Archive for terence fisher

THE EARTH DIES SCREAMING (1964) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, movies, UK with tags , , , , , , , on November 6, 2012 by goregirl

The sci-fi horror flood of the 1950s was just a dribble by 1964. The paranoia-oriented sub-genre was starting to peter out. Personally, I am always up for some scientific insanity! I absolutely love the mad scientists, monster mayhem and alien action of these entertaining gems. Okay, they may not all be gems, but there are certainly gems among them! The Thing from Another World, Village of the Damned, Them!, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and Godzilla just to name a few. I had never even heard of The Earth Dies Screaming until I compiled my list for 1964. It appealed to me on name alone! The Earth Dies Screaming…that is pretty heavy man! The Earth Dies Screaming is certainly a late comer amongst its ilk, and it did occur to me that the film might not have much fresh to offer. Seeing as Terence Fisher’s name was attached as director I wasn’t too worried though. Fisher directed many outstanding titles for Hammer Films including Dracula, The Mummy, The Devil Rides Out, The Gorgon, The Curse of Frankenstein, and The Curse of the Werewolf. How could I not trust Fisher after those titles? While there are certain familiar aspects to the plotting, it does introduce at least one very unique concept. The Earth Dies Screaming, while not a perfect film by any means, definitely did some things very well.

The Earth Dies Screaming has a delightfully grim opening where we get samples of what the earth looked like when it died screaming. Trains, cars and planes crashing and people just literally dropping dead where they stand! It is a short little montage but it is well done. The film has a great atmosphere with a few very nicely executed moments. It doesn’t always maintain its mood however, for that I blame the robots. The robots are a smidge hokey in appearance (especially in the face area) but they looked robboty enough to pass; it was the way they moved that really gave me a chuckle. Bloody hell these are some slow moving bastards! In one scene towards the finale it takes forever for the robots to move across a warehouse floor to a room where two characters wait in fear. They wait and wait and wait! It was hard to find these clunky ass robots intimidating especially considering they had to literally make contact with you to kill you. It might have helped if they had lasers or something. As clunky as they were, I can not say I didn’t find them entertaining! What The Earth Dies Screaming lost with its robots is made up with its zombies! Okay, these are not brain-eating zombies, but they are mind-controlled reanimated corpses with dead white eyes! The bits featuring the dead are great! It certainly upped the ante on the danger quota. There are a ton of bodies all over the streets that could be mind-controlled reanimated armies!

Jeff Nolan, drives through the eerie aftermath of body-littered streets. Jeff investigates the town, finds a radio and takes shelter in a seemingly abandoned home. Here he meets Peggy and Quinn. Quinn in fact holds Jeff at gunpoint, but lays off when he realizes Jeff is not an enemy. Two more join the group; Edgar and Violet. They discuss what could have happened to cause this catastrophic event and why they survived. The group run into their first encounter with one of the robots at this point. Soon after a young couple, Mel and his very pregnant wife Lorna join the group. They are a diverse bunch ripe for inevitable conflict. The most intriguing of the characters is Quinn. It is strongly hinted at that he has a criminal past (he expertly picks a lock among other clues). Quinn is the loose screw in the works, and he wants to do things his way. He does indeed cause problems for the survivors. Dennis Price was perfectly cast as Quinn. Virginia Field is strong and likable enough as Peggy but the rest of the cast is pretty forgettable. Jeff Nolan takes lead of the group and is the story’s hero. Nolan played by Willard Parker is focused on regularly and he is incredibly dry.

The Earth Dies Screaming is only an hour long. Considering its rather rushed ending, I think the film could have benefitted from the addition of another five or even ten minutes. We never know for certain what happened or who was responsible as we only have the survivor’s theories to go on. Their theory of a gas attack and aliens as the responsible party makes as much sense as any I suppose. Despite some hokey elements, a dull lead performance and a rushed ending I did not dislike The Earth Dies Screaming. I actually enjoy hokey details a lot! This film however seemed intent on being a serious affair and I thought the hokiness did mess with the mood. I certainly appreciated what was done well like those awesome re-animated corpses. Fisher knows his way around a camera and certainly makes the most of the tight budget. Opting with black and white was a good decision here. The Earth Dies Screaming has a steady pace throughout its short runtime and was an easy and pretty fun watch. Lightly recommended.

