Archive for vincent price

Favourite Five Series: ROGER CORMAN

Posted in Favourite Five Series, movies, USA with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 25, 2013 by goregirl

Way back in November 2011 I did a feature called Eisenhower and the Horror Movies which covered the horror films made during Eisenhower’s presidency (1953 – 1961). Roger Corman’s film career began during the Eisenhower years. in 1954 Corman produced Monster Maker and co-produced Highway Dragnet. In 1955 he made his directorial debut with Five Guns West. Roger Corman made several creature features during the decade including Not of This Earth, Attack of the Crab Monsters, The Wasp Woman and the hilarious and incredibly corny Creature from the Haunted Sea. That is just a sampling of some of my favourites from the period. I had no idea I was a fan of so many of Roger Corman’s films until I did my top ten lists for each year of the 1960s. Corman ruled the early part of the sixties. I could easily make this list nothing but Corman’s Vincent Price/Edgar Allan Poe collaborations. Corman also made a few pretty great non-horror flicks I’m also fond of. Roger Corman has 56 Director credits and 404 Producer credits! By George that is a resume! I have seen most of Corman’s directorial efforts but one I have not seen is the 1962 film The Intruder. The Intruder came highly recommended to me, so I will definitely check it out in the near future. I think a part two for Roger Corman is a strong possibility for the future. These are my favourite five…


Starring: Vincent Price, Mark Damon, Myrna Fahey, Harry Ellerbe

House of usher

Philip Winthrop intends to marry Madeline Usher but her brother Roderick adamantly opposes. Roderick believes their family’s bloodline is cursed; a curse that has caused his relations to go mad. Philip is anxious to take Madeline away from the house of Usher but the affliction of which she suffers prevents their departure. House of Usher was the first of several Roger Corman directed films based on the work of Edgar Allan Poe and starring horror legend Vincent Price. The Fall of the House of Usher is one of my favourite Poe short stories. Corman’s version is not an entirely faithful adaptation of Poe’s short story but the elements that make it great are included. Great performances compliment the solid script with Vincent Price perfectly cast in the central role of Roderick Usher. Myrna Fahey is strong as Madeline Usher. Harry Ellerbe gives a particularly memorable performance as Bristol the loyal family butler. Mark Damon as Philip Winthrop is a touch dry but he does have a great dream sequence which is one of the film’s best highlights. The visuals are first class all the way. House of Usher’s great costumes, fantastic sets, superb performances, well-paced plotting, Les Baxter’s neat score and Richard Matheson’s well-written script assures entertainment.



Starring: Vincent Price, Maggie Pierce, Leona Gage, Peter Lorre, Joyce Jameson, Basil Rathbone, Debra Paget


I said I could make this favourite five nothing but Roger Corman/Vincent Price/Edgar Allan Poe collaborations! I really could. Tales of Terror is a trilogy of Poe tales based on his stories The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar, Morella and The Black Cat. All three star Vincent Price. The first story is the sombre Morella. A daughter comes back to see her father and tell him she is dying. A father who blames her for the death of her mother and sent her away to a boarding school when she was a little girl. Morella is a haunting and bleak story with great performances from Leona Gage, Maggie Pierce and Vincent Price. My favourite of the three is The Black Cat. It is darkly hilarious! Peter Lorre plays Montresor; an obnoxious arrogant drunk and an abusive husband. One evening while stumbling about drunk Montresor walks into a wine tasting and challenges sommelier Fortunato Lechresi to a taste off. I absolutely love the taste off! Vincent Price plays Lechresi with flamboyant verve and his interaction with Lorre is absolutely priceless! Lorre and Price are both just terrific and they are given great material to work with. The final film is The Case of M. Valdemar. Ernest Valdemar is dying and has turned to hypnotism to ease his pain. Valdemar’s creepy hypnotist Carmichael gives his wife Helene the willies and his physician does not approve of Carmichael’s methods. In return for easing Valdemar’s pain Carmichael is asking for a favor that will cost more than Valdemar could have possibly imagined. Vincent Price as Ernest Valdemar and Basil Rathbone as Carmichael are particular stand outs in this moody and mildly trippy tale. I enjoyed all three segments of Tales of Terror. The trio is visually pleasing and the performances are beautiful, even the supporting roles I did not mention. Tales of Terror has atmosphere, chills and laughs with three horror legends that pleases me immensely.


The Wild Angels (1966)

Starring: Peter Fonda, Nancy Sinatra, Bruce Dern, Diane Ladd, Buck Taylor, Norman Alden, Michael J. Pollard


Blues leads a group of bikers who travel to Mecca California in search of a member’s stolen bike. The excursion ends badly for member Loser who is shot in the back by police and taken to the hospital. Blues and company bust Loser out of the hospital who dies shortly after inspiring the mother of all biker funerals. I like biker flicks and i am particularly fond of Roger Corman’s The Wild Angels. It wasn’t the first biker flick but it is one of the better known entries thanks in part to the appearances of Peter Fonda and Nancy Sinatra. The Wild Angels also seemed to motivate a greater volume of considerably harsher outlaw biker flicks. Since watching Kenneth Anger’s Scorpio Rising a few months back I have been hankering to check out more biker flicks. I would love to do a big feature on biker flicks, but I feel there are a few more key titles I still need to see. Definitely a project for the future. Peter Fonda is completely at ease playing Blues and is a convincing leader. Bruce Dern also slips comfortably into the biker mold playing Loser. They get sweet support from Nancy Sinatra who plays Mike, Blues’ woman and Diane Ladd who plays Gaysh, Losers squeeze. The Wild Angels is one of the best looking biker films I’ve seen. I love the opening shot of the little boy on the tricycle and the imagery of the bikers walking through the small town with Losers’ casket. The Wild Angels is full of “Hell-Raising Trouble Makers”, sex, drugs, humor, violence, rape and Harleys, lots and lots of Harleys. It has everything that makes biker flicks so appealing to me with the added bonus of being well-filmed and acted.



