Archive for I Saw What You Did

DAY TWO of The William Castle Blogathon & The Women of Castle

Posted in movies, USA, William Castle Blogathon with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 30, 2013 by goregirl

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Welcome to day two of The William Castle Blogathon! Today I have The Women of Castle for you, but first let’s check to see what other Castle goodness our contributors have in store for us…

Silver Scenes have harnessed the awesome power of Emergo to bring you their fabulous features The Films of William Castle AND Busy Bodies: Promoting Castle’s Camp.
13 Ghosts

“Innocence stands face to face with terror!” “She sees too much! She knows too much!” Read Mondo Heather’s review of 13 Frightened Girls! (1963) & her Bio on William Castle!

“Terror Over Texas!” Speakeasy has a review for William Castle’s 1956 film The Houston Story.

Go check out The Last Drive In’s feature William Castle’s Villains and Victims In wondrous Scream-O Vision! PLUS! EVEN more awesomely, spectacular, superterrific William Castle contributions!!


My focus for The William Castle Blogathon was his “horror years” which began with Macabre in 1958. Between 1958 and 1974 Castle made 17 films. While there were a few exceptions like The Busy Body which was a comedy and Project X which was science fiction the majority of these titles were horror, or at least had enough horror elements to squeeze it into the genre. I have stayed within the horror years for all of my features but I did make one exception for The Women of Castle. The one and only film I visited that was outside of my focus was It’s a Small World. I was so impressed with Lorraine Miller’s performance in It’s a Small World I had to include her on my list. Below are six women from William Castle films that I felt gave particularly memorable and outstanding performances.

JOAN MARSHALL (as Jean Arless) in Homicidal

Joan Marshall was born in Chicago in 1931. Marshall started out as a Showgirl at Chicago’s Chez Paree and was soon appearing in Las Vegas productions. In Vegas she met her first husband whom she had two children with. They moved to California where Joan got work on television shows like Bold Venture and The Red Skelton Show. She was also cast as Phoebe Munster in the original pilot for The Munsters but was replaced by Yvonne De Carlo.
Joan Marshall in The Munsters as Phoebe MunsterMarshall was in just a handful of feature films. Among these films was William Castle’s Homicidal (1961). Joan chose to use the pseudonym Jean Arless allegedly so she could make it disappear from her resume. Joan co-wrote TV sitcom scripts with her childhood friend Dirk Wayne Summers and married director Hal Ashby (Harold and Maude, The Last Detail, Being There). Ashby’s film Shampoo is based on Joan’s life. Joan and Hal stayed married until his death in 1988. Joan married Mel Bartfield in 1989 and eventually moved to Jamaica where she died in 1992 at the age of 61. It seems a shame that Joan Marshall wasn’t in more feature films. There is a reason she is at the top of this list; she kicks some serious ass! In Homicidal Joan Marshall plays dual roles but the vast majority of her screen time she is Emily. Emily is attractive, well-dressed and holds herself with confidence; if only she could keep her emotions in check! Emily is employed by the often absent Warren; charged with the care of an elderly wheelchair-bound woman named Helga. Poor Helga does get more than her share of Emily’s Homicidalness! When we meet Emily she is checking into a hotel and propositioning a bellhop. Emily gets up into all kinds of no good; emoting and a-killing she is! Emily is a fantastic character! Melodramatic, demure, catty, conniving, sexy, and….homicidal! Emily has some delicious dialog but it is her dramatics that stand out; Marshall’s range of emotions was impressive and her expressions are priceless! Joan Marshall’s performance in Homicidal is unrestrained perfection.
screenshot-from-2013-07-21-100130Count it.

1900 bucks…”

2000 all together….yours.”

Who do I have to murder?

No one.”

What do I have to do?”

Marry me…on the 6th of September.”

Wow. That wouldn’t be so hard to take, even without this.”

Very well. One other thing; the marriage will be annulled immediately after the ceremony.”
screenshot-from-2013-07-21-101256screenshot-from-2013-07-21-101456Joan Marshall as Emily…emoting.
screenshot-from-2013-07-21-103515screenshot-from-2013-07-21-103530“What kind of knife did you say this was? Never seen one before.”

“It’s a surgical knife…doctors use it.”

“What do you use it for?”