Dungeon Rating: 3/5

Directed By: Terence Fisher

Starring: Willard Parker, Virginia Field, Dennis Price, Thorley Walters, Vanda Godsell, David Spenser, Anna Palk

DUNGEON DIRECTOR PROJECT: My 50 Favourite Directors #45 – #41

Posted in movies with tags , , , , , on July 8, 2012 by goregirl

An American director, an Italian director, a British director and two German directors go into a bar…

My 50 favourite directors #45 – #41

*NOTE: I did not include any made for TV movies in the numbers I used for each director’s full-length feature films.*

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#45. Brian De Palma

What I’ve Seen: Sisters (1973), Phantom of the Paradise (1974), Obsession (1976), Carrie (1976), The Fury (1978), Dressed to Kill (1980), Blow Out (1981), Scarface (1983), Body Double (1984), Wise Guys (1986), The Untouchables (1987), Casualties of War (1989), The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990), Raising Cain (1992), Carlito’s Way (1993), Mission: Impossible (1996), Snake Eyes (1998), Mission to Mars (2000), The Black Dahlia (2006)

Brian De Palma is the first American director to make the list. I’ve seen 19 of De Palma’s 28 full length feature films. I must admit, I’ve been pretty disappointed in De Palma’s last few films, although I have not yet seen Redacted. While De Palma doesn’t always get it right, when he does it definitely leaves an impression. Sisters and Carrie feature two of my very favourite female killers and Carrie has long sat on my list of top 100 horror films of all-time. De Palma has covered a variety of genres but I must admit it is his horror titles I most covet. Although Blow Out, Scarface, Body Double and The Untouchables also rather kick some ass. De Palma includes all manner of little flourishes like split screens and mirrors throughout his films; viewers seem to have mixed feelings about this practice, I think it works more often than not. A talented director who has contributed some of film’s most intriguing characters. Strong stories, great performances and a style all his own; Brian De Palma has left an indelible mark on movie making and my black heart.

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#44. F.W. Murnau

What I’ve Seen: Nosferatu (1922), Phantom (1922), The Last Laugh (1924), Faust: A German Folk Legend (1926), Sunrise (1927)

German director F.W. Murnau directed 20 films of which I have seen a slim 5; nonetheless 4 of the 5 films were so bloody impressive they qualified Murnau for this list. Nosferatu completely envelopes me after multiple watches. I also gave The Last Laugh and Sunrise perfect scores and gave Faust: A German Folk Legend a 4.5/5! I am still being schooled on silent films but I have scratched multiple titles off the ‘to see’ list since starting this blog. There are plenty of films that could benefit from no speaking! Murnau’s films however benefit from many things. In a silent film visuals are particularly important and Murnau’s are extremely impressive. Intriguing stories and fascinating characters laid out on Murnau’s perfect palette. Yep, this dude has blown my mind. Sadly Murnau died March 11, 1931 at the young age of 42.

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#43. Federico Fellini

What I’ve Seen: La strada (1954), Nights of Cabiria (1957), La Dolce Vita (1960), 8½ (1963), Fellini – Satyricon (1969), Amarcord (1973)

Italian director Federico Fellini made 19 full length feature films of which I’ve seen 6. All six films are absolutely superb. Fellini worked in the film industry until his death October 31, 1993 at the age of 73. The sad and beautiful La Strada was my first Fellini film and I gave it perfect marks. La Strada would be hard to top, but top it he did with Nights of Caliria and La Dolce Vita. Funny, cruel, touching, quirky, dreamy, sexy and downright trippy; Fellini’s work influenced three other directors who will be making an appearance on this list. To say he made an important impact on filmmaking seems like a grand understatement. I intend to see every last one of Fellini’s films. I look forward to experiencing more of Fellini’s dreams and desires.

