my blogging, but hell, it certainly can't hurt.

Have a great day, everyone!

-- J/Metro
(Blogged from my KINDLE FIRE)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

TV Review: Alfred Hitchcock Presents S1Ep05: Into Thin Air (1955)


Alfred Hitchcock Presents
ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS - Episode 105 - INTO THIN AIR
Episode 105: Into Thin Air
Original Air Date: 10.30.55

Written by Marian B. Cockrell
Directed by Don Medford

Diana Winthrop...Patricia Hitchcock
Basil Farnham...Geoffrey Toone
Sir Everett...Alan Napier

Diana Winthrop and her mother are staying at the Hotel Madeleine in France for the World's Fair, but the travels have taken their toll on the Winthrop matriarch. She collapses into bed, exhausted, immediately upon entering the room and the hotel doctor sends Diana out for medicine.

When Diana returns, her mother has vanished into thin air (hence the title), and the entire hotel staff claims no memory of either woman. Desperate, Diana seeks assistance from Basil Farnham of the British Embassy.

Is Diana crazy? Or is a conspiracy afoot?

This is a great episode with good, albeit occasionally melodramatic, performances. The explanation is a bit unsatisfactory, but the ride to get there was a lot of fun.

Patricia Hitchcock is, of course, Alfred Hitchcock's daughter with wife Alma Reville. She had previously had minor roles in her father's films Stage Fright and Strangers On A Train, and would later appear in Psycho. This was the first of 10 episodes that she would appear in.

Geoffrey Toone was a distinguished stage actor who had worked alongside the likes of Laurence Olivier. He had been acting in films and television for nearly 20 years before Hitch cast him here, but he is most well known for his appearances on Dr. Who. This was his one and only appearance on Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

Alan Napier was a cousin to former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, and his dignified upbringing and uppercrust education shines through in his elegant diction. He typically portrayed aristocratic gentlemen, but he was no stranger to the genre, having already appeared in The Invisible Man Returns, The House of the Seven Gables, Cat People, Dark Waters (coincidentally based on a story by the writer of this episode and her husband), and House of Horrors among others. This was the first of six episodes that he would appear in, followed by two more of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. In 1966, he would take on the role that he is most recognized for today--that of Alfred the butler on TV's Batman.

Marian Cockrell was an author who occasionally wrote scripts as well. This was the first of 11 episodes of the series that she would script. Her husband, Francis Cockrell, was also a screenwriter who scripted the pilot episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Their daughter, Amanda Cockrell, is a novelist still active today.

Don Medford had previously directed the third episode of the series, "Triggers in Leash". Please see that episode for more information.

The story here isn't entirely original, something that Hitch fully admits in his opening statements. In 1936, Ethel Lina White's novel The Wheel Spins was published, in which a woman disappears from a train and none of the other passengers claim to remember her. This novel was the basis for Hitchcock's own The Lady Vanishes from 1938, which also takes place on a train. The Lady Vanishes was remade, by the way, in 1979.

In 1947, Anthony Thorne's novel So Long at the Fair was published, taking the theme of a disappearing woman that nobody can remember and dropping it in the midst of the World's Fair. Although similar to The Wheel Spins, this is the novel often cited as the source material for this episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. So Long at the Fair was adapted into a film of the same name in 1950.

Even this supposed source material, though, was based on something else: an Urban Legend that began around the time of the World's Fair in Paris. It was most famously related in the book While Rome Burns by journalist Alexander Woollcott, who presented it as truth, citing a Detroit newspaper article that nobody else seems able to locate.

This legend was also featured in 1913's The End of Her Honeymoon by Belloc Lowndes, 1920's She Who Was Helena Cass by Lawrence Rising, 1925's The Vanishing of Mrs. Fraser by Basil Thompson, and 1926's The Torrent of Spring by Ernest Hemingway, not to mention the films The Midnight Warning from 1932 and Verwehte Spuren from 1938. It was also used as the basis for several episodes of radio drama, including two separate episodes of the famous show Suspense.

Further variations on the theme can be found in 1957's Bunny Lake Is Missing, 2005's Flightplan, and the cult TV series Nowhere Man.

--J/Metro

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Midnite Media Turns FOUR!

Well, how do you like that? Midnite Media turns four years old right this very minute. Who would have ever thought that I would be able to find so many things to yammer on about? Or, rather, that I would have the follow through to keep yammering on about them, even when nobody is listening (which, I'm convinced, is most of the time).

