Fear in the Night – UK, 1972

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Fear in the Night is a 1972 British psychological horror thriller feature film produced and directed by Jimmy Sangster from a screenplay co-written withMichael Syston. The Hammer Film Production stars Judy Geeson (10 Rillington Place, Inseminoid), Joan Collins (Tales from the Crypt), Ralph Bates and Peter Cushing.

In the United States, it was released on a double-bill with Demons of the Mind

Fear in the Night was the last of three features directed by Hammer screenwriter/producer Jimmy Sangster, following The Horror of Frankenstein and Lust for a Vampire, both in 1970.

On 30 October 2017, Studiocanal reissued the film in the UK remastered on Blu-ray + DVD. The release includes a featurette, End of Term: Inside Fear in the Night and the trailer.

Buy: Amazon.co.uk

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Plot:

A young woman recovering from a nervous breakdown moves with her husband to a boys’ school, but finds herself being terrorised by a mysterious one-armed man – and nobody believes her…

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Reviews [may contain spoilers]:

“Geeson is impressive in a role which requires her to show weakness and mental fragility yet still keep viewers identifying with her. The plot is pleasingly twisted and the climax suitably dramatic, if a little drawn out. Though there’s not much to make the film stand out…” Jennie Kermode. Eye for Film

“The acting is quite good from everyone here; Judy Geeson and Joan Collins do fine, fourth-billed Peter Cushing is excellent as usual, and Ralph Bates gives the best performance of his that I’ve seen so far. Unfortunately, it’s at the service of one of the most predictable scripts I’ve encountered in some time…” Dave Sindelar, Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings

“A relatively by the numbers rift on Les Diaboliques (1955), director Sangster compensates for the minimalist script by wringing every last possible drop of atmosphere out of prowling through the deserted classrooms, dormitories and across the windswept school grounds after woman-in-terror Peggy. ” Paul Worts, Fleapits and Picture Palaces

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Fear in the Night is a good, if somewhat slow-moving film. The quality of production, the acting and the twisty climax make the film worth watching throughout. While certainly not one of Hammer’s best, or most remembered works, it should still please Hammer fans and all those looking for an unfolding and dramatic film.” Rhett Millar, Horror Digital

“One can pull the coincidences in Fear in the Night apart but it does work. It works particularly from the director’s chair where Jimmy Sangster demonstrates a slick ability in telling an economically constructed film. All the twists work effectively. Sangster constructs some nice shocks…” Richard Scheib, Moria

“Quite simply it becomes far fetched and whilst maybe that worked back in 1972 it certainly struggles now some 40 plus years later.” Andy Webb, The Movie Scene

“Excellent performances from each of the four primary cast members, good secluded schoolhouse atmospherics from Hammer, packs some nice plot surprises.” The Terror Trap

Choice dialogue:

Robert Heller (Ralph Bates) referring to Peggy Heller (Joan Collins): “Hmm, she can be a terrible bitch.”

Cast and characters:

  • Judy Geeson … Peggy Heller
  • Joan Collins … Molly Carmichael
  • Ralph Bates … Robert Heller
  • Peter Cushing … The Headmaster – Michael Carmichael
  • James Cossins … The Doctor
  • Gillian Lind … Mrs. Beamish
  • Brian Grellis … 2nd Policeman
  • John Bown … 1st Policeman
  • Jimmy Gardner … Psychiatrist [uncredited]

Trivia:

The working title was The Claw.

Tom Chantrell artwork for original poster design

The movie was later retitled Dynasty of Fear for American VHS release to exploit Joan Collins’ fame in the TV soap opera Dynasty.

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Buy Ten Years of Terror: Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk

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The Visitor – Italy/USA, 1978

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‘They know we are here.’

The Visitor – aka Stridulum – is a 1978 Italian/American science fiction horror film directed by Giulio Paradisi (Michael J. Paradise) from a screenplay by Luciano Comici and Robert Mundi, based on a story by producer Ovidio G. Assonitis (Beyond the Door, Piranha II: The Spawning, Madhouse).

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Main cast:

John Huston, Shelley Winters (Whoever Slew Auntie Roo?Tentacles), Mel Ferrer (Nightmare City), Glenn Ford (Happy Birthday to Me), Lance Henriksen (Mansion of the Doomed, The Horror Show, Alien vs. Predator), Joanne Nail, Paige Conner and, in a cameo role, director Sam Peckinpah (Straw Dogs).

The film’s funky soundtrack score was composed by Franco Micalizzi (Black Demons; The Curse (1987); Beyond the Door, plus a host of ’70s Italian cop thrillers).

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Plot:

A young girl with telekinetic powers is the focus of a battle between good and evil. Katy Collins (Paige Conner) is no ordinary eight year-old girl. Indeed, she is unique, carrying within her the power of Sateen, an inter-spacial force of immense magnitude.

Katy’s primary mission on earth is to carry these genes forward, a task accomplished by convincing her mother, Barbara (Joanne Nail) to bear a similarly endowed male child with whom Katy would eventually mate…

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Buy: Amazon.co.ukAmazon.com

Review:

It’s one of the Italian occult films of the 1970s that shows just how far removed from the source material a copycat film could go. On paper, The Visitor, made in 1979, is a copy of The Omen. Or maybe Carrie. Or The Fury. Or The Exorcist. Or even Rosemary’s Baby. And so you can see the confusion right away. Because the film takes elements from all these films and their imitators and sequels, as well as a bunch of other less well-known US movies, throws in a spot of Jodorowsky and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, stirs them all together and then throws the whole chaotic mess onto the screen, performed by a genuinely strange cast that includes Franco Nero apparently playing Jesus Christ and no less than two legendary and controversial Hollywood movie directors in acting roles.

