Exorcism at Midnight (1966)

EXORCISM AT MIDNIGHT (1966)
aka Naked Evil
Article 2618 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 6-5-2008
Posting Date: 10-13-2008
Directed by Stanley Goulder
Featuring Basil Dignam, Anthony Ainley, Suzanne Neve
Country: UK

An Obeah-man is terrorizing students and staff at a hostel.

So, it’s 1973, and you want to cash in on THE EXORCIST, and you found a 1966 British movie that features an exorcism at one point in the proceedings. There’s only one problem; the movie you found is in black-and-white, which means that it probably won’t go over very well to an audience expecting color. So, what do you do? You take a tip from Al Adamson, who did the same thing when he edited footage from a black-and-white movie into VAMPIRE MEN OF THE LOST PLANET; you invent a process called “Spectrum X”, and you tint all the black-and-white scenes various colors. Then, you shoot extra color footage to bookend the old footage. With this kind of history, you can understand why I went into this one with the idea that I was about to see a stinker of the first order. Well, it’s nowhere near that bad. Oh, the movie is muddled enough, but the presence of several Jamaican characters and the presentation of the details of Jamaican voodoo (called Obeah) give the movie a unique flavor and an undeniable atmosphere, even seen through the tinting. The new footage doesn’t really add anything to the proceedings, but it’s competently acted and not an embarrassment. It’s also strangely old-fashioned; despite the drug and exorcism subplots, it sometimes feels a bit like an old dark house mystery, and I ended up not being surprised that the movie was based on a stage play. Still, I should point out that, given that this is the second movie in a row in which the alternate title includes the word “naked”, that this one has no nudity whatsoever.

 

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Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals (1977)

EMANUELLE AND THE LAST CANNIBALS (1977)
aka Trap Them and Kill Them, Emanuelle e gli ultimi cannibali
Article 2608 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-26-2008
Posting Date: 10-3-2008
Directed by Joe D’Amato
Featuring Laura Gemser, Gabriele Tinti, Nieves Navarro
Country: Italy

When Emanuelle uncovers a case of cannibalism in an insane asylum, she follows the trail to a tribe of cannibals who live along the Amazon that were believed to have been extinct.

Hey, you’ve got you’re soft-core porn in my gross-out cannibal movie! Hey, you’ve got your gross-out cannibal movie in my soft-core porn! Two items of questionable taste that are even more questionable put together. I’m going to point out to begin with that I’m not interested in reviewing porn and am only covering movies of this sort for the sake of completeness, and that my taste in horror doesn’t run into the “gross-out-show-all-the-guts” category, as I much prefer subtler forms of scaring. Therefore, unless this movie adds something else to the mix that lifts it up out of its chosen subgenres, I have little use for it. Well, it doesn’t; the plot is cursory, the acting is weak, and it’s pretty much exactly the movie I thought it would be. This is for those who like their exploitation movies mixed.

 

The Enchanted Cottage (1924)

THE ENCHANTED COTTAGE (1924)
Article 2575 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-23-2008
Posting Date: 8-31-2008
Directed by John S. Robertson
Featuring Richard Barthelmess, May McAvoy, Ida Waterman
Country: USA

A young man whose body was twisted in the war isolates himself in a cottage. When an intrusive aunt threatens to move in with him, he marries an ugly girl to keep her away. The girl, unhappy because of her looks, nevertheless begins to love the man. Then, one day, they both see each other as transformed into beautiful people. But did it really happen, or was it just an illusion…?

As happy as I was to finally net a copy of this rare silent feature, I have to admit I was less than thrilled at the prospect of having to actually watch it; the 1945 remake always seemed phony and forced to me, and I didn’t expect that this one would be much better. On viewing it, though, I must admit that this one works much better. The story is more streamlined and less cluttered, so we remain focused on the characters, their situation, and, most of all, the extreme importance of the situation to them. Certain characters in the remake that came across as cloying and overly symbolic here have the breath of humanity, especially that of the blind man befriended by the couple. The fantastic content seems to be more prominent as well; we see the various couples who previously spent their honeymoons in the cottage as ghosts wandering the premises. Best of all, this version of the story doesn’t overplay its hand, and allows you to feel the emotions without trying to blatantly manipulate you every step of the way. As a result, I found myself actually moved by this one, and caught up in the lives of the characters.

So, if I ever want to see this story again, you can guess which version I’ll opt for, don’t you?

 

Exorcism’s Daughter (1971)

EXORCISM’S DAUGHTER (1971)
aka House of Insane Women, Las Melancolicas
Article 2563 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-11-2008
Posting Date: 8-19-2008
Directed by Rafael Moreno Alba
Featuring Analie Gade, Francisco Rabal, Espartaco Santoni
Country: Spain

A doctor joins the staff of a women’s insane asylum armed with new liberal methods of treating the residents. He tries to help one young woman of the asylum, but encounters resistance from the townspeople who think his use of hypnotism makes him a witch.