Starring: Vincent Price, John Kerr, Barbara Steele, Luana Anders, Antony Carbone, Patrick Westwood, Lynette Bernay


After learning of his sister Elizabeth’s death Francis Barnard travels to the isolated Medina Castle in Spain. Elizabeth was married to Don Medina; the son of a notoriously barbaric Spanish inquisitor. Barnard is suspicious of Medina’s explanation that Elizabeth died of a blood disease and insists on staying in the castle until he uncovers the truth. Much is indeed afoot in the Medina Castle of deceit and death. The Pit and the Pendulum’s best asset is its well written story. I was fully engaged from the first scene to the awesome finale. Another outstanding screenplay by Richard Matheson. The film has a steady pace and maintains an ominous and moody atmosphere throughout. The sets and costumes are fantastic especially the neato titular pendulum device. The Pit and the Pendulum is a visually pleasing delight with a great story and strong performances. The only real blemish is John Kerr who plays Francis Barnard; he is pretty dull. The supporting cast really shine with the fabulous Barbara Steele and Corman regulars Antony Carbone and Luana Anders. Vincent Price of course is just terrific as Don Medina. A neat little score from Les Baxter too! The Pit and the Pendulum is gold.



Starring: Dick Miller, Barboura Morris, Antony Carbone, Julian Burton, Ed Nelson, John Brinkley, John Herman Shaner, Judy Bamber, Myrtle Vail, Bert Convy


I saved the best for last! My favourite of all Roger Corman films; A Bucket of Blood. Socially awkward Walter Paisley is a busboy at a Bohemian joint called The Yellow Door Cafe. Misguided Walter desperately wants to be accepted by the artsy fartsy types who frequent the establishment; particularly the lovely Carla. He decides to buy some molding clay and try his hand at sculpting, but quickly becomes frustrated. It seems acceptance is out of his grasp until he accidentally kills his landlady’s cat and decides to cover it in clay. Quicker than you can say dead cat, Walter becomes a minor star of the local art scene. In the art world however you are only as good as your next piece and staying on top can really be murder! This plot summary came from my review of A Bucket of Blood; there isn’t much I can add that I didn’t cover; I love A Bucket of Blood! To read my review click here.

DAY FOUR of The William Castle Blogathon & Favourite Five Series: WILLIAM CASTLE

Posted in Favourite Five Series, horror, movies, USA, William Castle Blogathon with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 1, 2013 by goregirl

blogathon2Welcome to DAY FOUR of The William Castle Blogathon! I really can not thank the talented folks who have contributed to this event enough! Your entertaining features and your enthusiastic participation has made co-hosting this event an absolute pleasure! Hot Damn! You people rock!  And the Castle mayhem continues! We have a jammed-packed day of events for you so step right up! Let’s take a gander…

“Nobody Draws Faster Than Masterson of Kansas” My Kind of Story is ready to draw with his Masterson Of Kansas (1954) Image Gallery!
mok“Fate dials the number…terror answers the phone!”
Thrilling Days of Yesteryear
reviews I Saw What You Did (1965)!
ISWYDShe Blogged by Night swam through a pool of sharks to bring you their review for Let’s Kill Uncle (1966)!
lkuMercy? Or no mercy? Anti-Film School reviews Mr. Sardonicus (1961)!
mr sardonicusLike your information graphic? Well The Droid You’re Looking For has just what you need! The William Castle Gimmick Infographic! Here’s an appetizer…
TOP: Macabre, House on Haunted Hill, Homicidal, 13 Ghosts, The Tingler
BOTTOM: Mr. Sardonicus, 13 Frightened Girls, Strait-Jacket, I Saw What You Did, Zotz
castleicons The Droid invites you to use these icons if you so desire.

Lights! Camera! Action! Scenes from the Morgue is showcasing newspaper ads for William Castle films!
castle1You don’t have to call ahead…just boogie right over to The Last Drive In to see the rest of the Castle-tastic lineup!!
Castle Rosemary Phone Booth

***Favourite Five Series: WILLIAM CASTLE***

This is the second entry in my Favourite Five Series; a post I intend on making a regular feature. William Castle has 63 director credits listed on IMDB. Castle was under contract with Columbia and directed several of their films through the 1940s and 50s. He earned a reputation through the period of being a director who could produce a competent film; do it quickly, and under budget. Castle grew tired of the contract work and was determined to make his own film. Castle mortgaged his house and made Macabre. Macabre was the first of his gimmick flicks; he gave out life insurance policies from Lloyd’s of London in case patrons should die of fright while watching the film. This is the period of Castle’s career that has been my focus. I have seen all seventeen films from Macabre onward directed by Castle. Six of the seventeen were first time watches for this feature and two of those first time watches made this list!