Franco Nero in The Visitor (1979)

It comes as no surprise that The Visitor rarely makes much sense, and sometimes becomes entirely incoherent. It’s wildly overlong and often looks as though it is being made up as it goes along. Characters are introduced and then either killed off or forgotten about, the bombastic main theme appears seemingly at random and the movie sometimes stops to allow strange visual effect set pieces.

The film ends and then carries on anyway for several more minutes, presumably because someone had forgotten about one important character who needs to make another appearance, and John Huston wanders through the film with the bemused smile of a man who wonders how he got from directing The Treasure of the Sierra Madre to appearing in this sort of thing.

This film is entirely compelling, both as a visual experience, a hallucinogenic trip and a fascinating folly. At no point does it ever become dull; quite the opposite in fact. The longer the film goes on, the less sense it makes and the more fascinating an experience it is. This isn’t a ‘so bad it’s good’ film as much as a ‘so weird it’s great’ one.

In case it didn’t sink in earlier, it’s worth repeating – it has Franco Nero in a blonde wig as Jesus Christ! He opens the film, telling a bunch of bald kids the tale of the evil Sateen (which I think we can safely say is Satan), essentially reinventing Christianity as a space opera. Audacious stuff. It turns out that before Sateen was killed by holy birds destroying his brain, he managed to impregnate a handful of women. It’s their progeny and descendants that now sit, ageless, at his feet.

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And it seems there is another one to deal with, eight-year-old Katy (Paige Conner), the daughter of Barbara Collins (Joanne Nail). Barbara is being groomed by a bunch of Sateenists, led by Dr Walker (Mel Ferrer), who want her to marry basketball executive Raymond Armstead (Lance Henricksen) and give birth to a male child who can then mate with Katy and bring about some unspecified event. John Huston is Jerzy Colsowicz, who Jesus has sent to stop this and bring Katy to him for salvation. This apparently involves him watching things from a distance and doing little to prevent Katy’s increasing reign of terror as she develops her powers and becomes an extremely potty-mouthed Bad Seed.

Soon, Mom has been ‘accidentally’ shot in the back and paralysed, and Shelly Winters has arrived as housekeeper Jane Phillips, a sort of holy Mrs Baylock from The Omen. Glenn Ford is on hand as a police detective investigating the shooting who comes to a sticky end, and cult director Sam Peckinpah pops up as Barbara’s ex-husband for no good reason beyond someone realising that hell, we can get Sam Peckinpah in this thing!

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As stated earlier, Huston seems pretty bewildered by the whole thing, but still delivers his dialogue with authority, and that’s the strangest aspect of the movie – all the actors are on top form, giving fine performances despite clearly having no idea whatsoever what is going on. It’s an amazing cast for what is essentially an Italian copycat film, and no one seems to be slumming it. And that’s the weirdest aspect of the film – it has so much that is genuinely good, from the performances to the visuals – dated now of course, but often so strange and trippy that they remain extremely effective.

Plus, director Giulio Paradisi (under the unconvincing name Michael J. Paradise) fills the movie with fantastic moments. There’s a scene in a hall of mirrors that ends with a shot of Katy reflected in several broken mirrors, her various reflections seeming to represent aspects of her broken psyche, and it’s absolutely brilliant. The film is full of such little flourishes, alongside some impressive action / horror set pieces and the afore-mentioned psychedelic visual moments where Huston hops between… planets? Dimensions? It’s never made clear, but it looks fantastic while it happens.

How much of the film’s incoherence is intentional and how much accidental is hard to tell. By all accounts, Paradisi wasn’t much interested in the story, preferring a handful of moments he’d conceived that had to be weaved into the narrative – the writing credit goes to Luciano Comici and Robert Mundi, from a story by Paradisi and producer Ovidio G. Assonitis (who had previously directed the disposable Exorcist copy Beyond the Door, which became an inexplicably huge hit in the USA and opened doors for him to make star-studded movies like this, backed with American finance) – whether any of these people worked hand in hand, or simply came up with a series of unconnected ideas that then had to be strung together is anyone’s guess.

It’s worth remembering that this film was made at a time when Italian horror was at its most stylised and free-form – it came in the wake of Dario Argento’s Suspiria, which also took a slight story and used it to hang amazing visual imagery on. But while Suspiria‘s story was minimal, it still made sense. The Visitor rarely does. In the end though, that hardly matters, because the film is strangely addictive and fascinating – you don’t really need to know exactly what is going on to be drawn into the sheer hallucinatory madness of it all..

The Visitor manages to be both awful and superb at the same time. It’s derivative as hell and entirely original – unquestionably the most entertainingly delirious example of Italian copycat cinema spiralling out of control that you’ll ever see. It’s a conundrum of a film that is cinema at its most not-giving-a-f*ckness. As such, it really should be the next film you seek out to watch. And if for some reason you still have the inclination to dismiss Italian genre imitations from the 1970s and 80s, then perhaps consider again – you’re missing out on one of the weirdest, wildest and more unrestrainedly mad films ever made.

