Monster Bites - Egg Sale


So at last we get to the good stuff, and after a few rough patches the series began to approach its 1960s zenith on the path to Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster and Destroy All Monsters. There are a few odd moments in between of course, and there would be plenty more to come... but overall these three represent the major peaks in quality during the original run that followed the 1954 movie. They're nothing like that first foray into the monstrous power of atomic fission, but that's okay. Toho was hitting its stride in other ways by delivering light entertainment instead of dark symbolism. But still this would mark the final appearance of Godzilla as a malevolent force until his rebirth in the 1980s.

Monster Bites - Henshin A-Go-Go Baby


Also known simply as Infra-Man. I suppose it was inevitable that I'd eventually cover something in the Kyodai Hero (giant hero) genre. While technically Godzilla vs Megalon sort of fits into under this banner, it's a densely packed branch of Japanese special effects cinema with a lot to cover. The likes of Ultra Q and other shows will have to be approached at a later date. Instead let's jump over to Hong Kong where the Shaw Brothers Studio were happy to shamelessly copy the whole thing. The original title is Chinese Superman and the poster even shows the giant 'S' logo from DC comics; you've got to love the nerve of these guys. Let's head over to Science Headquarters and see what's unfolding.

Horror Bites - Bump in the Night


Time for something with a little more class that the usual stream of endless schlock covered here. Whether it's actually written better or is as well constructed just as a story may be debatable of course, but for the most part this is a stylish affair. It's also a movie where George C. Scott yells at a ghost; which you know I have time for. But for the most part this haunted house story is fairly restrained with an emphasis on sinister atmosphere and eerie corridors. So get ready for a lot of spooky noises in the dark and plenty of unexplained phenomenons - though it's a film from the beginning of the 1980s this is certainly more a product of the previous decade right down to the slow burn mystery and the bleak colour palette.

Monster Bites - He Slimed Me

THE H-MAN (1958)

Also know as Beauty and the Liquid People... this is yet another example of atomic fears being turned into entertainment as you might expect from the period. But it's also a crime thriller about cops trying to take down a drug smuggling syndicate. Like Dogora and Ghidora it blends science fiction elements with gangster storylines to create a kind of hybrid plot in which the mundane elements contrast with the ridiculous. But this isn't a giant creature feature, but of a more straightforward B-horror picture. How much these two sides of the film succeed is often debatable but it's certainly an interesting and sometimes rather eerie experience that is worth looking at as a change of pace from all the usual giant monster chaos.

Monster Bites - Bugging Out

MOTHRA (1961)

Time to go back to a mysterious time when monster cross overs were unheard of and Toho still had Godzilla on ice after that whole tuna fishery episode. It would be another year before they'd decide to bring him back to fight another island dwelling creature. In this period there was still plenty of output from Ishirō Honda ranging from science fiction to horror, but the kaiju features that would surface are some of the most enduring. While Godzilla in 1954 may have been partially inspired by a re-release of King Kong in Japan, it was the first appearance of Mothra that would take the most from the 1933 classic. In a lot of ways this is the archetypal creature feature that sticks to all the usual tropes, but it remains one of the best.



Mothra ☆☆☆☆
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm ☆☆☆☆
Withnail and I ☆☆☆☆
Yokai: 100 Monsters ☆☆☆☆
Predator ☆☆☆☆

Monster Bites - Explorers on the Moon


There are lot of fan favourites in the Toho back catalogue, but in some way this is one of their truly archetypal releases. Alien threats, rocket ships, people landing on extra-terrestrial landscapes; it's all exactly what you'd expect from a 1950s science fiction B-movie. It also has a lot of other elements to enjoy from the essential Akira Ikufube military music to all the miniature destruction - this time on a global scale. As an Earth versus the invaders effects feature I'd certainly recommend it over Ishirō Honda's better know but far shakier effort The Mysterians, made just two years before this. However as a film on its own terms it's not all totally classic genre material.

