Posts Tagged ‘Peter Cushing

10
Nov
14

Scream and Scream Again (1970)

Guess what? We are well into November and I’m still writing up horror posts from last month’s 31 Days of Horror! If only they paid me to write up this crap, perhaps I wouldn’t be so behind. Unfortunately, they (whoever they might be) don’t, so forgive me for my passé posts. Anyway, back to the matter at hand: horror movies. For day 30 we watched Scream and Scream Again, one of only two films to star the powerful horror trifecta of Vincent Price, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing!

Vincent Price as some mysterious "doctor."

Vincent Price as some mysterious “doctor.”

With such a beefy cast, you’d think the movie would be excellent. I’m not saying Scream and Scream Again sucks, but it isn’t amazing. And just because all three of these horror bigwigs are in this movie doesn’t actually mean they’re in it a lot. I think Cushing gets maybe five minutes of screen time (and why is it I feel he always gets the short end of the stick?). Lee gets a tad more, but not much. Price is in it the most of the three, but even still, his role is only one third of a batshit, tangled plot that finally converges within the last 10 minutes or so of the film.

Interrogation

Interrogation

I’m not going to spend a lot of time trying to synopsize, because the shit doesn’t make much sense anyway. There are three separate plot lines. In the first, a runner finds himself mysteriously in a hospital, and every time he wakes his missing another limb. Somehow this is related to a sexy vampire-type who is prowling London’s mod clubs, sucking the life out of his pretty prey. Then there is a madman bigwig from some weird totalitarian country obviously up to no good who keeps Vulcan-nerve-pinching everyone to get what he wants. Actually, I guess there’s a fourth plot line: Vincent Price’s acid bath. Most of the movie happens before we have any idea how the plots intertwine, which is okay, I guess, but there’s no slow reveal: it all seems kind of thrown together at the last minute, almost as if it should have been an anthology but they changed their mind too late in the game.

A nurse so pretty she'll take your limbs away!

A nurse so pretty she’ll take your limbs away!

Scream and Scream Again is just kind of baffling, and frankly it should have (and could have easily) been better. That being said, it offers some great imagery and as always, Vincent Price is fun to watch; I just wish he was in it more. Yes, Lee and Cushing are usually pretty great also, but they’re just not even given a chance to do a damn thing here, it’s almost as if they’re not in this movie at all. And, you know, I wish the thing made a little bit of sense. Just even like a tiny bit. In the end, this movie is really just a pretty piece of mystifying film, which isn’t bad, but… meh?

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!

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?

10
Jun
13

The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)

Haughty young Victor

Haughty young Victor

Seeing as how Dr. Frankenstein and his monster may very well be two of the most commonly recurring characters in cinematic history, it’s no surprise they’re already making their fifth appearance on Schlock Wave. This time, Hammer gets to tell the tale, with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee leading the way.

The tale starts off with a young Victor Frankenstein, a real entitled dandy if there ever was one. With both parents passed away and an entire estate to handle, what’s a boy to do but fool a brilliant teacher named Paul Krempe into coming to his estate to

Old-timey science!

Old-timey science!

be his tutor? Paul can’t resist Victor’s charms (?) and stays for years teaching the boy everything he knows about medicine.

Of course, as time passes, Victor becomes obsessed with the idea of reanimating flesh and becoming one of the most famous men in the world. Paul wants nothing of it and threatens to leave, but when Victor’s cousin/fiancée Elizabeth comes to live at the estate, Paul feels he has to protect her from the egomaniacal man Victor has become. As you are undoubtedly aware, the movie continues

The beautiful results of science and technology: Frankenstein's monster.

The beautiful results of science and technology: Frankenstein’s monster.

on to follow Victor piecing together various corpses to create a true abomination, played by Christopher Lee.

So, what makes this Frankenstein different than others? Well, keep in mind, this is a Hammer movie, so instead of some serious psychological examination or  meditation on the dangers of science + ego, it is more concerned with murder, brains, body parts and a gnarly-looking monster. And that’s totally okay. The real problem is that it moves a little too slowly and kind of stops dead at parts. I blame this mostly on the fact that this movie was made in 1957; Q and I both agree if Hammer had made this a decade later there’d be fewer boring parts and more boobs!

19
Aug
12

Horror Express (1972)

Peter Cushing. Christopher Lee. Telly Savalas? Add a title like Horror Express and you’ve got what you’d think would be a great movie. Unfortunately, you’d be wrong.

Lee plays an English anthropologist, attempting to get a seat for him and his precious cargo, a fossil of a man-ape (the missing link, how cute) onto a train out of China. Cushing plays a doctor that pays for his ticket. Savalas plays… um, well, I’m still not clear… some kind of Russian military cop drunk on vodka and power? Whatever.

So the man-ape is not a fossil, he is in fact still alive, and when he looks into your eyes, he takes

The mad monk gets… whatever.

away all your memories. Your brain becomes “smooth as a baby’s bottom” and your eyes turn all white. Later on, the man-ape will turn you into a zombie. Yes, even you, Rasputinesque-monk-on-train.

Of course, I’m leaving out some details, but I feel so little towards this movie that it’s hard for me to even muster enough words to write a post about it. I’m not sure if it was the poor quality of the picture, or whether this movie actually made no sense and had nothing to offer. Either way, I can’t imagine ever recommending this to anyone under any sun anywhere ever.




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