Starring: Vincent Price, Carol Ohmart, Richard Long, Alan Marshal, Carolyn Craig, Elisha Cook Jr., Julie Mitchum, Leona Anderson, Howard Hoffman

Vincent Price made two films with William Castle in 1959; The Tingler and House on Haunted Hill. I am a huge fan of both films and a huge fan of Vincent Price. Vincent Price is one of my all time favourite actors who I have loved ever since I was a child. Vincent Price was all over the place when I was a kid. He was a regular on the game show Hollywood Squares (which my parents watched religiously), The Hilarious House of Frankenstein and Batman but it was all about his movies for me. I love all his 60s Corman flicks, The Last Man on Earth, Witchfinder General and especially my two very favourite Price flicks The Abominable Dr. Phibes and Theater of Blood. But before all those came House of Wax, The Fly, The Bat and of course William Castle’s The Tingler and House on Haunted Hill.
house on haunted hillIn House on Haunted Hill Vincent Price plays Frederick Loren; an eccentric millionaire who invites five people to a haunted house in honor of his wife Annabelle’s birthday. He offers each one $10,000 if they will stay the night. They only have a short time to decide because at midnight the doors are locked, and no one will be allowed to leave until the caretakers return in the morning. Vincent Price is not House on Haunted Hill’s only highlight. If you missed my Tuesday post The Women of Castle, Carol Ohmart was one of six women featured. Ohmart was inspiringly cast and is the perfect duelling partner for Mr. Price. Annabelle despises her husband through and through and they have some very entertaining and spirited conversations. Elisha Cook Jr. who plays the nervous Watson Pritchard is also a highlight. Pritchard spends the entire film wringing his hands and talking incessantly about murder and ghosts. House on Haunted Hill has a simple but compelling plot with a neat double cross/twist in the finale. Castle makes the most of the big rambling house and its many rooms and creates some nice atmosphere. The film is not without its suspense; it is not without its hokey elements either. Hokey or not; how can you not love that caretaker couple and that walking skeleton?! I’m loving the pit of acid in the basement; it is something every great villain should have equipped in their basement! And who doesn’t love party favors? Especially when they come in little coffin-shaped boxes! Vincent Price and Carol Ohmart’s performances are a massive highlight of House on Haunted Hill but it is also just a ton of fun! “Don’t stay up thinking of ways to get rid of me, it makes wrinkles.”
house on haunted hill1**********

SHANKS (1974)

Starring: Marcel Marceau, Tsilla Chelton, Philippe Clay, Cindy Eilbacher, Helena Kallianiotes, Larry Bishop, Don Calfa, Biff Manard, Mondo

m59757I was unable to find a trailer or clip for Shanks. As a matter of fact, I was unable to find much of anything on Shanks period. I am surprised they bothered to do lobby cards for the film. Pictured on the lobby card above is Marcel Marceau who plays Malcolm Shanks and Tsilla Chelton who plays Mrs. Barton (and was featured in my The Woman of Castle post). A shame this lobby card is black and white; I thought the film’s coloring was very appealing. Mrs. Barton’s striking red hair and lime green dress was a vision! As a matter of fact all of Mrs. Barton’s ensembles were a sight to see; like a twisted Holly Hobbie doll! It is a wonderful little touch to make her wardrobe something a doll might wear. I will explain that significance momentarily. Before the film begins we are told it is a “Grim Fairy Tale”. The film begins and ends with central character Malcolm Shanks putting on a puppet show. Shanks is a fantasy that twists the idea of reanimation into something very unique; twisting it into something that suits the talents of its star Marcel Marceau. In this fairy tale mute puppeteer Malcolm Shanks performs a puppet show for a group of kids. The group of joyful patrons includes Old Walker and Celia. Shanks and Celia are friends and he has promised to perform a puppet show for her birthday. Shanks lives with Mrs. Barton, the wife of his dead brother and pays rent as a tenant. Mrs. Barton is re-married to a drunk with a bad temper; the couple are not kind to Shanks. Shanks gets work with wealthy eccentric inventor Old Walker. Walker dies suddenly leaving behind his latest invention that can animate the inanimate. I shall not spoil how (Mr. Barton’s death is especially great) but the Barton’s meet their demise relatively early in the film. Mr. and Mrs. Barton spend the balance of the story as corpses controlled by puppeteer Malcolm Shanks. Celia learns of Shanks remote-controlled corpses and is initially horrified but relents to the idea cautiously. Celia celebrates her birthday with Shanks and is served cake by the Bartons which is when Shanks takes a dark turn. The chapter title reads “The Outside World of Evil”: which segues into a shot of a gang of bikers. One of the bikers is killed and the gang ends up bringing the body into Old Walker’s mansion where they are presently celebrating Celia’s birthday.
m59751Shanks is unlike anything else on Castle’s resume. I think it is such a unique and appealing entry. This was definitely a collaborative effort between Marcel Marceau and William Castle. Marceau apparently contributed significantly to every aspect of the film. Marceau’s speciality is mime and Shanks incorporates a lot of that type of body work in its plot. Corpses are controlled like puppets! Marceau plays dual roles in the film; Malcolm Shanks and Old Walker. As Old Walker he gets to do his thing and it is truly magic! Shanks has some difficulty getting accustomed to the re-animator’s controls and attempts to get Old Walker’s corpse from a horizontal position into an armchair. Like every scene in the film that features the re-animated characters it is a huge treat! Marceau is immensely talented! Giving him a run for his miming money is Tsilla Chelton a former member of his troupe in Paris and she is simply superb as Mrs. Barton. Revisiting Mrs. Barton’s wardrobe it seemed like a fitting detail to put her in doll-like dresses being that she was manipulated like one. Philippe Clay who plays Mr. Barton does some pretty great mime work also. Cindy Eilbacher was well-cast as Celia; she is sweet and likable but not at all sugary. The bikers have names like Genghis Kahn, Einstein and Goliath. Shanks features biker flick veteran Larry Bishop (The Savage Seven, Angel Unchained, Chrome and Hot Leather) who plays Napoleon and Don Calfa (Return of the Living Dead) who plays Einstein. The film is presented in chapters with these wonderful imaginative chapter titles. I wasn’t entirely happy with the way this GIF turned out so I did not include it in my Fun With GIFs post; for the sake of illustrating the chapters for you it works well enough.
shanks03Shanks is a fairy tale with a theatrical vibe…I could see it translating perfectly into a stage play. It is also not without its Grand-Guignol elements. Shanks is funny, surprising, clever, beautiful, well-acted, occasionally violent and it has Marcel Marceau and bikers! Shanks is a genuine one-of-a-kind entry from the 70s worth its weight in gold!



