Posts Tagged ‘Amicus

19
Sep
13

Asylum (1972)

Every time I watch an Amicus production, I ask myself why it’s taken three decades for the two of us to become acquainted. These flicks have everything I love about horror, and manage to take out almost all the boring parts, too! After watching Asylum, it’s clear to me they have perfected the art of the horror anthology. Asylum, like its counterparts Tales from the Crypt and The Monster Club, is a 100% delightful mix of fun horror vignettes, all cleverly framed within a story to help make the mixed bag more palatable.

Patrick Magee is so darn good at looking dissatisfied.

Patrick Magee is so darn good at looking dissatisfied.

Asylum‘s story revolves around young Dr. Martin, an applicant for head doctor at a hospital for the “incurably insane.” The place is currently run by Dr. Rutherford (Patrick Magee), who was recently attacked by the former head doctor, Dr. Starr. Rutherford decides to put Martin’s expertise to the true test, and will only consider him for the position of head doctor if he interviews all the patients in the asylum and correctly guesses which one is the formerly brilliant and now insane Dr. Starr.

Will the young Doctor correctly guess the madman of the bunch?

Will the young Doctor correctly guess the madman of the bunch?

Of course what follows is a retelling of every patients’ tale, each one more shocking (!) than the next. The horrific stories involve rich women who dig voodoo, strange men who want suits made out of even stranger fabric (Peter Cushing), young women with split personalities or something worse (Charlotte Rampling/Britt Ekland), and last but not least, crazed doctors who try to bring life to inanimate objects!

Everyone thinks Britt Ekland is the hottie, but I go in for Charlotte Rampling myself.

Everyone thinks Britt Ekland is the hottie, but I go in for Charlotte Rampling myself.

There are many joys about films like this, but perhaps the best part is that each segment is so short, if you don’t find it entertaining you can take comfort in the fact that it will be over in a flash. Luckily, this film doesn’t seem to suffer from any weak spots at all, really; each story is as intriguing as the next. Even though it isn’t as good as Tales from the Crypt or The Monster Club, it is still well worth your time.

It's never a good sign when your doctor plays with dolls!

It’s never a good sign when your doctor plays with dolls!

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07
Jul
13

The Monster Club (1981)

Eramus (Vincent Price), a rather charming vampire, happens upon R.Chetwynd-Hayes (John Carradine) on the street. He asks for help, but he doesn’t want cash – he wants blood! When he finds out his victim is none other than the world’s premier horror writer, he insists on buying him a drink at The Monster Club, a place where all the local beasties hang out and listen to rad music!

I'd enjoy an instructional beverage with Vincent Price any day.

I’d enjoy an instructional beverage with Vincent Price any day.

The scenery ain't bad either, if ya know what I mean...

The scenery ain’t bad either, if ya know what I mean…

 

Here, Eramus instructs Chetwynd-Hayes on horror genealogy, hoping to give him some juicy new ideas to write about. We learn all about what happens when a ghoul and a human mate: they make a “humegoo” of course. And we learn to be terrified of the Shadmock’s whistle, which is just about the only thing the poor creatures have going for them. And, of course we learn never to forget the ancient strength of the good, old-fashioned vampire types.

Beware the Shadmock's whistle!

Beware the Shadmock’s whistle!

...but even more importantly, beware HUMANITY!

…but even more importantly, beware HUMANITY!

The Monster Club is exactly what I want out of horror movies. Vincent Price is awesome, of course; I can think of no man (or monster?) better than him to narrate this horror anthology. In between stories we get a glimpse into the world of monsters – who knew they hung out at such hip clubs, listening to such cool music and watching such hot skeleton stripteases! And like any good horror anthology, in the end we learn that us humans are the true monsters of the world.

24
Jun
13

Tales from the Crypt (1972)

As familiar as I am with the HBO series Tales from the Crypt, I guess it’s sort of surprising I never saw the Amicus film of the same name. At long last, this embarrassing shortcoming has been remedied. And, as is so often the case, it’s something I should have done a long, long time ago.

Of course Joan Collins plays a murderous wife.

Of course Joan Collins plays a murderous wife.

