Friday, March 07, 2014

The Witches


The Witches
Directed by: Cyril Frankel
UK, 1966
Horror/ Occult, 90min
Hammer Horror

Missionary schoolteacher Gwen Mayfield [Joan Fonatine] escapes from a terrifying and traumatizing attack during her time in Africa. Back from Africa, and following something of a breakdown, she moves to the small rural English village, Heddaby when Alan Bax [Alec McCowen] and his wife Stephanie [Kay Walsh] invite her to come take a position as head teacher in the village’s school. At first all is fine and Gwen quickly settles in, despite the fact that Bax wore a priests collar when they first met even though he’s not a man of the clergy, and the fact that the village still hasn’t rebuilt the burned down church ruin that stands on the hill above the village.
During her fist class she goes through the names of the pupils and reacts to the fact that young Linda Rigg [Ingrid Boulting] has her doll with her to school, something that she feels Linda is way to old for. The next day, Linda is absent and Gwen finds a note in one of the children’s textbooks claiming that Linda’s Granny treats her cruel. Here comes the first sign of odd behaviour in the village as Gwen learns about Linda’s Granny forcing her hand into the mangle! Not to worry says the chuckling old Granny Rigg [Gwen Ffrangcon Davies, who also starred in Terrence Fisher’s magnificent The Devil Rides Out two years later], she’s given Linda a nice brew of herbs to ease the pain.
Although Linda’s hand-in-mangle isn’t the thing that is worrying Granny Rigg the most, it’s her concern over young Ronnie Dowset [Martin Stephens] running after Linda, especially as they are at “That” age. If one was to be prejudice, Gran and her cat – who just happens to trail Gwen after Granny Rigg whispers into it’s ear to follow her and the talk of herbal medicine, home made sherry and chutneys – it would be easy to think that the old woman may just be a witch!
Ronnie suddenly falls into a coma, an effigy of him is found in a tree with pins stuck in it and the head missing, Gwen awakens from a sleeping pill slumber and screams in terror as she mistakes a feather duster for one of the Voodoo statues from her terrifying encounter in Africa. With the strange events occurring all around her, Gwen comes to the conclusion that Granny Rigg must be planning to use Linda as a virgin sacrifice in an occult ritual!
Slowly, slowly devilish things start happening to villagers, a man is found drowned, sheep attack Gwen and the African effigies start to turn up in dreams – or is it real? Guess the confusion and shock as Gwen awakens after fainting only to be in a nursing home and not Heddaby and under the supervision of the odd Dr. Wallis [Leonard Rossiter]. Is Gwen going insane or is there a conspiracy lead by Granny Rigg and the witches of Heddaby? Prepare yourself, because as the movie shifts into the third act, suspicions are overthrown, truths are exposed and the real constellation of the Heddaby coven is revealed!
This is classic Hammer occultism, gradually building the presence of the unnatural elements, letting paranoia grow, exposing our leading lady to the horrors of Heddaby, voodoo dolls, creepy cats, mystic happenings, Sabbaths and virgin sacrifices!
 
No stranger to the world of the weird, screenplay writer Nigel Kneale delivers the creeps and eeriness perfectly with his adaptation of Nora Lofts’ (under the pseudonym Peter Curtis)  The Devil’s Own, and Cyril Frankel dispenses it well. The Witches was the final big screen performance for Jean Fontaine, which she also co-produced as she’d bought the rights to the Loft story. Fantastic Hammer Horror creepiness and low key shocker filled with wonderful paganism and occult dabbling make this a movie I feel can be classed as something of a underestimated Hammer gem well worth seeking out!



Wednesday, March 05, 2014

THE CURSE OF DOCTOR WOLFENSTEIN (Teaser trailer!)

Remember how I raved on about Marc Rohnstock's NECRONOS - Tower of Doom a few years back? Well, in the words of the dead kid from the Poltergeist flicks, "THEY'RE BACK!"

Just check this sizzling hot teaser for Rohnstock's THE CURSE OF DOCTOR WOLFENSTEIN, it looks sodding brilliant in all the ways I want a German gore flick to be sodding brilliant!


Tune in to INFERNAL FILMS or go like their THE CURSE OF DOCTOR WOLFENSTEIN Facebook page to keep up to date with the progress of what looks to be another kick-ass classic from the Rohnstock camp!

I love that logo, and that trailer had me at Warning: Explicit Content - Blood and Gore - Intense Violence! 

Tales from the Crypt




Tales from the Crypt
Directed by: Freddie Francis
UK/USA, 1972
Horror Anthology, 92min

I’m still watching a lot of anthology flicks, and before the Crypt Keeper was a rotted corpse puppet on HBO (as played by John Kassir), he was Ralph Richardson. Legendary, majestic Ralph Richardson, or God from Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits if you love that flick as much as I do.

Deep down underneath the gothic atmosphere of the British equivalent of Jean Rollin’s beloved Pere Lachaise, Highgate Cemetery (where amongst others Douglas Adams and Karl Marx rest) the Crypt Keeper hosts a series of gruesome fates told to his blissfully unaware visitors. Five short stories and the interweaving wraparound with Richardson and leading cast are shared with us and I’ll be damned if this isn’t amongst the finest ever of Amicus anthology films. British anthology horror at its finest, and nobody did it better than Amicus.

Just like the successful TV series fifteen years later, this Amicus production takes its inspiration and stories from a bunch of Tales from the Crypt and Vault of Horror short form horror comics.  Five stories kick this racket, five stories right out of the pages of the EC comics Tales from the Crypt and Vault of Horror and it shows. These stories are everything that made those comics so damned controversial and amazing to start with. You know exactly what you are going to get with this fare, short and to the point horror with creepy atmosphere and ironic twists!