Starring: Joan Marshall (as Jean Arless), Glenn Corbett, Patricia Breslin, Eugenie Leontovich, Alan Bunce, Richard Rust, James Westerfield, Gilbert Green

The trailers and promotional spots for William Castle flicks are such a delicious treat! I can not recommend more highly watching the above charming promotional bit for Castle’s 1961 film Homicidal. William Castle gets on-the-spot audience reactions to Homicidal. I particularly enjoyed the serious young man who shook Castle’s hand and told him “I think Alfred Hitchcock is going to have to go a long way to try to top something like this.” He surely went into sales when he got older. Castle gave out money back guarantees for those too frightened to see Homicidal’s shocking finale. You could leave the theatre during the fright break and get a refund but you had to stand in the Coward’s Corner until the audience was let out. When you paid .70 cents to see a William Castle movie you got your .70 cents worth! Castle went the distance to give audiences a special experience; but an evening with Homicidal’s Emily is well worth the price of admission on its own. Apparently my favourite William Castle films also feature my favourite female performances. Joan Marshall is another actress featured in my Women of Castle piece. Marshall is deviously delightful in Homicidal. Joan Marshall IS Homicidal. An attractive blond woman checks into a hotel under the name Miriam Webster. She offers a bellhop $2000 to marry her assuring him the marriage would be annulled immediately after. They drive to the home of a justice of the peace who Miriam stabs to death. We learn that she is the caretaker for a mute wheelchair-bound woman named Helga. The plot thickens when we meet the real Miriam Webster. We learn our former Miriam is actually Emily who is employed by Miriam’s half-brother Warren. We also learn Warren is about to come into a large fortune. Homicidal’s story is surprisingly dark and includes themes of child abuse and sexuality. It is a spoiler for me to divulge the sexual nature of the film; but I think most people will figure it out pretty quickly. Despite knowing the reveal/twist it did not spoil my enjoyment of Homicidal at all.
Homicidal lobby cardThe film drew comparisons to Psycho when it was released. Castle apparently held focus groups through his fan clubs asking members if they had seen and enjoyed Psycho and if they would go see a similar film. There is no denying a few similarities but Homicidal is uniquely William Castle and a fine thriller in its own right. Castle’s meaty opening sequence hooked me right away. Emily stabs the justice of the peace multiple times and the scene is surprisingly violent particularly for a film from 1961. Homicidal is an efficient little thriller with a lively pace and little unnecessary dialog. The highlight here as aforementioned is Emily. This callous, catty, confused, conniving, and cold-blooded murderess is in a class all her own. The attractive blond in her conservative gingham print dress threatening Helga her mute wheel-chair bound charge with her newly sharpened surgical knife is just one of copious “moments” for Emily. Emily has dozens of them and every freaking last one of them is a gem of unrestrained emotion! Angry, pouty, fretful, sad, irritated and homicidal; Emily emotes and emotes and emotes some more! Joan Marshall completely lets loose in the role of Emily and I really couldn’t imagine any one else in this role. It is too much fun watching her terrorize Helga; who evidently is no innocent party in this story. Actress Eugenie Leontovich is quite good as Helga despite not speaking a word. I enjoy this film more with every viewing. Homicidal is a good horror-thriller but it is Joan Marshall’s entertaining and memorable performance that makes it special.
Homicidal lobby card1



Starring: Robert Taylor, Barbara Stanwyck, Judi Meredith, Hayden Rorke, Rochelle Hudson, Jess Barker, Marjorie Bennett, Lloyd Bochner, Tetsu Komai