David Flint, HORRORPEDIA

Other reviews:

” …feints towards the tired horror sub-genre, but instead goes for something much grander and bizarre.  The film fearlessly bounces back between sinister B-movie and an operatic cross between extraterrestrial science-fiction and biblical inspirations.  Paradise can’t always escape the tediousness of his nefarious and diminutive villain, but nothing can overcome the exalted presence of John Huston playing God.” Matt Goldberg, Collider

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is the Mount Everest of insane ’70s Italian movies. Yes, there’s plenty of stiff competition out there with all the eccentric cash-ins on Hollywood hits like Tentacles‘ octopus vs. killer whale  showdown or Starcrash‘s tinker toy space antics. But nothing, absolutely nothing, compares to the delirium of this inscrutable mash-up…” Nathaniel Thompson, Mondo Digital

‘For a movie this bizarrely random and narratively misshapen, it does have a lot of rather slick flourishes in the cinematography and special effects departments. The opening sequence, for example, doesn’t make much sense but it is truly creepy. For the most part, however, The Visitor is a bit more fun to laugh “at” than to shiver “with.” The truly eclectic cast and the steady stream of weird moments prevent the film from ever becoming dull — and the score is an absolute riot.’ FEAR net

The Visitor Arrow Video Blu-ray

Buy Blu-ray: Amazon.co.uk

“Some movies are so strange that they have to be seen, regardless of quality. The Visitor, featuring one of the greatest casts in exploitation film history, has some pretty special moments. It’s not good by most measures, but it’s crazy and funny enough for two solidly entertaining hours.” Daryl Loomis, DVD Verdict

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“Just when you think you’ve nailed down which direction the film is heading in, it completely shatters your notion of the time-space continuum with enough force to rival a thousand screenings of Zabriskie Point. If you miss out on this one, then you have as much regard for cinema as you do for a discarded toenail clipping.” The Cinefamily

‘Holy crap Franco Micalizzi’s score is utterly fantastic and better than Earth deserves. It’s epic and galaxy dwarfing and in complete denial about the nonsense unfolding on screen.’ Kindertrauma

Cast and characters:

  • Mel Ferrer … Dr. Walker
  • Glenn Ford … Det. Jake Durham
  • Lance Henriksen … Raymond Armstead
  • John Huston … Jerzy Colsowicz
  • Joanne Nail … Barbara Collins
  • Sam Peckinpah … Dr. Sam Collins
  • Shelley Winters … Jane Phillips
  • Paige Conner … Katy Collins
  • Ja Townsend
  • Jack Dorsey
  • Johnny Popwell … AAA Mechanic
  • Wallace Wilkinson … Police Captain
  • Steve Somers
  • Lou Walker … AAA Mechanic
  • Walter Gordon Sr. … Thomas
  • Hsio Ho Chao
  • Calvin Embry … Hot Dog Man
  • Betty Turner … Receptionist
  • Steve Cunningham … Jerzy’s Assistant
  • Neal Bortz … Businessman
  • Jack H. Gordon … Businessman
  • Steve Beizer … Basketball Coach
  • Bill Ash … Businessman
  • Charles Hardnett … Basketball Coach
  • Joe Dorsey … Sheriff Paul Townsend
  • Bart Russell … Skating rink patron
  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar … Himself [uncredited]
  • Dave Hinchberger … Basketball game patron [uncredited]
  • Franco Nero … Jesus Christ [uncredited]
  • Aron Siegel … Hot dog stand customer [uncredited]

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Gila! – USA, 2012

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Gila! is a 2012 science fiction horror feature film directed by Jim Wynorski (Chopping Mall; Sorceress; Transylvania Twist;  Piranhaconda; et al) from a screenplay by William Dever, Steve Mitchell, Jim Nielsen and Paul Sinor. It is a remake of The Giant Gila Monster (1959) and a pastiche of ’50s monster movies in general.

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The movie stars Bruce Munson, Adrienne Atkins, Brian Patrick McCulley and Brian Gross. Terence Knox and Kelli Maroney have cameo roles.

Plot:

A young couple are parked in a bleak, rural locale when a giant gila monster attacks the car, sending them running for their lives. Chase Winstead (Gross) , a young mechanic and hot rod racer and his girl Lisa (Voges), meet up with Chase’s former nemesis, Waco Bob (Janzen) and his sidekick Carla (De Rosa).

Prompted by calls from Mayor Wheeler (Pauwels), the local Sheriff (Knox) enlists the help of Chase, locates the crashed car in the ravine and finds evidence of the giant lizard. They attempt to destroy the creature, but that only makes it more vicious…

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Reviews:

“Looking more cheaply made than your average Syfy channel movie, Gila! is undemanding and fairly entertaining with an amusing CGI creature (designed by Killer Klowns from Outer Space’s Charles Chiodo) and a cast imitating the cheesy earnestness of small town characters in fifties and sixties monster movies (with nods to old-school sexism, the Communist threat, and polio).” Eric Cotenas, DVD Beaver

“First off, it’s set in the 50s and is a remake of the 1959 The Giant Gila Monster. So that’s cool, a throw-back to the old style, but they only got it half right. Sometimes the extras are dressed in modern clothes and it always seems like a high school set that someone who didn’t even live during the 50s designed. It’s part homage, part spoof, a mix of silly and serious that could have been much more solidified.” Olie Coen, DVD Talk

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“The monster attack scenes are fun, especially when they involve two drunk Irishmen driving away from the giant lizard in reverse. But they’re spread thin. There are endless scenes involving the characters figuring out what the monster is, making you say, ‘get on with it, already!’ There’s also entirely too much driving around and inane dialogue.” Horror News

” …Wynorski pulled off a very rare feat in making a pic of this ilk entertaining. And to his credit, he’s got a clear, albeit basic vision that he brings to life relatively well. He certainly siphons some memorable performances from a series of relative unknowns, and he keeps a certain degree of synergy coursing through the cast. That’s respectable. Matt Molgaard, Horrorfreak News

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“The effects work here is sub Syfy quality which is likely why the creature is glimpsed for mere moments. When the film is titled Gila! that’s gonna be an issue now don’t you think? Set in the 1950 the low-budget of this one didn’t exactly make it easy to capture the vintage aesthetic – they give it a good try but the styles sorta come and go from scene to scene.” Ken Kastenhuber, McBastard’s Mausoleum

 

“There are some historical anachronisms that pop up occasionally, but Gila! is a low-budget monster movie playing 1950s dress-up, and it doesn’t aspire to be much more than that. If that doesn’t sound like fun to you, then it probably won’t be.” Christian Bates-Hardy, Rock! Shock! Pop!

