The Craving (1980)

THE CRAVING (1980)
Article 1822 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-11-2006
Posting Date: 8-8-2006
Directed by Jacinto Molina
Featuring Jacinto Molina, Silvia Aguilar, Azucena Hernandez

Countess Bathory and her werewolf assistant Waldemar Daminsky are revived in the twentieth century.

Yes, it’s another Paul Naschy film, and either the eighth or ninth of his Waldemar Daminsky series (depending on whether you think the 1968 NIGHT OF THE WOLFMAN was actually made or not), though it’s only the second of that series that I’ve covered. Once again, some horrendous dubbing gets in the way of giving the movie a fair shake, though I do think it is much better than FURY OF THE WOLFMAN . At this point, I’m not sure how interrelated all the movies in this series are; this one certainly doesn’t appear to be related to FOTW. Naschy had what was no doubt a sympathetic director for this one – himself. In truth, he’s one of the better directors he’s worked with, though. The story is fairly straightforward, if somewhat repetitive. Still, I have to make a few observations. One is that vampiresses really need handkerchiefs; Countess Bathory seems to always have a trickle of blood running down the left edge of her mouth; I mean, would it really kill her to wipe it off? Also, this movie gives us a new way to kill a vampiress; have her throat torn out by a werewolf. Now, if only the werewolf had torn out the throat of whoever it was who added that horrendous early eighties rock music that plays over the title and end credits, I’d be really happy. And one final note about bad dubbing; throwing in really bad cussing only makes it worse (though I do admit that one line involving garlic was rather amusing).

The Curse of the Living Corpse (1964)

THE CURSE OF THE LIVING CORPSE (1964)
Article 1797 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-14-2006
Posting Date: 7-14-2006
Directed by Del Tenney
Featuring Helen Warren, Roy Scheider, Margot Hartman

When a man with a dread fear of being buried alive dies, his relatives gather at his estate. It is then discovered that he left instructions in his will for each heir outlining several tasks to be performed by each one, all of which are then neglected. Each heir begins to die one by one.

For what it’s worth, this is Del Tenney’s best feature film; it’s certainly the most professional looking as well. In fact, it looks like it’s going to be pretty good at first; then one of the actors begins to speak and the illusion is shattered. Basically, it’s a cross between THE PREMATURE BURIAL and the whole “Old Dark House” genre, with a skulking figure in black, secret passages, villains watching people through the eyes of paintings, etc. It does get a little more outdoor action than most of those movies ususally do. The movie is so bluntly contrived at times that it’s amusing on this level alone; each heir has a task that they fail to perform, and each heir has a special fear that the villain uses as a means of disposing of them, and one can almost see the the boxes on a checklist being marked off.

One thing that did strike me is how old-fashioned the movie was in some ways, while being quite modern in others. The gore and sex aspects of the movie were certainly up-to-date in 1964, but the skulking cloaked figure, the whole “old dark house” plot, and the comic relief all seem to belong to another era. In particular, the comic relief characters feel like throwbacks to the thirties. This aspect would also pop up in Tenney’s HORROR OF PARTY BEACH; remember Eulabelle the maid? The movie also features the only other movie appearance of Candace Hilligoss (from CARNIVAL OF SOULS ), and the feature film debut of Roy Scheider, and I found it rather strange to hear him spouting some of the heightened, flowery dialogue he was given as I’m so used to seeing him work in a much more realistic mode; nonetheless, he gives perhaps the best performance in the movie.

Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970)

COLOSSUS: THE FORBIN PROJECT (1970)
Article 1796 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-13-2006
Posting Date: 7-13-2006
Directed by Joseph Sargent
Featuring Eric Braeden, Susan Clark, Gordon Pinsent

A giant super-computer built for the defense of the United States hooks up to a similar computer in the Soviet Union. They combine forces to place mankind under their control.

This is perhaps the best of the evil supercomputer movies I’ve seen so far. It’s certainly one of the most intelligent, but I think that its best quality may be that it is so sneaky. In some ways, Colossus doesn’t seem quite as big a threat as he is; certainly, he is underestimated by everyone, including his creator, and it is this failure to take proper measure of its foe that spells disaster for mankind. There are a number of interesting points to the movie. I think it is significant that the computers in this movie were designed for defense, because one of the ironies is that a machine designed to release us from fear ends up being a thing to be feared itself. I like some of the other touches, such as the fact that in dealing with the Russians, the movie decides to have interpreters present rather than having everyone speak English. For me, the movie’s most chilling moment when the computer announces the execution of two programmers followed immediately by the next move in a chess game he is playing with his creator. I don’t recognize most of the cast members, but William Schallert is instantly recognizable, and it is interesting to note that both Robert Cornthwaite and Paul Frees (as the voice of Colossus) appeared together in that earlier science fiction classic, THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD .

Count Dracula’s Great Love (1972)

COUNT DRACULA’S GREAT LOVE (1972)
aka Dracula’s Great Love, El Gran amor del conde Dracula
Article 1794 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-11-2006
Posting Date: 7-11-2006
Directed by Javier Aguirre
Featuring Jacinto Molina (Paul Naschy), Haydee Politoff, Rosanna Yanni

Several travelers find themselves stranded at the castle of Count Dracula, and soon, people are being attacked by vampires….