My tally so far: 1029 posts, including 609 reviews of movies, books, short stories, comics, alternate movie scripts, and just about anything I can get my hands on.

To the half-dozen or so people who actually do read this blog, and especially to those who leave comments, I would like to extend a hearty thank you. The only reason I'm still doing this is because I know that somebody, somewhere, is reading it. I'll be doing my best to make this next year even better than the previous ones.

Happy birthday!
--J/Metro

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Movie Review: Slave (2009)

Slave
SLAVE - Sex Trade Thriller - DVD Image

Written by Brett Goldstein
Directed by Darryn Welch

David Dunsmore...Sam Page
Robert Dunsmore...Michael Maxwell
Georgie...Natassia Malthe

David Dunsmore and his new fiancé Georgie travel to Spain to visit his long-estranged father Robert. Even this reunion does little to rekindle the relationship, and Robert is just as absent as ever. David and Georgie decide to get a taste of the local nightlife and end up at a dance club, drinking and doing designer drugs.

Those crazy kids.

SLAVE - Sex Trade Thriller - The Happy Couple

David hits the restroom, and when he returns, Georgie is missing. Nobody in the club is any help finding her, nor are the officials. It's almost as if she vanished off the face of the Earth.

Or been drugged, kidnapped, taken to a yacht in the middle of the ocean, and forced into a life of sexual slavery for an Islamic Russian crime lord. Either way.

It's a pretty standard thriller that has some inventive camera work but is occasionally too stylized for my tastes. There isn't as much sex or nudity as you would expect considering the plotline, nor is there a plethora of violence. What violence there is, isn't all that convincing, unfortunately. The acting is passable, though everyone onscreen is outshined by Michael Maxwell as Robert Dunsmore, who plays a great heavy.

SLAVE - Sex Trade Thriller - Michael Maxwell as Robert Dunsmore

Basically if you took any two horny young lovers from, say, Turistas and dropped them into the plot of Taken as filtered through the lens of Limitless, you would end up with Slave.

The movie had promise, but was ultimately too rote to be anything beyond a mediocre, but watchable, time waster.

2009
Rated R
81 Minutes
Color
English
Spain

--J/Metro

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

TV Review: Alfred Hitchcock Presents S1Ep04: Don't Come Back Alive (1955)

Alfred Hitchcock Presents
ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS - Episode 104 - DON'T COME BACK ALIVE
Episode 104: Don't Come Back Alive
Original air date: 10.23.55

Written by Robert C. Dennis
Directed by Robert Stevenson

Frank Partridge...Sidney Blackmer
Mildred Partridge...Virginia Gregg
Mr. Kettle...Robert Emhardt

Frank and Mildred Partridge are in dire financial straits, and although Frank has landed a new job, it doesn't kick in until the following month. Even when he starts working, it's not going to be enough money to cover the expenses, and he knows he's never going to be able to retire.

A jokingly macabre dinner conversation turns into insurance fraud when they decide that Mildred should "disappear" for seven full years--long enough for her to be declared dead by the court system. They will then collect the insurance money, move to a country home (her under an assumed identity), and live out their twilight days together.

Frank's claims are immediately under suspicion by insurance investigator Mr. Kettle and the police, all of them sure that Frank murdered his wife, making the next 7 years difficult ones indeed.

A good, solid episode that goes to show crime does not pay, and absence does not always make the heart grow fonder.

At the time that this episode was filmed, Sidney Blackmer was most well known for his frequent portrayal of Theodore Roosevelt on film, but these days he is more famous for his part in 1968's Rosemary's Baby. This was the first of two appearances that Blackmer would make in the series.

Robert Emhardt was a beefy actor who got his start as an understudy for the equally beefy Sydney Greenstreet. Like Greenstreet, Emhardt was often cast as the villain. He would make 5 additional appearances in the series, and one more in The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.

Virginia Gregg was a busy actress who appeared in over 200 films and television episodes during her lifetime, not to mention a plethora of roles on radio dramas. She was a particular favorite of Jack Webb, who utilized her as a variety of characters in his programs, including Emergency, Adam-12, and the various incarnations of Dragnet. She would go on to provide the voice of Mrs. Bates, uncredited, in all four of the Psycho films. This was the first of four appearances she made in the series, and would make three additional appearances on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.