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“The soundtrack is all rock n’ roll music, lots of muscle cars are used that are fun to look at, and again those two female leads make for an entertaining yarn that just about doesn’t outstay it’s welcome […] Gila! does nothing at all original and has really bad special effects but it is feel good and a great B-Movie, the acting is decent also which is a big plus in my book!” Daniel Simmonds, The Rotting Zombie

Cast and characters:

  • Bruce Munson … Johnny Langostina
  • Adrienne Atkins … Betty
  • Brian Patrick McCulley … Don
  • Brian Gross … Chase Winstead – 2001 ManiacsBuffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Chase Adams … Pike
  • Madeline Voges … Lisa
  • Bone Ramsay … Dave
  • Vinnie Van Dolsen … Rick
  • Jesse Janzen … Waco Bob
  • Christina De Rosa … Carla
  • Dave Haney … Joe (as David Haney
  • Tom Sparx … Bill
  • Callie-Nycole Burk … Elsa
  • Robert Hay Smith … Lars
  • Micheal Price … Clete
  • Terence Knox … Sheriff Parker
  • Kelli Maroney … Wilma – Hell’s Kitty;Transylvania Twist; Not of This Earth (1988); Chopping Mall; Night of the Comet
  • Jenna Ruiz … Missy Winstead
    Ellen Kingston … Dorothy Winstead
  • Julie McCullough … Vera
  • Gerard Pauwels … Mayor Wheeler
  • James Wolford Hardin … Karl Swenson
  • Judy Joseph Crippin … Maybelle Swenson
  •  Steve Anderson … Injured Driver
  • Jeff Bodart … Ambulance Driver

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Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell – USA, 1978

Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell is a 1978 American made-for-television supernatural horror feature film directed by Curtis Harrington (Ruby; The Dead Don’t Die; The Cat Creature; Night Tide; et al) from a screenplay by Stephen and Elinor Karpf (Gargoyles). The movie stars Richard Crenna, Yvette Mimieux, Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann.

Artie Kane (Eyes of Laura Mars; The Bat People) composed the soundtrack score.

Married couple Mike (Richard Crenna) and Betty (Yvette Mimeaux) decide to buy their kids (Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann) a cute little puppy to replace their recently deceased dog. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to them, they adopt a hound from the local satanic cult that turns out to be a fuzzy demon from Hell.

Before her mysterious death, the maid is the first to suspect the pup is possessed. When the wife and kids start performing strange occult rituals, dad Mike suspects the dog has demonic powers and flies to Ecuador to seek the advice of a Shaman about exorcism rituals…

On July 26, 2011, Shriek Show released the movie on Blu-ray disc in a high-definition restoration from the original negative. Extras include:

  • Audio interview with Curtis Harrington
  • To the Devil a Dog featurette
  • Promotional trailer
  • Martine Beswick photo gallery
  • Martine Beswick text interview

Reviews [may contain spoilers]:

“If you have the patience, you’ll be rewarded with a fast peek at the (admittedly cool) hellhound when it eventually shows up, some mild terror and brightly colored outrage as the kids become enchanted and evil, mom gets horny, and the house goes mad.” DF Dresden, Are You in the House Alone?, Headpress, 2016

Buy: Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com | Amazon.ca

“This is the sort of Val Lewton approach that Harrington put to good use in Night Tide… Best of all is the jokey casting of (Kim) Richards and (Ike) Eisenmann, previously seen as psychic siblings in (Disney’s) Escape to Witch Mountain…” Cinefantastique

“It was solid cheesy fun throughout. If you like 70s styles and décor, the Witch Mountain kids, young adult horror, made-for-TV horror [in which bad things might happen or be implied, but it’s never going to be really, really scary], and enjoy a current of true silliness peppered with some surprisingly suspenseful stuff… this may be for you!” Cinema de Merde

“A cute puppy with Village of the Damned style glowing eyes and a dog that just stares at people are not exactly the stuff of nightmares, unless you have some really f*cked up nightmares. I still think it’s worth a watch and it’s pretty entertaining for a 70s TV movie but one thing’s for certain: The wallpaper in the Barry household is far more frightening that anything conjured up by Devil Dog.” Crustacean Hate!