Like the television show I can likely blame for all my bad taste, the film is based on EC Comics. The setting here is a little different, to say the least. The Crypt Keeper isn’t a screeching skeleton spouting off bad puns (which, just to be clear, I love) but instead a monk in a robe. Five unlucky folks have ended up in a cave and he’s recounting to each of them how they died, and why the ended up there.

He who dares send mean-spirited Valentines to Peter Cushing won't make it to heaven...

He who dares send mean-spirited Valentines to Peter Cushing won’t make it to heaven…

Among them is a plotting wife (Joan Collins), a cheating husband, a snobby kid, a greedy businessman and a selfish Major. And, as you can guess, they all get theirs in the end, and with blood so red it rivals Herschell Gordon Lewis’s films. With each story under 15 minutes, there’s no time to get bored. Not that you would; everything is well-paced and so damn stylish. I can’t wait to watch more like this.

If you want to survive you must pass through the razor blade wall!

If you want to survive you must pass through the razor blade wall!

22
Jun
13

The Beast Must Die (1974)

Tom plays the hunted, just for a little bit...

Tom plays the hunted, just for a little bit…

Clue is one of my favorite movies of all time. I can’t put my finger on why I like it so much, I just do. But in my heart I’ve always felt there’s just one thing missing, one simple addition that would make Clue the best movie in the world: werewolves. Lucky for me, The Beast Must Die is the perfect combination of strangers-called-to-a-giant-house-for-a-strange-purpose and werewolves!

Tom Newcliffe loves a challenge. His house is decorated with carcasses of exotic animals he bested in the hunt. Tom won’t be happy, though, until he can claim to be the first man ever to kill a werewolf. It just so happens that he can narrow down probable werewolves to a group of six acquaintances, all of whom he invites to stay at his house for the weekend.

Tom surveys the grounds for the beast.

Tom surveys the grounds for the beast.

Tom has rigged the grounds surrounding his estate with all manner of surveillance: cameras in the trees, microphones in the ground, you name it. He’s armed with the finest silver bullets and the expertise of the professor of werewolfdom, Dr. Christopher Lundgren (Peter Cushing). Now that he’s collected this suspicious group together, the only thing there is to do is wait for the full moon to bring out the wolf in one of them. The question is: who?

This movie is really enjoyable. It is, of course, a little over the top, but that is a large part of its charm. It directly addresses its audience, asking us: who do YOU think the werewolf is? I take

Could it be... Peter Cushing?

Could it be… Peter Cushing?

pleasure in the fact that I guessed right. I wish I had something deep to say about The Beast Must Die, but… errrrr… I don’t. I suppose I could say something about the negative effect of man’s greedy thirst for power and dominance, but that’s a little too obvious, isn’t it? I guess I could also say it’s interesting that Amicus chose a black man to play the greedy imperialist, (perhaps made all the more interesting by the inclusion of Marlene Clark, aka Ganja of Ganja and Hess fame, as Mrs. Newcliffe), and ponder on what that means. Or, maybe I’ll just ask you to ponder it and go on to write the next post, because I am many movies behind.

This movie’s great. Watch it. That’s all.

 

15
Jun
13

And Now the Screaming Starts! (1973)

Let’s be honest: movies with exclamation points in their title are pretty darn hit or miss, no? Luckily, And Now the Screaming Starts! has enough heaving breasts, disembodied hands and mystery-shrouded family history to make it a good one.

The perpetually frightened Catherine

The perpetually frightened Catherine

Catherine (Stephanie Beacham, whom you might recognize from one of my super-faves, Troop Beverly Hills) has just married Charles Fengriffen (Ian Ogilvy). The two have moved to his family’s estate, a creepy old house in the country. Much about the estate makes Catherine uncomfortable: the painting of Charles’ grandfather, Henry, the self-opening windows, the creepy woodsman who lives on the grounds, and, perhaps most of all, the disembodied hand that haunts her dreams.

...I guess she's got reason to be scared of this woodsman guy...

…I guess she’s got reason to be scared of this woodsman guy…

Catherine is often left alone, screaming and wondering why everyone seems to be hiding something. When folks attempt to tell her some deep, dark family secret, they end up dying. Screams later, and with the help of the wonderful Doctor Pope (Peter Cushing), Catherine finally finds out the sins of Henry Fengriffen have cast a horrible curse on the Fengriffen family, of which she is now regrettably a part. Will the screaming ever end?