This was my first viewing of The Night Walker; William Castle’s 1964 horror-thriller written by Robert Bloch. The Night Walker stars Barbara Stanwyck as Irene Trent; it would be Stanwyck’s final feature film. Stanwyck stars opposite Robert Taylor whom she was married to from 1939 to 1951. The Night Walker was one of the last black and white films released by Universal and it is definitely a gem. Irene is in a bitterly unhappy marriage to blind millionaire inventor Howard Trent. Irene’s paranoid husband has been recording her and believes she is having an affair. Irene does indeed have a lover…in her dreams. Irene is talking sweet nothings in her sleep which is only increasing Howard’s paranoia. Irene is suddenly freed from her oppressive relationship when Howard dies in an explosion in his laboratory. Barbara decides to move out of the huge house and into a small apartment in the back of a beauty salon she owns. She begins to have increasingly vivid dreams that take on a decidedly nightmarish quality. The dreams are so vivid she feels certain they are not dreams at all. The Night Walker opens with the questions; What are dreams? What do they mean? What do you know about the secret world you visit when you sleep?” I desperately wanted to know! The visuals in the opening sequence of The Night Walker were absolutely fantastic! A trippy series of images, blinking eyeballs, flying women! The dream sequences through the entire film are all beautifully done. Particularly brilliant is a scene where Irene is swept away by her dream lover to a nightmare wedding attended and officiated over by mannequins! Unforgettable! I wish there had been more dream sequences! The effects are also well done. The melted face and dead white eyes of Howard Trent are quite haunting!
the night walkerThe Night Walker has an intriguing plot that kept me invested and Barbara Stanwyck is really fantastic in her role. She is empathetic and likable but never wishy-washy. Barbara Stanwyck is not only a talented actress she is one hell of a screamer! Bloody hell that woman can scream! She has a few pretty brilliant scenes where she shouts, screams and shakes her fists at the sky! “I cant wake up!” “I can’t wake up!” “I CAN’T WAKE UP!” Robert Taylor plays Barry Moreland; Howard’s lawyer, and the only person allowed inside the estate. I found Barry a little on the stiff side personally but apparently he was very attractive to woman. Irene is attracted to Barry but they don’t dwell on this, it is more of a passing observation. The chemistry between Barry and Irene was comfortable enough but not particularly endearing. I enjoyed Taylor in the role nonetheless. The neat little soundtrack by Vic Mizzy is a nice compliment to the film. I posted a piece of music from the The Night Walker yesterday. The Night Walker is one of Castle’s strongest stories and is a great little horror thriller with a perfect mood and atmosphere and excellent performances well worth seeing just to get an earful of Barbara Stanwyck screaming.


Starring: Vincent Price, Judith Evelyn, Darryl Hickman, Patricia Cutts, Pamela Lincoln, Philip Coolidge

The Tingler is a favourite from childhood. I was born long after The Tingler came out in theatres but I watched a lot of classic horror as a kid thanks to my father who was a huge fan. The Tingler would have been a pretty fabulous film-going experience though. Castle presented The Tingler in Percepto. Percepto allowed certain “more sensitive” audience members to feel what the characters on-screen allegedly feel. Buzzers were tucked under random seats in the theatre to buzz butts at appropriate moments. Add some planted audience members who pretend to faint and are carried out by doctors and you get so much more than just a movie! What a hoot! The only way to stop The Tingler is to scream! “Don’t forget…screaming will save your life!” Pathologist Dr. Warren Chapin believes that a powerful creature created by fear manifests itself on the spine leaving it cracked. He nicknames the phenomena The Tingler and is desperate to prove his theory true. He gets a chance to do so after meeting Ollie Higgins and his mute wife Martha. If screaming can paralyze the creature and effectively kill it, what would happen if a person could not scream? That is an outrageous premise; almost as outrageous as The Tingler itself. The Tingler looks like a fat spinal cord with legs and two big antennae….it also looks a lot like a silverfish actually. I enjoy the hell out of The Tingler but that may be one of the most un-frightening creatures ever created. I would almost go so far as to say cute. In fact, i would probably buy a Tingler plush! Don’t get me wrong, The Tingler is very much part of The Tingler’s charm! All the scenes featuring The Tingler are superbly fun; especially the movie theatre scene!
Tinglergif3You also get to see Vincent Price having an acid trip! Dr. Chapin is seen reading “Fright Effects Induced By Injection Of Lysergic Acid LSD25 – A Preliminary Report.” The Tingler was allegedly the first film to feature the use of acid as a drug. Price’s trip is too great! Price of course is super fantastic as Dr. Chapin. I could watch Vincent Price making paper airplanes for 90 minutes. Although brief, I enjoyed the banter between Dr. Chapin and his wife Isabel played by Patricia Cutts. Isabel enjoys reminding her husband that without her he would have nothing. All the cast are good but Judith Evelyn who plays Martha Higgins is a real standout. Martha of course does not utter a word the entire film. Martha and her husband Ollie own a repertoire theatre that plays silent films. The intense and animated Martha seems as though she may be a star of the silent screen herself. Evelyn does a wonderful job. The Tingler has some neat visuals that quite impressed me. A splash of color in a black and white film is going to catch your eye; and the blood-filled bathtub in The Tingler is certainly a dazzler! The Tingler is camplicious entertainment and it is camp that boasts solid performances, some well-executed effects and a lot of creativity!


WITCHFINDER GENERAL (1968) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 12, 2012 by goregirl

Witchfinder General is a Tigon Film; a short lived UK Studio with a slim catalogue. What I’ve seen from Tigon, Witchfinder General along with The Blood on Satan’s Claw are the two gems in their crown. Witchfinder General is not really a horror film despite its ample body count. The witch hunts were a real part of history and Matthew Hopkins and John Stearne were real men. According to Wikipedia Hopkins and Stearne went on a fourteen month crusade sending more people to the gallows than all of the witchfinders in the 160 years of persecution in England. These two loathsome bastards killed a lot of women to line their pockets. This is one of my favourite Vincent Price roles. Price gives an understated performance and is convincingly cold, arrogant and cruel. Vincent Price is definitely one of Witchfinder General’s strongest assets, but there are other reasons to appreciate it also.

