Halloween Havoc!: Karloff and Lugosi in THE RAVEN (Universal 1935)


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Universal’s “Twin Titans of Terror” teamed up for the second time in THE RAVEN. Their 1934 pairing in THE BLACK CAT was the studio’s top grossing film that year, so it was only logical to reteam the two stars in another Poe based outing. But while in THE BLACK CAT they were evenly matched, here Boris plays second fiddle to Bela’s mad Dr Vollin. Lugosi takes center stage and creates one of his nastiest villains, a sociopath out to avenge his unrequited love.

Young Jean Thatcher loses control of her car and crashes off a cliff. The doctors, including her boyfriend Jerry Holden, agree only Dr. Richard Vollin can save her. Vollin refuses over the phone, stating he’s retired from practice, so Jean’s father, Judge Thatcher, travels to Vollin’s estate and, appealing to his vanity, convinces the doctor to do the surgery. He does so, and falls in love with his young patient in the process.

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The TSL’s Daily Horror Grindhouse: Hands of the Ripper (dir by Peter Sasdy)


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The 1971 Hammer film Hands of the Ripper tells the story of Anna (Angharad Rees), a woman living in Victorian England who has a few issues.

What type of issues, you may wonder?  Well, first off, she’s the daughter of the infamous serial killer known as Jack The Ripper.  When she was just a baby, her father killed her mother while Anna watched from her crib.  Now, years later, the teenage Anna is working for a fake medium named Mrs. Golding (Dora Bryan).  It’s Anna’s job to stand behind the curtain and provide the ghostly voices whenever Mrs. Golding is holding one of her fake seances.

One such séance is attended by both a sleazy member of Parliament named Dysart (Derek Godfrey) and a progressive psychiatrist named Dr. John Pritchard (Eric Porter).  When Mrs. Golding’s ruse is discovered, she decides to “give” Anna to Dysart.  However, this plan falls apart when Anna suddenly goes crazy, grabs a fireplace poker, and murders Mrs. Golding.  Dysart flees the scene, leaving Anna, who claims to have no memory of attacking anyone, with John.  Assuming that he can cure her, John takes Anna in and set her up at his house.

Well, it turns out that curing Anna will not be quite as easy as John assumed.  For one thing, Anna is extremely repressed and often refuses to open up to him.  Also, there’s the fact that Anna keeps killing people.  Whenever anyone stands to close to Anna or kisses her on the cheek, Anna goes into a trance and hears her father’s voice demanding that she kill.  John, convinced that he can save Anna, continues to cover up every murder.

I really wasn’t expecting much from Hands of the Ripper.  In fact, I have to admit that the main reason I dvred it off of TCM was because I thought this might be the film in which Klaus Kinski played Jack the Ripper.  I was wrong, of course.  The Kinski Jack the Ripper film was called Jack the Ripper and it was directed by Jess Franco.  Hands of the Ripper, on the other hand, is a Hammer film that was released in 1971, at a time when Hammer was struggling to stay relevant in an ever-changing cinematic landscape.  Perhaps that’s why the murders in Hands of the Ripper were gory, even be the bloody standards of Hammer Films.

Interestingly enough, though the film was made over 40 years ago, the murders themselves remain quite shocking.  I can only imagine how audiences in 1971 reacted to them.  The scene where Anna suddenly attacks a housekeeper made me flinch, as did a later scene in which one of Anna’s victims stumbled out onto a crowded street, minus an eye.  Angharad Rees gave a good performance as Anna, one that keeps you guessing as to whether or not she’s just crazy or if maybe she really is possessed by the spirit of her father.

Hands of the Ripper is a good Hammer film, one that combines the usual Hammer tropes with a bit more psychological depth than one might expect.  This is one to keep an eye out for.

Horror on TV: Baywatch Nights 2.20 “Hot Winds”


On tonight’s episode of Baywatch Nights, the wind is making people in California go insane!  Could it because the wind is hot and annoying?  Or is it that there’s a Satanist doing something evil out in the desert?

Don’t worry, California!  David Hasselhoff and Angie Harmon are on the case!

This episode originally aired on May 3rd, 1997.

Horror Film Review: Sleepwalkers (dir by Mick Garris)


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So, last night, I was looking for something to watch and I came across Sleepwalkers, a horror film from 1992.  And you know what?  I could sit here and I could get all snarky about Sleepwalkers and I could be hypercritical and all that other stuff.  It’s tempting because the film was written by Stephen King and Stephen King has had so much success that it’s easy to be overly critical of anything he’s involved with.

But I’m not going to do that.  Or, at least, that’s not my main objective with this review.  No, with this review, I want to pay tribute to cat named Clovis.

You see, there are several humans and humanoids in Sleepwalkers.  The film is about two energy vampires — Charles (Brian Krause) and his mother Mary (Alice Krige) — who have an icky incestuous relationship and who need to suck energy from virgins in order to survive.  Charles, who appears to be a teenager, has selected Tanya (Madchen Amick) as his latest target.  Tanya has loving parents (Lyman Ward and Cindy Pickett, who also played Ferris Bueller‘s parents) and there’s also a creepy English teacher (Glenn Shadix) who tries to blackmail Charles and ends up losing a hand as a result.  There’s several police officers, one of whom is killed when a corncob is driven into his spine.  And Steven King appears in an awkward cameo, along with Clive Barker and Tobe Hooper.

That’s right — there’s a lot of people in this movie but none of them made as big an impression as Sparks, the talented little kitty who plays Clovis.  Seriously, check Clovis out!

You see, there’s only one thing that can kill Charles and Mary and that’s the scratch of a cat.  From the minute that Charles and Mary move into their latest home, cats start to gather outside the house, meowing and just waiting for their chance to pounce.  And, when it comes time for the cats to finally make their movie, who is their leader?

CLOVIS!

After Charles kills Clovis’s owner, Clovis gathers every other cat around and we watch as, in slow motion, they run through the streets of the town.  That’s right — whatever else you may want to say about Sleepwalkers, this is a movie where cats finally get to kick some ass.

And who is the main ass kicker?

Little Clovis, of course!

At the end of the film, Tanya might not have many people left in her life but she’s got Clovis and, because of that, you know that everything’s going to be okay.

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As for the rest of Sleepwalkers … well, it’s watchable but it still really doesn’t make a huge impression.  And, to be honest, that really is the fault of the script.  It’s hard to know who (out of the humans) you’re supposed to care about.  Charles and Mary are pure evil and Charles has a really bad habit of speaking in lame one liners.  Tanya, meanwhile, is well-played by Madchen Amick but, as written, she’s a bit of a nonentity.  There is one fun scene when Tanya dances but then again, you have to wonder why movies, regardless of when they were made, always insist on making teenagers dance to songs that were written decades before they were born.

Fortunately, the film has Clovis.  Not only does he save the day but he saves the movie as well!

GO CLOVIS!

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Horror on the Lens: Galaxy Invader (dir by Don Dohler)


For today’s horror on the lens, we present the 1985 film, Galaxy Invader!  In this film, an alien that looks a lot like the Creature from the Black Lagoon crash lands in the woods of Maryland.  He soon finds himself being hunted by rednecks, students, and even more rednecks.  A much more in depth review of this little film can be found over on Ryan The Trash Film Guru’s site so let me just say that Galaxy Invader is a prime example of so-bad-that-its-good filmmaking.  This is one of those films that was made for a low budget, featured actors who were definitely not professionals, and yet, it’s so achingly sincere that you can’t help but appreciate it on some level.

Enjoy Galaxy Invader!