“Various things.”

screenshot-from-2013-07-21-104805screenshot-from-2013-07-21-104854screenshot-from-2013-07-21-105048“At least you won’t scream the way Warren did when he was a little boy. Out here in the woods; no one could hear him scream. Could they?! I never liked your eyes Helga…they see too much!”

screenshot-from-2013-07-21-102526Joan Marshall plays dual roles in Homicidal. Here she is as Warren.


JOAN CRAWFORD in Strait-Jacket

Where does one even begin with the life and career of Joan Crawford? The woman had a long and illustrious career in film from 1925 – 1972; she has 104 acting credits on IMDB. Joan Crawford was born March 23, 1906 in San Antonio TX. Her career started in dancing; she was discovered by a producer while touring with a musical revue. In 1924 she signed a contract with MGM and it was decided that her birth name Lucille LeSueur should be changed; readers of a fan magazine chose her new name Joan Crawford. Crawford would be featured in several successful films for MGM through the 20s and 30s including one of my favourite’s Tod Browning’s The Unknown (1927). Crawford has been quoted as saying she learned more about acting from watching Chaney work than from anyone else through her career. “It was then I became aware for the first time of the difference between standing in front of a camera, and acting.”
The UnknownIn the late 30s her popularity began to wane and in 1943 her contract with MGM was mutually terminated. She than signed a deal with Warner Brothers and made the film Mildred Pierce which won her an Oscar for best actress. Her career experienced a resurgence and she had a good run but in 1952 asked to be released from her Warner contract. She would continue to work steadily through the fifties and made the hugely successful What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? with Bette Davis in 1962. Apparently Castle seen What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? 17 times and it was his dream to have one of its stars featured in a film. His dream came true when Crawford agreed to star in Strait-Jacket but under her terms.
screenshot-from-2013-07-21-203957Caviar and special liquor in her dressing room, actresses fired at her request, sets kept icy cold so her face would stay tight; that is some seriously divaesque behavior. Castle pretty much let Crawford do whatever she wanted. According to her co-star Diane Baker (who plays her daughter Carol), Crawford was unhappy with the ending as it did not focus on her and had Castle change it. There is no doubt about it, this is Crawford’s film. She chews up the scenery every time she is on screen; which is a goodly portion of the film.
screenshot-from-2013-07-21-205425Crawford plays Lucy Harbin a woman released from an asylum after twenty years of institutionalization. She moves in with her brother and his wife who adopted her young daughter Carol when she was sent away. Carol is all grown up and a sculptor who is in love with the son of a wealthy dairy owner. Lucy attempts to adjust but soon people begin disappearing making her the obvious suspect.
screenshot-from-2013-07-21-205544Despite Lucy being sent home “cured” she never seems right. Lucy is paranoid, twitchy, excitable and emotional at regular intervals. Lucy is also empathetic at times. Lucy is haunted by the ghosts of her past and any number of things can set her off. Carol takes Lucy shopping and buys her new clothes and a wig and she seems to become possessed by the garments. A scene where she seduces Carol’s boyfriend in her new garb is particularly memorable. Joan Crawford gives an inspired performance in Strait-Jacket worth applauding.
screenshot-from-2013-07-21-210015Lucy all dolled up.
screenshot-from-2013-07-21-210055Lucy in more comfortable attire.
screenshot-from-2013-07-21-210349A fantastic scene where Lucy trips out believing she is trapped in the small, striped wallpapered room.
screenshot-from-2013-07-21-210755Straight-Jacket’s finale; Joan’s way.
screenshot-from-2013-07-21-222602Joan Crawford also had a supporting role in William Castle’s I Saw What you Did; pictured here with John Ireland.


