Movie Fan Man: Cinema Connoisseur

Traditional, Artsy, Genre-Within-Genre: A Little Something for Everyone

What to Watch in Horror….

And Why

by Tony Nash

Here’s a little list of the film’s I’ve reviewed and those I’ve seen but haven’t reviewed as of yet, and why Horror film fans should give them a try and look.

Häxan (1922)

Haxan, or: Witchcraft Throughout the Ages (1922) ***** – Written & Directed by: Benjamin Christensen, Starring: Benjamin Christensen, Astrid Holm, Maren Pedersen, Tore Teje, Clara Pontoppidan

Synopsis: An early documentary style film about the various forms of Witchcraft and the logical interpretation of their causes.

A must for those who love documentaries and scary films. Christensen’s make-up as Satan himself is both comical and frightening. Showcasing both the superstitions and the truths that lay behind them, viewers will be amazed and enlightened by what Fear of the Unknown does to the human mind.

Körkarlen (1921)

Körkarlen (The Phantom Carriage) (1921) *****- Written & Directed by: Victor Sjöström, based on a novel by Selma Lagerlöf, Starring: Victor Sjöström, Astrid Holm, Tore Svennberg, Hilda Borgström, Lisa Lundholm, Tor Weijden

Synopsis: A drunkard dies just as midnight strikes on the New Year, and a dying nun prays he won’t become the Coachman of Death.

For those who enjoy Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and the idea of spirits redeeming a forsaken man to live right. The mood and atmosphere are very ripe for Horror and Fantasy fans and gives audiences hope for people while also scarring them.

Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922)

Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (Nosferatu, Nosferatu – A Symphony of Horror) (1922) ***** – Directed by: F.W. Murnau, Written by: Henrik Galeen, based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Starring: Max Schreck, Gustav von Wangenheim, Greta Schroeder, Alexander Granach, Gustav Botz, John Gottowt

Synopsis: The sinister Count Graf Orlok has his sights set on the city of Berlin for new victims to satisfy his thirst for blood when the locals of Transylvania find spells and incantations to repel him. Only a man named Hutter and his wife Ellen can foil his plot.

The make-up for Max Schreck (whose surname means Terror in German) is the main selling point of this feature. It’s fame came mostly from Bram Stoker’s estate suing F.W. Murnau for copyright infringement and the film nearly becoming lost forever. Seen by some as the most accurate retelling of the Dracula story, the film’s atmosphere and the consistent sense of foreboding help make the film a must for any fan of Horror.

Vampyr (1932) ***** – Directed by: Carl Th. Dreyer, Written by: Carl Th. Dreyer & Christen Jul, based on the short story Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu, Starring: Julian West, Maurice Schultz, Sybille Schmitz Rena Mandel, Jan Hieronimko, Henriètte Gerard, Albert Bras, Georges Boidin

Synopsis: Allan Gray, a young man enamored of the Occult, finds himself drawn into the world of the Undead as he makes plans to rescue the daughters of a murdered aristocrat from a long dead Vampire and her Doctor assistant.

While more of an Art-House item than an entertainment, there’s more than enough to satisfy Horror buffs. The imagery and lighting alone is enough to draw anyone into its web.  The dream like atmosphere offers an interesting interpretation of time and place in context of the tale, leaving audiences to wonder if what they, and the lead character, are seeing is real.

The Mummy (1959)

The Mummy (1959) ***** – Directed by: Terence Fisher, Written by: Jimmy Sangster, Starring: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Yvette Furneaux, George Pastell, Eddie Byrne, Felix Aylmer, Raymond Huntley, Michael Ripper

Synopsis: After father and son archeologists Stephen and John Banning, along with relative Joseph Whemple, open the tomb of Egyptian Priestess Princess Ananka, cult devotee Mehemet Bey vows revenge for the desecration. When his father is institutionalized after going mad and then murdered, John begins to suspect something strange is afoot. When Bey suddenly moves to England with a strange case, the mystery deepens. The story of a High Priest buried alive for his blasphemous love of the Princess figures into events.