Screenwriter Robert C. Dennis would pen more than 500 television scripts before his death in 1983, including 30 episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents--more than any other contributor except for Henry Slesar. Among his many scripts, he is famous for writing the only episode of Perry Mason in which the titular lawyer loses a case.

Robert Stevenson directed 7 episodes of the series, but he is most well known for his work a few years later for Disney. Among his many directing credits are The Absentminded Professor and its sequel Son of Flubber, Mary Poppins, The Love Bug and Herbie Rides Again, and Bedknobs and Broomsticks. He was also an occasional screenwriter, whose unlikely final script was an episode of Good Times. From 1934 to 1944, he was married to award-winning soap opera actress Anna Lee, who appeared in genre films Bedlam from Val Lewton, Hangmen Also Die from Fritz Lang, and Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? The two had a daughter, Venetia Stevenson, who would also become an actress, appearing in the 1960 episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents entitled "Hostage".

--J/Metro

Sunday, January 13, 2013

TV Review: Alfred Hitchcock Presents S1Ep03: Triggers in Leash (1955)

Alfred Hitchcock Presents
ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS - Episode 103 - Triggers in Leash
Episode 103: Triggers In Leash
Original air date 10.16.55

Written by Richard Carr
Directed by Don Medford
Based on a story by Allan Vaughan Elston

Dell Delaney...Gene Barry
Red Hillman...Darren McGavin
Maggie...Ellen Corby

"That's precisely why I don't care for Russian roulette. I never seem to win."

Saloon owner Maggie does everything that she can think of to prevent two gunslingers from 'slinging it out right in the middle of her establishment. Maggie's deceased husband was a bit of a gunman himself, so she's used to dealing with trigger-happy Alpha males, and has developed a number of tricky ways to distract them.

It's a single room play with a tiny cast and a very simple plot. I've never been a fan of Westerns, and this episode certainly didn't change my mind. With nothing but dialogue and silly poses to build the suspense, the suspense never really builds. Sure, we wonder who is going to shoot first, or how Maggie is going to stop it, but in the end, do we really care?

I, for one, didn't.

Hitch himself summed up my thoughts best in his wrap-up segment. "That was disappointing, wasn't it?"

Gene Barry was, at this point, best known as the lead in 1952's The Atomic City and 1953's The War of the Worlds, but three years later he would land the role that would make him famous, the title character in television's Bat Masterson. He would appear in one more episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and in 1963, he would appear in a single episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.

Darren McGavin received his big break in 1955 with Summertime and The Man With The Golden Arm, where he acted alongside Frank Sinatra, the same year that this episode premiered. Over the course of his career, McGavin portrayed a plethora of characters, but none so beloved as Carl Kolchack in The Night Stalker. He would appear in one more episode of this series, and another in The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.

Ellen Corby's performance in 1948's I Remember Mama earned her a Golden Globe Nomination and gave a true kickstart to her career. She worked steadily in movies and television but is most familiar for her role as Grandma on The Waltons. This was the first of four appearances that she would make on the series, and she would appear once more on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. In 1958, she would crop up again as a hotel manager in Hitch's Vertigo.

This was only screenwriter Richard Carr's fourth writing credit, and his first Western. He would go on to write for many more Western television shows, including select episodes of Maverick, Bonanza and Gunsmoke--as well as geekier fare like The Six Million Dollar Man, The New Adventures of Wonder Woman, Charlie's Angels, and Batman. He would pen two additional scripts for Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

Director Don Medford was no stranger to the anthology show, even before this gig came along. He had already directed 35 episodes of Tales of Tomorrow, and would later go on to direct five episodes of The Twilight Zone, but he is perhaps most well known for directing the two part finale of The Fugitive. He would direct one more episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents ("Into Thin Air", which would air just two weeks later) and yet another for the 1985 incarnation.

Allan Vaughan Elston, whose short story this was based on, was a writer of Western pulp fiction. Triggers In Leash was originally published in the July 1925 issue of The Frontier magazine, was reprinted in the October 1947 issue of Zane Grey's Western Magazine, and was included in the anthology Alfred Hitchcock's Fireside Book of Suspense. Another of his stories would be adapted into an episode the following year, called "The Belfry."