CAROL OHMART in House on Haunted Hill

Carol Ohmart was born in Salt Lake City, Utah July 3, 1927. Ohmart received the title of Miss Utah in 1946 and won fourth place in the Miss America Pageant. This led her to modelling and television commercials which led her to signing with Paramount Pictures in 1955.
screenshot-from-2013-07-23-184650The above pic is Carol Ohmart as Emily Howe in Spider Baby, or the Maddest Story Ever Told. Looking at the wonderful Ms. Ohmart’s resume it appears to me that she was a seriously underutilized actress. According to IMDB it appears she made just nine feature-length films; the majority of her credits are in television. I have only seen two of Ms. Ohmart’s feature films; Spider Baby, Or the Maddest Story Ever Told (one of my favourite films of all time!) and House on Haunted Hill (the reason she is on this list). These two outstanding credits and Ms. Ohmart’s superb performance in each is worth celebrating!
screenshot-from-2013-07-22-180503In House on Haunted Hill Carol Ohmart plays Annabelle Loren. Annabelle is in an unhappy marriage to eccentric millionaire Frederick Loren. The couple loathe one another which makes for some snappy and extremely entertaining dialog! Carol Ohmart holds her own with the legendary Vincent Price and even betters him once or twice during their banter. She is strong, confident, sexy and seething with hatred for her husband. The expression on her face when Frederick touches her says it all. Omhart’s body language and facial expressions are perfection. House on Haunted Hill is worth watching just based on Carol Ohmart’s performance and her spirited jousts with Vincent Price. Ohmart is a beautiful talented actress who should have been in more films! Long retired from acting the lovely Ms. Ohmart celebrated her 86th birthday on July 3.
screenshot-from-2013-07-22-180548Frederick and Annabelle sharing some champagne and jabs.
screenshot-from-2013-07-22-184007Annabelle looking particularly ravishing.
screenshot-from-2013-07-22-184646This picture does not do Annabelle’s nightgown justice.
screenshot-from-2013-07-22-185241A concerned Annabelle.
screenshot-from-2013-07-22-185810A frightened Annabelle.
Carol OhmartCarol Ohmart rocks!



French actress Tsilla Chelton was born June 21, 1919. After settling in Paris she met and married decorator Jacques Noël. Chelton started acting in Marcel Marceau’s troupe and went on to have a successful career in theatre. She acted in several plays based on the writing of Eugene Ionesci and even won a Moliere Award for her work in Ionesco’s The Chairs. She worked alongside such actors as Michel Serrault and Michel Piccoli. Chelton taught comedy in the early 60s to the likes of Michel Blanc. Chelton did a fair amount of television and film work also. Chelton has 71 credits spanning 1962 to 2013. Her final film Landes has yet to be released.
TSILLA CHELTONThe above picture is Tsilla Chelton in the lead role of Etienne Chatiliez’s 1990 film Tatie Danielle. Chelton was nominated for a César Award for Best Actress for her role. I was so smitten by her performance in Shanks I added Tatie Danielle to my queue.

In Shanks Chelton plays the salty Mrs. Barton. Mute puppeteer Malcolm Shanks was the brother of Mrs. Barton’s first husband and now pays rent as a tenant. Mrs. Barton is re-married to an alcoholic with a bad temper; although she clearly has control of their relationship. The couple is not kind to Shanks which makes what follows so much more delicious and rewarding. The couple meet their demise relatively early in the film and spend the balance as corpses controlled by puppeteer Malcolm Shanks. Fun fact; William Castle has a cameo as the owner of a market Shanks visits with the Bartons. Marcel Marceau had significant input on William Castle’s Shanks. I am guessing that Chelton was handpicked seeing as she acted in Marcel Marceau’s troupe in Paris. That goes a long way to explain why her body work is so superb! She is required to do a great deal of physical work in Shanks and she is truly marvelous. I am also not the least bit surprised to learn she taught comedy; her comedic timing and delightfully quirky accent are top drawer! Chelton’s performance is a huge highlight of Castle’s wonderful and unique film! The immensely talented Tsilla Chelton died July 15, 2012 at the age of 93.

***A super huge MERCI BEAUCOUP to David Arrate at My Kind of Story who was kind enough to donate these pics. Watch for Mr. Arrate’s feature It’s a Small World, Malcolm Shanks on August 2***
MrsBarton(1)Tsilla Chelton as Mrs. Barton; in curlers. It takes some big curlers to set that big do!
MrsBarton(3)Shanks10Puppeteer Malcolm Shanks beautifully captures Mrs. Barton in doll form.
shanksShanks22Malcolm puts on a puppet show using the corpses of Mr. & Mrs. Barton. One of many fine examples of Ms. Chelton’s outstanding body work.
William Castle Shanks (03)Shanks05The Barton’s help celebrate Celia’s birthday. Another wonderful Chelton moment.