“Director Harrington does an outstanding job of keeping what could be a seriously bad, cheesy B-movie on track, and the cast sports two of this reviewer’s personal favorite TV-movie regulars from the era: Richard Crenna and Yvette Mimieux.” Debi Moore, Dread Central

” …suffers immensely through a cut-rate budget, halfheartedly implied shocks, laughable special effects, and uninspired direction by Harrington who was obviously going through the motions here. But perhaps this is what has given this cheesy little TV film such an undeserved following through the years?”  George R. Reis, DVD Drive-In

“Putting aside the whole “Hound of Hell” idea and its inherent retardedness for a moment, this movie really does not deliver the goods. I mean, I’m not trying to tell Satan’s minions how to do their job or anything, but the damn dog doesn’t even bite anyone! Come on! All he does is stare. Stare stare stare and pant.” Final Girl

“The score holds up very well and manages to impress, creating a sense of doom and foreboding each and every time Lucky starts working her magic. The score alone can’t carry this movie, however. Thankfully with the help of some veteran actors, above average performances are given by the entire cast.” Horror Digital

“Despite the dense amount of action packed into its 95 minute running time, Devil Dog falls short in the special effects department. After the laughable final showdown between Mike and Lucky, the family becomes un-possessed and son Charlie reminds all that there were at least nine other puppies in the litter.” Kindertrauma

“” …tries to pretend a story about good white upper-class people being driven to evil by the family dog is somehow frightening […] Barely a scene goes by that does not feature something sublimely ridiculous. Especially the death by hypnotism scenes…” The Horror!?

” …this is pulp horror nonsense at its most oddly compelling. Harrington marshals some suspenseful sequences […] those who caught this as youngsters have never forgotten the delirious finale where the devil dog manifests in a ball of flames as a hideous horned goblin with frilly neckwear.” Andrew Pragasm, The Spinning Image

“Implausible but fun TV terror with decent performances from Crenna and Mimieux. Best scene: the weird ‘mirror while sleeping’ trick Mike uses to reveal his wife and children as possessed devils.” The Terror Trap

Choice dialogue:

Betty Barry: “Well, it’s the American way isn’t it? Since when aren’t we rewarded for being best?”

Buy with Day of the Animals + Grizzly via Amazon.com

Cast and characters:

  • Richard Crenna … Mike Barry – Leviathan; Death Ship; The Evil; Wait Until Dark
  • Yvette Mimieux … Betty Barry – Snowbeast: Bell, Book and Candle (1976); Black Noon; The Time Machine
  • Kim Richards … Bonnie Barry – Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!The Blair Witch Mountain Project; The Car; Escape to Witch Mountain; The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • Ike Eisenmann … Charlie Barry [as Ike Eisenman]
  • Lou Frizzell … George [as Lou Frizzel]
  • Ken Kercheval … Miles Amore
  • Martine Beswick … Red Haired Lady – From a Whisper to a Scream; SeizureDr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde; Slave Girls
  • R.G. Armstrong … Dunworth – The Waking; Warlock: The Armageddon; Children of the Corn; Evilspeak; The Pack; Race with the Devil; et al
  • Tina Menard … Maria
  • Gertrude Flynn
  • Bill Zuckert … Mr. Lomax, Dog Breeder
  • Jerry Fogel … Doctor Norm
  • Lois Ursone … Gloria Hadley
  • Fredrick Franklin
  • Bob Navarro … Newscaster
  • Jack Carol … Scottie the Gate Guard
  • James Reynolds … Policeman
  • Victor Jory … Shaman – Kolchak: The Night Stalker TV series

Image credits: Horror Digital

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The Mole People – USA, 1956

‘Terrifying… monsters from a lost age!’

The Mole People is a 1956 American science fiction horror feature film directed by Virgil W. Vogel (The Land Unknown) from a screenplay by László Görög (The Spider). It was produced by William Alland (This Island Earth; Tarantula; Creature from the Black Lagoon). The Universal-International movie stars John Agar, Cynthia Patrick, Hugh Beaumont, Nestor Paiva and Alan Napier.

Plot:

Archaeologists Dr. Roger Bentley (John Agar) and Dr. Jud Bellamin (Hugh Beaumont) stumble upon a race of Sumerian albinos living deep under the Earth. They keep mutant humanoid mole men as their slaves to harvest mushrooms, their primary food source, since they can grow without sunlight.

The Sumerian albinos’ ancestors moved into the subterranean after the cataclysmic floods in ancient Mesopotamia. Whenever their population increases, they sacrifice old people to the Eye of Ishtar, which – in reality – is natural light coming from the surface…

In the US, Scream Factory is releasing The Mole People on Blu-ray on February 26, 2019. Special features are in progress and will be announced soon.

 

Reviews:

“Cool idea, inept execution. The unimaginative directorial style works against the movie at every turn. The script asks a lot of our disbelief-suspenders, and doesn’t give them much to work with. The acting is particularly shabby, and though Agar doesn’t seem as bored here as he did in Revenge of the Creature, he still basically sleepwalks through his role.” Scott Ashlin, 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting

“The Mole People isn’t a good movie, but like much sci-fi, the movie does have you exploring theories and ideas which is generally seen as the difference between sci-fi and fantasy. I like that this is blended with a little horror for a nice combo.  The movie is short, sweet and enjoyable for fans of the genre.” JP Roscoe, Basement Rejects

“This pulp adventure tale is made acceptable by the good mole make-up and rubber suits.” John Stanley, Creature Features

“I find it a lot more enjoyable in its use of spectacle; the shots of the underground city are fun to look at, and the hellish sights of the slave fields are particularly impressive. The story is pretty silly, and the idea that sunlight is fatal to these creatures isn’t really convincing…” Dave Sindelar, Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings

“A dull script, pedestrian direction and dispirited acting are saved by some inventive set design and make-up.” Alan Frank, The Science Fiction and Fantasy Film Handbook, Batsford, 1982

“Of course it was a B-film, so things are not going to be top-of-the-line, but it was a solid, little science-fiction venture that never failed to entertain. The good guys were good, the bad guys were bad and you could sympathize with the Mole People come the end of the movie.” The Telltale Mind

Cast and characters:

  • John Agar … Dr. Roger Bentley
  • Cynthia Patrick … Adad
  • Hugh Beaumont … Dr. Jud Bellamin
  • Alan Napier … Elinu, the High Priest
  • Nestor Paiva … Prof. Etienne Lafarge
  • Phil Chambers … Dr. Paul Stuart
  • Rodd Redwing … Nazar
  • Robin Hughes … First Officer
  • Frank Baxter … Himself

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Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh – USA, 1995

‘Evil comes when you call his name’

Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh is a 1995 American supernatural horror feature film directed by Bill Condon (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 1 and 2; Gods and Monsters; Sister, Sister) from a screenplay by Rand Ravich and Mark Kruger.

