Posts Tagged ‘Vincent Price

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?

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23
Oct
14

The Tingler (1959)

TheTinglerPerceptoHalloween is without a doubt the best time of the year! Not only does it give me an excuse to watch nothing but horror movies for a month (or let’s face it, longer), it means everyone else is watching horror flicks, too! I’m lucky enough to live near a theater that plays old-timey horror flicks in October, and also lucky enough to have friends that want to go! For day 22 of 31 Days of Horror, we ventured out into the real world to experience William Castle’s The Tingler.

The film starts off with a warning from Mr. Castle himself, in which he informs his audience the film they are about to watch will be frightening. Some of us in the audience are, apparently, much more sensitive than others. Those sensitive types, should they feel the urge to, must scream, for it may be a scream that saves their lives! And now it’s time for the show to begin…

Dr. Warren Chapin (Vincent Price) is used to performing autopsies on criminals who’ve been killed by the electric chair, and he’s noticed they all have one strange thing in common: their spines are broken! It doesn’t seem as though the electricity is what killed these men, it’s almost as if fear itself had a hand in their deaths! Casually chatting with Oliver Higgins, brother-in-law of the very criminal he is dissecting as he speaks, the good Doctor posits we all have a creature living inside us… let’s call it the Tingler… that lies in wait and strikes when we feel fear! If we don’t have an outlet for the fear we feel, the Tingler takes hold of our spine, crushing it and killing us to death!

Sounds like questionable science, but that’s such a 21st century thing to say. Naysayers be damned, Dr. Chapin and his faithful assistant David are hellbent on proving their theory. They know they’ll need cold, hard evidence: but how to get it? First they try frightening alley cats; the x-rays show something strange indeed, but is it enough to prove their position? No, no first the doctor must trip on LSD and scare himself shitless, all in the name of science! Yes, yes that’s it – trip on acid, don’t scream, and maybe you’ll be confronted with your own tingler! Trouble is, it doesn’t work; the doctor couldn’t control himself and screams! Now if only he knew someone who was born without vocal cords… ah yes, of course! Oliver Higgins’ wife, Martha! She is not only a mute, but also very easily scared! Perhaps we can learn a thing or two from her…

TheTinglerPhotoWow. Just, wow. The Tingler is one hilarious, entertaining experience! During its original theater run, seats in the audience were rigged to vibrate at a certain point in the film when the screen goes black and Price shouts for everyone to “scream for your lives!” It’s a shame the gimmick (dubbed “Percepto”) isn’t something we can experience in the theaters for ourselves these days, though watching it in a theater filled with movie dorks was still pretty great!

My gosh, what isn’t great about this movie? First, there’s the ridiculous premise and Dr. Chapin’s relentless attempts to document this so-called Tingler. Everyone from his assistant to an average Joe who just walked into his laboratory simply believes such a theory would be true! Then there’s the actual Tingler itself, which strongly resembles a lobster with huge pincers and, when it moves, is very obviously pulled by threads the audience can plainly see. It is just so unabashedly, gloriously low budget and absurd it is impossible to resist. Then there are the one-note characters: Dr. Chapin, who cares only about finding the Tingler. There’s his wife Isabel, a promiscuous drunk to whom he must stay married, because it’s her money that funds his silly little experiments. There’s Oliver Higgins, the put-out husband of the deaf-mute who only wants a beer, for chrissakes. There’s Mrs. Higgins (Judith Evelyn) herself, who manages to do a pretty damn good job acting in this film given what she had to work with! I absolutely loved this movie. A total riot, I highly recommend for Halloween or any time of year!

09
Nov
13

The Last Man on Earth (1964)

lastmanonearth1What’s worse: dying from the plague, or being the only human on Earth immune to it? Tough question, right? I guess that’s why Richard Matheson’s novel I Am Legend has been filmed more than a few times. My first foray into Matheson’s depressing world is the 1964 film The Last Man on Earth, which scores points right away for starring Vincent Price.

It’s probably been at least two or three years since the plague hit and Dr. Robert Morgan (Price) lost everything and everyone. Instead of fun-filled, smiling days with his family, he spends the daylight hours sharpening wooden spikes and raiding abandoned grocery freezers for whatever garlic is still left. His nights are spent hunting the vampires. They come for him in droves, but are so slow and dumb, they don’t present much of a fight.

lastmanruthThere is always the hope that he will find someone else, another human who hasn’t succumbed to the plague. Years of pleading into the radio have yielded nothing, but one day, he runs into a young woman named Ruth. That’s when things get really interesting.

See, turns out, some of those monsters he’s been indiscriminately killing aren’t exactly monsters – at least, not yet. As Ruth explains to our hero, she’s part of a society of folks who have found a cure, sort of. It works for a few hours until the illness starts to set in again. She’s been sent on a spy mission of sorts, to try and figure out the story behind the boogeyman murdering all her friends!

Though the film itself is a little slow-paced and grainy, the concept is compelling and terrifying enough to fuel the film for its 86 minutes. It sure is much more interesting and thought-provoking than your average vampire flick. And, I mean, come on, who doesn’t want to watch Vincent Price: Vampire Hunter? Of course, now I’m curious about the other adaptations as well as the source material. Guess I better get to researching…

11
Jul
13

The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)

Dr. Phibes likes to blow off steam by playing the organ.

Dr. Phibes likes to blow off steam by playing the organ.

Vincent Price strikes again! And, as far as I’m concerned, he can strike forevermore, because holy crap The Abominable Dr. Phibes is one of the most perfectly entertaining horror movies I’ve ever seen in my life, due in no small part to Price’s totally awesome performance. Of course, I’m telling you something you probably already know.

Dr. Anton Phibes is a multi-talented widower, seeking revenge against those he holds responsible for the death of his wife: the nine doctors and

Dr. Phibes' Clockwork Wizards!

Dr. Phibes’ Clockwork Wizards!

nurses who performed the surgery that killed her. One by one, Dr. Phibes takes them down in murders of biblical proportions: each death represents one of the ten plagues of Egypt. Every inventive murder is played out with as much campy drama as one could possibly hope for, and all with the help of Dr. Phibes’ gorgeous, stylish, violin-playing henchwoman, the mysteriously mute Vulnavia.

This movie is so unbelievably stylish. If it were candy, I wouldn’t be able

Dr. Phibes also like talking to his wife's portrait. She was hot.

Dr. Phibes also like talking to his wife’s portrait. She was hot.

to stop eating it. It offers delightful, if somewhat puzzling surprises, such as Phibes’ robotic band Dr. Phibes’ Clockwork Wizards, Vulnavia’s extensive and bizarre hat collection, doctors fortuitously wearing frog masks, and brussel sprout goo as a murder weapon, just to name a few, of course! This movie is almost sort of proto-Saw in that it depicts bizarre murders used to teach victims one final lesson. Only here, it’s done with complete style and humor, something painfully absent from those dreadful Saw flicks,

Vulnavia in all her glory.

Vulnavia in all her glory.

no? Certainly, one could sum up Phibes as a revenge flick about an evil doctor empoying the bible as fodder for murder and give the impression this is some sort of gory thriller, Seven-style. This is absolutely not that. This movie couldn’t or wouldn’t be made today; things seem to be a little too concerned with grit and gore these days; far too interested in depicting reality that any sense of style and mystery is almost entirely lost.

As far as Phibes I wouldn’t change a thing, except that I’ve only seen it once. More, please. More, more, more!

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.




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