See my review

La maschera del demonio (1960)

La Maschera del Demonio (The Mask of the Demon, The Mask of Satan, Black Sunday) (1960) ****1/2 – Directed by Mario Bava, Written by: Ennio De Concini, Mario Serandrei, Mario Bava, Marcello Coscia, & Dino De Palma, from the tale by Nikolay Gogol (as Nikolaj Gogol) Starring: Barbara Steele, John Richardson, Andrea Checchi, Ivo Garrani, Arturo Dominici,

Synopsis: A doctor and his mentor accidentally bring a long dead Witch back to life after visiting her tomb prison. When the mentor mysteriously vanishes, the young doctor takes up residence with the local royal family the Vajda’s where he discovers the witch was their ancestor, who swore revenge when her brother had a mask hammered onto her face and she bled to death. The daughter’s uncanny resemblance to the witch has her father worried the curse is neigh, and strange goings on begin to happen.

See my write up

Vincent Price, John Kerr, and Barbara Steele in Pit and the Pendulum (1961)

The Pit and the Pendulum (1961) **** – Directed by: Roger Corman, Written by Richard Matheson, based on the short story by Edgar Allan Poe, Starring: Vincent Price, Barbara Steele, John Kerr, Luna Anders, Antony Carbone, Patrick Westwood

Synopsis: A young man looking into the presumed death of his sister comes across the shameful secret of his brother-in-law: his father was a bloodthirsty Spanish Inquisitor, and he’s fearful he’s inherited the man’s madness. When both men believe the dead woman has come back as a ghost, more secrets will be revealed.

One of the more restrained, straightforward Roger Corman/AIP made Poe films. While more of a Gothic Thriller than Horror, Price’s character’s recollection of his father’s murderous deeds years earlier make for good scares and dread. Corman and Matheson’s inclusion of the inherited guilt/sins of the father theme makes for a nice deeper meaning for later events in the film. While Price goes into some Melodramatic theatricals at a turning point in the film, the cast plays it mostly as if the events could happen in real life.

Tales of Terror (1962)

Tales of Terror (1962) **** Directed by: Roger Corman, Written by: Richard Matheson, based on three tales by Edgar Allan Poe, Starring: Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Basil Rathbone, Debra Paget, Joyce Jameson, Maggie Pierce, Leona Gage, & David Franklin

Synopsis: Three tales by Edgar Allan Poe, each having a theme of revenge after death.

For those looking for traditional Horror with a little Dark Comedy at the center. The first of two Anthology Films based on Poe’s work mixes some of his tales together but the end result is genuine fun and creepy entertainment with fine acting from the entire cast. Cinematography and lighting are the highlights of the film.

I tre volti della paura (1963)

I Tre Volti della Paura (The Three Faces of Fear/Black Sabbath) (1963) ***** Directed by Mario Bava, Written by: Marcello Fondato, Alberto Bevilacqua, & Mario Bava, based on tales by Anton Chekhov (as Chekhov), Aleksei Tolstoy (as Tolstoi), Guy de Maupassant (as Maupassant), & F.G. Snyder, Starring: Boris Karloff, Michèle Mercier (as Michele Mercier), Mark Damon, Jacqueline Pierreux, Lidia Alfonsi (as Lydia Alfonsi), Susy Andersen, & Milly (as Milly Monti)

Synopsis: Three separate tales, set in three different places & eras, all dealing with tales of fear and the supernatural.

The first tale Il Telefono (The Telephone) is more of a Mystery/Suspense?Thriller rather than Horror (please see my write-up of that piece), but I Wurdalak (The Wurdalak) and La Goccia d’Acqua (The Drop of Water) are full on Horror pieces. Both are ripe with dread, atmosphere, and brooding, relying on lighting to heighten the sense of Horror. Not conventional by any means, Horror buffs looking for something totally different from the American and German Expressionist periods is in for a real treat as they go against all conventions of the genre.