LORRAINE MILLER in It’s a Small World

There is very little information out there about actress Lorraine Miller. I contemplated leaving her off the list due to the lack of information I could find. I watched several William Castle films over the past few weeks for this feature. Some were re-watches and a few were first time viewings. One of those first time viewings was It’s A Small World. It’s a Small World is about the hardships of little people. It is Harry Musk’s story. Upon learning that Harry would no longer grow, his father pulled him out of school and hid him from the world. His sister resents him and refuses to bring friends home out of embarrassment. Harry eventually decides to begin a life of his own. Lorraine Miller plays Buttons a character Harry meets on his journey. The lovely Lorraine Miller is so damn likable as Buttons it really stung when it is revealed that she is not what she seems. I can’t imagine how poor Harry must have felt! Despite the lack of information on Ms. Miller’s acting career she deserves to be on this list. She really does give a memorable performance that was one of my favourites through my Castle viewing.

Lorraine Miller3

The above picture is a promotional shot of Ms. Miller for Andrew L. Stone’s 1943 film Hi Diddle Diddle. Lorraine Miller was born January 5, 1922 in Flint Michigan. In 1940 she won a contest where she was crowned Rodeo Queen and the reward was a contract with MGM. Apparently she shared a room with Donna Reed when she first arrived in California. Miller has 34 acting credits listed on IMDB but several of them are noted as uncredited. Her first significant part was in the 1943 Western Beyond the Last Frontier, but several more uncredited roles followed. In 1945 she had a small part in Between Two Women along side Keenan Wynn, Van Johnson, Lionel Barrymore and Gloria DeHaven. A starring role would follow in the 1945 film The White Gorilla. She was in several Westerns through the forties including Border Badman, Ambush Trail and Trouble at Melody Mesa.

Lorraine MillerWilliam Castle’s It’s a Small World (1950) was her second last feature film. In It’s a Small World Miller plays Buttons; nicknamed on account of her affinity for buttons which adorn everything she wears. Buttons is a femme fatale that uses her charms to lure Harry into a scheme. Despite his nativity Harry knows what Buttons is asking him to do is wrong but he agrees just the same. Harry just wants to be close to Buttons. And who wouldn’t? Buttons is a beautiful woman; beguiling, kind and a lot of fun. Harry and Buttons become fast friends. Unfortunately for Harry, Buttons’ friendship comes with an agenda. Lorraine Miller is delightful in this role; she made me smile, she made me angry and she broke my heart. Miller has a wonderful natural ease and plays Buttons with strength and confidence. I got the feeling Buttons was the kind of woman who has taken her knocks in life and refuses to let it keep her down. Miller gives an irresistible performance in It’s a Small World worth the price of admission. Lorraine Miller died February 6, 1978 in Los Angeles California.

It's a Small World (3)(1)It's a Small World (6)When Harry sees a woman living across the hall being roughed up he jumps to her aid. The woman introduces herself as Buttons.
MBDITAA EC007Harry and Buttons share some soda and laughs.
LORRAINE MILLER1Buttons; so named because of her affinity for buttons.
lorraine-millerButtons broke my heart.