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#42. Werner Herzog

What I’ve Seen: Even Dwarfs Started Small (1970), Fata Morgana (1971), Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972), The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1974), Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979), Woyzeck (1979), Fitzcarraldo (1982), Invincible (2001), Grizzly Man (2005), Rescue Dawn (2006), Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010)

German filmmaker Werner Herzog has 33 full length feature films of which I have seen 11. I love all of Herzog’s 70s films particularly Even Dwarfs Started Small, The Enigma of Kasper Hauser and Nosferatu. The talented Herzog has also directed several documentaries including the outstanding Grizzly Man and Cave of Forgotten Dreams. Genre jumping Herzog brings his magic touch to everything from horror, to drama, sci-fi, fantasies, biographies and documentaries. Actor Klaus Kinski and director Werner Herzog are one of cinema’s great pairings. Kinski always gave Herzog an outstanding performance and Herzog in return gave Kinski a well-written character and a compelling story in which his character could dwell. I have many more Herzog films still to see and that is a very good thing.

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#41. Terence Fisher

What I’ve Seen: Spaceways (1953), Face the Music (1954), Murder by Proxy (1954), The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), Dracula (1958), The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958), The Man Who Could Cheat Death (1959), The Mummy (1959), The Brides of Dracula (1960), The Curse of the Werewolf (1961), The Phantom of the Opera (1962), The Gorgon (1964), Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966), Frankenstein Created Woman (1967), The Devil Rides Out (1968), Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969), Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974)

It’s Hammer time…again! Terence Fisher is the second British director who worked for Hammer Studios to make my 50 favourite list. I’ve seen 17 of Fisher’s films which I thought was a significant number but it is just a drop in the bucket of his 50 full length feature films listed on IMDB. Fisher died June 18, 1980 at the age of 76 and left behind a damn fine legacy of fabulousness! I enjoyed all 12 films I have seen directed by Fisher. I don’t even know where to begin. I love so many films on this list! Dracula, The Mummy, The Devil Rides Out, The Gorgon, The Curse of Frankenstein, and The Curse of the Werewolf to name a few. Maestro Fisher makes Hammer’s wonderful sets and costumes come alive with engrossing stories and brings out Christopher Lee’s and Peter Cushing’s best performances; among an impressive list of others including Oliver Reed, Barbara Shelley, Anton Diffring, Hazel Court and Charles Gray. Fisher’s films make me incredibly happy. I don’t know if I will ever see all fifty on his list, but I will try diligently.

Goregirl’s Werewolf Project: TOP TEN FAVOURITE WEREWOLF FILMS!

Posted in horror, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 29, 2012 by goregirl

This is it! Drum roll please…my top ten favourite werewolf films! I realized when I started this project that I had not seen as many werewolf films as I thought. I watched a lot of werewolf films over the last few months. Many were first viewings, others were re-watches. Besides the top ten and the seventeen films I posted reviews for, I watched another six Howling sequels (I reviewed Howling V) and there were another three films I didn’t get reviews done for. The three films were: Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001), Kibakichi Bakko-yokaiden (2004) and Werewolf in a Women’s Prison (2006). Brotherhood of the Wolf is an action film, not horror. It is a period piece with over-the-top matrix-esque like fight scenes, with a decent story and acting. It is an enjoyable film, but as mentioned, it is not a horror film (and it isn’t exactly a werewolf film either). Kibakichi is a werewolf/samurai film! I love Kibakichi’s 60s samurai film vibe, but sadly, there was not nearly as much action as I was expecting. Granted, the action scenes they include are terrific! The story is rather on the dreary side but not unappealing. Kibakichi also leans heavier towards an action film than horror. Kibakichi left me a bit unsatisfied, but I did like it. Finally we have the super low budget Werewolf in a Women’s Prison. I really should have made the time to review this one! This is definitely horror, and it certainly delivers on its title. You get a werewolf in an all women’s prison with plenty of boobs, gore and general naughtiness! The effects are cheap and sometimes downright hokey and much of the acting is bad but there is plenty of fun here for those who like a more Troma type horror film. I liked Werewolf in a Women’s Prison and would give it a recommend. There were another twenty-six werewolf films that I had seen in the last few years that I remembered well enough to know they wouldn’t make the list; An American Werewolf in Paris, Wolf, Bad Moon and Skinwalkers to name a few. A total of 62 films isn’t a very deep pool to draw from! IMDB had 236 films listed with a “werewolf” tag; 183 of those were horror. Of those 183 werewolf horror films, several of those were not exclusively werewolf films. For instance, Cabin in the Woods, Monster Squad, Trick R Treat and House of Frankenstein; all four feature a werewolf but it is not the film’s focus. I disqualified at least half the list for this reason. And finally there was another smaller chunk of mainly post-1989 entries that just didn’t seem worth bothering with. I would like to give a howl out to my three favourite werewolf films that didn’t make the top ten: Curse of the Devil, Ginger Snaps: Unleashed and Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man! At the bottom of the top ten list are links to all seventeen werewolf films I reviewed this month.