Yes, it’s another Paul Naschy film. It’s not as good as INQUISITION , but it’s worlds better than FURY OF THE WOLFMAN ; even in its badly dubbed state, it’s easier to follow. It’s heavy on the exploitation; there are lots of heaving bosoms, draped and undraped, and one could argue that their regular day attire for the females in the cast were a lot more revealing than their nighties. Somebody once pointed out to me that, in a Paul Naschy film, all the women have the hots for him, and certainly, there’s two of them here. My own observation is that Naschy seems to have the desire to play both the monster and the hero in his movies. This, of course, explains why El Hombre Lobo was his favorite character; he could make his human form the hero, and on nights of the full moon he’d be the monster. But how do you handle that in a vampire movie? After all, Dracula himself is the monster, and the hero is the person who would stake Dracula and kill the other vampires. So how does Naschy manage that? Don’t worry; he does.

Crimes of the Future (1970)

CRIMES OF THE FUTURE (1970)
Article #1753 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-1-2006
Posting Date: 5-31-2006
Directed by David Cronenberg
Featuring Ronald Mlodzik, Jon Lidolt, Tnai Zolty

In the future when a disease is killing off women who have reached puberty, a researcher who moves from occupation to occupation finds himself haunted by the memory of his former mentor, for whom the disease is named.

Heaven only knows what I would have thought of this bizarre art film if David Cronenberg were not now a well-known director whose various areas of obsession and interest were not well-documented. I think it would have been tempting to dismiss the film in that case, but there’s no doubt that it’s a lot more fascinating precisely because one sees so much of the thematic interests of later Cronenberg in the movie. It might take a few viewings to figure out the details of the storyline, though it is obvious that there is a unity holding it all together. The bio for Cronenberg on the DVD of this movie claims that he is trying to find the right balance between the intellectual and the visceral in his movies, and that certainly applies here; it is interesting to work out the details, while at the same time, I do find myself somewhat repelled by some of the subject matter, in particular the theme of pedophilia that pops up in the second half of the movie. According to the bio, Cronenberg himself saw that this type of art film led him to a creative dead end; he would eventually turn to the horror genre to help him flesh out his visions.

Corruption (1967)

CORRUPTION (1967)
(a.k.a. LASER KILLER)
Article #1752 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-31-2005
Posting Date: 5-30-2006
Directed by Robert Hartford-Davis
Featuring Peter Cushing, Sue Lloyd, Noel Trevarthen

When an accident scars the face of his fiancee, a noted doctor develops a way to restore her beauty with the help of the pituitary gland. However, the solution is only temporary, and the doctor takes to murder to get the needed glands.

I first became aware of this movie’s existence with the still picture in the Psychotronic Movie guide of Peter Cushing slicing up a topless woman; the scene from which this still comes was changed for release in this country to one in which the woman was clothed. My version of the movie features both versions in succession; the clothed one first and the topless one second. This gave me an opportunity to compare the two, and I’d have to say I opt for the clothed version. This isn’t so much because of my distrust for bald exploitation, but rather because the topless scene cuts out a key moment for Cushing’s character in which he works up the nerve to actually commit the murder.

This brings me to a question I had about the movie; it always struck me that the title was an odd choice for a horror movie, as I associate the term more with political intrigue rather than horror. Actually, the title was quite appropriate; though the movie has the basic hackneyed plot of a scientist killing women to recover the beauty of a loved one, it shows a much greater concern for the internal struggle of the doctor than these movies usually bother with. The movie explores the steps by which a respected doctor turns to murder and mutilation, which explains why an actor of the calibre of Cushing was necessary. It also explains why that missing moment in the above footage was essential, and why I miss it in the topless footage.

This intriguing approach does help the movie work for the most part; I found myself a lot more interested than I though I would be. Still, the movie fumbles the ball during the last fifteen minutes when a gang of sleazy robbers invade Cushing’s country home, an event which leads to a destructive sequence captured in the movie’s alternate title (LASER KILLER). This sequence wouldn’t be bad if it didn’t take the focus away from Cushing’s character changes, but that’s exactly what it does. And don’t get me started on the last two minutes of the movie, a winner of the DS Rubber Brick award if ever there was one.

The Child (1977)

THE CHILD (1977)
Article #1750 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-29-2005
Posting Date: 5-28-2006
Directed by Robert Voskanian
Featuring Laurel Barnett, Rosalie Cole, Frank Janson

A woman takes on the job of housekeeper for a family which has recently suffered the loss of the mother. She discovers that the daughter blames the other members of the family for her mother’s death, and that she has strange powers to seek vengeance.

John Stanley’s guide describes the movie as an EXORCIST rip-off, but I don’t really see it. A better description is the one on the back of the DVD package, which describes it as a cross between CARRIE and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD by way of THE BAD SEED, and I think that pretty much captures it. The child has the ability to make scarecrows walk and to resurrect flesh-eating zombies. The movie is cheap and badly-paced, but since it was doing a fair job of creating an eerie atmosphere of dread, I found myself setting aside these flaws and enjoying it. Nonetheless, the movie alienated me in the final reel, when the heroine goes into one of those horror-movie performances that annoys and infuriates me. You know the type; she spends the last twenty minutes of the movie in a non-stop display of screaming, shrieking, crying, mewling and moaning, being almost totally useless when it comes to doing anything useful, and places her hands over her ears (probably to drown out the annoying sound of her screaming, shrieking, crying, mewling and moaning). Yes, I know this is supposed to express sheer traumatizing horror, but anytime it goes on for more than a minute, it outstays its welcome and loses its effectiveness. However, the very ending did prove to be a bit of a surprise. Nonetheless, I’m not surprised that this is Robert Voskanian’s sole directorial credit.