--J/Metro

Friday, January 11, 2013

TV Review: Alfred Hitchcock Presents S1Ep02: Premonition (1955)

Alfred Hitchcock Presents
ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS Episode 102: Premonition
Episode 102: Premonition
Original air date 10.09.55

Written by Harold Swanton
Directed by Robert Stevens

Kim Stanger...John Forsythe
Sue...Cloris Leachman
Perry...Warren Stevens

After four years abroad, a musician named Kim Stanger returns to his hometown of Sangerford, although he's really not quite sure why. He just suddenly felt homesick, a genuine longing to return, as if his heart knew that something important was happening that he wouldn't want to miss.

When he arrives, he finds that nothing much has changed. Except, of course, for the fact that his estranged father is dead and no one has bothered to tell him about it. Now if that isn't just the strangest thing...

Stranger still is that nobody's account of the incident seems to match up. Kim launches an investigation of his own to discover the hidden truth. Of course, in most cases, the truth is hidden for a reason.

Although Hitch invites us to attempt to deduce Kim's premonition, the twist ending here isn't necessarily anything new, and the modern viewer won't find it particularly shocking. But on the plus side, you probably won't see it coming either. It's a decent enough episode that relies too heavily on voice over narration to cram in a lot of exposition. It was probably better when it was still fresh, but modern viewers will find elements of Shutter Island on display here.

John Forsythe was most seen as Blake Carrington on the soap opera Dynasty, but he will forever be known as the voice of Charles Townsend in the Charlie's Angels TV series, as well as the two revival films. This was his only appearance on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, but he would appear in an episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour in 1962.

Cloris Leachman portrayed Christina Bailey in 1955's Kiss Me Deadly, which starred Ralph Meeker, the leading man from the previous episode of this series. This was one of three appearances she would make in the series, and she went on to portray Nurse Diesel in the Hitchcock spoof High Anxiety. She has appeared in literally hundreds of movies and television shows, and has lent her voice to many animated projects--everything from My Little Pony: The Movie to Beavis and Butthead Do America.

Warren Stevens' most memorable role was probably that of Doc Ostrow in 1956's Forbidden Planet. He gets hipster credibility for appearing in the uneven 1966 adaptation of Norman Mailer's An American Dream, alongside Hitch's Psycho starlet Janet Leigh. This was the first of two appearances he would make on the series.

Director Robert Stevens (not to be confused with Robert Stevenson, who also directed episodes of the series) directed 44 episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, well more than any other director in the stable, and five additional episodes for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.  He also directed more than 100 episodes of the anthology show Suspense (for which he also occasionally wrote), and contributed to The Twilight Zone, Journey to the Unknown, and Amazing Stories.

Scripter Harold Swanton had previously worked on The Whistler series, both in its radio and television format.  This was the first of 10 episodes that he would write for Alfred Hitchcock Presents, plus another for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.

--J/Metro

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

TV Review: Alfred Hitchcock Presents S1Ep01: Revenge (1955)

Alfred Hitchcock Presents 
ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS Episode 101: Revenge
Episode 101: Revenge
Original air date: 10.02.55

Written by Francis M. Cockrell
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Based on a story by Samuel Blas

Carl Spann...Ralph Meeker
Elsa Spann...Vera Miles
Mrs. Fergusen...Frances Bavier

The first episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents opens up in the same manner that all of them will: Ol' Hitch himself comes out like a portly, dignified version of EC Comics' Cryptkeeper to make a few snide remarks and wink knowingly at the camera. This debut tale, he assures us, is "really a sweet little story." And much as we would like to believe him, it's slightly difficult to do so.

Carl and his wife Elsa are new in town. They live in a small but suitable trailer, and while he begins his new engineering job, she's going to stay home and relax. Not because this is before the whole Women's Lib movement, but because relaxation is just what the doctor ordered...quite literally. It seems that sometime in the not-so-distant past, Elsa suffered from some sort of a nervous breakdown that left her all a-jangle. Carl, worried about his young bride, asks a kindly older neighbor to keep an eye on her. Which she does, but apparently not close enough.

When Carl gets home, he finds Elsa badly beaten and abused, victimized by a door-to-door salesman. Carl vows revenge, but it's pretty hopeless really. I mean, what are the chances that he'll even find the guy? It's not like they're just going to be driving down the street someday, and she'll see him entering a building, right?

Oh, wait. Scratch that. That's exactly what happens!

It's not quite as simple as that, of course. The twist ending, even if you happen to see it coming, still packs a pretty good punch. It's brutal, bitter and feels fairly realistic, just like life! It's pretty amazing how much story--even one as deceptively simple as this--can be packed into a half hour segment. Modern viewers may be reminded of the film Memento.