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#10 WEREWOLF WOMAN (1976)

Directed By: Rino Di Silvestro

I only read a few short IMDB reviews for Werewolf Woman that completely tore the film to shreds. Yeesh! Daniela Neseri was raped at the age of 13 and has become a lonely, troubled woman living in her father’s home in the country. Daniela finds some family heirlooms and learns of the strange history of a relative to whom she bares a striking resemblance. Turns out the relative was believed to be a werewolf and was chased down by a lynch mob and killed. Daniela begins having vivid dreams that she too is a werewolf and it isn’t long before she is ripping out throats. We are never led to believe Daniela is a werewolf; but Daniela wholeheartedly believes it! Daniela’s fevered dream of ritualistic naked dancing and the transformation which consists of covering her naked body with fun fur is something you are not likely to see twice. Two words for you…furry boobs. Lycanthropy, full frontal nudity, sex, masturbation, graphic violence, rape, revenge, furry boobs; Werewolf Woman has it all! Chocked full of Italian horror regulars including Dagmar Lassander, Tino Carraro, Howard Ross and a bold performance by Annik Borel as the title Werewolf Woman. Some questionably hilarious dialog (which may to some extent be a case of bad dubbing) would be my only complaint. Sure, Werewolf Woman is Euro-trash of the highest order, but that is what makes it so freaking awesome!

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#9 WEREWOLF OF LONDON (1935)

Directed By: Stuart Walker

In Werewolf of London a botanist returns from a trip to Tibet with a rare flower and the ability to turn into a werewolf. The story is simple but wonderfully effective, taking more of a scientific approach to the werewolf myths than a supernatural one. The beautifully filmed black and white movie has amazing effects and great werewolf makeup; as good as anything I have seen in the classic horror! The wonderful Henry Hull is terrific as a man whose shaky marriage to a younger woman is further complicated by the appearance of her childhood friend, a stranger who is a little too curious about his rare flower, not to mention, he is a bloody werewolf! I could take or leave some of the characters they add for comic relief but it certainly did not hurt the film any. There are some impressively creative shots; one of the best is the werewolf transformation among the columns! And what an ending!! If you dig the classic horror, Werewolf of London is a definite must see!

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#8 THE COMPANY OF WOLVES (1984)

Directed By: Neil Jordan

If you follow this blog, you might recall The Company of Wolves appeared on my top 10 favourite horror films from 1984. The Company of Wolves is a dreamy, surreal nightmare from the mind of a girl just about to enter into womanhood. The film is a collection of interesting and original short stories symbolizing sexual awakening, puberty, male domination, and the like. It is not exactly an anthology, it is more accurately stories told within a story. It is well written, well acted, and the effects are quite impressive and unique. There is a cornucopia of different visual variations of the werewolf! Some of them are surprisingly nasty too! While The Company of Wolves definitely has a fairy tale vibe and is loaded with sexuality and no actual sex it is nonetheless adult-friendly. Don’t let the appearance of Angela Lansbury scare you off. She plays granny (of course), but she does come with considerable bite. I also enjoyed Terence Stamp’s cameo as the devil! The pubescent female lead is perfectly played by Sarah Patterson. The Company of Wolves is a film I have re-watched a few times over the years, and it never fails to entertain me.