Monster Bites - Smog Hog


Oh boy, where to begin. Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster as it's also know has quite a reputation. Hated by the studio and known by fans as a mix of ecological edutainment and trippy '70s musical scenes, this is a strange movie to say the least. But is it any worse than the two subsequent outings featuring things like World Children's Land and Seatopia? Is it more child friendly than the ones where Godzilla fought a giant lobster or did a victory dance on Planet X? Overall, probably not. Is it much better? I suppose it's debatable. However it has to be said that the bizarre score and the addition of animated scenes is a bit puzzling. Maybe unique is the kindest description I can give it. But that's not to say there isn't some entertainment value to be found.

Monster Bites - Spirits Within


There are quite a few popular films surrounding Japanese folk lore such as the ghosts and curses seen in Ju On and Ring. However here we'll take a look at something different, and the idea of a weirder kind of apparition. There's an entire range of supernatural creatures out there in this category, with examples to be found in films like Isao Takahata's classic animated film Pom Poko. You can spend days reading about this sort of thing. However our subject here is also a tale of greedy land owners who plan to smash up a village and throw people on the streets to build a profitable business. There's a lot of feudal drama mixed with a weird atmosphere as the spirits from traditional stories being told by candlelight start to appear in the real world.

Monster Bites - Atomic


Also known as The Return of Godzilla to avoid confusing it with the 1954 original, the first reboot of the series ignores all those madcap adventures involving Rodan and Jet Jaguar opting instead to be a direct sequel. Which means they skip over the big guy becoming a protector of the planet Earth, and choose to revert him back into a purely malevolent force of nature. This parred back approach might not seem like the best idea after all those stories aimed at pleasing family audiences, however this is certainly the strongest entry in the series since the '60s. It's also nice that the original cut is available on home video so we can discuss the intended version and forever avoid any sign of Raymond Burr and the Pepsi logo.

Monster Bites - Mysterious Islands


Time for a small series review albeit a rather loosely connected one, as these are linked by the star Doug McClure and the director Kevin Connor rather than any actual narrative threads. Yes that's right, you might remember him from such films as The Land that Time Forgot, At the Earth's Core, and Warlords of Atlantis. What titles, and what poster art! But do these films really hold up, and do the events on the posters even appear in the films? Luckily for us they're available together as a boxed set so we can easily find out. Let's dive right into a series of stories obsessed with lost civilisations, secret islands and muppets posing as dinosaurs.

Horror Bites - Thrill Me


Nothing quite says the '80s like a mashup of weird ideas, horror, comedy and science fiction. The neon opening credits accompanied by a score from Barry De Vorzon certainly helps things along. Like Monster Squad this is another iteration of director Fred Dekker's idea to bring a whole bunch of influences into one film, in this case b-movie clichés. So this is zombie story that also includes a prologue involving both a space ship sequence and a serial killer, before it moves into college pranks and then the parasitic creatures right out of Shivers. Throw in a grizzled detective and a bunch of great practical effects and hey a good time starts to form. With so much going on not everything works, but as I'll discuss here it doesn't always matter.

Review Roundup - Cat Power


With the Marvel hero roster slowly building up to a bursting point it's always a little concerning when they reel things back in to tell yet another origin story. It feels like a sidewards step and raises questions when certain characters are absent later on. However the introduction of regal warrior T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) was certainly a highlight during the earlier Captain America adventure, and my similar concerns with Spider-Man: Homecoming proved to be unwarranted. Would my scepticism be warranted here or is this another hit? If anything this avoids being a mid-tier by the numbers spectacle like Ant-Man, but as a film it's aims are more complex and requires further examination.

Monster Bites - Growing on You

MATANGO (1963)

Like a lot of oldschool Toho movies there's something that gets lost when they're given another title. Names like Fungus of Terror and... Attack of the Mushroom People. Oh brother. In most cases of course these would probably be quite apt, but here it's not quite a good fit for the material at hand. Ishirō Honda had just finished Godzilla vs. King Kong marking the big fella's first foray into full colour. However this is a drastic change of pace in terms of the tone and the overall style. At its core this is still island mystery b-movie and a film about people eating mushrooms that have some very bad side effects. But it's certainly not another light hearted monster romp.

