The Man They Could Not Hang (1939)

Frankensteinsuddenly changed Boris Karloff's acting career quite late in his life.  Still, he only played the role that made him famous three times.  His large stature, sunken eyes and amazing way of chewing scenery often made him much more suited for the guy creating monsters rather than the monster himself.  Even his other famous monster role, The Mummy, saw him largely in a major acting role.

Thus we find Karloff doing a series of films for Columbia for b-movie director Nick Grinde, each featuring him in a mad scientist role.  The first of these was The Man They Could Not Hang

Dr. Henry Savaard (Karloff) is about to experiment with a young medical student (Stanley Brown).  He has developed an artificial heart that can be used to restore circulation after the body dies, thus allowing doctors to perform major surgery while the body is technically dead.  Savaard and his assistant Lang (Byron Foulger) use a combination of gasses to end the man's life, and then go about bringi…

One Hour Photo (2002)

The foundation of humor is always tragedy.  That is why I am always surprised when critics stumble over themselves to praise a great dramatic performance by someone known for their comedic work.  Of course they can play it straight.  Depending on how your life is, however, why would you make a career of playing it straight when you have done that all your life to little or no reward?

For a movie like One Hour Photo, it does help that your lead actor, though a comedian, is also known to be a bit unpredictable in their own field.  Younger generations know Robin Williams from the movies he made, while I remember him as the alien Mork and for comedy routines that, while hilarious, often sounded like a homeless man screaming at you.  If it's funny, you can't help but laugh, but then feel a bit bad about the fact of who it is you are laughing at - especially since Williams was never shy about admitting his problems to the world.

I do think, for general audiences, that when Williams…

The Quiet Ones (2014)

Hammer Films has been trying to play on their past reputation and become relevant again in the horror genre.  Sure, Hammer did more than horror in its heyday, but that's what they're known for, so you can't really blame them. They even had a bit of success with The Woman in Black

Still, with Universal rebooting its entire monster franchise for the monster age, it leaves no room for Hammer to do what it was best at: reinterpreting those monsters themselves.  And, although they have a huge range of British stage and film actors to choose from, they have yet to find a modern day Christopher Lee or Peter Cushing, nor do they have any directors like Terence Fisher to tap.

Unless they have more successes going forward, it leaves them producing backwater copies of popular films like The Conjuring, which is essentially what The Quiet Ones is.

It is 1974, and Professor Joseph Coupland (Jared Harris) is trying to find a cure for mental illness.  The subject of his experiment is a…

Alice, Sweet Alice (1976)

Today the masked slasher has become a cliche.  Halloween perhaps did it best, while Jason Voorhees managed to carve his way to fame with a hockey mask.  While The Abominable Dr. Phibes is probably the origin point for the genre, Alice, Sweet Alice is certainly responsible in its own way for what it became.

12-year-old Alice Spages (Paula E. Sheppard) is jealous of her younger sister Karen (Brooke Shields), who gets all the attention of her mother Catherine (Linda Miller).  With their father out of the picture, Catherine is forced to raise the two girls on her own, and Alice becomes more and more upset with the attention lavished on Karen, particularly by Father Tom (Rudolph Willrich) and the priests' caretaker, Mrs. Tredoni (Mildred Clinton).

It also seems that no one else likes Alice either.  Father Tom will not give her communion, her aunt Annie (Jane Lowry) thinks that she is evil and Mr. Alphonso (Alphonso DeNoble), their perverted landlord, thinks he can use everyone's d…

The Witch (2015)

It was a year or two ago that I was reading an article that mentioned The Witch, The Babadookand a number of other modern horror films, largely exploring if these films were actually horror.  While many people have no problem with a movie like Don't Breatheor Hostel being considered horror films, despite the lack of anything remotely supernatural happening, there has been a growing argument that films that may, or may not, play a bait and switch with their monster are not to be included.

I call goat droppings here.

Horror is a state of mind.  I defy someone to tell me they would be less scared running from a masked, immortal killer than they would be stuck in a confined, locked space with a crazed meth-head with a knife.  I would also say that it would help looking back on your childhood.  You knew deep down many things you feared in the darkness were not real, yet just the possibility of it being real was frightening enough. 

Scared is scared, and there was a time - a very short…

El retorno de Walpurgis (1973)

This is the seventh of Paul Naschy's films featuring Count Waldemar Daninsky, a Polish noble who is afflicted with a curse that makes him turn into a wolf man every full moon.  Rather than running as a straight series, each movie is a standalone picture, often with completely different time periods and origin stories.  Though this may seem like a sequel to La noche de Walpurgisand share a few off-hand plot points, the two have nothing to do with each other other than the main character's name.

For those who are unaware, Paul Naschy was often referred to as the "Spanish Lon Chaney".  I never know exactly which Lon Chaney they are referring to, but I think he spans both, since Junior made Larry Talbot and the Wolf Man his most famous character, while Senior was a genius at early film makeup.

Either way, his werewolf movies are his most famous outside of Spain, and he still remains largely an undiscovered talent - even though he should be up there with Dario Argento, e…

La noche de Walpurgis (1971)

I just need to mention that it was a major Paul Naschy fan that got me into the October Horror Movie Challenge, as well as (in a roundabout way, not directly) ended up with me doing this review blog.  I'm a big more willing to review mainstream films as well as the obscure exploitation and horror films, but I never meant to imitate his blog anyway.  Still, I'm surprised that it has taken me this long to review one of Naschy's werewolf movies.

Paul Naschy was the pseudonym for Jacinto Molina, a Spanish actor and director who not only did horror films but a number of different genre and mainstream movies as well.  He was extremely popular in his home country, but is still underappreciated elsewhere.  This is in some ways a good thing as his movies don't end up getting overplayed around Halloween.  The problem is, because of the way they were distributed, sometimes there will be a dozen titles for the same film, and the way it is edited will have a major effect on one…