Time to clear out 7 more titles that have yet to be opened from the Scream Factory shelf. As always I try to vary the era and subject material even if we are primarily in the horror field for October. Add in my disclaimer…I’ve no intention of reviewing the disc releases themselves but rather shine the spotlight on some titles that suit the season with some recollections and or brief comments …. I had originally intended to watch one Scream Factory title a day for the month which is sadly going on pause for a week as I need to make an unexpected trip three provinces over to Nova Scotia. Might have to skip week 3. On to this week’s selections.
Fear In the Night (1972) This seventies Hammer title harkens back to the early 1960’s when the studio was putting out a series of psychological thrillers like Paranoiac and Scream of Fear. Like those earlier films this one was also written by Jimmy Sangster who actually doubled as director this time out. Newlyweds Judy Geeson and Ralph Bates take up residence in a country school for boys in the offseason. It seems Judy has just gotten over a mental breakdown and her recovery is being challenged by a mysterious one armed man has been trying to kill her. Is it all in her mind? Perhaps. Then again there’s Peter Cushing as the one armed headmaster at the school. Not to mention his less than friendly wife played by Joan Collins. A decent Hammer outing that used to play television quite often when I was a kid and truthfully I appreciate the film more now than I did then. Much of that has to do with the fact that the film had less of Peter than did the other Hammer tales of Gothic and Horror. As always he’s a pleasure to watch and full marks to Judy who comes off as truly terrified at various points in the film.
Invaders From Mars (1986) Tobe Hooper continued has relationship with Cannon Films following the release of 1985’s Lifeforce with this disappointing remake of the same titled 1953 sci-fi thriller. It’s the story of a kid who is convinced aliens have landed just over the hill from his backyard and have somehow taken over the population of his town by injecting a needle into the back of people’s necks in order to control them. Playing the 11 year old is Hunter Carson who will turn to his real life Mom, Karen Black, for help in convincing the local military that aliens are in the verge of taking over our planet. Not much else to tell aside from Louise Fletcher as the boy’s school teacher/villain who has been taken over by the alien force and James Karen as the leader of the local military turning up for the carnage. My opinion on the film hasn’t really changed after many years between viewings. It can’t decide if it’s meant for children or adults and I don’t think it really works for either age group. I want to like it but thanks to a very shaky script, characters I have no feeling for and some shoddy F/X I just can’t. For the record, Hooper’s next film for Cannon was a sequel to his claim to fame, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2.
The Night of the Werewolf (1980) Another of the Waldemar Daninsky thrillers featuring Spain’s Paul Naschy as the tormented werewolf. Buckets of blood, zombies, eerie fog shrouded shots of fanged vampire women and the required female nudity surround Naschy who also wrote and directed this his 8th outing as the tortured Daninsky. The film begins with a prologue where he’s put to death with a silver dagger as is his mistress the Countess Elizabeth Bathory for her own bloodlust in the dark ages. Fast forward to the present. Grave robbers remove the silver dagger just as a female archaeologist succeeds in finding the tomb of the Countess and reviving her in a very bloody ritual. Old fashioned horror story updated for the drive-in crowd of the 70’s with plenty of flesh and blood. Stylish series entry and worthy of repeated viewings for those of us who like to wallow in these Euro horror flicks of the era. All that’s missing is sexy genre favorite Rosalba Neri.
New to blu ray, Scream Factory has allowed me to upgrade this English thriller from a long-ago DVD release. I had featured the film Blood of the Vampire (1958) a few years ago beginning with ….. Sounds like a Hammer Film. Looks like a Hammer Film. Written by one of Hammer’s most notable writers, Jimmy Sangster. What does all this add up to? A non-Hammer title that could easily fool the unsuspecting if we splashed a Hammer Films Production title card into the opening credits. For more click here to read my thoughts on this colorful thriller.
This horror/sci-fi/soft core porn of the seventies might be the perfect drive-in flick of the era. Tough guy William Smith and Hammer babe Victoria Vetri star in this tale of a Queen Bee played by Anitra Ford who is literally killing middle aged men via sexual intercourse and indoctrinating their widows into her personal hive of Bee Girls. They mate and they kill. For every male on the planet who has said he’d like to go out on a high during passionate sex, this is the retro film you need to check out. It’s also the first film credited to screenwriter Nicholas Meyer who went on to write and direct a number of superior films including Time After Time (1979) and Star Trek 2, 4 and 6 of the original series. You know, the good ones.
The Spell (1977) was one of the many telefilms that played regularly as the movie of the week on network television during that decade. Some are quite memorable. Look no further than Darren McGavin’s The Night Stalker (1971). Others like this Carrie wannabe are a mixed bag. The well-known Lee Grant and James Olson are parents to two daughters. A very young Helen Hunt and Susan Myers. It’s Myers who is teased and disliked by her sister, father and girls at school. Little do they know she’s in league with witchcraft and is capable of casting spells on her enemies which can lead to serious harm and even death. Far from memorable I’d probably have fond recollections of the film had I seen it as a kid of the 70’s but I missed it along the way. Seeing it now my main interest would be actress Lee Grant who was very busy during this era in films like Voyage of the Damned, Damien Omen II, Airport ’77 and The Swarm. A fine actress who often manages to steal the thunder from those around her.
I’d gamble that the idea for 1984’s Ghost Warrior came about thanks to another 1984 film, Iceman. In that film from Universal Studios a century’s old caveman (John Lone) is found entombed in ice whereas in this Empire Pictures release it’s a 16th century Samurai warrior played by Hiroshi Fujioka. I enjoyed the film even if it’s an “A” idea filmed on a “B” budget via producer Charles Band who is well known amongst cult fans for flicks like Laserblast, The Dungeonmaster and the Puppet Master series. The film begins in the past showing us the fate of Fujioka’s warrior and how he is revived in modern times essentially becoming a very dangerous fish out of water thanks to the return of his swords and knives that were found alongside him in his icy tomb. Plenty of action ensues when our warrior runs afoul of a street gang and those in the lab looking to silence him permanently. Best scene in the film? Probably when a couple of diners believe they’ve just seen Toshiro Mifune.
Again, I’ll be back with more titles before the end of the month …..
Cool editions there Mike, not the biggest fan of the Scream Factory line myself, but they do a lot of cool stuff for the Horror buffs out there.
Plenty to choose from and I do like the fact that they cover a wide range in release dates from 30’s to recent fare.
Another great selection. Invasion of the Bee Girls turns up regularly on one of the channels. Fear in the Night excellent and under-rated. Night of the Werewolf a must. Plenty others to get my teeth into. Keep them coming.
Fear is an underrated later day effort from Hammer and yes this Naschy effort is definite must for the season.
Ah yes…Invasion of the Bee Girls. Funny how that Blu-ray cover makes it look like some kind of Bond-like adventure thriller. And I agree with your assessment of ‘Invaders from Mars’; I saw it for the first time a short while ago, and was not impressed, even in a so-bad-it’s-good kind of way. And what? No Rosalba Neri in ‘Night of the Werewolf’? I’ll pass!
Can’t always have Rosa in those euro thrillers but she does add a certain “something” to those she appeared in.