The TSL’s Daily Horror Grindhouse: The Sweet House of Horrors (dir by Lucio Fulci)


Mary and Roberto Vivaldi (played by Lubka Lenzi and Pascal Persiano) would appear to have a perfect life, perhaps because they do.  They’re young.  They’re attractive.  They’re in love.  They’re rich.  They have a really nice house and they have two children, a boy and a girl.  What could go wrong, right?

Well, they could come home from a party and discover that their house is being burglarized.  And the burglar could then proceed to graphically and viscously murder them, smashing in Robert’s head and, since this is a Lucio Fulci film, popping out Mary’s eye.  In fact, the opening murder is so graphic and so disturbing that it’s somewhat surprising to learn that this movie was made for television.

Of course, what’s even stranger is that the rest of the film is oddly tame, particularly for a Fulci film.  Perhaps they only had enough money in the budget for one graphic gore scene.

Anyway, the parents are now dead and the children are now orphans.  At the funeral, the children shock everyone by playing and laughing.  However, a few seconds later, they’re standing over the grave and crying.  Some people would call this an inconsistency but I think it’s the most realistic part of the film.  When you lose someone who you love, you do strange things.  There is no one proper way to grieve.  As someone who suffered through his share of personal tragedy, this was something that Fulci probably understood.

The parents may be dead but they’re not gone!  Instead, they’re haunting the house.  The children are overjoyed but their new guardian, Aunt Marcia (Cinzia Monreale, who was Emily in Fulci’s The Beyond) is not.  Marcia freaks out upon realizing that the house is haunted and it certainly doesn’t help that she’s attacked by a gigantic fly in the attic.  Her husband, the incredibly dense Carlo (Jean Christophe Bretigniere), doesn’t think anything strange is happening.  Still, Carlo does agree that it would be a good idea to sell the house and move the children elsewhere.

Nope!  The parents have no intention of letting that happen!  Of course, the dead parents main concern to kill the man who killed them but, once he’s dead (it doesn’t take that long), they’re free to spend their time pushing a real estate agent down a flight of stairs, harassing Marcia and Carlo and eventually causing an exorcist’s hand to melt.

If you’re getting the feeling that both the dead parents and the living children are pretty obnoxious, that’s because they are.  I mean, it’s one thing to not want to be separated.  That’s something we can all relate to.  It’s another thing to melt a man’s hand and then laugh about it.  Add to that, neither Marcia nor Carlo come across as being particularly villainous.  It’s not like they’re planning on murdering the kids for their inheritance or sending them to a Dickensian orphanage or anything like that.  They just want the kids to stop conducting black magic ceremonies and they want to live in a house that isn’t haunted.  No matter how much sympathy you may have for the parents or the kids, it’s hard to deny that Marcia and Carlo aren’t being all that unreasonable.

(It also doesn’t help that the film ends with the suggestion that the dead parents can stay with the kids regardless of whether the house is sold or not.)

And yet, I can’t help but like The Sweet House of Horrors.  Even though it doesn’t make much sense and it’s hampered by a low-budget (just check out the floating flames that represent the dead parents), there’s a sincerity to The Sweet House of Horrors.  The parents really do seem to love their obnoxious children and the film actually does provide some insight regarding the way that children use imagination to deal with grief.  Like many of his later film, The Sweet House of Horrors is hit-and-miss but Lucio Fulci still comes up with a few good visuals, suggesting that his heart may have been in this film in a way that it wasn’t in some of the other films he made during the final years of his storied career.  Just the fact that The Sweet House of Horrors tells such an openly sentimental story makes it unique in Fulci’s filmography.

The Sweet House of Horrors cannot be compared to such Fulci classics as The Beyond, The House By The Cemetery, The Black Cat, or Zombi 2.  But still, it’s an interesting little film and provides a hint that, even during his decline, Fulci still possessed some of the talent that made his earlier films so iconic.

the-sweet-house-of-horror-1989-movie-1

Horror on TV: Tales From the Crypt 7.10 “About Face” (dir by Thomas E. Sanders)


For tonight’s excursion, we have one final episodes from HBO’s Tales From The Crypt.

