Boogeyman II (1983)

Article 4015 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 8-27-2012
Directed by Bruce Starr and Ulli Lommel
Featuring Suzanna Love, Ulli Lommel, Shannah Hall
Country: USA
What it is: Sequel

A woman who suffered possession by an evil mirror goes to stay with a friend in Hollywood who is married to a movie director. When she tells her story, the movie director is urged by various people to make a movie about it. But a shard of the mirror still exists…. and it doesn’t want a movie made about it.

To start with, I’m going to point out that a good fifty percent of this movie consists of footage from the original THE BOOGEYMAN. When this movie popped up on my list, I quickly found out that a DVD release of this movie was not to be trusted; apparently, it featured new footage of Ulli Lommel telling the police about the events in the first two movies, cuts twenty minutes of the new footage added for this sequel, and substitutes even more footage from the original movie. I therefore held off on trying to net the DVD version of this one, and opted for one of the original VHS recordings of the movie. Yet, I can’t help but feel a bit nagged by the sense that fighting for the integrity of seeing the original version of this sequel seemed something of a silly cause for me, especially as I have little love for the movie to which it is a sequel. Still, though I think this sequel comes across as cynically motivated, the DVD re-edit seems even more cynical.

Now, to the movie. If it has any advantage over the original movie, it’s that it’s a bit more coherent. But that’s only because the mirror seems to have an agenda in this one, where in the original, it just killed anyone around. On the other hand, the murders are sillier and even more poorly staged than in the original, the script is agonizingly bad, and the acting is phoned in; I’m not surprised that the writer was given no credit. I gave Ulli Lommel a co-directing credit above because IMDB did (with the comment that he was uncredited), though I don’t know if it was solely for the fact that half of the movie is from the original, which he did direct. The credited director is Bruce Starr, and it’s is sole directorial credit, and I assume that he’s responsible for the dreariness of the new scenes.

I’d dismiss the movie utterly if it weren’t for one thing; I’m a little intrigued that Lommel is playing a film director in this one who is ambivalent about selling out to do a horror film. If the trivia section in IMDB is true, Lommel could have had a bigger budget for this movie, but he didn’t want to work for a bigger studio and wanted to make it as an independent film, hence the re-used footage and the cost cutting. For some reason, this leaves me wondering just how much Lommel’s character was a reflection of what he was really thinking and feeling at the time. It’s all speculation, of course, but for me, that was easily the most interesting element in this otherwise worthless sequel.

Beatrice Fairfax Episode 11: The Wages of Sin (1916)

Article 3942 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-27-2012
Posting Date: 5-30-2012
Director unknown
Featuring Grace Darling, Harry Fox, Betty Howe
Country: USA
What it is: Episode of series of shorts

The daughter of a famous inventor, now deceased, has been tasked with destroying his final invention, a deadly weapon. But criminals are after the weapon, and have bribed the daughter’s boyfriend to help them. Can Beatrice Fairfax solve the daughter’s problem?

I’m not sure what criteria is used to separate serials from series of shorts (and I’ve encountered serials that don’t use the cliffhanger format, so that isn’t the only criteria), but IMDB does classify each Beatrice Fairfax episode as a separate movie rather than as episodes of a serial; that is why I only found it necessary to watch this single episode of the series. The series centers around an “advice to the lovelorn” columnist who will occasionally show up in person to help those who write her. I’m guessing that most of the episodes were mysteries of one sort or another. This one gets its fantastic content from two directions; the terrible weapon puts it in the realm of science fiction, albeit from a Gizmo Maguffin angle, and the story involves one character pretending to be a ghost, giving it a certain marginal horror atmosphere as well. Actually, I found this a fairly entertaining little short; it’s well-acted and has a fun sense of humor as well. I don’t know if I’ll be covering any others in this series, but if they’re all as good as this one, it would be a pleasure.

The Ballad of Tam Lin (1970)

aka Tam Lin
Article 3887 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-27-2012
Posting Date: 4-5-2012
Directed by Roddy McDowall
Featuring Ava Gardner, Ian McShane, Richard Wattis
Country: UK
What it is: Offbeat witchcraft movie

A rich older woman surrounds herself with young partiers, some of which she takes as lovers. When her latest conquest falls in love with a vicar’s daughter, she swears revenge. And all of the previous lovers who’ve left her wound up dead…

The last twenty minutes of this movie is fairly decent, and it generates a certain amount of suspense. However, to get to that last twenty minutes, you have to sit through almost an hour and a half of tepid romance/soap opera, and unless you find that sort of thing interesting in itself or are so taken with Ava Gardner’s beauty and/or acting (neither of which hold any particular spell over me) that her presence is all that’s necessary, then you might well find it to be a rather tough slog. It’s the sole directorial credit of actor Roddy McDowall, and despite my affection for him and his acting work, in this capacity he seems uninspired and ordinary. The story itself has a basis in an old Scottish ballad, which does give it an interesting history, and if I were familiar with the song, I might find the movie a little more interesting, but I think a good pruning of about a half an hour from the movie would have helped immensely; as it is, the decent ending doesn’t quite compensate for the long stretch at the beginning.