Worth watching if only to witness Aunt Bee of Andy Griffith fame leering suggestively at the shapely, scantily clad figure of a sunbathing beauty. I always knew she was a swinger!

Ralph Meeker may be best known for his portrayal of Mike Hammer in 1955's Kiss Me Deadly, but he also appeared as FBI agent Bernie Jenks in The Night Stalker. This was the first of four appearances Meeker would make in Alfred Hitchcock Presents. He has geek-cred-by-proxy, as he was married to actress Salome Jens from 1964-1966, who appeared in Terror From The Year 5000 (once featured on MST3K), Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space 9, the TV series Superboy (as Martha Kent), and 2011's Green Lantern.

Vera Miles had been Miss Kansas in 1948, third runner-up to Miss America, which explains why she looks so good in a bathing suit. She was a chorus girl in the 1951 musical Two Tickets To Broadway, which starred Janet Leigh, and Leigh, Miles and Hitchcock would all work together in 1960's seminal Psycho. In fact, it appears as if Miles was all prepped to be Hitch's 'next big thing' between these roles and her part in The Wrong Man. Vertigo was even designed to be a showcase for her, but when she became pregnant, the role went instead to Kim Novak. This was her only appearance in Alfred Hitchcock Presents, but she would appear twice on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. In 1983, more than 20 years after the original film, Miles returned to play Lila in the Hitchcock-free Psycho 2. She was portrayed by Jessica Biel in the 2012 film Hitchcock.

Frances Bavier, as already mentioned, was best known for her portrayal of Aunt Bee on the Andy Griffith Show and it's various spinoffs, but she also appeared in The Day the Earth Stood Still and, interestingly, 1953's Man in the Attic, which was based on the same short story by Marie Belloc Lowndes as Hitchcock's own 1927 film The Lodger.

Screenwriter Francis M. Cockrell was married to novelist Marian B. Cockrell, and they occasionally worked on projects together, including four episodes of Batman, and the stories that the movies Professor Beware (1938) and Dark Waters (1944) were based on.  This was the first of 18 episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents that he would write.

The source material was a short story of the same name by Samuel Blas, that was originally published by Colliers magazine in January 1947. I've been unable to find much information about the author, or anything else he may have written. If this isn't his only published story, it is at least his most highly-regarded one, and has been collected in numerous short story anthologies--some bearing the Alfred Hitchcock banner. It is a very short, but effective, little chiller and this episode follows it faithfully.

Even before ol' Alfred got ahold of it, though, It had previously been adapted at least three different times in various horror comic books.

It was first, rather loosely, adapted in EC Comics' Crime SuspenStories #1 in 1950 as "Murder May Boomerang", although it featured a father and son as opposed to a husband and wife. Harvey's Witch's Tales #21 from October 1953. Unlike the television adaptation, this version explicitly stated that the female lead had been raped--although it used terms like "molested" and the woefully inaccurate "made love". And finally, Sterling Comics' The Tormented #2 from September 1954 adapted it again as "Honeymoon Horror"

This episode was remade for the 1985 update of the series, starring David Clennon and Linda Purl.

--J/Metro

Monday, January 7, 2013

Movie Review: The Dunwich Horror (1970)


The Dunwich Horror
THE DUNWICH HORROR - H.P. Lovecraft movie - Movie Poster

Written by Curtis Hanson, Henry Rosenbaum, & Ronald Silkosky
Directed by Daniel Haller
Based on the story by H.P. Lovecraft

Wilbur Whately...Dean Stockwell
Dr. Henry Armitage...Ed Begley
Nancy Wagner...Sandra Dee
Elizabeth Hamilton...Donna Baccala

THE DUNWICH HORROR - H.P. Lovecraft movie - Title Screen

Wilbur Whately, a soft-spoken and eccentric young man, arrives at the hallowed halls of Miskatonik University, hoping to get his hands on that rarest of rare books on display in the school library--the Necronomicon. He only manages to get a few moments alone with this book o' magic before stuffy old philosopher professor Henry Armitage puts a stop to it.

Wilbur's mysterious and nefarious plans are too important to let go so easily, though, so he convinces Nancy, one of Armitage's pretty assistants, to give him a ride home to the small town of Dunwich. She enjoys Wilbur's company and the sights of Dunwich so much that she decides, what the hell, I'll stay the weekend.