Monster Bites - Under the Sea


Time for a change of pace as we move away from monsters and suitmation, and into absurd sci-fi and fantasy. Where else can you find Cesar Romero and Joseph Cotten in a battle to rule an undersea kingdom? That's not to say this is lacking creature effects of course, but this is more of an adventure film than the usual disaster spectacles from Toho. Although at the same time it does still include a lot of Ishirō Honda's favourite themes about scientific research gone amok. Even if they spell his name wrong in the English opening credits you can tell it's definitely one of his features with all the lurid colour schemes and the focus on gadgets and secret islands. Let's dive into this tale of submarines and hybrid monsters.

Review Roundup - No Pain no Gain


Yes that's right, sunny days are here again. Which of course means it's time for sitting in the dark with the curtains closed to sit through plenty of ultra absurd, ultra violent foreign movies. What else were you expecting? Many years ago my mind was twisted forever after an explosion of DVD releases from the likes of CineAsia and Tartan that included such exciting and deranged classics as Oldboy, Versus and Battle Royale. It was a brain twisting eye opener to say the least, and something that meant I'd forever have an interest in this sort of world cinema. Halcyon days or blood soaked nightmares? Perhaps both and more. Let's take a look at a few movies in this vein.

Short Film Safari - BARTKIRA

Monster Bites - Old Stony Face


Daimajin also known as Majin, Monster of Terror, is a lesser know blend of samurai drama and giant living statue movie. Daiei Films, best know for their Gamera series produced this at a time when their own features (and those of rival studio Toho) where starting to get a lot sillier. But be prepared for a full on story of feudal warlords and forced labour camps - the stone idol only starts to come to life during the last ten minutes. Is it all worth the wait? Is all the plotting and all the debate about disrespecting the gods building to something great? The short answer is yes. This is actually one of the best in the daikaiju genre, worlds apart from its contemporaries in more ways than one.

Horror Bites - Guess Who's Back?


Part of the Great Cinematic Catharsis Hammer-Amicus Blogathon

There are certain Hammer horror films that I tend to forget about over time, and then every so often they come to mind and I think hey, I'll give that another go. With a title as evocative as this how could you not? Well unfortunately this is another case of the name being better than the movie, in the same way the names of their Dracula and Frankenstein sequels got more catchy as the films got worse. It shouldn't be the case since like their other Mummy features this isn't part of a continuing narrative at all. It's not borrowing from the Universal series either this time. But despite it featuring familiar faces such as Andrew Keir and having a plot taken from a Bram Stoker story, things never really work the way they should. Let's take a peek inside the burial chamber and see what sort of rot lies in wait...



FILM OF THE MONTH Godzilla 1984 ☆☆☆☆
A Better Tomorrow ☆☆☆☆
Some Like it Hot ☆☆☆☆
The Golden Voyage of Sinbad ☆☆☆☆
Avengers: Infinity War ☆☆☆☆
Captain America: The Winter Soldier ☆☆☆☆
Daimajin ☆☆☆☆
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol2 ☆☆☆☆
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol ☆☆☆☆
Mission: Impossible ☆☆☆☆
Iron Man ☆☆☆☆

Review Roundup - First Shot


Well, here we go again. With the mixed reaction to The Last Jedi still fresh in most people's minds it's time for the LFL machine to fire back up to deliver what should at least be a less challenging tale of spaceships and galactic outlaws. An origin story for Han Solo has never been something I'd be interested in, and the kind of fill in the blanks style storytelling required isn't an approach I consider creative or exciting. The controversy over the original directing team being fired (Lord and Miller from The Lego Movie) was well publicised, suggesting that even any risks were being squeezed out of the project to make sure it stayed on the level of committee approved fun and nothing more. So with all the reshoots done, how does everything stack up?

Review Roundup - Funny Bones

COCO (2017)

Right, time for a cartoon. It's no secret that I'm always pretty wary of new Pixar releases, after all their winning streak is not perfect. There's always a chance that their next project could be less Inside Out and more ... Brave. Of course there are blacker marks on their record that shall go unmentioned, but I always hope for the very best rather than the so-so. Mediocrity is somehow less interesting. Or perhaps it's just more aggravating when the true high notes are just within reach. The thing is this does just look like another bland coming of age story on the outside with music and spectacle and outcast characters finding themselves. There's even another dumb animal sidekick and a whole assortment of pastel shaded oddballs. But fortunately this is all done with such finesse that it's impossible not to get sucked in.