The movie is a sequel to the 1992 horror classic Candyman, an adaptation of the Clive Barker short story “The Forbidden”. The Propaganda Films production stars Tony Todd, Kelly Rowan, William O’Leary, Bill Nunn, Matt Clark and Veronica Cartwright.

Plot:

The father of New Orleans schoolteacher Annie Tarrant (Kelly Rowan) was murdered in a Candyman-like fashion some years prior.

When Professor Philip Purcell is murdered in a bathroom by Candyman after presenting the legend at a book signing and calling him forth, Annie’s brother is accused of the murder (since his furious public confrontation of Purcell over the subject) and one of her students starts to see the Candyman.

In order to disprove to herself that the Candyman exists, she says his name five times in front of a mirror, summoning him to New Orleans on the eve of Mardi Gras, where the killings begin in earnest…

Reviews:

“The deliberate pacing of the first movie is tossed out the window this second time around for a whole lot of jump scares and unnecessary (and sometimes remarkably ineffective) red herrings, and that’s a shame, but despite this Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh is entertaining enough if more often than not fairly superficial. ” Ian Jane, DVD Talk

“With lots of pointless (get it?) gore-strewn impaling capped by an unaffecting climax/flashback to Candyman’s tragic demise, everything feels a little thin this time around. Philip Glass’ haunting musical themes make a welcome return to the fold, but it’s hard to get too worked up about what amounts to a repeat performance. ” Aaron Christensen, Horror 101 with Dr. AC

“Director Bill Condon has a sense of style but a heavy hand with actors–you can all but hear them telling themselves to hit their marks and punch out their lines. Still, Rowan is game, Todd again a figure of sinister dignity–this time the Candyman is allowed more pathos–and veteran Matt Clark shines in supporting role as a dabbler in the occult.” Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times

” …it is constantly trying to create mood and atmosphere but does so at the expense of basic plausibility. Director Bill Condon throws in false shock jumps at every conceivable opportunity – birds landing, derelicts jumping out at the heroine, Mardi Gras dancers slamming against the window, people unexpectedly touching others on the shoulder or entering the room reflected in a mirror.” Richard Scheib, Moria

“Anyone noteworthy simply isn’t around long enough to make much of an impact, which allows Candyman 2 to follow the recipe of the slasher follow-up: a sprinkle of added mythology, a lot of familiarity, even more bloodshed, and a tease for another sequel. To this end, it’s a decent success, especially with Condon on board to infuse the proceedings with some style…” Brett Gallman, Oh, the Horror!

“The script is constructed too much like a novel, which slows the pace of the early, establishing sections. Director Bill Condon works too hard to tie all the plot strands into a neat bow. So, for much of the picture, the audience is way ahead of the screen characters in guessing what comes next.” Leonard Klardy, Variety

“Todd is still menacing and scary, the grue doesn’t hold much back, and New Orleans always makes for an appealing filmic backdrop. Rowan’s role is limited by its through-the-motions writing, and she doesn’t seem that traumatised by the pretty f*cking gory murder of her husband right in front of her.” Vegan Voorhees

“This flick is just a straight up mess.  Like the Freddy and Michael Myers sequels, this installment gives way too much background on the Candyman and ruins the mystique of the character.  All it does if further jumble up an already incoherent plot line.  The worst part of the movie though is the constant false scares.” Mitch Lovell, The Video Vacuum

Choice dialogue:

Octavia Tarrant: “He’ll make a great father. Of course, I’ll be fuel for the worms by then.”

The Candyman: “Come with me and sing my song of misery.”

Cast and characters:

  • Tony Todd … The Candyman / Daniel Robitaille
  • Kelly Rowan … Annie Tarrant
  • Bill Nunn … Reverend Ellis
  • William O’Leary … Ethan Tarrant
  • Veronica Cartwright … Octavia Tarrant
  • Matt Clark … Honore Thibideaux
  • Randy Oglesby … Heyward Sullivan
  • Joshua Gibran Mayweather … Matthew Ellis
  • David Gianopoulos … Detective Ray Levesque
  • Timothy Carhart … Paul McKeever
  • Michael Bergeron … Coleman Tarrant
  • Fay Hauser … Pam Carver
  • Caroline Barclay … Caroline Sullivan
  • Clotiel Bordeltier … Liz
  • Michael Culkin … Phillip Purcell
  • George Lemore … Drew
  • Ralph Joseph … Mr. Jeffries
  • Margaret Howell … Clara

Technical credits:

93 minutes | 1.85: 1 | Dolby SR

Filming locations:

Principal filming from 16 August 1994 to 19 October 1994 in Los Angeles and New Orleans

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Ice Nine Kills Has The Cure For Post Halloween Blues

Wicked Horror is the author of Ice Nine Kills Has The Cure For Post Halloween Blues. Wicked Horror is the internet’s only horror fan site for free original horror movies, news, review & more.

