Monday, 23 December 2013

Frankenstein Unbound

"Frankenstein Unbound" (1990, Roger Corman, A Mount Company Production, 20th Century Fox) is loosely based on a novel by Brian Aldiss.

It's 2031 and Dr. Buchanan (John Hurt) has developed an Über-weapon. Unfortunately, it seems that this weapon has created a rift in time and space. He and his Artificially Intelligent car are accidentally sent back to 1817 Switzerland where he encounters Dr. Victor Frankenstein (Raúl Juliá) who has just created his monster (Nick Brimble), and Mary Shelley (Bridget Fonda) who has not yet written her soon-to-be-famous book.

An interesting premise with a good cast, the film suffers from some odd acting by Brimble as the monster and a fairly confusing end fight scene.

The styling of the monster and his eventual bride (Catherine Rabett) is garish and odd, but well put together. I don't understand the hands or stitched together eyes though.

Hurt maintains his usual charm throughout the film, holding it together.

While Corman has made some infamously bad films in his time, this one is truly one I won't sit through again. Weird but not scary, goofy but not funny. It's an odd one to say the least!

[Image: 20th Century Fox]

The Pit and The Pendulum

"The Pit and The Pendulum" (1961, Roger Corman, American International Pictures) is one of my favourite Vincent Price films and is based on the short story by Edgar Allen Poe.

It's 16th century Spain and a young man, Francis Barnard (John Kerr), has travelled from England to the castle where his recently deceased sister, Elizabeth (Barbara Steele), lived with her nobleman husband, Nicholas Medina (Vincent Price). He is greeted with suspicion by the butler and urged to leave, but upon meeting Nicholas' sister Catherine (Luana Anders) he is permitted entrance to the castle.

He is at first told that Elizabeth died of an unexplained heart complication, however, as the story progresses more details of Elizabeth's sticky end are revealed. It is upon the discovery of Nicholas' father's torture chamber that the final ghastly details are slipped and we begin to find that Nicholas is becoming severely unhinged with guilt and fear. Under the guidance of his physician, Dr. Leon (Antony Carbone), Nicholas exhumes the body of Elizabeth to find that his worst fear is apparently true; she was buried alive!

Believing that he is being haunted by the vengeful spirit of Elizabeth, Nicholas slips into insanity,  rampaging terribly and using his father's torturous devices. However, all may not be as it seems...

A riveting tale and one of my favourite performances from Price as the tortured but twisted Medina. An atmosphere from the sparse, classic surroundings really lends itself to the film and the haunting ending really works.
[Image: American International Pictures]

Saint Nick

"Saint Nick" aka "Sint" (2010, Dick Maas, A-Film) is a Christmas horror film from The Netherlands about Saint Nick (or Sinterklaas in Dutch), who, the film's urban legend has it, will kidnap and kill children if there's a full moon on December 5th (the traditional present-giving day in Holland).

Sinterklaas rides a white steed, has Spanish servants known as Black Petes (or Zwarte Pieten) and arrives traditionally to Amsterdam by boat.

In "Sint" Sinterklaas (Huub Stapel) returns on the full moon as a murderous ghost-zombie, flanked by his violent Black Petes and mounted upon his angry zombie stallion. He's also keen on riding over rooftops and enjoys taking out police boats with his swift-moving ghost ship.

A fun film, with lots of gore and filthy jokes and a wonderful high speed car/horse chase. "Sint" doesn't pretend to be anything it's not and doesn't have an overly complicated plot. While Evil Santa isn't a brand new concept, "Sint" has a wonderfully different spin on it and will keep you entertained.

[Image: A-Film]

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Frankenstein (1931)

"Frankenstein" (1931, Universal Pictures, James Whale, Carl Laemmle, Jr.) is the iconic classic starring Boris Karloff in his most famous (and career making) role.

Based on the story by Mary Shelley, Dr. Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) and his hunchbacked assistant, Fritz (Dwight Frye) build a man from the body parts of corpses and bring it to life using Galvanisation with electricity. The poor creature, who is not the villain of the piece really, goes on a rampage and incurs the wrath of the townspeople.

Henry's fiancé, Elizabeth (Mae Clarke), his best friend Victor (John Boles) and his old teacher, Dr. Waldman (Edward Van Sloan) attempt to help make things right before the monster goes too far.

A truly awe-inspiring piece, the famous appearance of the monster character is still striking to this day. The film itself is fun as well as pretty, with some really humorous scenes involving Henry's father, Baron Frankenstein (Frederick Kerr), and a plot which moves forward. The full film is only 71 minutes long but manages to fit a lot of lovely creepy scenes, German folk dancing and an angry mob vs monster battle in there!

Despite not being a gory film, it remains a steadfast piece of cinema history and a thrilling and atmospheric horror. Seeing it in the cinema today was a real experience!

[Image: Universal Pictures]

Monday, 2 December 2013


"V/H/S/2" (2013, Simon Barrett, Adam Wingard, Eduardo Sánchez, Gregg Hale, Timo Tjahjanto, Gareth Huw Evans & Jason Eisener, The Collective, Haxan Films, Magnet Releasing) is the sequel to the 2012 found footage film.

Similar to its predecessor, the film is an anthology of short horrors, all found footage, encased within one wrap-around horror story, which is also found footage. Whilst following the same equation, it manages to separate itself from the original.

As in most anthologies, and the original film, some of the stories are hit and miss, and some of the effect qualities vary from pretty schlocky to 'oooh, that was gross'. But on the whole, I really enjoyed this one over its predecessor and thought it held together much better as a film.

I'm not a fan of found footage at the best of times, finding it more likely to give me a migraine that the chills, but V/H/S/2 does well in the format. Some of the 'shorts' could have been doing with being a little shorter though, as they began to get a bit monotonous and Go Pro cameras will probably enjoy all this advertising.

[Image: Magnet Releasing]

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Santa's Slay

"Santa's Slay" (2005, David Steiman, VIP Medienfonds 1, Media 8 Entertainment) is the horror comedy starring Bill Goldberg of WWE wrestling as Santa; the illegitimate son of Satan.

It seems Santa lost a bet and all this present-giving lark has been his punishment for the past few hundred years. But in 2005 it ended. So good ol' Saint Nick goes on a murder spree. Unfortunately for him, NicolasYuleson (Douglas Smith), Mary (Emilie de Ravin) and Nick's grandpa (Robert Culp) are out to put an end to his reign of terror...

A film that is precisely as bad as it sounds. It feels like it's purposefully trying to be bad as a nod to B-movies in general, but unfortunately just comes off as actually bad.

Some of the scenes are funny in their comic gore (the opener for instance, with James Caan is entertaining), and to give Goldberg his due, he is the best part of the film as psychotic Santa, but the thrill wears off quickly and the film is too long, too drawn out and too stupid without enough fun to save it from bargain bin badness.

Just another hammy holiday themed slaughter.

[Image: Media 8 Entertainment]