As a horror movie, this is a washout; the title has very little to do with the story and was probably slapped on after THE EXORCIST proved such a hit; this is, in fact, a drama rather than a horror movie. As a drama, it is little better; the characters aren’t particularly well-developed, and the story is weak. As a piece of exploitation, you’re best off fast forwarding to the orgy sequence, and then you can skip the rest of the movie. As a political statement, it’s pretty obvious; if even I notice the political themes (and I’m not particularly keen on looking for them), then you know the movie isn’t being subtle about them. On the whole, the movie is no fun, not very exciting, and a downer. It’s not really much in the way of bad movie fun, either; it’s competently done, and even fairly well dubbed; it’s just dull. I only recommend this one to those of you who still think it sounds enticing after reading this review.

 

Eaten Alive (1977)

EATEN ALIVE (1977)
Article 2562 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-10-2008
Posting Date: 8-18-2008
Directed by Tobe Hooper
Featuring Neville Brand, Mel Ferrer, Carolyn Jones
Country: USA

A psychotic backwoods hotel owner kills his customers with a scythe and feeds them to a crocodile he keeps in his back yard.

I wonder what it must have been like for TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE director Tobe Hooper to realize that he had to come up with a follow-up to his legendary horror movie and the expectations that would go with it. This, the result, is a mixed bag at best. On the plus side, Neville Brand definitely gives a memorable performance as a psycho who lives so much in his own head that he is damn near incoherent. Hooper also makes effective use of music and sound on occasion; I’m particularly impressed by the scene where Brand’s character finds himself assaulted by the sounds of the woman he’s got tied upstairs trying to escape, the sounds of the intrusive couple having sex in the next room, and the sound of the little girl crying under the hotel, which he tries to fight by turning up a country music station to top volume. The creepy, dingy, grungy look of the area is also a plus. Unfortunately, the script is a real mess; its lack of focus keeps the horror from building up to any real effective head of steam, and, despite all the grisly nastiness of the story, it’s easy to walk away from, which is something you can’t say about TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. And because it never really grips you in the same way as that movie, you also end up realizing that the premise is more than a little bit silly. The movie is also muddied up by unnecessary subplots and scenes, and too many other characters who are perilously close to psychotic; the little girl’s father and the strange guy at the bar end up as major distractions. It is interesting to see one of Robert Englund’s early film roles, though. The movie isn’t awful; it’s just a mess that had the potential to be a lot better.

 

Exo-Man (1977)

EXO-MAN (1977)
TV-Movie
Article 2497 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-4-2008
Posting Date: 6-13-2008
Directed by Richard Irving
Featuring David Ackroyd, Anne Schedeen, A. Martinez
Country: USA

A college physics professor becomes the main witness in an armed bank robbery attempt, and a hit man is sent out to kill him to prevent him from testifying. The murder attempt only manages to paralyze the professor. The professor then builds a suit that will allow him to walk and defeat the villains.

I smell failed TV-Pilot here. The story is from Martin Caidin, who was also responsible for the story that spawned into “The Six-Million Dollar Man” and the other bionic TV series. This one looks as if it’s hoping lightning will strike again. Unfortunately, the TV-Movie gets too mired in the “mythic origins” part of the story; it takes forever to get to the creation of Exo-Man, and much of the movie focuses on the professor’s various relationships and his dour mood after he becomes paralyzed. Sadly, the thing doesn’t improve much when Exo-man swings – er, let me rephrase that – plods into action. Sure, it’s impressive that the outfit is bulletproof and can walk through electrical fences, but he looks like a cheap robot, and he moves with the speed of Kharis the mummy, and most of the bad guys who die in his wake do so by their own stupid actions rather than any heroic action on Exo-man’s part. Had the movie become a TV series, the best thing about it would have been Harry Morgan’s character as head of a covert law-fighting organization. At least Steve Austin could run fast.

 

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask (1972)

EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SEX * BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK (1972)
Article 2475 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-11-2008
Posting Date: 5-22-2008
Directed by Woody Allen
Featuring Woody Allen, John Carradine, Lou Jacobi
Country: USA

Several stories are presented based on concepts on David Reuben’s book about sex.

Three of the seven segments of this anthology movie have fantastic content; the first one, in which a court jester attempts to seduce a queen, features a ghost and a love potion; the sixth one, in which a mad scientist performing horrible experiments with sex unleashes a giant breast loose on the world, and the final one, in which the workings of a brain during a sexual encounter are portrayed as a science fiction epic. The movie is amusing enough, but I think it gets its biggest laughs when Woody Allen nails the correct styles for the genre takes on the various episodes; in particular, the third episode (which parodies Italian movies, complete with subtitling), the fifth episode (a parody of a TV game show) and the sixth episode (horror movie parody with John Carradine exceedingly well cast as a mad scientist) work the best. The other episodes have moments as well; Gene Wilder and Lou Jacobi both give great performances as, respectively, a doctor in love with a sheep and a transvestite. After this movie, Woody Allen would take another shot at science fiction with SLEEPER.