THE DUNWICH HORROR - H.P. Lovecraft movie - Wilbur & Nancy

Wilbur is a man of many secrets, though. His talk about an ancient race of dark and powerful creatures is more than just folklore, the Necronomicon contains more than just chocolate chip cookie recipes, and his plans for Nancy include more than just a roll in the hay.

THE DUNWICH HORROR - H.P. Lovecraft movie - Wilbur Summoning

Although this adaptation fails to fully capture the moodiness, gloominess, and downright doominess of the H.P. Lovecraft story upon which it is based, it's still a lot of fun. Seeing Dean Stockwell in a rare leading role is worth the price of admission alone. The man is a solid, cool character actor who never got the respect or the number of roles that he deserved. He hams it up a bit here and there, but this is an AIP production, so that's to be expected.

If nothing else, it's interesting to see Lovecraft filtered through the trippy lens of sleazy, teasy late-60s, early-70s cinema. Worth a watch.

THE DUNWICH HORROR - H.P. Lovecraft movie - Sleazy, Cheesy & Teasy

1970
Rated R
90 minutes
Color
English
United States

"Yog!"
--J/Metro

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Movie Review: Sometimes They Come Back (1991)

Sometimes They Come Back
SOMETIMES THEY COME BACK - Undead Teenager Stephen King Horror - Movie Poster

Written by Lawrence Konner & Mark Rosenthal
Directed by Tom McLoughlin
Based on a short story by Stephen King

Jim Norman...Tim Matheson
Richard Lawson...Robert Rusler
Older Carl...William Sanderson

SOMETIMES THEY COME BACK - Undead Teenager Stephen King Horror - The Norman Family

High school history teacher Jim Norman uproots his family from their Chicago home for the small town where he grew up. No sooner than they arrive does he begin suffering from traumatic memories and visions from his childhood--namely the murder of his older brother Wayne at the hands of a pack of Greasers, moments before they too were killed by an oncoming train.

Memories are one thing, but history repeating itself is another. A few of the most talented students in Jim's new class are murdered and promptly replaced with "transfer students" who looks remarkably like the Greasers that killed Wayne.

Sometimes they come back...because you weren't supposed to get away the first time.

SOMETIMES THEY COME BACK - Undead Teenager Stephen King Horror - Zombie Greasers

By all accounts, this is not a good movie. It is awkwardly paced, too dependent on flashbacks, and equal parts corn, cheese and saccharine. The body count is very low, and it's not the least bit scary. The interior logic of the film is never really explained or explored, so the more that you think about it, the less sense that it makes.

And yet I still have a special fondness for this film in a guilty pleasure sort of way. I love horror, I love Stephen King, and I love anything even tangentially connected to the retro J.D./hipster scene (that's the beatnik in me). This movie has all that. Plus there's a bit of nostalgia attached here, as well.

Growing up in a very small town, I didn't have a plethora of choices at the video store, so when the pickin's were slim, I tended to rent some of the same films over and over again.

Sometimes they come back home with you more often than they should.

I can't whole heartedly recommend this film to many people, but it's still one that I like to revisit every couple of years or so. Because sometimes you just have to come back.

1991
Rated R
97 Minutes
Color
English
United States

"You're as cool as a corpse."
--J/Metro

603

Friday, January 4, 2013

Weird Key Words of December 2012

It's that time once again, hipsters, to take a look at some of the more bizarre search terms that have lead people to my little blog.  These all came from the month of December, and they are...rather inexplicable.

  • How do you kiss James Aldrich?  (Start off with buying him a drink.)
  • Ouija boards in Avon Lake, Ohio Walmart
  • Sleeps in the buff
  • 8 maids-a-milking nude (Someone's in the XXXmas spirit)
  • Defiler of daughters
  • Logo of American Society of Master Dental Proctologists (Don't let this guy sit on your lap!)
  • Guy with a small penis gets stripped naked
  • Necrophilia goes both ways (I'm not even sure what this means...)
  • A creature monster fuck me sex
  • Ass fucked in the cemetery with monster zombie
  • Barenaked headless babes (I was with you until headless)
  • Halloween or Friday the 13th episode shows girls lying under tree with big tits
  • Superman masturbating
  • Gay seduction of Aquaman (I'm considering getting tee-shirts printed with this phrase)

And, for the love of God, the person searching for Amazon sex/AmazonSex/Amazon sex toys/AmazonSexToys/Amazon sex dog video/Sex dog/dog sex/Sex dog 7/Sex with dog/dog sex tube and about FIFTY other variations, I assure you, you have the wrong webpage.  Please go away.