Review Roundup - Big is Back


It's been a little while since we've taken a look at the whole Kaiju genre, so I suppose it was inevitable that I'd end up talking about the latest live action Godzilla movie from Toho sooner or later. It's also been a while since the last Hollywood iteration, but it's been even longer since the last official release when the third wave of films ended with the aptly named Godzilla: Final Wars. Did the Gareth Edwards film spur them on to make a come back? Who can be sure. Of course this is a series in which starting over is nothing new. The first reboot led to a second series of films in the '80s and '90s that brought back many familiar faces while making everything bigger and louder. But the Big G always managed to become a heroic figure in some way or another despite attempts to reference 1954's original atomic allegory and several stories that used the first film as a starting point while side stepping all that Monster Zero and Space Hunter Nebula stuff. Where exactly does the newest version stand?

Weekend Retrospective - Beware of ... Scorpio


'Where have you been? Does Escobedo ring a bell? Miranda? I mean, you must have heard of the Fourth Amendment. What I'm saying is that man had rights.'

'Well, I'm all broken up over that man's rights!'

While this originally started out as a fresh look at the Dirty Harry series, along the way I was prompted to take a slight detour and a kind of post viewing epilogue, which I will get to shortly. I had seen all of these before but my memory was pretty fuzzy, so it was interesting to see how much of it (if any) had stood the test of time. As you can imagine certain elements don't quite hold up, while others are always a treat. So to get things started let's join the original loose cannon himself, Inspector Seventy-One Harry Callahan, as he reels off a few good lines and a hits a few duds in the course of the hunt for the Scorpio killer in the original Dirty Harry.

Weekend Retrospective - People that Time Forgot


Time for a change of pace as we look at a Hammer production that isn't a staple horror release, and a Ray Harryhausen effects movie that isn't really up there with the likes of Jason and Sinbad. A weird middle ground between the classics from either of these two big names, and a film better known these days for the title and the poster art. But there is still some charm and some entertainment value to it all, in a nonsensical tale of prehistoric humans living in the same period as dinosaurs. There's a kind of simplicity to the whole idea, like something dreamt up by a child playing with toys as cavemen are savaged by Pterodactyls and thrown into volcanic pits. It's probably remembered more for Raquel Welch in history's first bikini, but there are a of other amusing inclusions to discuss.

Review Roundup - Hand of Fate


So here we are. Another superhero team up, another giant purple faced CGI villain. The odds are against this one working out with too many characters, too much universe scale destruction, and a long awaited conclusion to that Avengers post-credits tease in 2012 that could never be satisfying. This isn't even a real finale but part one of two, how could it ever really feel well constructed? A dark dramatic climax to a series about eclectic character banter and weird space monsters shouldn't really work at all. But here we are again, back with two directors from a sitcom background who keep making all this stuff come together. A film where more is actually more for once.



FILM OF THE MONTH The Big Blue ☆☆☆☆
Léon ☆☆☆☆
Pit and the Pendulum ☆☆☆☆
Fall of the Roman Empire ☆☆☆☆
From Russia With Love ☆☆☆☆
Goldeneye ☆☆☆☆
The Last Jedi ☆☆☆☆

Horror Bites - Chop Shop


What a title, what a cast. What a poster! An Amicus Production starring not only Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, but Vincent Price... what could possible go wrong? Well where to begin. With three stars and three storylines, it seems logical that this would be a solid anthology feature. Or at least a decent slice of fun horror nonsense in a film that features severed limbs, acid baths and espionage. In fact the whole thing feels more like a Cold War thriller in a lot of scenes, which could be a good blend. However it's all too good to be true, and instead what remains is mostly a slog that wastes all the potential it has until the good will it inspires has dissolved entirely.

Weekend Retrospective - Wasteland

MAD MAX 1979 - 1985

I remember a time of chaos.
Ruined dreams. This wasted land. 
But most of all, I remember the Road Warrior

Mad Max, what a title. It's punchy with just enough alliteration to make you stop and look. But what of the original trilogy itself? Beyond the status it holds as a quirky '80s action series that started a thousand copycats and changed everyone's idea of what transport in the future could be like, what are the films themselves really like? People remember all the boomerangs and that hockey mask wearing villain. They remember that two men enter and one man leaves. And to think George Miller could have been a doctor instead of the creator of a pop culture favourite. But let's take a look at all of this craziness and see why certain things are still stuck in everyone's imagination years later.