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#7 DOG SOLDIERS (2002)

Directed By: Neil Marshall

Show them how it’s done Neil Marshall! Marshall’s two entries from the past decade The Descent and Dog Soldiers gave me renewed hope that the horror genre still had some life left in it. Why oh why has he not made another horror film? Absolutely every last detail of Dog Soldiers is near perfect. Dog Soldiers has a solid story, excellent cast, well-written and natural dialog, great setting, outstanding mood and atmosphere and beauty practical effects. There is plenty of blood and gore; the werewolves make short work of their prey leaving nothing behind but entrails and blood. That stuff can really stick to a boot! The werewolves are extremely impressive from a distance and cast an intimidating shadow. The only ever so minor complaint I have is that some of the close shots look slightly less than perfect. I absolutely love the fact that Marshall opted for costumes over CGI. Dog Soldiers is freaking awesome! To read the full review click here.

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#6 THE HOWLING (1981)

Directed By: Joe Dante

Joe Dante loves furry beasts. Before he made Gremlins, he created a film with a different sort of furry beast; an R-rated furry beast! Dante’s The Howling is a balls to the wall, kick ass horror film with nudity, gore and some bad-ass nasty werewolf effects that have held up beautifully! The Howling has a strong story, solid acting and a pitch perfect mood and atmosphere with a nicely escalating tension. I have read the odd complaint about this movie starting out slow, but I actually found The Howling to be well-paced. When the film goes “werewolf” it does so with grand style, and as a bonus, you get more than one creature! I have always been a fan of The Howling, but on my recent re-watch I found myself enjoying this even more than I recalled. I enjoyed every aspect of The Howling, but even impatient viewers should be impressed by The Howling’s spectacular werewolf effects and its seriously ass-kicking finale.

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#5 THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF (1961)

Directed By: Terence Fisher

If you know me, you know I love my Hammer films! If a Hammer werewolf film exists there is a good chance it would make my list. Surprise! Hammer does have a werewolf film in their catalogue helmed by one of Hammer’s best directors; Terence Fisher! The Curse of the Werewolf is lushly filmed, with stunning sets and costumes and a stirring mood thick with atmosphere. Its enthralling story and wonderfully unique spin on the werewolf origin, and an absolutely superb and empathetic performance from Oliver Reed is what landed it in the top ten. It is a shame to spoil the peculiar but original origins of the werewolf but they do adhere to most of the classic werewolf hokum. There is a love story, transformations by the full moon, and a compassionate and empathetic central character that is on par with my number two pick. The effects and makeup are awesome; I really love the light coloring for the werewolf. The Curse of the Werewolf is beautiful, mesmerizing and mysterious mayhem at its most masterful!

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#4 THE NIGHT OF THE WEREWOLF (1981)

Directed By: Paul Naschy

I adore Paul Naschy! Mr. Naschy has played a werewolf 11 times. Naschy does double duty as director and lead actor of The Night of the Werewolf; he totally rocks in both roles! It is not the first Paul Naschy film to open with Elizabeth Bathory and an execution, but it is the best one! The film moves to current day 1981 with a trio of attractive (duh) female college students who are seeking out the grave of Countess Elizabeth Bathory. This one serves up vampires with its werewolf; but the film’s focus is definitely the werewolf. Okay, I admit, I made somewhat of an exception here for Mr. Naschy. Naschy plays the Waldemar Daninsky character in most of his werewolf films. He is great as the strong and troubled Daninsky and he always puts everything he’s got into his werewolf performance. I loved the werewolf makeup and the transformations and there is plenty of blood spilled! The film looks great all around; cool sets, nifty props, groovy wardrobes, nudity, gore, vampires, and a freaking werewolf! What the hell is not to like? Paul Naschy and The Night of the Werewolf is wickedly sweet, hardcore howlingly good entertainment!