Matthew Hopkins and his assistant John Stearne travel the country offering their services as persecutors of witches as a civil war rages between the Royalists and the Parliamentary Party. In one village Hopkins persecutes a priest and brings upon himself the vengeance of Richard Marshall who is engaged to the priest’s niece Sara Lowes. Not even the threat of treason will prevent Marshall from satisfying his bloodlust.

If it wasn’t for the love story and revenge subplot Witchfinder General would be a historical drama. It is a bleak and ugly subject matter that is not treated lightly. Even the love story is full of dark corners. Sara Lowes is a very tragic character. What happens to Sara just further illustrates the depravity and unbridled power Hopkins was able to wield. I didn’t think this part of the subplot distracted from the overall morbid feeling of the film at all. The revenge angle of the subplot was certainly a more satisfying finale for the evil Hopkins than his real life death at his home from Pleural Tuberculosis. Strangely the revenge portion was probably the weakest part of the story. I didn’t dislike Richard Marshall and his bloodlust is certainly justifiable I think I just wanted the character to be more compelling somehow. It is a petty complaint in what was a very solid story.

Witchfinder General is a fantastic looking film with amazing sets, props and costumes and captures its period beautifully. Hopkins was an active Witchfinder between 1644 – 1647. I think you can get a good idea of how nicely realized the sets were from the screenshot I included. Since I already raved about Vincent Price’s performance, I will add only that he receives some outstanding support from Robert Russell who plays the sadistic assistant John Stearne. Stearne does most of the dirty work and seems to take a particular joy from the torture part of his job. Stearne is a man who feels no pity or remorse in his pursuit to fill his purse. Russell is so very good at being so very heinous! Hilary Dwyer who plays Sara Lowes is lovely and likable and it is very sad to see her broken. Despite some minor issues with the character of Richard Marshall I thought Ian Ogilvy did a respectable job.

Witchfinder General is about a very disturbing period of history. The persecution of witches lasted 160 years in England! It is surreal to imagine this crazy shit went on at all never mind for 160 years. I would say this is a case where reality is so much more horrifying than fiction. Witchfinder General is a well-made, gritty film that is as fascinating as it is daunting and features one of Vincent Price’s most chilling performances. Highly recommended.

Dungeon Rating: 4/5

Directed By: Michael Reeves

Starring: Vincent Price, Ian Ogilvy, Rupert Davies, Patrick Wymark, Wilfrid Brambell, Hilary Heath, Robert Russell, Nicky Henson, Tony Selby, Michael Beint

Goregirl’s TOP 10 Favourite Horror Films From 1960

Posted in horror, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2012 by goregirl

IMDB listed 139 titles for 1960, but once I dug into the list I discovered only 61 were actually full-length feature films. As is my modus operandi when doing these features, I do not include shorts, documentaries, made for TV movies or TV series. IMDB lists every individual episode of the television shows which accounted for a goodly number of the 139 titles. There were several episodes of the excellent Twilight Zone series along with two shows I had never heard of Thriller and The Unforeseen. I saw 47 of the 61 films from 1960. Ranking these was practically impossible. For starters my entire top five are films I ranked 5/5. How do you rank films you rated identically? Numbers 6 and 7 were films I rated 4.5/5 so they were easy enough to place. The bigger problem came when trying to decide which 3 films would round out the list when I had 8 films I ranked 4/5! What a colossal headache! The films I left off are all well worth a viewing; The Brides of Dracula, Circus of Horrors, The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll and The Secret of the Telgian.



Directed By: John Gilling

The Flesh and the Fiends is the story of infamous corpse peddlers William Burke and William Hare and their business transactions with Professor Dr. Robert Knox. The lead performances are absolutely top notch; Peter Cushing as Dr. Knox, Donald Pleasence as Hare and George Rose as Burke are perfectly cast. Some of the supporting character subplots felt redundant but it’s a small complaint in an otherwise outstanding film. The Flesh and the Fiends beautifully captures the dark shadows of 19th Century Edinburgh. It’s a fantastic looking film with an excellent grim and eerie vibe. The deaths are not graphic but they are cold-hearted, well-executed and effectively chilling. I foolishly assumed being a 1960 British film starring Peter Cushing and directed by John Gilling (who directed the fantastic Hammer film Plague of the Zombies) that this was a Hammer film. It was in fact made at Shepperton Studios and was produced by Triad Productions. I was particularly torn between Circus of Horrors and The Flesh and the Fiends. In the end John Gilling’s excellent The Flesh and the Fiends won out in a large part thanks to the performances of Cushing, Pleasance and Rose.



