Saturday, October 31, 2020

Happy Halloween!

Halloween greetings to all! It's been a busy season and I've had to take a break from the 1970s horror, much to my chagrin, but I intend to get back to it soon. It is a pretty disturbing era for horror, so it was good to take a break the other night with some pre-code horror with The Vampire Bat

I am celebrating Halloween with a double feature of two of my favorite scary movies playing on the Criterion Channel, Nosferatu, and the 1979 remake, Nosferatu the Vampyre. I may follow both up with Shadow of a Vampire, if I have the stamina for it. If you haven't seen that film, it's a fun fictional telling of the making of Nosferatu. I will be taking a break to check in on the Dark Shadows live reunion broadcast at 6 pm PT/9 pm ET with Lara Parker, David Selby, Nancy Barrett, Marie Wallace, James Storm, Roger Davis, Sharon Smyth, Christopher Pennock and Kathryn Leigh Scott. It's being hosted by The Quarantine Theatre Company at their YouTube channel, if you are interested in checking it out.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

UCLA restoration of The Vampire Bat

Attention pre-code horror movie lovers! UCLA Film & Television Archive is offering free streaming of its restoration of The Vampire Bat (1933) this Thursday, October 29 at 4:00 pm. I have not seen this movie yet because the versions currently available are in such bad shape that they are difficult to watch,* so I am really looking forward to seeing this restoration. Just to make things more fun and interesting, there will be a post screening Q&A with Fay Wray's daughter, author Victoria Riskin. Be sure to RSVP so you can be sent the link the day of the screening. 

Keep an eye out for other events in the UCLA Virtual Screening Room

*10/29/20 Addendum: This screening was so much fun! It was nice to enjoy the communal moviegoing experience again! Little did I know this restoration is already available on DVD and Blu Ray. Great and informative interview with Victoria Riskin. I just ordered her book, Fay Wray and Robert Riskin: A Hollywood Memoir. You can check out a recording of the entire presentation on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Criterion Flash Sale-abration!

Hey film lovers! You've got less than 12 hours left at the time of this writing to go save 50% on Criterion Collection movies. Go get yourself a little something, because the escape of a good movie is just what the doctor ordered. Here are a few curios that grabbed me this time around. 

I'm not sure that I didn't just buy this set for the artwork with Boris Karloff on the front. All of these titles are currently showing on the Criterion Channel, but this is a set I've wanted to collect, so into the shopping cart it went. Yes, I spoil myself that way.

The Golden Age of Televison

They just don't make TV like this any more. I bought this set primarily for Rod Serling's Patterns, but also to enjoy the fine actors, and experience the novelty of an innovative TV era before my time. 

The Friends of Eddie Coyle

I enjoy Robert Mitchum's acting, and since the description on this film claims it was one of the best performances of his career, I had to see if it was on par with his indelible performance in The Night of the Hunter, which is one of my favorite movies.

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

It seemed appropriate to have a tragic thriller on hand for times such as these. 

Unfaithfully Yours

It also seemed appropriate to have some comedy on hand for times such as these. 

I've been tempted to pick up this movie for awhile, but I wasn't sure about the whole comedic western idea. I had to give in for Dietrich and Stewart, and the clip I saw had me intrigued.  

So, Criterion got me again. I didn't need more new movies, but I certainly am a sucker for the flash sale. 

Sunday, October 11, 2020

The Season of Horror Lives Again: The Nightcomers (1971)

Next up in the Criterion Channel's lineup is The Nightcomers, featuring Marlon Brando. This is a film I had never seen or heard of before. It is based on characters from "The Turn of the Screw," and is a prequel to that story. 

"If you love someone, you want to kill them."

The Season of Horror Lives Again: Daughters of Darkness (1971)

My mission to explore 1970s horror on the Criterion Channel resumes with Daughters of Darkness. I've been looking forward to seeing John Karlen in this film, after spending the last several years watching him on Dark Shadows. Female vampires with a taste for beautiful, young women were all the rage in the 1970s, and this film is dripping with sexuality, though it differs in that it remains relatively bloodless, and uncharacteristically fangless. 

"A woman will do anything to stay young."