The Gorgon (1964)

The Gorgon (1964) PG-13 **** – Directed by Terence Fisher, Written by: John Gilling, based on a story by: J. Llewellyn Devine, Starring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Barbara Shelley, Richard Pasco, Patrick Troughton, Michael Goodlife, & Prudence Hyman

Synopsis: After his brother is found hung and his father turned to stone, a university student begs his Professor, who is knowledgeable on the Occult, to come and help him find the culprit. The locals insist it was Megaera, the surviving sister of Medusa, the Greek monster who turned people to stone. The Professor’s suspicions fall immediately on the local area doctor who seemed very anxious to have the brother’s death declared a suicide. The doctor is definitely hiding something, but everything seems to revolve around his nurse, an amnesic.

See my review

I lunghi capelli della morte (1965)

I Lunghi Capelli della Morte (The Long Hair of Death) (1965) PG-13 *** ½ = Directed by: Antonio Margheriti (as Anthony Dawson), Written by Ernesto Gastaldi (as Julian Berry), Tonino Valeri (as Robert Bohr) and Antonio Margheriti, Starring: Barbara Steele, George Ardrisson, Halina Zalewska, Umberto Raho (as Robert Rains), Laura Nucci (as Laureen Nuyen, Giuliano Rafaelli (as Jean Rafferty), & Nello Pazzafini (as John Carey)

Synopsis: In the 15th Century, a woman is wrongfully accused of witchcraft and burned alive. Her eldest daughter, believing the patriarch of the royal family seduced her to prevent her giving testimony to clear her mother, is thrown from a cliff by the man when she vows to expose him and the real culprit. The younger daughter, taken in by the remorseful servants, grows up despising the family. Not long after, a horrible plague in retaliation for the wrongful death hits the village. When the son reveals to his father he committed the crime the dead woman was executed for, the father rages because of him the village is doomed. Days later a mysterious beautiful woman arrives, and the plague suddenly ends.

See my write up

The Devil Rides Out (1968)

The Devil Rides Out (The Devil’s Bride) (1968) PG-13 ***** – Directed by: Terence Fisher, Written by: Richard Matheson, based on the novel by Dennis Wheatley, Starring: Christopher Lee, Charles Gray, Leon Green, Patrick Mower, Nike Arrighi, Sarah Lawson, Paul Eddington, Rosayln Landers, & Gwen Ffrangcon Davies

Synopsis: When Duc de Richleau and Rex Van Ryn prevent their deceased Army friend’s son Simon from becoming a member of a Satanic cult, the duo must rely on the Duke’s knowledge of the Occult to keep the group’s evil leader Mocata from taking revenge. Taking refuge at the Duke’s niece’s country château, the group spends the night fighting off the demons at Mocata’s command.

See my review

 

Blood from the Mummy's Tomb (1971)

Blood From the Mummy’s Tomb (1971) R ***** – Directed by Seth Holt, Written by: Christopher Wicking, based on the novel Jewel of the Seven Stars by Bram Stoker, Starring: Valerie Leon, Andrew Keir, James Villers, Mark Edwards, Rosalie Crutchley, Hugh Burden, George Coulouris, & Aubrey Morris

Synopsis: As she reaches her birthday, Margaret Fuchs begins having bizarre dreams, including visions of a beautiful Egyptian Queen having her hand severed and mummified alive. When her father Julian Fuchs, an Egyptologist, gives her a ring as an early birthday present, the dreams become more intense and her personality seems to change into that of the Queen. It’s soon discovered Julian and several colleagues had unearthed the tomb of an evil sorceress named Tera, who was also a ruler of Egypt at just the same time Margaret was born. Why do the two events seem connected?