Directed By: Giorgio Ferroni

Mill of the Stone Women is about a reporter writing a story on a reclusive sculptor who lives in an old mill. The mill houses a strange tourist attraction created by the sculptor; a carousel-esque contraption that features statues of historical women including some famous murderesses. The sculptor is hiding a secret in the form of a beautiful daughter suffering from some mysterious illness. Add to the mix an eccentric doctor and you’ve got one entertaining story. They give away too much information too soon yet the finale is none the lesser for it. The film’s finale is an absolute utter treat! Mill of the Stone Women is an imaginatively filmed lush affair with some seriously trippy scenes. The performances are good; particularly strong are Herbert Boehme as Professor Gregorius Wahl and Wolfgang Preiss as Dr. Loren Bohlem. It is a slow-moving but hypnotic watch with utterly fantastic set pieces, especially that lady carousel; that thing was freaking awesome! Giorgio Ferroni’s Mill of the Stone Women is a stylish, atmospheric horror film that comes highly recommended.



Directed By: Nobuo Nakagawa

Jigoku or The Sinners of Hell is a bit of a bitch to give a short summary for. It is a story about a student named Shiro who is engaged to his professor’s daughter Yukiko. Shiro is the passenger in a hit and run, but there is a witness who wants revenge, Yukiko dies in a car accident, and Shiro is called home to see his dying mother. Shiro’s father runs a shoddy retirement home and openly flaunts his mistress and his mother’s caretaker is a dead ringer for his recently deceased fiancé. For reasons I will not divulge everyone ends up in hell. Hell! Rivers of blood, endless tortures, and demons await you! Jigoku is one of the earliest films to feature graphic gore. There is a flaying and a decapitation among other goodies. Jigoku is an exceptional film visually that is as beautiful as it is bizarre. To check out my photo review for Jigoku click here. Jigoku is an exceptionally unique Japanese horror film…and it has gore!



Directed By: Roger Corman

Roger Corman directed several films based on the work of Edgar Allan Poe starring horror legend Vincent Price. Expect to see more of these on the top ten lists as they are some of the best the decade has to offer! Vincent Price plays Roderick Usher who opposes the marriage of his sister Madeline due to their cursed family bloodline. Price, of course is brilliant as Roderick Usher and he gets strong support from Myrna Fahey who plays Madeline Usher, Harry Ellerbe as Bristol and Mark Damon as Philip Winthrop; Madeline’s intended. The visuals are first class all the way. House of Usher’s great costumes, fantastic sets, superb performances and well-paced plotting assures you are entertained every single second of its 80ish minute runtime.



Directed By: John Llewellyn Moxey

City of the Dead was on my list of favourite witchcraft films I posted last week and it easily qualified as one of the best of 1960. City of the Dead is about a college student prompted by her professor to do research in the tiny village of Whitewood where much to her horror she discovers she is a target for a coven of witches. The performances are good particularly from Patricia Jessel who plays dual roles and Christopher Lee who has a memorable supporting turn. City of the Dead is a great atmospheric horror films with excellent suspense, beautifully gothic visuals and an engrossing story with one hell of a finale.



Directed By: Wolf Rilla

Village of the Damned has been a favourite since I was a kid. An entire town rendered unconscious and protected by an invisible force field even the military can not breach. After a while the force field disappears and the townsfolk begin waking up seemingly unharmed. A few weeks later however the women of child-bearing age discover they are pregnant and all deliver on the same day. The children grow at an alarming rate and bare a striking resemblance to one another. The creepy, emotionless blonde haired children also possess supernatural powers! Filmed in beautiful black and white with a perfect sense of paranoia and an eerie menacing vibe that is completely engrossing. Village of the Damned is well-written and the performances are perfect; especially excellent is George Sanders as the affable Gordon Zellaby, and the talented Barbara Shelley as his charming wife Anthea. Beware the glowing eyes of the children! Why haven’t you seen this film? Village of the Damned is one of the great classics of sci-fi horror.



Directed By: Mario Bava

I warned you it would not be the last time you would see Mario Bava’s Black Sunday on a list! There is no movie on this list I have seen more than Black Sunday! My childhood viewing of Black Sunday terrified me! These days I appreciate it more for its beautiful, gothic, hypnotizing cinematography. But that scene of the mask of Satan being pounded into Barbara Steele’s face still has some sting! It is the story of a witch put to death by her own brother who returns 200 years later to seek revenge on her descendants. Black Sunday is beautiful, eerie and hypnotic and Barbara Steele simply stuns in her dual roles. Black Sunday is one of the greatest gothic horror films ever made!



Directed By: Michael Powell

Peeping Tom has a particularly racy story for 1960. Peeping Tom is the story of Mark Lewis who murders women so he can capture on film their terrified expressions before death. Its voyeuristic nature is heavily emphasized and the film is as much psychological as it is horrifying. Carl Boehm plays it quiet and brooding and is outstanding as the awkward and unstable titular Peeping Tom Mark Lewis. This isn’t simply a film about a serial killer it is an in-depth character study and an intelligently written story that explores deeper issues than one would expect of the sub-genre. The film is a slow-burn but an extremely effective one. Peeping Tom is a dark, edgy, well-made film that was ahead of its time. Absolutely brilliant.



Directed By: Georges Franju

Eyes Without a Face is about Christiane who lives hidden from the world, shrouded by a white featureless mask that hides her horribly disfigured face. Her father is guilt-ridden plastic surgeon, Dr. Genessier. With the help of his assistant Louise, they lure young women in and surgically remove their faces in hope of successfully grafting the skin to his daughter. But one failed graft after another leaves a pile of bodies and little hope. Eyes without a Face is about vanity, guilt, obsession, depression and redemption. It is a tale that is as bizarre and bleak as it is beautiful. Eyes Without a Face is a visually stunning film; its sterile brightly lit surgeries, shadowy corridors, endless rooms and impressive set pieces. The “face removal” was very graphic for the time and still impresses. A strange and wonderful score compliments beautifully. Eyes Without a Face is a flawless, strikingly original, bleak and beautiful contribution to the horror genre.



Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock

Truthfully, I don’t enjoy Psycho any more than the other films in this top five. As I mentioned in my introduction I gave all five of these films an identical perfect rating. Alas one of the films had to hold this spot and technically speaking Psycho is a flawless masterpiece. I am sure there is nothing I can add that hasn’t been said about Psycho before. If you are unfamiliar with Psycho’s story it revolves around a woman named Marion Crane who decides to leave town to start a new life with money she stole from her employer. Inevitably she must stop to rest and chooses the Bates Motel run by a socially awkward momma’s boy named Norman Bates. This does not end well for Ms. Crane whose disappearance does not go unnoticed. Psycho is a stunning film with a pitch perfect mood and atmosphere. Psycho’s real attraction for me is Norman Bates. Anthony Perkins gives a truly epic and iconic performance as cinema’s most infamous momma’s boy. Hitchcock constructed a truly beautiful, chilling, ground-breaking film that has a firm place in horror history.


THE TINGLER (1959) – The Dungeon Review!

Posted in horror, movies, USA with tags , , , , , , on May 14, 2011 by goregirl

I just picked up The William Castle Film Collection; a five disc set which features all eight of the Columbia Titles, the full length documentary Spine-Tingler: The William Castle Story and all sorts of special features. It was my intention to nibble on this collection and watch one here and there and really savor it. So much for good intentions! I started with the documentary which instantly made me want to watch one of the films which turned into watching two films. So you’re getting a William Castle hat trick. The Tingler features PERCEPTO which sadly does not translate to DVD home viewing. In theatres however PERCEPTO allowed certain “more sensitive” audience members to feel what the characters on screen allegedly feel. This wonder of technology was achieved by putting buzzers under random seats in the theatre. The only way to stop The Tingler is to scream! Open your mouth and let one rip as Castle himself recommended. Add some planted audience members who pretend to faint and are carried out by doctors and you get so much more than just a movie! Come on! How fun is that?! William Castle does a brief introduction which also serves as a public service announcement. Don’t forget…screaming will save your life!!

Pathologist Dr. Warren Chapin conducts autopsies on executed convicts. He notices a similarity among many of the deaths that suggests they may have been scared to death. Chapin believes that a powerful creature created by fear manifests itself on the spine leaving it cracked. He nicknames the phenomena The Tingler and is desperate to prove his theory true. He gets a chance to do so after meeting Ollie Higgins and his deaf, mute wife Martha. He learns that screaming can paralyzes the creature and effectively kill it. But what if a person could not scream?

When your film has a completely ridiculous premise it helps immensely to have Vincent Price as your lead man. Regardless of how silly the subject matter Price always takes the material seriously. I love Vincent Price and his awesome delivery! He makes just about any film watchable if you ask me! In The Tingler you get to see Vincent Price having an acid trip! An acid trip in 1959! At one point in the film we see Dr. Chapin reading “Fright Effects Induced By Injection Of Lysergic Acid LSD25 – A Preliminary Report.” According to the Castle documentary The Tingler was the first film to feature the use of acid as a drug. The fine over-the-top theatrics by Price during his “trip” is not to be missed! All the cast are good but Judith Evelyn who plays deaf mute Martha Higgins is a real standout. Martha of course doesn’t utter a word the entire film. Martha and her husband Ollie own a repertoire theatre that plays silent films. The intense and animated Martha seems as though she may be a star of the silent screen herself. Martha faints at the sight of blood, which Dr. Chapin refers to as psychosomatic blackouts. Martha inevitably provides the good doctor with what he needs to prove his theory. Making for some colorful interaction is Patricia Cutts who plays Dr. Chapin’s wife Isabel. She openly cheats on her husband and enjoys reminding him that without her he’d have nothing. Isabel does not play a large part in the story but the banter between the couple is amusing. He introduces his wife to a black cat he had planned on using as an experiment and asks her if the two perhaps has already met in some alley somewhere. Zing! Great characters, fun banter and a wacky outlandish premise…check!

It’s unlikely The Tingler is going to scare anyone. In fact, The Tingler itself is hilariously bad. You can literally see the wires that move the terribly fake creature. When it moves it couldn’t possibly look more unnatural. The Tingler resembles a rubber backbone with two long tentacles on its head which conveniently wrap nicely around a human arm or throat. It’s pretty amusing seeing Vincent Price pretend to struggle with The Tingler which is supposed to be as strong as vice grips. The close up shots are fun, but it’s the silhouette shots that really tickled me. When The Tingler is first removed from a spine it is done behind a screen. Even obscuring The Tingler doesn’t help its cause. Watch out for the theatre silhouette scene; it is a real humdinger!

I suppose enjoyment of this sort of film relies on your tolerance of cheese and The Tingler is finely aged cheddar! I really enjoyed The Tingler; it’s quirky, charming and a lot of fun! Recommended!

Dungeon Rating: 4/5

Directed By: William Castle

Starring: Vincent Price, Judith Evelyn, Darryl Hickman, Patricia Cutts, Pamela Lincoln, Philip Coolidge

Check out this nifty model of Vincent Price and The Tingler…