BARBARA STANWYCK in The Night Walker

I thought summarizing Joan Crawford’s long, successful career was brutal until I started working on Barbara Stanwyck! Ms. Stanwyck has 106 actress titles listed on IMDB; and most of those are leading roles. The critically acclaimed and multiple award-winning actress also seemed to be both liked and respected by her peers and everyone else she came in contact with. There is tons of information about Barbara Stanwyck out there and I did not stumble upon a single negative comment or divaesque story about her. Barbara Stanwyck was born July 16, 1907 in Brooklyn NY. Stanwyck was only four years old when her mother was pushed from a streetcar by a drunk and killed. Her father joined a work crew a short time later and was never heard from again. Stanwyck was born Ruby Catherine Stevens and along with her brother Byron was raised by her older sister Mildred. Stanwyck wanted to be a performer and at the age of sixteen she was hired by the Ziegfeld Follies. While working as a chorus girl she met Willard Mack who gave her a role in his play The Noose and LaHiff. Stanwyck had a successful run on Broadway and Hollywood soon came a-knocking. Stanwyck married fellow actor Frank Fay and the two moved to Hollywood. Apparently their marriage ended badly; the film A Star is Born (1937) is allegedly based on Stanwyck and Fay’s marriage. Her first role was a bit part in Joseph C. Boyle’s Broadway Nights (1927) but starring roles immediately followed. Stanwyck was a natural! A few of her early highlights included Frank Capra’s Ladies of Leisure (1930), William A. Wellman’s Night Nurse (1931), Alfred E. Green’s Baby Face (1933) and George Stevens’ Annie Oakley (1935).
Stella DallasStanwyck was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for the 1937 film Stella Dallas (Anne Shirley was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress). She was nominated three more times for Best Actress for Ball of Fire (1941), Double Indemnity (1944) and Sorry, Wrong Number (1948); Stanwyck did not take home a statue until she received an honorary Oscar in 1982. Stanwyck’s career began to decline in the late 1950s; nonetheless she made a few films that are gems in my book including the reason she is on this list; William Castle’s The Night Walker.
The Night WalkerThe Night Walker would be the last feature film Barbara Stanwyck would make. Stanwyck eventually made the move to television. She played three roles in the series Wagon Train (61 – 64) but is probably better known as the matriarch of the Barkley family in The Big Valley (my mom’s favourite TV show of all time). Her television career ended with The Colbys (85 -86).
The Night Walker1In The Night Walker Barbara Stanwyck plays Irene Trent. Irene is a woman in a bitterly unhappy marriage. Her husband Howard is a wealthy blind inventor who believes Irene is having an affair. He goes to great lengths to discover proof of her infidelity. Irene is indeed having an affair…in her dreams. When Howard is killed in an explosion in his laboratory Irene is suddenly free from their oppressive relationship. Or is she? Murder, mystery and betrayal abound!
The Night Walker2My first viewing of The Night Walker was about a week ago for this blogathon. It turned out to be one of my favourite watches! While I love and adore Castle’s camp, I was thoroughly impressed by the mystery and atmosphere in The Night Walker; and those dream sequences are really something else! I wish there had been more of those dream sequences!
The Night Walker4Stanwyck is the focus of The Night Walker and she goes through a wide range of emotions through the film. She is a smart and tough woman albeit slightly beaten that begins to question her own sanity. Irene frets, shakes her fists and refuses to lose grip! That wonderful raspy voice of Stanwyck’s is well utilized by Castle. Stanwyck can scream like a banshee! Not everyone is capable of a good horror scream. According to IMDB Gary Oldman couldn’t scream to Coppola’s satisfaction in Dracula; they had to bring in Lux Interior of The Cramps as a scream double. That is not meant as a slight against Oldman; all I am saying is some folks can scream and some just can’t. My girl Barbara can scream!
The Night Walker3Barbara Stanwyck is empathetic and likable as Irene. Irene is frightened and questioning her sanity but she maintains a strength and faces her fear head on. As far as I am aware, Barbara Stanwyck never gave a bad performance and The Night Walker is certainly no exception. Stanwyck was a no-brainer choice for a list of my favourite women of Castle.
stanwyckladyofburlesqueThrough my research of Barbara Stanwyck my curiosity was aroused by the title Lady of Burlesque (1943). It is available to watch on IMDB archives so I thought I’d share my find. It is based on the book by Gypsy Rose Lee.

Goregirl’s TOP 10 Favourite Horror Films From 1965

Posted in horror, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 19, 2012 by goregirl

IMDB listed 185 titles for 1965 and 62 of those were full-length feature films. 1965 was one bumpy ass ride; it kinda sucked actually! A rough patch is a bit of an understatement. I seen 29 of the 62 films listed. I rated the top two films 5/5, spots three and four were rated 4/5, five through nine were rated 3.5/5, and the final film on the list was rated 3/5! I loathe putting a film I rated 3/5 on a list, these films tend to be plagued with issues and are usually borderline recommends. There were six other films I rated 3/5; I Saw What You Did, Terror Creatures from the Grave, Dark Intruder, Color Me Blood Red and Bloody Pit of Horror. Needless to say a disproportionate amount of titles received a 2.5/5 or an outright fail! I feel as though I should make a special mention of Monster a-Go Go, The Beach Girls and The Monster and Orgy of the Dead (in Gorgeous Astravision and Shocking Sexicolor); three of the most ridiculously bad films I seen for this feature. If you are looking for films that are so epically bad they must be seen to be believed the aforementioned are a nice little trio of craptacularness.



