Cinema, Month of Madness

I’m Listing

vlad!Really, I feel like the boat is about to tip over.  It’s October 30? 30? Here I am in the stretchiest home stretch and I’m a little panicked.  Have I missed a day? No? Have I written an entry for each one?  No.  Can I manage to catch up on all of the reviews in under 30 seconds?  Let’s try:

Sunday October 19 – Sunday October 26

Brainiac (El barón del terror) (1962) – My goodness, what a strange movie.  I stretched my rules a touch and watched this one twice this month; first was back around the 5th or so, and I watched a version with dialogue dubbed in English.  I was so befuddled by the impenetrable plot that I hunted down a version in the original Spanish and watched it again.  It did not help.  This movie defies an easy synopsis:  there’s a 300 year-old revenge plot, a guy who eats brains, a female astronomer who makes coffee for all of the men in the movie, and a skeleton with no feet.  Really, a must-see.

The Devil’s Hand (1962) – Sort of fun little film about Satan, starring Alan Alda’s dad.  Poppy Alda is a good actor, and he elevates the really lame material involving his joining a cult, the members of which couldn’t seem to get enough of using the word cult, which I found funny for some reason.  Sample dialogue went something like:

Cult Leader: You must be loyal to THE CULT!
Member: I am ready to go to the meeting of THE CULT!

Plus, all the members of THE CULT wore very smart late 50s business suits. The spinning knife chandelier was an added bonus.

Horror Hotel (1960) – This time there’s witches along with Satan, and Christopher Lee makes a “surprise” appearance toward the end (which really isn’t much of a surprise at all).  I sort of loved the lead actress though, and her kind librarian friend, who ends up pulling the facts together – go librarians!

Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973) – combine most of the above elements – Satan, Christopher Lee, weird cults that emphatically call themselves cults, – add Dracula, and you have this sub-par Hammer film.  Fun to see The Fanged One in modern (well, 1973) day London, with an office in a high rise. And Peter Cushing is great, of course.

Phase IV (1974) – Wow, I can’t explain this.  I really can’t.  Ants, 100% yellow, a scenery-gnashing Oliver Reed substitute, and a mantis or two.  It’s sort of arty and very 70s, and it hurt me. But I owed it to D after some of the things I’ve put him through this month.

Bug (1975) – Continuing with the insect theme here, Bug is a doozy of a disaster-monster-message film (Don’t tamper in God’s domain. Think about it won’t you? Thank you). I love love love when the super-atomic roaches spell out WE LIVE on a wall.  Of course you live! How else could you have spelled it out?  Sheesh.

Countess Dracula (1970) – Oooh, if you like costume horror, get your hands on this.  Lots of fun, some naked blood baths, Ingrid Pitt, and a whole lot of crazy.  Loosely based on a real legend of a Hungarian countess, it’s fun to see evil chicks get their due once in a while.

In Search of Dracula (1974) – This is one of my favorite films of all time.  If you’re at all curious about the origins of your favorite vampire films, or about the real-life myths and facts which swirl around them, you might love it, too. Christopher Lee narrates and is wonderfully solemn and a bit scary. The evolution of folklore into cinema is truly fascinating, and it’s all surrounded by campy, slightly gory, 70s-style reenactments.  And the section on Vlad the Impaler is just one of the best things I’ve ever watched. It gets a might slow when it veers into the very early history of vampire films, but pays you back with Vlad Vlad Vlad!

Whew.  More soon…