Brainwaves (1983)

Article 3871 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-11-2012
Posting Date: 3-20-2012
Directed by Ulli Lommel
Featuring Keir Dullea, Suzanna Love, Vera Miles
Country: USA
What it is: Science fiction crime thriller

A housewife suffers a brain injury in a car accident that leaves her in a coma with little chance of recovery. Her family agrees to an experimental procedure that reprograms the electrical impulses in her brain. Though the process works, there is a side effect; the person who posthumously provided the electrical impulses was in fact a murder victim… and the housewife is beginning to remember the victim’s final moments…

I’ve only seen two other of Ulli Lommel’s movies at this point – THE TENDERNESS OF THE WOLVES and THE BOOGEYMAN. Ulli Lommel’s reputation, as I’m given to understand, was that after the promising start of his first movie (WOLVES), he descended into an abyss of awfulness from which he never recovered, and certainly there was nothing in THE BOOGEYMAN to convince me that it wasn’t true. So I was expecting the worst going into this one, but, truth to tell, I didn’t find this one an atrocity; in fact, I found it rather engaging at some points. It’s certainly not a mess like THE BOOGEYMAN; the story is simple, concise and clear, the performances are solid, and the movie, though a bit slow-moving, doesn’t overstay its welcome. Granted, the story isn’t really that original, though in most of the other variations on the story, it’s usually some psychic power that makes someone privy to the dead person’s final moments, and it could be pointed out that this movie spends a lot of its running time getting to the point that a similar movie might reach in the first five minutes. There’s a few other script problems (including a rather useless twist ending), but I find it a definite step up after THE BOOGEYMAN. Still, a sort on Ulli Lommel’s directorial oeuvre by rating on IMDB puts this as his third best movie, and if it’s only okay, that doesn’t bode well for the rest of his work.

Boardinghouse (1982)

aka Housegeist
Article 3870 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-10-2012
Posting Date: 3-19-2012
Directed by John Wintergate
Featuring John Wintergate, Kalassu, Lindsay Freeman
Country: USA
What it is: A bloody mess

A playboy decides to rent out rooms in a house he owns to beautiful women so he can have his own harem. However, the house has an evil history, and people start dying once again…

I first became familiar with this movie via ads for it on several Paragon home video VHS packages, which make the movie look relentlessly bloody, but I suspect that the ad would be all that a gorehound might need, as I think it probably contains almost all the gore in the movie. Yeah, there’s some nudity for anyone looking for that sort of thing, too. But the movie as a whole is a train wreck; despite the fact that it has some interesting ideas (such as the fact that the gore attacks often involve telekinesis), most of the movie seems to be either written or edited at random, and though the movie does set up its premise and has a resolution, there’s an enormous black hole in the center full of pointless scenes, unpursued ideas, unnecessary characters, and filler. It also has a gimmick called Terrorvision; whenever you see a certain image or hear a certain sound, you can cover your eyes if you want to miss the gory parts; however, if you’ve seen the aforementioned ad, it’s already too late for that. All in all, it’s an awful movie, albeit one that did have the seeds of a much better movie contained within it.

The Bloodbath of Dr. Jekyll (1981)

aka Docteur Jekyll et les femmes, The Blood of Dr. Jekyll
Article 3869 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-9-2012
Posting Date: 3-18-2012
Directed by Walerian Borowczyk
Featuring Udo Kier, Marino Pierro, Patrick Magee
Country: France / West Germany
What it is: Jekyll and Hyde variation

Various people attend the engagement party of Dr. Henry Jekyll to Miss Fanny Osbourne, but the murder of a child in the streets is followed up by the deaths of the guests, one by one.

My only other encounter with Walerian Borowczyk so far has been with IMMORAL TALES, which, quite frankly, didn’t impress me as being anything more than a slightly pretentious experiment in softcore porn. This one I found more interesting. It reworks the Stevenson tale quite a bit, turning it somewhat into one of those “old dark house” movies where people get killed off one by one, and laces it with a certain eroticism. Though its weird, flowing cinematic style makes it a little difficult to follow at times, I think it actually does an interesting job of updating the story for more permissive times, and it actually has a enough real horror and shock to make it not seem like a literary adaptation, especially of a tale that has had as many adaptations as this one has. I’m certainly glad it’s not just the basic tale with a bunch of sex added, which, given my previous experience with the director, was what I was expecting; there is some sex in it, but it doesn’t seem gratuitous. At least this movie piques my interest in the director. The cast also features Howard Vernon as Dr. Lanyon.

Beyond the Universe (1981)

Article 3868 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-8-2012
Posting Date: 3-17-2012
Directed by Robert Emenegger
Featuring David Ladd, Jacqueline Ray, Christopher Cary
Country: USA
What it is: Science fiction drama

In the twentieth century, mankind is on the verge of dying off after two nuclear wars, and martial law is put into place. A scientist with a plan for saving humanity finds himself forced to work on a project to which he objects, but he has the help of a group of rebels who plan to help him carry out his own plan…

I recognized the names of director Robert Emenegger and producer Allan Sandler in the credits at once, and I discovered that I had already encountered them a few times in my cinematic journeys. I have yet to see a good movie from them, but I also have yet to see a worthless movie from them, either; as bad as they can be at times, they also make movies that are not obvious rehashes of better known movies and there are occasionally interesting ideas in them. This one starts out like a typical dystopian movie before subtly adding some elements that remind me of STAR WARS, but it ends like something from 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, and even if that makes the movie sound like a real hodgepodge, it nonetheless feels organically whole, if not competently acted or directed. So maybe it was no surprise I kept thinking of Kilgore Trout while watching this movie; he’s the fictional science fiction writer from the works of Kurt Vonnegut who, despite being a bad writer, has fans because he has such interesting ideas. Maybe that’s why there are certain bad directors we love; they sometimes give us something that nobody else really gives us, which may explain why people like Andy Milligan have staunch defenders. No, I can’t recommend this movie, but if you do watch it, I don’t think it will be a total waste of time.