Directed By: Daniel Haller

Die Monster Die! is a very enthusiastic name for a rather uninspired story. It is hard to believe that this film was based on H.P. Lovecraft’s The Colour Out of Space! This film is about as Lovecraftian as Schindler’s List. Okay, that may be a wee bit exaggerated. Boris Karloff plays Nahum Witley a wheel-chair bound scientist who makes a discovery that endangers everyone who comes in contact with it. His daughter Susan has invited her fiancé Stephen for a visit which provides an unwelcome complication for the scientist. The story is incredibly silly, although the first half of the film is somewhat intriguing it falls apart rather badly in its second half. There are two reasons you might want to bother with this one; Boris Karloff and an attractive visual presentation. The cast consists of Boris Karloff, Freda Jackson, Suzan Farmer and Patrick Magee!! That is one hell of a cast! Boris Karloff is without a doubt one of my favourite actors of all time ever and I would see absolutely anything he is in. He is as charming as ever in Die Monster Die! I am not terribly familiar with Nick Adams but he actually does a decent job as fiancé Stephen. Unfortunately the rest of the talented cast is largely wasted with Farmer and Jackson given limited character arcs and iffy dialog. Patrick Magee is actually quite watchable in his role but the inclusion of the character seemed wholly unnecessary. Besides Karloff Die Monster Die’s best asset is its appearance. I thought the name Daniel Haller seemed awfully familiar! Haller did the art direction for just about every Corman horror film from 1959’s A Bucket of Blood to 1964’s Tomb of Ligeia. Clearly the man learned much about making a beautiful film on a small budget! The home of Nahum Witley is properly spooky and claustrophobic and the widescreen color photography is quite pleasant on the eyes. Little touches like the otherworldly glow of a forbidden greenhouse at night, the obscured shots of potential scarred family members, and disappearing servants all provide a great sense of foreboding. Die Monster Die! certainly has its issues and although somewhat of a borderline recommend you can certainly admire its good looks and a wonderful performance by the legendary Boris Karloff.



Directed By: William Conrad

When I spied Connie Stevens and Cesar Romero’s names at the top of the cast list for Two on a Guillotine I was expecting something silly and comedic. I have to admit I was not in a big hurry to check this one out. Two on a Guillotine, although very “PG” is actually a fun little mystery-thriller with a hearty helping of camp. Cassie Duquesne comes home for the funeral of her eccentric magician father Duke only to be told she must stay a week in his creaky old mansion in order to receive her sole inheritance. Connie Stevens isn’t bad at all playing dual roles of both daughter Cassie and Melinda her mother whom was killed in a magic trick gone horribly wrong. There is a nice mood and a great creepy old house setting but its scares which consist of lots of screaming and surprises behind doors made me think of William Castle’s House on Haunted Hill with a touch of 13 Ghosts. Or perhaps it was the fact that Two on a Guillotine seems to be a film made for kids that put me to mind of William Castle. Two on a Guillotine with its gentle but charming disposition is certainly not going to be tense or scary for most of us, but it is quite fun; and I loved the anticipation of daddy Duke Duquesne potentially showing up from the grave at any moment. I can’t really think of a better descriptor for Two on a Guillotine than cute, it rather nicely sums up my feelings.



Directed By: Silvio Narizzano

Fanatic is a joint effort of Columbia Pictures and Hammer Films. I had not seen Fanatic for years and had no recollection of a Hammer association. There is one very good reason to give Fanatic a watch and that is Ms. Tallulah Bankhead. This was Bankhead’s last on-screen appearance for a feature film and she really gives a no holds barred performance as Mrs. Trefoile a fanatically religious, insanely devoted mother. Mrs. Trefoile receives a visit from her son’s former fiancée Patricia; former due to the fact that her son was killed in a car accident. Despite the fact that Patricia has moved on with her life; in Mrs. Trefoile’s twisted mind she believes Patricia belongs to her dead son. She takes it upon herself to purify Patricia’s sin. She is going to purify those sins but good! You gotta appreciate the imagery of a religious fanatic with a bible in one hand and a gun in the other!! I can’t say enough good things about Bankhead’s performance bouncing around from frightfully polite and sugary to seething jabs and growling commentary! She is just a treasure! I don’t usually root for the fanatically religious character; but I definitely rooted for Mrs. Trefoile! Patricia the former fiancée is an annoying character I didn’t care for much at all. Stefanie Powers is forced to be far too over the top to match wits with the plucky Bankhead. And I must admit, I just am not a fan of Stefanie Powers. Her performance and presence left little to be desired for me personally. The other supporting characters all do a fine job, especially Peter Vaughan and Donald Sutherland. This is really borderline as horror and definitely has more thrills than chills; it is also a touch campy but it is awfully fun seeing Bankhead slap Powers but good! Seriously, Fanatic is absolutely worth seeing just for Bankhead!