Horror Bites - The Burning


Hammer's final item on the billing for the so called 'Karnstein trilogy' is an entertaining entry in the series, though it does raise a few questions. The twins themselves are not both evil, and this is obvious from the outset, without any room for surprises. One is good and virtuous, and one is selfish and sadistic. So where does that leave us? The intriguing element to all of this is actually that the two faces of darkness are in the hero and the villain involved; one being evil for the sake of their own self righteous cause and the other being a more traditional evil Count. Perhaps an odd choice when the title points us in another direction, but one worth discussing.

Horror Bites - Maniac Mansion


If there was ever such a thing as the quintessential Vincent Price horror picture, this is probably it - at least in terms of those with a period setting. Choosing just one is no easy task of course, but this is certainly a high point. Building on what had been done in The House of Usher, this is another instalment in the Roger Corman series of Poe adaptations - using just some of the original story ideas as a basis. There's yet another spooky mansion in the middle of nowhere, another mystery and another journey into madness in which nothing is quite what it seems.

HCF Review - Masquerade


So we come to the third and final part of Arrow’s American Horror Project Vol.1, a series of releases which aimed to bring lesser known or forgotten movies to a wider audience. It’s certainly the case here, with a release that was thought to have been lost to the ages until the late 2000s. As well as being the most obscure, it’s also probably the most interesting of the three. However this will probably depend on your own preferences, as it’s certainly an experience that puts weird sounds, lurid visuals and oddball characters ahead of any narrative sense. Some might call this a mess. Others might be up for a brisk 70 odd minute fever dream.


Horror Bites - Farewell and Adieu

JAWS (1975)

There's a lot that can be said about Spielberg's classic killer shark movie, whether its the effects it may have had on sea water ecology, its status as a turning point in the director's career, or of course its reputation as the herald of a new age of mainstream blockbuster releases. But when all this is said and done Jaws is a still simple monster movie at the core. It's not a realistic look at the possibility of tourists being attacked off the coast of Massachusetts, it's a story where a giant fish terrorises the waters maliciously and then targets the boat sent to kill it. Big summer movies as we know them today will never contain this much blood. But it's also a creature feature of the best kind - one which elevates a potentially silly premise through pure film making craft.




FILM OF THE MONTH The Life of Brian ☆☆☆☆
Annihilation ☆☆☆☆
Apocalypse Now ☆☆☆☆
District 9 ☆☆☆☆
In the Line of Fire ☆☆☆☆
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade ☆☆☆☆
Monty Python and the Holy Grail ☆☆☆☆
My Life as a Courgette ☆☆☆☆
The Fugitive ☆☆☆☆
The House that Dripped Blood ☆☆☆☆
The Plague of the Zombies ☆☆☆☆

Horror Bites - Blood and Steel


This is a story which has been given many titles over the years, so to be clear this is the one about vampires and castle crypts, not the Robert Shaw movie with the airship. Though admittedly that's pretty good too. Anyway, I digress. We can call it La maschera del demonio or Revenge of the Vampire if you prefer a more straightforward description. But whatever the title card says this is Mario Bava's first foray into the horror genre. Although he'd taken the reigns during production of the interesting feature I Vampiri, uncredited, this is the real debut. And what a debut it is.  Let's get into this high contrast super stylish take on the classic themes and legends.

Horror Bites - Black Sabbath


Ah the old style horror anthology, it's always one of my personal favourites as a structure for the novelty of each chapter and the variety involved. From the '60s to the '80s there are many to choose from. They do tend to vary in scope (and sometimes quality) whether it's something like Creepshow with a lot of stories, or the smaller scale Two Evil Eyes which as the title suggests is split down the middle. The original name here also gives this one away as it's a trilogy of horror tales. They're bookended by a great intro and ending from Boris Karloff, who also features as a character in the second of these.

