The TSL’s Daily Horror Grindhouse: Long Time Dead (dir by Marcus Adams)


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Am I the only person in the world who likes the 2002 British horror film, Long Time Dead?

I sometimes think that I may be.  Whenever I mention the film to anyone, they either say they’ve never heard of it or they kind of roll their eyes.  I have yet to read a positive review online.  Long Time Dead has only got a 4.9 rating at the imdb, which is saying something because usually even the worst of films can still manage to score at least a 6.0.

So, I guess it’s true.  I guess only I like Long Time Dead.

Now, I should clarify that, just because I like a movie, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s very good.  Long Time Dead is definitely a flawed film.  This is one of those films where an evil spirit — in this case, a fire demon known as a djinn — pursues a group of friends, killing them one-by-one.  There are eight friends, which seems to be a bit excessive for a 94 minute film.  We’re never quite sure how all of these characters got to know each other in the first place.  Some of them appear to be college students.  Four of them share a flat.  Another one lives on a boat.  And as for the other three, they appear to all live in the same building but still, you’re never really sure how everyone is related.

What’s odd is that we only really get to know five of the eight characters, which again leads the viewer to wonder why we needed the other three.  We know that Spencer (James Hillier) is perpetually stoned and that all of this is kind of his fault because he’s the one who suggested that the group should use a Ouija board to try to contact a spirit.  We know that his girlfriend, Lucy (Marsha Thomason), knows about the supernatural and, for some reason, lives on a boat.  We know that Liam (Alec Newman) was traumatized when his father murdered his mother.  We know that Liam’s girlfriend, Annie (Melanie Gutteridge), has asthma.  We know that Rob (Joe Absolom) appears to be a nice guy.  And then there’s Webster (Lukas Haas), Stella (Lara Belmont), and Joe (Mel Raido), who don’t really have any reason for being in the movie.

(Seriously, what is respected Texas character actor and friend-of-Leonardo-DiCaprio Lukas Haas doing in a low-budget British horror film?)

At first, we’re led to believe that the djinn is killing people because it’s upset that it was dragged out of its world by the Ouija board.  But, as the film progresses, we learn that the djinn has a personal score to settle with one of his potential victims.  We also learn that someone may or may not be possessed by the djinn.  It’s all a bit too much to keep track of.  I’ve read rumors that Long Time Dead was a difficult production and the fact that the film has seven credited writers might provide a clue as to why the film is such a narrative mess.

And yet, despite all of that, I still like Long Time Dead.

Why?

The reason is very simple.

The movie scared me.

Maybe it was because I was watching it late at night and I had the lights out or maybe it was because, as an asthmatic, I related to poor Annie but Long Time Dead scared the Hell out of me the first time I saw it.   Not only is the film full of effective jump scenes but the djinn is a terrifying monster.  He’s relentless, ruthless, and merciless.  I think what truly scared me is that the djinn would attack anyone anywhere.  There was literally nowhere that you could hide from it.

Long Time Dead is no classic but it still made me scream.

Horror on TV: Thriller 1.1 “The Twisted Image”


Tonight’s excursion into televised horror is the very first episode of Boris Karloff’s Thriller!

Thriller was an anthology series that lasted from 1960 to 1962.  Each episode presented a new story of horror and/or suspense.  What makes this series especially memorable is that each episode was introduced by none other than Boris Karloff!  I’ve seen a few episodes of Thriller (the entire series is on YouTube) and, to be honest, it’s kind of a hit-or-miss show.  But Karloff and that mischievous twinkle in his eye makes it all worth it!

This episode originally aired on September 13th, 1960.  It’s called The Twisted Image and stars Leslie Neilsen as a man being stalked by two mentally disturbed individuals.  This episode was well-directed by Arthur Hiller and, if it’s more of a suspense story than a horror story, it still has its creepy moments.

Enjoy!

Horror Film Review: The Revenge of Frankenstein (dir by Terence Fisher)


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Last year, Gary reviewed the first of the Hammer Frankenstein films, The Curse of Frankenstein.  For today’s horror film review, I’m going to take a look at the second movie in Hammer’s Frankenstein series, 1958’s The Revenge of Frankenstein!

The Revenge of Frankenstein opens where The Curse of Frankenstein ended.  The monster (played by Christopher Lee in the first film) has been destroyed and Baron Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) has been sentenced to be executed for the monster’s crimes.  However, the Baron escapes the guillotine.  Instead, he arranges for a priest to be beheaded in his place.  Working under the name Dr. Stein, the Baron escapes to another village and, after several years, re-establishes himself as a wealthy and respected doctor.  While most of his patients are rich, Dr. Stein also helps the poor and the disabled.  By all accounts, he’s doing wonderful work but he’s also deliberately enigmatic, refusing to join the local doctors council.