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#3 GINGER SNAPS (2000)

Directed By: John Fawcett

If you have been following this project, you probably already guessed Ginger Snaps was going to make the list. I reviewed both Ginger Snaps sequels and went on and on about my love for the original; I actually referred to this film as an “epiphany”. That is some strong language for me to use when I am talking about a film from the past decade. Ginger Snaps is smart, well-written, has great effects and an absolutely brilliant performance from its two lead actresses; Katherine Isabel and Emily Perkins. The two women have the most amazing chemistry; you do not question their relationship or motivations for a second. Much credit does belong to the writers who create two of the most interesting and likable teenage characters to appear in a horror film in bloody eons. This is the second film on this list where sexual coming-of-age symbolism is used to great effect. Everything about Ginger Snaps is effective. Ginger Snaps is not only an amazing werewolf film, it is one of the best horror films to come out of the past decade.

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#2 THE WOLF MAN (1941)

Directed By: George Waggner

When I started this blog it was my intention to discover more classics of the black and white variety. I’ve seen numerous titles since, and The Wolf Man, without a doubt, has been one of my personal favourites. Visually the film is flawless. Fog shrouded forests, gypsy caravans, beautiful massive estates, eerie crypts and a dark moody vibe full of mystery and horror. The entire cast are outstanding, but it is Lon Chaney Jr’s portrayal of the tragic Lawrence Talbot that stays with me. I love the simple but engrossing story which would pave the way for many a werewolf film that followed. I love the idea of werewolves; man’s struggle with the inner beast, human instinct and animal instinct colliding! It is a big part of what appeals to me about the sub-genre. Universal’s The Wolf Man captures this conflict so brilliantly. I’ve mentioned several times throughout this project that I prefer the half-man, half-wolf type werewolf and Chaney’s timeless portrait of the tortured Talbot and the solid creature makeup will forever be engraved into my heart. The Wolf Man is one of the most endearing horror films I’ve ever seen; an absolute classic!

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#1 AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981)

Directed By: John Landis

There are a few movie going experiences one never forgets. One of those for me was An American Werewolf in London. It is the one and only time I snuck into a movie before I was old enough to get in. We missed the first 15 minutes and I was so freaked out I made myself nauseous and couldn’t eat my popcorn. But it was so worth it! The effects in An American Werewolf in London blew my mind back in the day! I’ve watched this film many times since and the effects still blow my mind! Without a doubt, it is one of the most visually arresting uses of practical effects to ever grace a horror flick. It is a fantastic looking film all around. The Wales countryside is a beautiful location that also offers an eerie and intimidating vastness. An American Werewolf in London has the perfect marriage of comedy and horror. The film has some great laughs but still manages some serious intensity. David Naughton and Griffin Dunne are the perfect duo and both deliver great performances. And bloody hell!! What an ending! An American Werewolf in London has long been a favourite horror film and will have a place on my top 100 list forever. I will love this movie until I die.

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Films reviewed during this project:

Romasanta

Howling V: The Rebirth

Curse of the Devil

She-Wolf of London

The Werewolf of Washington

I was a Teenage Werewolf

The Mad Monster

Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning

Ginger Snaps: Unleased

The Wolfman

Werewolf in a Girl’s Dormitory

The Fury of the Wolf Man

Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man

The Beast Must Die

Werewolves on Wheels

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Music from Terence Fisher’s Frankenstein Created Woman & Dario Argento’s Trauma

Posted in horror, movies with tags , , , , , , , on May 22, 2012 by goregirl

Two new YouTube videos this week featuring music from the films of two outstanding directors; Terence Fisher and Dario Argento!

Only a few more werewolf film reviews left before I reveal my top ten favourites on Wednesday May 30th!

Music and images from Terence Fisher’s 1967 film Frankenstein Created Woman. Music by James Bernard from The Hammer Legacy: The Frankenstein Collection.

Music and images from Dario Argento’s 1993 film Trauma. Music by Pino Donaggio.

THE BRIDES OF DRACULA (1960) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, movies, UK with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 27, 2012 by goregirl



Terence Fisher directed several films for Hammer Film Productions. Most of the titles Fisher directed were during Hammer’s heyday in the 1950’s and 1960’s and are some of the studio’s best. Among his outstanding entries are The Curse of Frankenstein, Dracula, The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Mummy, The Curse of the Werewolf, The Gorgon and The Devil Rides Out. The Devil Rides Out is without a doubt, one of my favourite Hammer films of all time. I contributed a review for The Devil Rides Out to friend of the dungeon Basement Scream’s feature “Six Weeks of Satan” (to read the review click here). Terence Fisher directs The Brides of Dracula with stylish flare and a touch of sexy and the result is positively captivating!