Horror Bites - Swamp Fever


With the over saturated zombie genre still shambling forward, sometimes it's refreshing to go back and look at the kind of thing that was around before 1968. A simpler time when reviving the dead was still all about voodoo magic, and nobody had to eat the flesh from anyone else's bones. Despite George A. Romero's reinvention of the whole revived corpse idea being just couple of years ahead in the same decade, it manages to feel worlds apart from the sort of stories that came before. However that isn't to say that John Gilling's film about occult rituals in rural Cornwall is bad, it's just very different. In fact it's one of the best Hammer horror releases in their catalogue.

Horror Bites - Hopping Mad


The classic Hammer archive is full of what you might consider remakes and new versions of old material, which is particularly true of earlier the Universal properties. But they also had their a hand in adapting TV serials which the BBC had produced several years before. Taking an older story and giving it the full colour big screen treatment might not seem like most creative endeavour but the result is one of their best science fiction releases. It's a bit of a leap from the usual Gothic horror, but they retain a few recognisable elements including cast members from the likes of Dracula Prince of Darkness and director Roy Ward Baker who would go on to make a few of his own vampire features for the studio. This is hardly a big budget adaptation and some of the sequences are laughable, but there's plenty to like. It's story with a lot of atmosphere no matter how ropey things look at times.

Horror Bites - The Witch


Dario Argento's baroque tale of ballet and blood is a kind of a crazy fork in the road when you consider the films he made which came before. The straightforward detective mystery elements which were so strong in his earlier films have been almost thrown out entirely. Some stylisation was always present of course, but even the telepathy subplot in Deep Red was nothing compared to the madness which would follow. The whole strangers in a foreign land idea is still present, but the rest of the familiar ingredients are almost gone. The shift in colours and sounds alone as American student Suzy (Jessica Harper) passes through the airport doors are just a hint of what is to come. It's a surreal journey into the occult in which reality is almost completely absent. Let's take a look at why this nightmarish journey is such an enjoyable ride.

Review Roundup - Spore


Interesting, small scale science fiction stories are something I often harp on about. There's just something appealing about features which are cold and clinical in their approach whether the subject matter is alien life or artificial intelligence. So, it's typical that this sort of thing is given an extremely limited release and then the freshly minted 'dumped on Netflix' treatment. Why this was deemed necessary is a mystery beyond some vague notions that it lacked broad appeal, but in an age when low budget horror films are often successful I fail to understand why a few marketing tricks wouldn't have solved the problem. But I digress, this is a follow-up to Alex Garland's Ex-Machina. Where his 2015 film looked at life being developed in a robotics laboratory, this is all about the creeping dread of unknowable organisms from outer space. It's a shift in theme but the result is just as successful.

Super '70s Sunday - The Film with Balls


Don Coscarelli's weird and wonderful funeral home escapade finally got a remastered release (from Bad Robot and J.J. Abrams of all people) so it's time to venture into the Tall Man's domain and see how things hold up nearly four decades years later. Is it a strange nonsensical horror story, or a laughably silly film about beings from another world? Is it just a tribute to the Italian traditions of shock cinema? Perhaps all of the above. It's certainly a movie that provokes a few both laughs and a few creepy feelings along the way, mainly because of the structure and the random nature of the events that transpire. These are certainly bizarre in nature even without considering the editing and the music choices. But let's take a closer look and see how this all comes together.

Weekend Restrospective - Your Move Creep...

DREDD (2012)

I was never a huge reader of 2000AD or comics generally as a kid, simply because I couldn't get hold of them often. However I did try to get my hands on them whenever it was at all possible, be it through random issues sold in mid '90s newsagents or as annuals and collections I found in local used book shops. Judge Dredd was easily the favourite thanks to his visual appearance, the look of the world and the characterisation. They left their mark on my imagination, with things like body recyclers, weird fashion fads (Get Ugly!) and riot foam staying in my memory. My feelings on another attempt at bringing this all the screen were pretty mixed but I'm happy to report that John Wagner's big chinned fascist finally gets a movie worth seeing, and more importantly it actually includes the character he created rather than a dumbed down interpretation.