After walking astray in the vaults of the cemetery a bunch of people on the guided tour end up in an underground lair where the Crypt Keeper welcomes them. He starts to show them visions; visions that we pretty soon understand are their untimely demises. This is where the chills start to run down your spine.
The first story out sees Joan Collins once again reminding the audience why she was the hotness of the hot at the time this movie was made telling the tale of violent death and the way fate settles the score. And All Through The House starts with a murder and Collins panicking as she tries to rid all the evidence so that her young daughter doesn’t see what has happened… only to hear over the radio that an escaped maniac [Oliver MacGreevy] dressed as Santa Claus has escaped from the mental institute. Moments later she hears her daughter scream and guess who’s rapping at the window! Tense, fast and ferocious, what a splendid opener!

The second story Reflections of Death sees a scenario not to unlike H.P. Lovecraft’s The Outsider when Ian Hendry tries to find his way home after a fiery car crash. Short and to the point this is effective storytelling and it delivers a great climax!
The third story and undoubtedly the finest moment of this collection, is Poetic Justice starring Robin Phillips, David Markham and the majestic Peter Cushing. This tells the tale of predjudice and how two fancypants snobs go to extreme measures to rid themselves of the neighbor they presume is a dirty smelly old man. Cushing is  Arthur  Edward Grimsdyke, who still talks to his passed wife, is friendly to the neighbourhood kids and has a few dogs to many. Hence the neighbors, the Elliots presuming that his house is filthy and stinking of dog shit. Wnating to rid themselves of him as to up the value of their own property they scheme a diabolical plan to push the old man over the edge. A series of nasty valentines day cards are sent and realixing that the messages inside are not ones of love, Grimsdyke takes his own life… But one year later to the day, he arises from his grave to take his revenge. This entry is stunning, Cushing is fantastic and this is the epitome of EC horror. A masterpiece in it’s own right and comes with some fantastic moments of shock and awe.
W.W. Jacobs old classic The Monkeys Paw serves as inspiration and is even referenced in the fourth tale of horror, Wish You Where Here as Ralph Jason [Richard Greene] finds himself with a roublesome economy. Taking something of a last look at their many trophies purchased overseas on their many journeys abroad his wife Enid [Barbara Murray] notices an inscripture on one of their many statues… remember the wise words Carefull what you wish for? Well never did they ring more true than here as the economical problems become the least of their worries and a very shocking climax that for many years was cut from the movie startled the audience, has finally found it’s way back into the film. Blood and guts galore!
The final grim tale is all about the new boss in town. Nigel Patrick is Major William Rogers, a vile bastard with a sadistic streak and a passion for sicking his Alsatian dog on the inhabitants of the all male, blind ward he’s just become head of. Although George Carter [Patrick Magee] won’t have it, and after rallying his fellow inmates, the insane, or rather the blind, take over the asylum and Major Rogers get’s to taste his own medicine. If you have a phobia for razorblades, they you’ll probably faint when you see the razorblade infested walls of the tight corridors the callous Major is forced to walk.

With an all star cast, yes I think we can call it an all star cast as it houses many great British actors and actresses, Tales from the Crypt is something of a who’s who of UK low budget horror fare. Upon it’s release, Tales from the Crypt became one of the most successful films of the year in the US. Hence leading Amicus to continu with the great string of anthology anthology horrors that beaome something of a signature style of Amicus.  Another few years later a remake was planned by George A. Romero and Stephen King. Luckily they decided against it and instead came up with Creepshow another example of anthology movies that pay homage to both Amicus and the EC horror comic universe. 

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

ANDREY ISKANOV'S INGRESSION


During the past couple of years I've been using every spare moment to focus on my interview project. One of the earliest filmmakers I talked with was the great Andrey Iskanov. We spent almost four and a half hours discussing his films, storytelling and his working conditions. I've stayed in contact with Iskanov over the years, and to some extent consider him one of my friends, even if we only ever meet digitally online. 

A few years back Andrey had a shot of being part of a Canadian anthology movie with both contemporary and legendary filmmakers and put his current project at that time, INGRESSION, on hold so he allow him to be part of THE PROFANE EXHIBIT. I've had the privilege of seeing some of the footage from both Andrey and other directors works (as I've interviewed a couple of them too) and believe me when I say that what Andrey has put into that movie is amongst the most disturbing and haunting ever made. 

So with that project behind him, Andrey Iskanov now wants to complete INGRESSION (my review of the uncompleted version here.) and he needs OUR help! Even if it's only three bucks, or if you go all in for the Dinner with Andrey perk, every penny will move INGRESSION closer to being a completed movie and show why Andrey Iskanov is one of the most fascinating and visionary independent directors to come out of Russia!


Only minutes after I contributed to the project, I realized that the perks that where offered where really not all that important, the most important thing about this crowd funding is that Andrey Iskanov get's to complete INGRESSION, a movie I can swear will be unlike anything you have ever seen before.

Thanks
J.

Monday, March 03, 2014

THE HUMAN CENTIPOD : Episode 11 "You have No idea what is coming!"... or Do we?

Last week the new trailer for Gareth Edwards GODZILLA movie hit the internet. My buddy Fred and I have watched and watched and watched it over and over again, and have come up with a few interesting ideas of what may be lurking in the shadows after analyzing the trailer in detail.

AND - at the end theres some information on a little competition we will be having on our face book page. Make sure to go there and like it and stay in the loop!

Enjoy the show!