The Boogeyman (1980)

THE BOOGEYMAN (1980)
Article 2976 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-1-2009
Posting Date: 10-7-2009
Directed by Ulli Lommel
Featuring Suzanna Love, Ron James, John Carradine
Country: USA

Two children, a boy and a girl, kill their mother’s lover. As adults, they are plagued by memories of the experience. The girl visits the house where the murder took place, and discovers the lover’s spirit in a mirror. She breaks the mirror and releases the spirit, unleashing a reign of terror.

I’ve not heard good things about Ulli Lommel’s directorial career after TENDERNESS OF THE WOLVES, and if this movie is any indication, I’m not surprised. The fact that the story doesn’t make much sense (it’s kind of a hodgepodge of slasher movies and rip-offs of THE OMEN and THE EXORCIST) isn’t necessarily fatal; the fact that the shock moments fall flat combined with the lifeless direction is. It’s pretty bad when the shock moments that are supposed to make you jump don’t even make you blink. It also doesn’t help that the murder scenes are more likely to inspire chortles than chills. John Carradine is on hand, and though he’s got a bigger role here than he did DEMON SEED (aka SATAN’S MISTRESS, not the Julie Christie movie), he’s still so divorced from the action that he might not have even been in the movie. And this is supposed to be one of the better of Lommel’s later horrors; if so, I definitely see some stinkers ahead.

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The Billion Dollar Threat (1979)

THE BILLION DOLLAR THREAT (1979)
TV-Movie
Article 2961 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 6-16-2009
Posting Date: 9-22-2009
Directed by Barry Shear
Featuring Dale Robinette, Ralph Bellamy, Keenan Wynn
Country: USA

A government agent is sent to Utah to investigate reports of UFOs.

Apparently, the continued financial success of the James Bond franchise in the late seventies inspired some attempts to resurrect the spy genre for TV; this pilot was one of those attempts. With its rating of 3.9 on IMDB, I can only conclude that it is not a popular favorite, but I have to say that it does about as good a job as I’d expect a TV-Movie/series pilot in emulating a James Bond movie. Perhaps the problem is that it emulates it a little too well; the movie never takes on a life of its own and remains at all times an example of ersatz low-budget Bond. Still, I found it enjoyable enough in this regard, and the cast (which includes Ralph Bellamy, Keenan Wynn and Patrick Macnee) do help to make it fun. Furthermore, some of the location footage is quite beautiful. Take it for what it is, and you could do worse.

Blood Relatives (1978)

BLOOD RELATIVES (1978)
aka Les liens de sang
Article 2960 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 6-15-2009
Posting Date: 9-21-2009
Directed by Claude Chabrol
Featuring Donald Sutherland, Aude Landry, Lisa Langlois
Country: Canada / France

When a young woman is murdered in an alley, her cousin, the only person who witnessed the crime, turns up at the police station bloody from knife wounds. She offers a description of the assailant, but then changes her story by accusing her own brother of the crime. The detective on the case hopes to learn the truth of the matter by reading the diary of the murdered girl… if he can find it.

This is not a horror movie; its horror content is mostly due to the savage murder that starts the plot rolling. The biggest clue to what this movie was going to be like comes early on, when the credits mention that it is based on a novel by Ed McBain, a mystery writer who specializes in police procedurals. And indeed, that’s what it is; we follow the investigation of the crime as the police finger several suspects, hunt down clues, interview people, and try to piece the puzzle together. The surrounding details and the final solution turn out to be very dark indeed; I suspect that the movie’s R rating is more for the nature of the plot elements (which include incest and child molestation) than for the actual murder details, which are nowhere near as bloody as they could have been. I was able to figure out who the murderer was going to be, but that didn’t destroy my pleasure with the movie, because it gave me a chance afterward to explore the various plot details and figure out why certain events happened when they did; for one thing, you’ll figure out exactly why the witness changed her story when she did. The cast is quite good, though Donald Pleasence is particularly memorable in a cameo as one of the suspects.

Blood Voyage (1976)

BLOOD VOYAGE (1976)
Article 2944 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-30-2009
Posting Date: 9-5-2009
Directed by Frank Mitchell
Featuring Warren Farlow, John Hart, Douglas Hume
Country: USA

Passengers on a yacht bound for Hawaii are being killed off one by one by an unknown assailant. Who can it be?