Horror Bites - Dripping with Goo

PART ONE- Splatterhouse

It's that time once again, where we settle down and block out the outside world of tepid mainstream blockbusters and jump scare horror attempts. Time to warm the cockles of our hearts with a lot of grotesque violence and nightmare visions. And what a selection there is to choose from, whether it's Italian gore or madcap visions of '80s America. There's never a short supply of features that include pouring blood, dissolving skin and eye popping effects.

HCF Review - Storm Brewing


As titles go, this is the kind of thing that I usually expect to be misleading. It’s a little over the top sounding, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t contain a single witch or any salt water at all. It’s also one of those which falls under the once dramatic sounding video nasties label, so again it’s unlikely that it contains any content to warrant such as status. Two out of three isn’t bad going, and while this is the story of a troubled ship captain’s daughter, there’s no black magic involved and the amount of adult rated material is quite tame. So what are we left with? Well overall this is another one of those stories about traumatic past experiences pushing someone to commit terrible acts. It’s a well trodden path. How it stacks up against other tales of this sort will take some closer examination.


Horror Bites - Castle of Illusion


It shouldn't really be that difficult to put a horror story together when filming out on location with a real castle. With a few good cast members and the expertise of Carlo Rambaldi at hand, what is there to do but write an engaging yarn? A cursed nobleman being resurrected by his foolish descendants seems like a straightforward plot, and just for fun throw in some elements about witchcraft and spiritual mediums to add a little variety to things. Unfortunately none of this has been given any thought whatsoever considering how easy it should be, and the result is a very weak effort from director Mario Bava.

Horror Bites - Crash Culture


While the immediate Mad Max comparisons are obvious from the Australian accents and the gangs riding about in garish junkers, Peter Weir's first feature is a little more difficult to define. Some of the poster art shows bloody lettering and a monstrous Volkswagen adorned with metal spines, the sort of thing the first act of Fury Road gave a nod to. And yet this isn't an action movie, it's not a pure horror story and the vehicles are not really the centre of attention. If I had to pigeon hole this at all it would fall into the broad category of 'weird people in backwater towns doing weird things' to with align it with other strange places in the middle of nowhere that film characters wish they'd never stumbled across.

Horror Bites - Blood Feud


It might be an understatement to say there are quite a few vampire movies from Hammer, with seven featuring Christopher Lee and a host of others starring other blood suckers. Some are more interesting than others, with the most fun probably being Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter. So here I'll take a quick look at one of the more unusual releases in which the main villain of the piece is slain in the opening action sequence and the rest of the story follows the antics of his evil minions and their familiars. A gang or circus performers isn't the most obvious choice for this kind of story, so how does it stack up against their usual blood drenched affairs?

Review Roundup - Ride the Lightning


There have been a lot of unusual occurrences within the bloated superhero genre in the past few months. A Spider-Man reboot that was actually good, a DC comics adventure that was actually watchable, and now a third Thor vehicle that is somehow the best one so far. The original was mostly passable and the second was mostly filler, so this is an odd result. But the new direction they've chosen here is obvious from the outset. The look, the sound, and the tone have all been shaken up and indie film maker Taika Waititi has been given some measure of creative freedom. The dour plot elements and the doomsday world conquering villains are still here to some degree, but for the most part this is a step in the right direction.



FILM OF THE MONTH: Fitzcarraldo ☆☆☆☆
Heat ☆☆☆☆
Aguirre, The Wrath of God ☆☆☆☆
Black Narcissus ☆☆☆☆
Dazed and Confused ☆☆☆☆
The 400 Blows ☆☆☆☆
The Empire Strikes Back ☆☆☆☆
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp ☆☆☆☆
Mindhorn ☆☆☆☆
Thor: Ragnarök ☆☆☆☆

Super 70s Sunday - House of the Devil


While some Italian horror features are easily categorised there are plenty which are not as simple to digest, and are instead nightmarish and perplexing. Mario Bava's most personal feature comes under this latter description and is certainly not what you'd call a commercial release. After finding success with a variety of previous efforts he was given free reign, and this twisted ghost story was the result. It retains all his signature style and shock value, but is certainly not one to see before having watched the earlier films he directed in the '60s. The striking images, weird characters and eerie atmosphere play against what is a dream like narrative where the actual plot seems almost secondary to the series of strange goings on.