Ritual of Evil – USA, 1970

Ritual of Evil is a 1970 American made-for-television horror feature film directed by Robert Day (The Initiation of SarahFear No EvilGrip of the Strangler) from a screenplay by Robert Presnell Jr., based on characters created by Richard Alan Simmons. Produced by David Levinson, the Universal movie stars Louis Jourdan, Anne Baxter, Diana Hyland andWilfrid Hyde-White.

Plot:

Psychiatrist Dr. David Sorrell (Louis Jourdan) treats young heiress Loey Wiley (Belinda Montgomery), whose parents have died under mysterious circumstances. His investigation uncovers a cult, led by a powerful witch, Leila Barton (Diana Hyland). Things grow complicated as Sorrell and the witch begin to fall in love…

Review:

While lacking the feverish Dutch-angled scenes, creepy cinematography, and phantasmal script of director Paul Wendkos’ Fear No Evil, as well as the substantially sinister performance of Carroll O’Connor as Myles Donovan, director Robert Day’s Ritual of Evil still packs a punch, benefitting from composer Billy Goldenberg’s unearthly ethereal score and Anne Baxter’s eccentric channeling of Phyllis Diller in her portrayal of a stewed Jolene Wiley, mother to Loey Wiley (Belinda Montgomery) and Aline Wiley (Carla Borelli).

Its plot of occult detective battling a woozy jumble of sinister forces at the root of multiple deaths is typical of American TV horror film production of the time, and appropriately so, considering the silly ballyhoo of marketing mountebanks like Anton LaVey, Carlos Castaneda, and Timothy Leary; with them, witchcraft mingles with satanism which, in turn, becomes indistinguishable from ESP, reincarnation, ghostly communications, and paganism.

The main thrust, if you will, of Ritual of Evil is that a coven of satanic witches is performing sacrifices to Priapus, an ancient Greek fertility god who would normally be depicted with an enormously erect phallus, but in this case, is limited to representation by a vaguely sensual and smolderingly malevolent Satyr-like statue which could easily be passed off as one half of a set of macabre bookends. The sterilisation, of course, was due to the Federal Communications Commission’s regulation and definition of unacceptable content at the time, which has fluctuated along with common opinion since its inception.

Ben Spurling, HORRORPEDIA

Other reviews:

“The music (again by Billy Goldenberg) is highly reminiscent of the themes used in Fear No Evil, heavily borrowing the sonic tone and mood of the first film. Sadly, editor Byron Chudnow did not return for the sequel, as it could have used his master touch. The film commits the gravest sin (no pun intended) for a horror film, feature or TV-wise: it’s just plain not scary.” Conjure Cinema

“The story touches on a few themes pertinent to the time period but in ham-fisted fashion with laboured speeches. Day stages the spooky moments with a similar bludgeoning lack of subtlety. The protagonists are also far less interesting this time around: shrill, self-absorbed soap opera types straight out of an Aaron Spelling production about whiny rich people.” Andrew Pragasm, The Spinning Image

Cast and characters:

  • Louis Jourdan … David Sorell – Swamp ThingCount Dracula 1977; Daughter of the Mind
  • Anne Baxter … Jolene Wiley
  • Diana Hyland … Leila Barton
  • John McMartin … Edward Bolander
  • Wilfrid Hyde-White … Harry Snowden – The Cat and the Canary; Fear No Evil; Chamber of Horrors
  • Belinda Montgomery … Loey Wiley – Phantom Town; Silent Madness; The Devil’s Daughter
  • Carla Borelli … Aline Wiley
  • Georg Stanford Brown … Larry Richmond
  • Regis Cordic … The Sheriff
  • Dehl Berti … Mora
  • Richard Alan Knox … Hippie
  • Johnny Williams … Newscaster
  • Jimmy Joyce … 1st Reporter
  • James LaSane … 2nd Reporter
  • Clarke Lindsley … Chris [uncredited]

First broadcast:

February 23, 1970, on NBC.

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Candyman – USA, 2020

Tony Todd as Candyman (1992)

Candyman is a forthcoming 2020 American supernatural horror feature film reboot (or “spiritual sequel”) of the 1990s franchise directed by Nia DaCosta and produced by Jordan Peele (director of UsGet Out and producer of forthcoming TV series’ Lovecraft Country and The Twilight Zone) via his Monkeypaw Productions. The original 1992 Candyman movie was loosely based on Clive Barker‘s story The Forbidden and starred Tony Todd as the iconic titular supernatural killer.

Jordan Peele told Variety:

“The original was a landmark film for black representation in the horror genre. Alongside Night of the Living Dead, Candyman was a major inspiration for me as a filmmaker — and to have a bold new talent like Nia at the helm of this project is truly exciting. We are honored to bring the next chapter in the Candyman canon to life and eager to provide new audiences with an entry point to Clive Barker’s legend.”

MGM Motion Picture Group president Jonathan Glickman added:

“We cannot wait for the world to see what the mind-blowing combination of Jordan, Win, and Nia bring to the legend of Candyman. They have created a story that will not only pay reverence to Clive Barker’s haunting and brilliant source material, but is also thoroughly modern and will bring in a whole new generation of fans.”

Universal Pictures will handle domestic theatrical distribution and will release the new Candyman theatrically on June 12, 2020.

 

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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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English-Language Remake of ‘Goodnight Mommy’ In The Works

Underground Austrian hit Goodnight Mommy will soon undergo the English-language treatment.  According to Deadline, the 2014 psychological thriller with the supernatural twist will be remade in English and co-produced by studios Animal Kingdom and Playtime.  Matt Sobel (2015’s critically-acclaimed Take Me To The River) has been attached to direct.

Goodnight Mommy focuses on two twin brothers who must deal with their mother and her heavily-bandaged face as a result of a recent plastic surgery procedure.  As they interact more and more, it becomes clear to one of the twins that underneath the mask of gauze lies someone other than their mother.  The film won critical applause after its North American premiere at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, and continued to win over audiences worldwide as distribution spread.  It was directed by the German team of Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, who would go on to work with Universal for another of their projects (entitled The Fortress) shortly afterwards.  Franz and Fiala will be involved in the remake of Goodnight Mommy as executive producers.

Joining Sobel in creating the remake will be Kyle Warren.  Sobel and Warren will be co-writing the English adaptation based on the original movie, with both offering somewhat of a fresh take.  The new film will be produced by David Kaplan (It Follows), along with Nicolas Brigaud-Robert and Valery Guibal.  Brigaud-Robert and Guibal also produced the upcoming Hungarian-French film Sunset together.  According to Sobel, this film will aim to offer an even darker version than the original. “My favorite films are those that invite the audience to step inside their protagonist’s journey,” he says. “Goodnight Mommy aims to create an immersive nightmare, with visceral sensations front and center.”

While no other casting news for the English-language remake of Goodnight Mommy have yet been announced, filming is tentatively scheduled to begin during the third quarter of 2019.

Stay tuned for more news on this upcoming remake as it becomes available!

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The New ‘Halloween’ Trailer is Here

We are just over a month away from the return of Michael Myers to the big-screen, and Universal have just unveiled a brand new trailer for the upcoming Halloween film from David Gordon Green. Some are saying that it shows too much, and perhaps that’s true. But, damn! We’re loving the look of this one. […]

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