See my review

Dr Jekyll & Sister Hyde (1971)

Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde (1971) R **** – Directed Roy Ward Baker, Written by: Brian Clemens, suggested by The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, Starring: Ralph Bates, Martine Beswick, Gerard Sim, Susan Brodrick, Lewis Flander, Paul Whitson-Jones, Dorothy Alison, & Philip Madoc

Synopsis: Determined to find a way to extend human life, Dr. Henry Jekyll utilizes the hormone glands of murdered young women, which he believes holds the key to longevity, in his experiments. Upon testing it on himself, Jekyll turns into a beautiful, but cold woman calling herself the widowed Mrs. Hyde, whom Jekyll says is his sister. When Jekyll’s forced into murdering local area prostitutes for the glands to continue his work, “Sister” Hyde begins to exert her control more and more on him, to the point she plans to murder the woman Jekyll’s come to love.

See my review

Vincent Price and Virginia North in The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)

The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) PG-13 ***1/2 Directed by: Robert Fuest, Written by: James Whiton & William Goldstein, Starring: Vincent Price, Joseph Cotton, Virginia North, Terry-Thomas, Hugh Griffith, Caroline Munro, Sean Bury, Susan Travers, Norman Jones, John Carter, John Laurie, Maurice Kaufmann, & Edward Burnham

Synopsis: A deformed and disfigured artist wreaks a terrible vengeance on the 10 people whom he blamed for his accident and his wife’s death. Inspired by the Book of Exodus, the man recreates the 10 plagues of Egypt, each of the 10 dying more elaborately and gruesomely than the other.

Vincent Price in his last hurrah for AIP and Horror, is at his devilish and funniest in his role as Anton Phibes. A man both sympathetic and loathsome, viewers watch in awe and shock as he takes down the people he sees as the murderers of his lovely wife in a vein similar to that of Moses against the Pharaoh of Egypt. Bordering between tasteful and absurd killings, this very different Horror film takes the genre into a whole new direction.

Gatto Nero (Black Cat, The Black Cat) (1981) R *** ½ , Directed by: Lucio Fulci, Written by: Biagio Proletti & Lucio Fulci, suggested by the short story by Edgar Allan Poe, Starring: Patrick Magee, Mimsy Farmer, David Warbeck, Al Civer, Dagmar Lassander, Bruno Corazzari, Geoffrey Copleston, & Daniela Doria (as Daniela Dorio)

Synopsis: A British Police Inspector and an American Journalist team up to find the answers to several mysterious and sometimes gruesome murders that seem connected, but no motive or suspects exist. Circumstantial findings lead them to the home of a local professor of the Occult and supernatural who has a very nasty and violent house cat.

See my review

This list is primarily for those who want something different in their Horror Films and for those who only know Modern Horror and Slashers, and would most likely enjoy some of the more Old School Horror. These are only suggestions, but I’m sure there’s something here for everyone to pick out and enjoy. I would like to express that I don’t consider the majority of Italian Giallos, with a few exceptions, as Horror Films, and view them as Mystery Thrillers so you won’t be seeing any of them here.

All images courtesy of IMDB

For more info

IMDB & WIkipedia: Haxan

IMDB & WIkipedia: The Phantom Carriage

IMDB & WIkipedia: Nosferatu

IMDB & WIkipedia: Vampyr

IMDB & WIkipedia: The Mummy 1959

IMDB & WIkipedia: Black Sunday 1960

IMDB & WIkipedia: Pit and the Pendulum 1961

IMDB & WIkipedia: Tales of Terror

IMDB & WIkipedia: Black Sabbath

IMDB & WIkipedia: The Gorgon

IMDB & WIkipedia: The Long Hair of Death

IMDB & WIkipedia: The Devil Rides Out

IMDB & WIkipedia: Blood From the Mummy’s Tomb

IMDB & WIkipedia: The Abominable Dr. Phibes

IMDB & WIkipedia: Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde

IMDB & WIkipedia: The Black Cat 1981

 

 

 

 

 

 

Filed under: Film: Special Topics

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