Are you feeling the post-Halloween blues? I think all of us horrorphiles are. People are talking about the upcoming Christmas holiday, whereas I am in the process of planning next Halloween’s wicked festivities. Well, if you are longing for all things macabre, Ice Nine Kills has you covered!

Recently Ice Nine Kills released their new album The Silver Scream, which celebrates the classic and slasher films we all know and love. Hailing from Boston, MA. Ice Nine Kills is known for their celebration of horror through their lyrics. Their last release, 2015’s Every Trick in the Book, celebrated classic literature such as Dracula, The Exorcist and Stephen King’s Carrie.

The Silver Scream is an audio assault on the senses that keeps the listener hooked. Combing angry, aggressive vocals, copious grinding guitar and pounding drums. The Silver Scream takes you on a journey through throwback horror cinema. I’ll take you track by track and give you what I think are the best lyrics, and clue you in as to what film inspired each song.

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The American Nightmare

Inspired by: A Nightmare on Elm Street

Best Lyrics: Past the street where they cursed my name, But I won’t be forsaken, Craven my revenge from the shallow grave, Where I went down in flames. 

 

Thank God It’s Friday

Inspired by: Friday the 13th

Best Lyrics: A machete in one hand and an axe in the other, Steadfast in his mask in the shadow of mother, Ready to resume, You’re all doomed.

 

Stabbing In The Dark

Inspired by: Halloween

Best Lyrics:

A former portrait of perfection, painted without plight, Now Haddonfield’s my battlefield, Your kids won’t make it home tonight.

 

SAVAGES

Inspired by: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Best Lyrics: Out on the cringe of society’s where we lie, Cause we’re lethal liabilities till we die, Won’t heed the call of the law won’t follow the pack, Because the sound of the saw is our soundtrack.

 

The Jig Is Up

Inspired by: Saw

Best Lyrics: They know they are the ones to blame, And never will forget my name,
You want to play a fucking game?

 

A Grave Mistake

Inspired by: The Crow

Best Lyrics: When you meet the man whose life you stole, With weather wings and broken bones, A flight for the fallen, Flies the crow.

 

Rocking the Boat

Inspired by: Jaws

Best Lyrics: So the rich could stay rich, But now you’ve been caught so smile you son of a bitch!

 

Enjoy Your Slay

Inspired by: The Shining

Best Lyrics: Now the fun has just begun, And one by one your wife and son, Hang in the web you’ve spun as family ties come undone, REDRUM!

 

Freak Flag

Inspired by: The Devil’s Rejects

Best Lyrics: Wave those freak flags high, Rejected ’til we die, To hell with tomorrow, Just let your freak flags fly tonight.

 

The World In My Hands

Inspired by: Edward Scissorhands

Best Lyrics: In search of something real, How cruel to be exposed, To everything that I can’t touch but still feel.

 

Merry Axe-Mas

Inspired by: Silent Night, Deadly Night

Best Lyrics: GARBAGE DAY!!!!

 

Love Bites

Inspired by: An American Werewolf in London

Best Lyrics: Safe in my arms you will lay, cause every dog has its day.

 

 IT is the End

Inspired by: IT

Best Lyrics: IT’s nothing to fear, When I feast on your flesh, You’ll see that we all float down…HERE!

The cure for most fevers is more cowbell. But your post-Halloween fever can certainly be cured by The Silver Scream. While metalcore is not everyone’s cup of tea, I urge you to most definitely give the album a listen. This was my first exposure to Ice Nine Kills, and I am certainly looking forward to seeing what they do in the future. In addition to the album, be sure to check out the various music videos from The Silver Scream.

Also See: Top 10 Horror-themed Music Videos

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Mother Krampus 2: Slay Ride – USA, 2018

‘All she wants for Christmas… is you!’

Mother Krampus 2: Slay Ride is a 2018 American horror feature film directed by Eddie Lengyel (American Poltergeist: The Curse of Lilith Ratchet; Voodoo Rising; Scarred) from a screenplay co-written with Roger Conners and Kris Smith. The movie stars KateLynn E. Newberry, Tiffani Hilton and Robbie Barnes.

Although the title suggests a connection to Mother Krampus (2017), that movie was a US retitling of British production 12 Days of Christmas and there is no story continuity.

Plot:

It’s Christmas time in Cleveland, Ohio and four young ladies are on the verge of completing their mandatory thirty days of community service. With only one night to go, they are required to make a series of in-home visits to the older and less fortunate.

Upon arriving at their final stop for the night, they become introduced to a pleasant older woman who graciously welcomes them into her home for the evening. However, as darkness falls and the cold settles in, they begin to realise that there is far more to their seemingly innocent host than meets the eye…

Reviews:

“Once the film arrived at the crazy old lady’s house, it seemed to lose some of its momentum and started to go down the usual slasher route of having the characters being knocked off one by one […] Whilst it was certainly no masterpiece, Mother Krampus 2: Slay Ride still one of the better Christmas-themed horror films out there.” David Gelmini, Dread Central

“Nice deaths, some decent gore, suspense, a creepy killer, and best of all likeable characters. Too often horror movies forget about writing likeable characters and I loved them all. The final girl was super sweet and cute, while the other girls were tough but nice beneath it all. They were more developed than the norm…” Bryan Ellis, The Final Gay Boy

“Unlike many of the holiday stories out there, it has a unique plot, eccentric characters, and a fun murder mystery that doesn’t disappoint […] Not all of the kills are cheerful and delightful, but there’s a select few that really stood out and will warm any ghoul’s heart. The kills aren’t creative by any means. They’re more straight to the point, similar to Michael Myers’ methods.” Tori Danielle, Pop Horror