Attacked by a phantom hand!

Attacked by a phantom hand!

This movie probably won’t be number one on anyone’s top ten list, but it’s still a delightfully silly way to pass the time. I knew before we started watching all these Amicus films that I was going to enjoy the hell out of them, and so far, so good. I guess great style and an obsession with gothic tropes will get you pretty far.

Can Doctor Pope help, or is Catherine just insane?

Can Doctor Pope help, or is Catherine just insane?

01
Jun
13

The Land that Time Forgot (1975)

Half U-Boat nightmare, half Darwinian adventure, The Land that Time Forgot is the first of many Amicus films to come on Shlock Wave, and what a great place to start!

Our hero emerging from the U-Boat.

Our hero emerging from the U-Boat.

The setting is 1916, somewhere on the high seas. A German U-Boat sinks a British passenger ship, and only a few survive. Lucky for the survivors, Bowen Tyler (the William Shatner of this operation) is the son of a guy who made a bunch of submarines. He plots with the crew of the downed British ship to take over the U-Boat. They succeed, and after a few scuffles the U-Boat ends up in the Arctic circle, or something like it. The Captain of the U-Boat, Von Schoenvorts, is certain the land they see is the legendary island of Caprona, founded by an explorer a century or so ago who was unable to reach the land because, well, he didn’t have a U-Boat.

Exploring Caprona.

Exploring Caprona.

So the ragtag group of frenemies take the U-Boat through the icy waters surrounding the island and find a beautiful place with… plesiosaurs? Neanderthals? Pterodactyls? Oh my! Good thing some of the Neanderthals are friendly and show them where the crude oil fields are. Also a good thing these guys know how to refine oil (!), at least enough to get the U-Boat home! The nasty humans, of course, ravage the land, raping it of its oil, murdering Neanderthals and slaying beasts left and right. I think the Earth gets mad, because a volcano erupts and really puts a damper on things.

Thoughtful cavemen.

Thoughtful cavemen.

I would be happy to watch more movies like this, which is good news because I think there are at least 2 sequels! There’s nothing quite like the complete misunderstanding of biology, zoology and evolution captured on film. And yes, those are definitely wires in that holding up that pterodactyl! This movie is loaded with hammy acting and silly special effects, and it still manages to look really awesome. This is a perfect Saturday afternoon hangout movie.

Pterodactyl on wires!

Pterodactyl on wires!

12
Aug
12

Terrornauts (1967)

The sci-fi weekend continues with this ridiculous British film from 1967. One totally stuffy astronomer constantly berates our hero, Dr. Burke, for his “frivolous” project Startalk, which attempts to communicate with intelligent

Dr. Burke, a true genius.

beings in outer space. Dr. Burke has just been informed that he has three months to produce something; if he doesn’t, his team will lose access to the telescope, and funding from the Foundation.

Lucky for us, Dr. Burke hears an S.O.S. call the very next day! No one really believes that it’s anything more than noise from a passing satellite, but Burke feels otherwise, and so books the ‘scope to send communication back. That’s when the unthinkable happens: a spaceship comes to earth and lifts the entire Startalk lab into outer space and onto the asteroid from which the communication came! Lucky for us, it wasn’t just our scientists on board; there’s a nagging auditor from the Foundation, and the maid-ish woman who brings everyone tea (played by Patricia Hayes, whom you’ll recognize from The Neverending Story and Willow) who provide us with the intended comic relief. The rest of the

He just needs a woman’s touch.

comic relief comes from the ensuing robots, monsters, aliens and headgear encountered by our ragtag group of

accidental space-tourists.

This is one of the goofiest sci-fi flicks I’ve ever seen! There were definitely several times I couldn’t restrain my laughter at the set design, which is really just a few steps up from Ed Wood. But, don’t get me wrong – this is much better, and much more competent, than an Ed Wood movie. It is just absurd. Well worth your time, if you’re into silly space sci-fi from the sixties. If the pictures don’t get you interested, don’t bother. But how could you resist!




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