Marianne Danielle has travelled a long distance by carriage to take a position as a teacher in an all girl’s boarding school. Along her travels the carriage driver stops at an inn and leaves Marianne to fend for herself. She is befriended by the Baroness Meinster who invites her to stay at the family estate. The Baroness’ it turns out has a son who she is keeping hidden from the townsfolk. The Baroness does not divulge to Marianne why she is imprisoning her own son only that there is a very good reason for doing so. When Marianne meets the Baron he appears to be ready to jump from the balcony to his death. She comes running to him only to discover he is in chains. The charming and handsome Baron paints a very different picture for Marianne of the reasons he is imprisoned in his own home. Falling for him instantly Marianne rushes to find the key that will unlock his chains. Marianne has no idea the evil she has unleashed, but she soon will.

Despite the lack of Dracula himself, The Brides of Dracula is a sequel of sorts. While Christopher Lee is absent the always excellent Peter Cushing is back as Dr J. Van Helsing. The performances are perfect by the entire cast. Our lovely Teacher Marianne is played by Yvonne Monlaur who is downright adorable. It is she who unleashes the naughty Baron Meinster played with devilish mischief by David Peel. Under the guise of a romantic gesture the Baron lures himself females to grow his vampire army. One of my favourite characters is Greta. Greta was charged to care for the Baron by his mother insuring he stay hidden, tethered and fed. Greta cackles madly at the discovery the Baron has been freed, and fulfills her duties as his human servant. Greta aids with such grim tasks as helping new vamps claw their way out of their coffins! Freda Jackson is fantastic as Greta creating a character that is both amusing and spooky. The icy Baroness Meinster is conflicted and realizes her decision to keep her son alive is a dangerous and foolish one. Marita Hunt plays the Baroness with sophistication and confidence and an air of self importance. There is no mistaking that she is indeed “the Baroness”. Last and certainly not least is the wonderful Peter Cushing. The serious and efficient Mr. Van Helsing can also show sensitivity and concern when necessary. Peter Cushing brings the perfect balance to the role creating a Van Helsing that is both very likable and credible. Cushing would reprise his role as Van Helsing for Hammer several more times after this.

Like most Hammer Films The Brides of Dracula is a high achiever when it comes to its visuals. The sets are just fantastic. The colors and lighting is extremely easy on the eyes and the always lingering red color scheme gives the film a blood soaked vibe. Much of the film takes place in the home of the Baroness and Baron Meinster. The property appears to be absolutely massive and the home and its interiors are divine. The scenes filmed from Marianne’s bedroom balcony are particularly impressive in displaying the enormity of the property. There isn’t much here for effects however and just a glimpse of blood; but The Brides of Dracula is certainly none the lesser for it.

Those crazy nightgowns women wore during the Victorian period were not the gear for running in. Of course all that flowing fabric makes for some pretty pictures. I wonder if any women broke bones falling down those Hammer stairway sets in that Victorian garb? In any case, the costumes are all lovely and impressive; they just are not very practical when you need to run for your life! The story is simple but engrossing and they even add a couple special touches that make this particular vampire tale unique. A steady pace and a thrilling finale seal the deal. Certainly these older Hammer films seem quite subdued and bloodless in comparison to the films that came after. Keeping in mind that color was still a relatively new concept in film; a beautiful gothic horror tale like The Brides of Dracula must have been that much more impressive to audiences.

I have seen The Brides of Dracula probably a half dozen times over the years and I never get tired of it. It is charming, beautifully shot, well acted and chocked full o’mood and atmosphere. An entertaining and well made gothic horror and one of Hammer Studio’s best in my opinion. Highly recommended!

Dungeon Rating: 4/5

Directed By: Terence Fisher

Starring: Peter Cushing, Martita Hunt, Yvonne Monlaur, Freda Jackson, David Peel, Miles Malleson, Henry Oscar, Mona Washbourne, Andree Melly