Directed By: Mario Caiano

Yet another appearance for Barbara Steele on the top ten lists. In Nightmare Castle Steele once again plays dual lead roles. As cheating wife Muriel, she is full of seething hatred for her husband and as Jenny she is sweet but unstable. Nightmare Castle is the story of Dr. Arrowsmith who upon learning his wife Muriel has been cheating, tortures and kills Muriel and her lover. Before Muriel dies she tells her husband she has changed her will and has left everything to her stepsister Jenny who currently resides in a mental institution. The diabolical doctor will do anything to secure his fortunes and he is soon married to the unstable Jenny. You might guess things do not go smoothly. Nightmare Castle is a gothic tale of obsession, madness, greed and revenge. Its ideas are grand enough, but the story does tend to wander. Some of the dialog is also a bit sketchy. Fortunately it makes up for this with its presentation. Its moody black and white cinematography is excellent, the sets and costumes are stunning and Ennio Morricone’s low-key score is lovely. There are some delightfully diabolical and unsettling moments also including a torture scene that was particularly racy for the time, and a twisted subplot involving Dr. Arrowsmith and the maid. Paul Muller is solid as Dr. Arrowsmith and the small supporting cast are all decent. It is really Steele’s performance that elevates this one to a higher tier however. Nightmare Castle is deliciously gothic fun!



Directed By: James Hill

When I was a kid I was a huge sucker for Sherlock Holmes, Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, just about any character that did “detecting”. I remember begging my dad to buy me a detective kit from the back of a magazine which after much persistence on my part he eventually relented. I remember like it was yesterday when that thing arrived in the mail. I thought my little blond head was going to explode with anticipation! I excitedly tore at the brown paper to find what turned out to be my biggest disappointment of my seven years of life! The detective kit was a cardboard box that was shoddily painted to look like a briefcase and already boasted a large dent from its journey in the mail. The kit consisted of an ink pad, a tiny notebook of blank paper, a plastic magnifying glass and a detective license. It didn’t take a detective to deduce this kit was a load of shite! After the Sea Monkey debacle that followed I lost my enthusiasm for ordering junk from the back of magazines. The well-known detective investigates the equally infamous Jack the Ripper/Whitechapel murders in A Study in Terror. The detective this time around is played by John Neville who I think makes a grand Holmes! The acting is good across the board, aided by some solid writing and dialog. They do a real nice job of capturing the period and add some unique touches like a real nice POV murder shot from the killer’s perspective. I must admit that at this point in my life having seen copious amounts of both Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes interpretations to last me a lifetime it was difficult to get too terribly excited about this one. A Study in Terror is a great-looking, well-written film with an applaudable performance from John Neville as everyone’s favourite detective Sherlock Holmes.



Directed By: Freddie Francis

I chose to review Amicus Production’s The Skull thinking it was unlikely to make a list with its 3.5/5 rating! I guess I should have looked ahead more thoroughly! This is one of two Amicus Production films directed by Freddie Francis to make this list. The Skull is an enjoyable little romp based on Robert Bloch’s The Skull of the Marquis de Sade. For a film about a possessed skull it is quite coherent, well-written, well-paced, solidly acted and a nicely filmed bit of fun! To read my full review click here.



Directed By: Mario Bava

This is the sixth film directed by Mario Bava to make a Psycho-Delic 60s list! Two spaceships receive a signal from an unchartered planet called Aura. One ship lands and when the crew are exposed to the atmosphere go berserk and begin attacking each other. Soon after the second ship lands and explores the area eventually finding their sister ship with its crew dead. With their ship incurring some heavy damage when they landed the crew are forced to wait on the repairs with deadly consequences. Regardless of what its name might suggest, Planet of the Vampires is not about a planet of vampires. It is a planet of incorporeal alien creatures that plan on using deceased human bodies to escape their dying planet. It is a fairly clever little story with a surprisingly chilling atmosphere. The film is colourful and stylish and despite its cardboard sets manages to look quite alluring. I love how Bava uses the fog and sound effects! But the real payoff is the most outstanding finale! Planet of the Vampires is moderately paced with an engrossing story and a hypnotically claustrophobic and chilling vibe. It definitely has its campy elements, but I rather loved those space ships with all their flashy lights! I have mentioned in other reviews that Mario Bava’s work has been highly influential and Planet of the Vampires is yet another example; apparently the inspiration for Ridley Scott’s Alien! Planet of the Vampires is solid entertainment!!