About Face is the 10th episode from the 7th and final season.  It deals with a Victorian-era minister who discovers that he has not one but two daughters.  And one of the daughters might be a little disturbed…

For the most part, the 7th season of Tales From the Crypt has a fairly bad reputation but About Face is better than the average 7th season episode.  Anthony Andrews does a good job as the hypocritical Anglican.

This episode first aired on June 28th, 1996.

Enjoy!

Horror Film Review: Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (dir by Dominique Othenin-Girard)


Oh … dammit.

Hi everyone!  We are currently in the process of our annual horrorthon here at the Shattered Lens so I thought it would be a good idea if me and some of my fellow writers reviewed all of the Halloween films!  Arleigh already reviewed the original Halloween back in 2010 and I took a look at the first sequel in 2012.  So, it just made perfect sense to me that we go ahead and take a look at the rest of the films in the series!

Yesterday, Case reviewed Halloween 4 and, later, he’ll be taking a look at Resurrection and H20.  Jedadiah Leland is taking look at Halloween 6 tomorrow.  So, that leaves me with … *sigh* Halloween 5.

BLEH!

Before we dive into the crapfest that was Halloween 5, let’s take a look at the trailer!  It’ll be fun!

The trailer’s actually fairly effective.  I have to wonder how many people, way back in 1989, were fooled into seeing this film as a result of this trailer?  I imagine probably more than who are willing to admit it.  Paying money to see Halloween 5 doesn’t seem like something anyone would want to brag about.

Halloween 5 is the one that has the dumb cops.  Now, I know that every Halloween film seems to feature at least a few dumb cops but the ones in Halloween 5 are really dumb.  And they get their own theme music!  That’s right — whenever these two dumb cops show up on screen, comedic circus music plays.  Needless to say, it’s woefully out of place in a horror movie.  I read that this was apparently meant to be an homage to the dumb cops from the original Last House On the Left.  This despite the fact that … EVERYONE HATED THE DUMB COPS IN LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT!!!  Even Wes Craven later said that the dumb cops were a mistake!  If you’re going to rip off (or pay homage) to another movie, don’t pay homage to the part that sucked!

Anyway, you may remember that Halloween 4 ended with Jamie (Danielle Harris) attacking her mother and holding a knife.  Uh-oh, looks like Jamie’s going to be a murderer!  Well, no — that would have been too interesting.  Halloween 5 finds Jamie being committed to a mental hospital for a year while Michael Myers (Don Shanks) is in a coma.  Michael eventually comes out of his coma and starts stalking Jamie all over again.

Once again, Dr. Loomis (a depressingly frail Donald Pleasence) is one of the few people who realizes that Michael is still alive and once again, nobody is willing to listen to him.  Here’s the thing: Dr. Loomis may be kinda crazy and yes, all the scars are kinda disturbing but he’s been right every single freaking time in the past.  I understand that the people of Haddonfield are kind of in denial about Michael but this is just getting ridiculous.

Rachel Carrathurs (Ellie Cornell) returns for this movie but she gets killed early on.  Apparently, she was killed so that the audience would know that anyone could be killed and that nobody was safe but Rachel was such a strong character and Ellie Cornell did such a good job playing her in the previous film that you really feel her absence in Halloween 5.  Her death leaves a void that the film fails to adequately fill.  Add to that, if you insist on killing a kickass character like Rachel, at least give her a memorable death scene.  Don’t just have her blithely wandering around the house half-naked until she suddenly gets stabbed, as if she was just some generic slasher victim and not the lead of the previous movie.