This is one of those movies I’ve decided to call “listclearers”, because, from my own self-referential point of view, they exist primarily so I can then remove them from my hunt list. Another way to put it is this way; in its own low-budget bottom-half-of-the-drive-in-double-bill way, it manages to adequately achieve competence. It manages to fill its 78 minute running time without ever becoming stultifying or engaging; it remains distracting (though not unpleasantly so) throughout. This is, or course, damning with faint praise, but, beyond the novelty value that it takes place on a yacht, this is by-the-numbers stuff. It’s one of those movies where you watch a scene and immediately know why it exists (“This scene is to make us suspect the cook is the murderer.” “This is one of the murder scenes.” “This scene is designed to get some nudity into the picture.”). It’s watchable, but only in the sense that it’s more interesting than watching paint dry. I bet one week from now I’ll have forgotten this movie ever existed.

Bog (1983)

BOG (1983)
Article 2928 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-14-2009
Posting Date: 8-20-1009
Directed by Don Keeslar
Featuring Gloria DeHaven, Aldo Ray, Marshall Thompson
Country: USA

A monster has been awakened from the local lake, and it’s searching for human females so it can breed.

This cheap and rather goofy movie is like a throwback to the cheapies from the fifties and sixties; at one time or another, I found myself comparing it to ATTACK OF THE GIANT LEECHES, DESTINATION INNER SPACE and BRIDE OF THE MONSTER. The monster is a hoot, and the cast of familiar old-timers (Gloria DeHaven, Aldo Ray, Marshall Thompson and Leo Gordon) just adds to the quaintness of the whole affair. The dialogue is often hilarious; my favorite line is “We’ll get the fire department. They’ve got hoses. They’ll spray anything. ” It also has a ludicrous script and truly amateurish editing. It’s also shot in Wisconsin, which, to horror movie fans, could be called Bill Rebane country, but I find this one a lot more cuddly than any of Rebane’s movies. All in all, this is one of the more entertaining stinkers I’ve seen.

Blood Bath (1976)

BLOOD BATH (1976)
Article 2927 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-14-2009
Posting Date: 8-19-2009
Directed by Joel M. Reed
Featuring Harve Presnell, Jack Somack, Curt Dawson
Country: USA

The cast of a horror film tell each other scary stories one night. In the first, a hit man has a job go awry. In the second, a man tries to get rid of his wife with a coin that grants wishes. In the third, a ghost decides to haunt the man who was responsible for his death. In the fourth, a martial arts expert must face a final challenge when he betrays his promise not to use his powers for money. In the wraparound story, it turns out the director of the horror film has a secret of his own…

Director Joel Reed is primarily famous for having given us BLOODSUCKING FREAKS, a paean to the exploitation, torture and murder of women that is as mean-spirited as it is incompetent. I feel sorry for any fans of that movie searching this one out in the hopes of getting more of the same; its PG rating should be warning enough that this is going to be mild stuff indeed. It’s no where near as nasty, it’s not one-tenth as misogynistic, and it’s even somewhat more competent. It’s not “bloodless” as some people claim; there’s a little blood, but you’d probably find more in your average Hammer horror movie. It’s worst problem is that it’s rather tired and uninspired. Perhaps the most surprising thing to me, though, was that I actually thought one of the stories was pretty good; the story about the ghost of the black man who decides to haunt the skinflint who caused his death (a series of circumstances brought about by the skinflint repossessing the ghost’s car) is actually amusing enough that I wish the presentation was better. This story even has one of the better twist endings here; the rest of them are rather obvious.

The Bubble (1966)

THE BUBBLE (1966)
aka Fantastic Invasion of the Planet Earth
Article 2911 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-27-2009
Posting Date: 8-2-2009
Directed by Arch Oboler
Featuring Michael Cole, Deborah Walley, Johnny Desmond
Country: USA

A plane makes an emergency landing in order to get a pregnant woman to a hospital. The passengers of the plane discover that the residents of the town they are in are acting strangely, and they soon discover that the whole area is surrounded by a sphere so that no one can leave.

Arch Oboler had a hit with the first full-length movie in 3-D, BWANA DEVIL. Here he is, returning to the process 14 years later (though it’s redubbed “space vision” here), long after the 3-D craze had passed. One of the main attractions here is that the movie really works the 3-D angle; one almost expects Dr. Tongue to appear. Unfortunately, the story is an exercise in frustration. It starts out well enough due to the mysterious premise, but it’s another one of those movies which is cluttered with character-developing moments. Now, there really is nothing wrong with character development if the characters are essential to the movie or help drive the plot in some way, but here, it feels more like an attempt to pad the film than anything else. It also doesn’t help that we’re given nothing in the way of concrete answers; we get endless speculation on insufficient evidence, and even when a new wrinkle to the mystery shows up, it’s just another thing that will fail to be resolved or explained. Those who get off on existentialism might like this one, though I most recommend it for those who like to see things like brooms come right out of the screen at them.