Right from the beginning, we’re reminded of just how different Hammer’s Baron Frankenstein was from Universal’s version of the good doctor.  In the Universal films, Dr. Frankenstein — regardless of whether the doctor in question was Henry, Wolf, or Ludwig — was always portrayed as being misguided but ultimately noble.  If any of the Universal Frankensteins had been sentenced to death, it’s probable that they would have put on a stoic face, walked to the guillotine, and allow their head to roll.  In fact, they would have felt so responsible for the actions of the Monster that they probably would feel it was their moral duty to allow themselves to be executed.

That’s not the case when it comes to Hammer’s Baron Frankenstein.  Baron Frankenstein feels no guilt over what the Monster has done.  Go the guillotine?  No way!  Baron Frankenstein is determined to create life and if creating life means that other, lesser mortals end up dead … well, so be it.  As opposed to the Universal Frankensteins, who all developed god complexes after the success of their experiment, Baron Frankenstein has his god complex from the beginning.  And if Baron Frankenstein is a god, why shouldn’t a priest be sacrificed for the good of the Baron’s work?

Anyway, Dr. FrankenStein and his assistant, Dr. Kleve (Francis Matthews) are determined to once again bring the dead back to life.  This time, the plan involves transplanting the brain of hunchback Karl (Oscar Quitak) into a physically strong body (played by Michael Gwynn).  Dr. Kleve is worried that a brain transplant could lead to unforseen complications.  For instance, one of Dr. Stein’s chimpanzees reacts to being given an orangutan’s brain by turning into a cannibal.  However, Stein tells Dr. Kleve not to worry about it.  After all, what could go wrong?

Well, a lot goes wrong.  It’s a Frankenstein movie, after all.

I have to admit that, while I love Hammer’s Dracula films, I’ve never been a huge fan of their take on Frankenstein.  While Peter Cushing always makes for a wonderfully compelling and often chillingly evil Baron Frankenstein, the majority of the Hammer Frankenstein films always seem to move way too slowly.  Whenever I watch one of them, I always find myself growing rather impatient with the endless scenes of grave robbery and body stitching.  “HURRY UP AND BRING THAT DAMN THING TO LIFE!” I’ll find myself shouting.

However, I was actually pleasantly surprised by how well The Revenge of Frankenstein holds up.  That Cushing would give an excellent performance as Baron Frankenstein is to be expected.  But really, the entire film is well-acted and both Oscar Quitak and Michael Gwynn give poignant performances as Frankenstein’s latest experiment.  It’s a visually vibrant and nicely paced horror film, one that never drags like some of the later Hammer Frankenstein films.

The Curse of Frankenstein and The Revenge of Frankenstein make for a great double feature, especially in October!

Halloween Havoc!: ZOMBIE (Variety Film 1979)


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I’ll admit, I’m a latecomer to the Lucio Fulci bandwagon. I viewed my first film by The Maestro, THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY , earlier this year, and absolutely loved it! I’ve been looking for more Fulci films to discover ever since, and recently recorded his most famous, ZOMBIE, off the El Rey Network (which I highly recommend to Grindhouse fans out there). ZOMBIE goes by many names, but this is the title I watched it under, so we’ll stick with that.

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From that opening shot of a gun pointed at the camera, then blasting the head of a rising corpse, I knew I was in for a good time! After the credits roll, we see a derelict ship floating in New York harbor. The harbor patrol boards it, and find it deserted, with rotting food and supplies strewn everywhere. One of the cops investigates further, and is killed by a zombie…

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4 Shots From Horror History: Friday the 13th, The Shining, The Beyond, The Howling


This October, I’m going to be doing something a little bit different with my contribution to 4 Shots From 4 Films.  I’m going to be taking a little chronological tour of the history of horror cinema, moving from decade to decade.

Today, we begin the 80s!

4 Shots From 4 Films

Friday the  13th (1980, dir by Sean S. Cunningham)

Friday the 13th (1980, dir by Sean S. Cunningham)

The Shining (1980, dir by Stanley Kubrick)

The Shining (1980, dir by Stanley Kubrick)

The Beyond (1981, dir by Lucio Fulci)

The Beyond (1981, dir by Lucio Fulci)

The Howling (1981, dir by Joe Dante)

The Howling (1981, dir by Joe Dante)

Horror on the Lens: The Curse (dir by David Keith)


Today’s horror on the lens is 1987’s The Curse!

This slice of rural horror is based on H.P. Lovecraft’s The Colour From Outer Space and, somewhat oddly, it was produced by Lucio Fulci.  The Curse, in this case, is a meteorite the lands near a farm and poisons all the crops.  Mayhem follows.

Seriously, country livin’ sucks.  That’s why I’m glad to live in the suburbs, away from all the aliens and the poisoned meteorites.