With Rachel dead, it now falls to her amazingly annoying best friend, Tina (Wendy Kaplan), to serve as Jamie’s protector.  Tina is hyperactive and talkative and quirky and blah blah blah.  Basically, she’s like that person who is really annoying but since you’ve known her since the third grade, you feel obligated to hang out with her.

It all leads to another big Halloween party and few rather bloodless deaths.  It’s all pretty boring, to be honest.  There is one good scene where Michael chases Jamie in a car (the headlights cutting through the darkness create a wonderfully eerie effect) but, otherwise, it’s depressingly generic.

In the end, Michael is captured and put in a jail cell.  Fortunately, a mysterious man in black shows up and breaks him out.  Gee, I wonder what that’s about?

Halloween 5 is undoubtedly the worst of the Halloween films.

Bleh!

halloween5poster

Halloween Havoc!: Christopher Lee in THE DEVIL’S BRIDE (Hammer 1968)


cracked rear viewer

db1

Satan worship was all over the big screen back in 1968.  There was ROSEMARY’S BABY of course, that Oscar-winning fright fest from Roman Polanski and William Castle. WITCHFINDER GENERAL found Vincent Price on the hunt for daughters of the devil, while CURSE OF THE CRIMSON ALTAR boasted an all-star horror cast of Boris Karloff, Christopher Lee, Barbara Steele, and Michael Gough. Lee starred in a Hammer tale of satanism that year titled THE DEVIL’S BRIDE, as an occult expert pitted against a cult led by Charles Gray. That’s right- it’s Dracula vs Blofeld in a battle for souls!

db2

Sir Christopher’s  on the side of the angels for a change as the Duc de Richleau, who along with army buddy Rex Van Ryn, find their late chum’s son Simon Aron. Simon’s been “meddling with black magic” in a coven of devil worshippers led by Mocata, an adept Satanist. They manage to spirit Simon away…

View original post 471 more words

4 Shots From Horror History: Final Destination, The Others, 28 Days Later, Bubba Ho-Tep


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.

Welcome to the 21st Century!

4 Shots From 4 Films

Final Destination (2000, dir by James Wong)

Final Destination (2000, dir by James Wong)

The Others (2001, dir by Alejandro Amenabar)

The Others (2001, dir by Alejandro Amenabar)

28 Days Later (2002, dir by Danny Boyle)

28 Days Later (2002, dir by Danny Boyle)

Bubba Ho-Tep (2002, dir by Don Coscarelli)

Bubba Ho-Tep (2002, dir by Don Coscarelli)

Horror on the Lens: Dementia 13 (dir by Francis Ford Coppola)


(I originally shared this film back in 2011 — can you believe we’ve been doing this for that long? — but the YouTube vid was taken down.  So, I’m resharing it today!)

For today’s excursion into the world of public domain horror, I offer up the film debut of Francis Ford Coppola.  Before Coppola directed the Godfathers and Apocalypse Now, he directed a low-budget, black-and-white thriller that was called Dementia 13.  (Though, in a sign of things to come, producer Roger Corman and Coppola ended up disagreeing on the film’s final cut and Corman reportedly brought in director Jack Hill to film and, in some cases, re-film additional scenes.)

Regardless of whether the credit should go to Coppola, Corman, or Hill, Dementia 13 is a brutally effective little film that is full of moody photography and which clearly served as an influence on the slasher films that would follow it in the future.  Speaking of influence,Dementia 13 itself is obviously influenced by the Italian giallo films that, in 1963, were just now starting to make their way into the drive-ins and grindhouses of America.

In the cast, keep an eye out for Patrick Magee, who later appeared as Mr. Alexander in A Clockwork Orange as well as giving a memorable performance in Lucio Fulci’s The Black Cat.  Luana Anders, who plays the duplicitous wife in this film, showed up in just about every other exploitation film made in the 60s and yes, the scene where she’s swimming freaks me out to no end.

(One final note: I just love the title Dementia 13.  Seriously, is that a great one or what?)