Directed By: Freddie Francis

This is the second Amicus Production flick directed by Freddie Francis to make the list. Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors is a five story anthology as told by a mysterious fortune teller. The wraparound story in anthologies can sometimes really be bunk; Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors however is one of my favourites! Five strangers board a train and are joined by a fortune teller by the name of Dr. W. R. Schreck played by Peter Cushing. Dr. W. R. Schreck reads each man’s tarot cards and we are told the story of what the cards foretell. Cushing is super fantastic as the fortune teller and gives the character mysteriousness without resorting to hokiness. The themes covered include werewolves, vampires, a ravenous house plant, voodoo and a disembodied hand. Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors is certainly efficient with its five stories told over 90 minutes. I enjoyed all five segments although the two comedic ones about the killer plant and voodoo were less enjoyable than the other three. My favourite by far is the Christopher Lee segment about the disembodied hand! Absolutely, positively love the story’s finale and it is great fun seeing Lee’s character get his comeuppance. The vampire story featuring a young and handsome Donald Sutherland has a neat twist, the werewolf story is all around top notch and Dr. W. R. Schreck’s story that ties it all together ends with panache! Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors was the first of several anthologies Amicus would release and is one of the best of the bunch!



Directed By: William Wyler

Like Cape Fear (which made my 1962 list), I’ve never thought of The Collector as a horror film but it showed up on the IMDB list under the horror tag. I love The Collector so I am quite happy to include it on this list. Freddie is a bank clerk and lepidopterist who kidnaps art student Miranda Grey believing if she spent time with him she would come to love him. A twisted, far-fetched idea to say the least and a particularly troubling one from a man who appears to be very intelligent. It is made clear to us that Freddie is an outcast and despite his intellect is past concerning himself with consequences. Miranda is a pretty smart cookie herself and handily matches wits with Freddie at least until the desperation begins to set in. The roles of Freddie and Miranda are played by Terence Stamp and Samantha Eggar who could not have been better cast; both give smashing performances! Freddie is not your run of the mill kidnapper. He is neatly dressed and terribly proper which makes his steely intensity that much creepier. Stamp also brings a certain pathos to Freddie which made me feel just a little bit sorry for him. Miranda is strong and sexy but as the days pass her desperation mounts. Samantha Eggar is fresh-faced and lovely and brings both strength and vulnerability to the character. She refuses to be the victim but her resolve is inevitably weakened as time wears on. The Collector’s title refers to Freddie’s hobby of butterfly collecting. The idea of catching butterflies to pin to a board is a little unsettling to me. I don’t care if it is for scientific purposes or not, I think it is a grim hobby. I must say however, that it certainly adds an interesting subtext to this particular story! The Collector is a smart, well-written, beautifully-filmed compelling thriller with two unforgettable performances from Terence Stamp and Samantha Eggar.



Directed By: Roman Polanski

Bloody Hell! No matter how many times I see Repulsion it crawls under my skin. I was fortunate enough to see this brilliant film in the theatre a year or two ago. If you are as lucky as we are here in Vancouver to have a killer theatre like Cinematheque that screens these older films I seriously can not recommend enough checking Repulsion out! It was a mind-blowing experience! The film is about Carol, a young manicurist living in London with her sister Helen. Helen accepts an invitation from her boyfriend to travel abroad leaving Carol to fend for herself. Carol is sweet and soft-spoken with obsessive compulsive tendencies, but when left to her own devices begins to slowly descend into madness. Repulsion is one of the greatest psychological horror films ever made and has long held a place on my 100 best horror films of all time. Repulsion is an exercise in delusion, unease and paranoia that is as powerful now as it was when it was released back in 1965. Repulsion is as much Catherine Deneuve’s film as it is Roman Polanski’s. She is absolutely magnificent! As Carol, Deneuve is silent and alone for much of the film and her state of being is constantly a focus. Every minute of her crumbling sanity caught in all its hallucinatory, haunting, disturbing glory! Filmed in delicious Sexual Repression-O-Vision masterfully executed by Mr. Polanski! All of the performances in Repulsion are top drawer but it is Deneuve’s Carol that will chill you to the bone; in my opinion it is one of the best performances to ever grace a horror film (or a film of any genre frankly)! Repulsion is a masterpiece of the first order!