“It’s got some great kills, a well developed cast and just enough sex sprinkled in to give it that 80’s slasher throwback feel. It gets a little slow in the middle but as we get toward the third act and the kills start piling up it’s a damn good time. I wasn’t thrilled with the final scene that was full of exposition and a bit of a Mary Sue out of nowhere…” Scare Tissue

Cast and characters:

  • KateLynn E. Newberry … Victoria
  • Tiffani Hilton … Gracie
  • Robbie Barnes … Candace
  • Roger Conners … Lady Athena Slay
  • Rachel Anderson … Paula
  • Kris Smith … Dorothea
  • George Tutie … Donny
  • Janine Sarnowski … Aunt Nancy
  • Daniela Simms … Noel
  • Amanda Collins … Monica
  • Mikhail Tot … Niko
  • Michelle Palmer … Eileen
  • D.J. Luciano … Jaxx
  • Kayla McDonald … Harley
  • Benny Benzino … Niko the Bouncer

Filming locations:

Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Working titles:

Naughty List and Slay Bells. The film has also been known as Lady Krampus

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In A Stranger’s House is an Effective, Impressive Little Chiller [Review]

Wicked Horror is the author of In A Stranger’s House is an Effective, Impressive Little Chiller [Review]. Wicked Horror is the internet’s only horror fan site for free original horror movies, news, review & more.

Found footage has kind of had its day, but the format remains an easy option for anxious indie filmmakers eager to make something without the means necessary (or the financial support) to do so. Take Ireland’s own Richard Waters*, whose sophomore outing (following 2013 rom-com The O’Briens) In A Stranger’s House was shot in the family home.

In a Stranger’s House kicks off with the usual spiel about where the footage supposedly originated from, but with the added caveat that viewers of a sensitive disposition should steer clear. It’s a nice addition for a film set in the wilds of County Wicklow, of all places. Waters himself stars as the on-camera vlogger (it looks like a terrible vlog, it has to be said) tasked with house-sitting an isolated country abode by the camera-shy owner.

The score, by SL-88 (also Waters), is this fuzzy, off-kilter concoction that threads easily into the narrative. It’s utilised when things start getting creepy, as a plot-point, but threads so seamlessly into the narrative that it almost makes one question what’s really happening and what isn’t. The overall sound design is incredibly tight, too, with every tiny noise felt deep in the gut.

In A Stranger’s House‘s premise is even weirder considering this is Waters’ family home — creepy dolls, old-timey family photos and all. He takes an environment with which he is obviously very familiar and makes it seem alien. His naive vlogger wanders past a creepily open attic door, considers going up there, and then loudly decides not to, even though Waters himself has likely been up there a million times.

Also See: Found Footage Films: A Brief and Twisted History

The central performance (there are a few other actors credited on the film, but to say anything about them would be venturing into spoiler territory) is strong and vanity-free. We watch as Richard, the character, sits and reads through YouTube comments, most of which are spam (his reaction to someone claiming to make a ton of money sitting at home will be familiar to anybody who’s waded into the comments section before).

He bemoans, several times, that there aren’t enough people watching his videos and that those who are keep challenging their authenticity. During these exchanges, Waters plays with our expectations for creepy stuff happening in the background — the hallmark of found footage. He consistently draws our viewpoint behind him, leaving us wondering what will happen back there. He knows where we’ll be looking, and why.

Waters has previous, not just as a proud, lifelong horror fan, but via his work with Bloody Disgusting’s popular World of Death series, along with his shorts, Video Nasty and Life’s A Wish And Then You Die. He ensures his Richard cops something is up straight away, and that he reacts accordingly. Likewise, Richard offers up a reason to stay in the house — morbid human curiosity; he just wants to figure out what the deal is.

Related: Five Fierce Found Footage Flicks To Watch Now

The setting is super creepy, with any added set dressing not immediately obvious (apologies to Mrs. Waters). Waters shoots it like a maze of labyrinthine corridors, meaning he gets freaked out by his own shadow after spotting it around a darkened corner (been there). The writer-director-producer-editor-star creates a great sense of unease and mystery throughout, with the tension well-established and held tight.

The Blair Witch Project is a very clear influence here, which is only right considering it’s still the best example of a found footage movie, but In A Stranger’s House isn’t derivative or clichéd. A question, posed to camera (naturally), about whether the supernatural is scarier than a flesh-and-blood human being is a clever addition in an already smart script, which is utterly devoid of flab.

In A Stranger’s House is an effective, hugely impressive chiller whose low budget limitations are wisely used to its advantage. At just 70 minutes, it almost feels too fleeting but better to zip in, make an impression, and zip back out again rather than hang around waiting for the cracks to appear. There is a mythology present, even if it’s only hinted at.

Regardless, Waters has done a lot with very little here, further reiterating the oft-repeated point that what is seen is scarcely as frightening as what is imagined (though the sole money shot is a hell of a payoff), budget constrictions or otherwise. In A Stranger’s House may be slight, but it’s a rallying call to indie filmmakers everywhere to just get ‘er done.

* Full disclosure: Richard is a friend of the site and of mine personally but, I can assure you, I wouldn’t be reviewing his movie if it were terrible. I’d be avoiding him, while pretending my laptop was broken. And also my hands.

WICKED RATING: (8/10)
Director(s): Richard Waters
Writer(s): Richard Waters
Starring: Richard Waters, Theresa Bradley, Emily Kelly, Shawna Waters
Year: 2018
Release date: 31 October 2018
Studio/ Production Co: Weird Pretty Pictures
Language: English
Length: 71 minutes
Sub-Genre: Found footage

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