Far, far away.

--J/Metro

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Movie Review: Killer Joe (2011)

Killer Joe
KILLER JOE - Southern Gothic Thriller - Movie Poster

Written by Tracy Letts
Directed by William Friedkin

Killer Joe Cooper...Matthew McConaughey
Chris Smith...Emile Hirsch
Dottie Smith...Juno Temple
Ansel Smith...Thomas Hayden Church
Sharla Smith...Gina Gershon

KILLER JOE - Southern Gothic Thriller - Killer Joe & Chris

Small time drug dealer Chris Smith owes some money to some very bad people, and if he doesn't come up with it soon, he is going to die. Being the creative type, he comes up with a plan that involves somebody else dying so that he can collect on the life insurance policy. That somebody just so happens to be his mother, who stole his cocaine, thus causing the debt that Chris finds himself in.

It seems his mama doesn't have much of a fan club, as Chris's father Ansel, sister Dottie, and step-mother Sharla are all in on the plan. Who can't use a little extra pocket change?

They draft the services of "Killer" Joe Cooper, a police officer who moonlights as a hitman. Killer Joe normally collects his money up front, but in this case he's willing to make an exception...so long as he can take Dottie as a "retainer".

KILLER JOE - Southern Gothic Thriller - The Adorable Dottie

This film is billed as a Southern Gothic, but I'd say it goes beyond that. This is White Trash Gothic, filled to the brim with perfectly deplorable characters, lurid situations, pitch black humor, sudden violence, and sexual perversions like you wouldn't believe. Although the first half of the film features far less action than I would have expected--indeed, the actual hit job takes place entirely offscreen--I was never once bored. There was more than enough other depravity to keep my deviant attention piqued.

The characters here are all pretty despicable, and there's not really a single person to root for. Chris is a low rent criminal who, it is heavily implied, has had sexual interactions with his sister. Ansel is a dirty redneck type, who buys drugs from his son and is more than willing to let Chris take his lumps until he found out that he could get a cut of the cash. Sharla is a harlot without borders, who cheats on her husband and answers the front door wearing only a tee-shirt, her vagina on full display (hell, in a screen wide close up!). Dottie is, without question, the most sympathetic character here. She's adorable and offbeat and, quite possibly, a little brain damaged. She is the lifelong victim, easily manipulated and readily used. Despite the fact that she is just as guilty as the others, she somehow maintains an air of innocence throughout.

All of the cast members do great jobs here, all solid professionals, but it is Matthew McConaughey who really brings the white lightning. His character is as sadistic, depraved, and ugly as any lowlife that has ever been captured on film, but it is all portrayed in a icily cool and controlled way. Much has been made of his performance by mainstream critics, calling it "unexpected" and "brave", and while it is true that he is typically cast as the affable leading man in romantic comedies, we genre fans have always known that he is capable of playing the psychotic and the sociopathic. He was fantastic in the underrated Frailty, and the only thing worthwhile as the terrifying Vilmer Slaughter in Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation.

KILLER JOE - Southern Gothic Thriller - Cold Eyes of Killer Joe

Although a thoroughly enjoyable film--in a guilty, need-a-shower kind of way--it's not without its flaws. There is too much left unsaid and unexplored about Dottie: does she have some latent psychic ability? What kind of abuse has she suffered? And just what the hell is wrong with her, anyway?

The plot is a little thin, and wouldn't be nearly as watchable if not for the strong performances or the innate desire to slow down and rubberneck at the wreckage.

Too much happens offscreen for my tastes, too. Beyond the murder, there's another pivotal event we don't get to witness--when Killer Joe, in his official capacity, pulls a certain somebody over towards the end of the film. What happens next is never shown and never explained, but it results in Joe getting his hands on a mighty McGuffin. How did Joe know to pursue this character? I have no idea. (Sorry for the vagueness, but I'm shooting for spoiler free here).

There is quite a bit of nudity here, but none of it attractive. There is also sex, but none of it is sexy. There is a sickeningly perverse scene involving a piece of fried chicken and Gina Gershon's unwilling mouth that is sure to shock even the hardened viewer.

It's more exploitation than it is art, but until someone perfects the artsploitation recipe, this will do just fine.

2011
NC-17
102 Minutes
Color
English
United States

"That's not appropriate dinner conversation."
--J/Metro

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