Sunday, October 4, 2020

The Season of Horror Lives Again: Let's Scare Jessica to Death (1971) - Revisited

The Mad Marathon of '70s horror continues! It's been nearly four years since I've seen Let's Scare Jessica to Death, so it was definitely time to revisit this uniquely unsettling movie. Since I have already covered this movie, I just have a few observations and reflections to share. At the beginning of the film, Jessica says, "Nightmares or dreams. Madness or sanity. I don't know which is which," and it perfectly sums up this film. I don't know which is which either, but I was left wondering about some things in trying to get a grip on what's going on in this movie on this second viewing.

We know Jessica had a breakdown, but we don't know the cause. It seems she's been suffering both auditory and visual hallucinations, and she spoke of once seeing her dead father and hearing him call to her. When Woody told Emily that they were all just wandering spirits, it had me thinking about the possibility that Duncan and Woody were already dead, and she was seeing and hearing them as she did her dead father. The fact that they're riding around in a hearse and visiting cemeteries might support that possibility, along with the fact that Duncan 'bought the farm', which might be a tongue in cheek way of also suggesting he was dead. 

We're led to believe that Emily is a vampire, but Jessica hears voices saying "I'm here" and "I'm in your blood" when she's around. Has Emily been created in Jessica's mind from the photograph of her? Perhaps Emily is a representation of the demons that are inside Jessica. 

When the mole is killed, Jessica says they all believe she did it, which seems to indicate she did. Though Emily is reportedly a vampire, everyone seems to be the victim of a slasher, with gashes on their necks. Is it possible that Jessica went mad and went on a knife murdering rampage and was institutionalized for it? She was thinking about being free for the first time in months at the beginning, which might indicate she was being held involuntarily and may have escaped. 

The great thing about this film is that it doesn't provide answers, just clues, which leaves the viewer to wonder, lending itself to repeat viewings. One of the biggest things about the film that continues to mystify me is the title. That is something I will continue to ponder the next time I watch this movie. 

Saturday, October 3, 2020

The Season of Horror Lives Again: The Vampire Lovers (1970)

It is now 3 pm, and I continue the marathon of horror movies from the 1970s with the first film in The Karnstein Trilogy of vampire flicks produced by Hammer Films. While I do own this movie, this will be my first time watching it. The salacious picture of vampire women attacking half naked, chained people on the Blu Ray case includes a warning that this film is "Not for the mentally immature!" I wrote about the third film in this trilogy, Twins of Eviltwo years ago, so I know what to expect. 

"Not for the mentally immature!"

The Season of Horror Lives Again: Trog (1970)

It is 11:30 in the morning, and I'm settled in to watch a film that has been enjoyed by very few people. 

"Like nothing I've ever seen before."

The Season of Horror Lives Again: Mad Marathon

It is 11:00 am on a Saturday morning. I am documenting the events that are to follow for posterity and to give account of what transpired here today if I should not survive the day mentally intact. I am about to embark upon an insane mission to watch as many 70s horror movies as possible from The Criterion Channel's current collection of '70s Horror films. I will be live blogging as I watch, so anything goes. I am working in chronological order and am starting the day with a film that holds little promise: Trog. It is Joan Crawford's last film, and the reviews I've seen are not positive. It is a little too early in the day to start drinking, but we'll see. Join me on this terrifying adventure, if you dare.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Celebrating '70s Horror with The Criterion Channel

If you love horror films from the 1970s, now is a good time to sign up for a free 14 day trial of The Criterion Channel, so you can enjoy 28 horror films from the '70s along with me. If I wasn't in love with The Criterion Channel already, this certainly would be the clincher. I became a charter subscriber to the channel back in March 2019, thinking it would be a great way to see movies I was interested in, but would not necessarily purchase, in addition to helping me reduce the need to build more shelves by having more digital options available. Since then, the only problem I have had with this channel is that I don't have enough time to watch all the fantastic movies they have to offer. This is a channel for the true movie aficionado. If that is you, be sure to take some time to check it out. You will find more than Criterion releases available here.

Below is a list of movies to explore from '70s Horror at The Criterion Channel. What a great way to kick off the Season of Horror! Indulge yourself in a daily horror treat as a sort of advent calendar to Halloween. 


The Vampire Lovers

Let's Scare Jessica to Death

Daughters of Darkness

The Nightcomers

Dracula A.D. 1972

Death Line


Season of the Witch

Don't Look Now


Theater of Blood

The Wicker Man

Ganja & Hess

The Crazies

It's Alive

Black Christmas

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre



The Witch Who Came from the Sea

The Hills Have Eyes


Invasion of the Body Snatchers


Long Weekend

The Driller Killer

The Brood