Your source for retro horror movie and book reviews

Reviews

Fright Fest 2018: The Last Man on Earth (1964)

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Directors: Ubaldo Ragona (as Ubaldo B. Ragona), Sidney Salkow

Writers: William F. Leicester (screenplay), Richard Matheson (screenplay) (as Logan Swanson)

Stars: Vincent Price, Franca Bettoia, Emma Danieli

You can credit Richard Matheson’s 1954 novel, I am Legend, for many things. George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead borrowed heavily from I am Legend. In tone and visuals, mostly. But it’s interesting to note that Romero changed the landscape of his tale to reflect the mindless eating machine known as the zombie (a monster he completely retooled that many have appropriated) while Matheson choose a primitive form of vampiric new breed of civilization. One with a secreted illuminati who were also at war with the savage cattle that obeyed only its bloodlust.  Continue Reading

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Fright Fest 2018: From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)

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Starring: George Clooney, Harvey Keitel, Quentin Tarantino, & Juliette Lewis

Written By: Quentin Tarantino

Directed By: Robert Rodriguez

Synopsis:  On the run from a bank robbery that left several police officers dead, Seth Gecko (George Clooney) and his paranoid, loose-cannon brother, Richard (Quentin Tarantino), hightail it to the Mexican border. Kidnapping preacher Jacob Fuller (Harvey Keitel) and his kids, the criminals sneak across the border in the family’s RV and hole up in a topless bar. Unfortunately, the bar also happens to be home base for a gang of vampires, and the brothers and their hostages have to fight their way out.  Continue Reading


Fright Fest 2018: The Brides of Dracula (1960)

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I have fond memories of watching the original Dracula as a child. I wasn’t actually supposed to watch it, but I crawled out of bed and slithered down the hall like a creep, so that I could see the living room TV and catch bits and pieces of the strangely sexy, strangely funny film. 

Brides of Dracula, although released nearly 60 years ago, is completely new to me. I didn’t even realize that it was technically “Dracula 2” until I did a little research before watching. 

I chose this as my movie to review because I MISS VAMPIRES, there I said it! As a writer in the thriller and horror genres, I feel like vampires have gotten a bad rap over the last few years and I really want more vampire books and movies in my life. I also liked the word “Brides” in the title – anything that contains female villains is my jam. Is this film a feminist’s dream come true? I don’t know, probably not. But there were some fabulous females in this film and they truly made the movie, in my opinion.  Continue Reading


Fright Fest 2018: Nosferatu (1922)

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Silence is terrifying.  Sure, screams and loud sounds will make you jump; there is something eerie about the silence. When moving pictures were first introduced in the late 19th and early 20th century: sound was absent.

For most movies this added little benefit and a lot to the imagination, what did the character sound like, were birds singing in the background? Sound is important for the very survival of creatures of all kinds; it allows for prey to hear the predators approaching from the distance. The lack of silence allows the predator to kill, unnoticed.

Vampires in all accounts are the perfect predator, they blend in among us, hunt from the shadows and use the noise of the metropolis to stay silent.  At least, the modern interpretations, but what if we take a look back in cinematic history, where sound was absent and the darkness could only be cured by the grace of light.  Continue Reading


Fright Fest 2018: Vampire in Brooklyn (1995)

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Vampire in Brooklyn wasn’t the vampire movie we wanted, but as far as 1995 goes, it was the vampire movie we needed. Nor is Vampire in Brooklyn the most notorious on our vampire movie lineup everyone loves to trash–that honor has been reserved for another movie you’ll see in the weeks to come. While not the most hated, Vampire in Brooklyn certainly doesn’t doesn’t deserve the hate it does get. 10% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, 2 stars on IMDb, and 1 star from Roger Ebert, I’m not feeling much love out there. 1995 produced some really great movies, Se7en for one. Braveheart also came out that year, as well as Apollo 13HEAT, and Batman: Forever (yes, I included Batman Forever, get over it). Those are some heavy hitters. But as far as horror (Se7en should be in that category), the pickings were slim. We had maybe four or five good ones, including Lord of Illusion, Tales from the Hood, Demon Knight, The Prophecy, and Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh. All great. All super dark in material and context. Horror is by nature dark and heavy and somber, but between real life horrors, the Oklahoma City Bombing and OJ being found innocent, we needed a break from reality. For me, Vampire in Brooklyn was a welcomed break from the real world.  Continue Reading


Fright Fest 2018: The Hunger (1983)

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The vampire has been a popular recurring theme since movies began. Even before the most iconic bloodsucker, Bela Lugosi, appeared in DRACULA (1931), there was NOSFERATU (1922). Every generation has created its own image of the monster, either as a new adaptation of Stoker’s novel, or, more interesting, as some new twist on the theme. The vampire seems to be unique among the classic monsters in that it is simultaneously feared and desired. The vampire can be seen as some existential romantic figure who promises victory over death, or as a parasite spreading eternal damnation. In one figure is wrapped all our obsessions with love, sex, death and disease. Each subsequent vampire movie ends up being a reflection of the current generation’s phobias and desires.  Continue Reading


Fright Fest 2018: Shadow of the Vampire (2000)

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I don’t expect you to understand.

I’ve discussed Shadow of the Vampire – at some length – with some excellent podcasters, all of whom have considerably better insight into this movie than I. To find that full conversation, please click here. What follows truncates some of what you’ll hear there, along with some additional thoughts of my own. Standing on the shoulders of giants, etc. Thanks to James, Jack, and Daniel.

 What follows contains spoilers. Go watch the movie.

 Shadow of the Vampire is a seriously strange movie.

Made in 2000, directed by E. Elias Merhige and written by Steven Katz, Shadow of the Vampire is a fictionalized account of the filming of 1922’s Nosferatu. It stars John Malkovich as Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, the driven director determined to create his masterpiece vampire movie at any cost, and Willem Defoe as Max Shreck, the theatre actor Murnau has discovered to play the titular vampire.  Continue Reading


Fright Fest 2018: Stake Land (2010)

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Starring: Nick Damici, Connor Paolo, Michael Cerveris, Sean Nelson, Kelly McGillis, and Danielle Harris

Written By: Nick Damici & Jim Mickle

Directed By: Jim Mickle

Synopsis:  After a plague turns America into a realm of vampires, a hunter (Nick Damici) of the depraved creatures travels cross-country with an orphan (Connor Paolo) he rescued, searching for a safe haven.

So, I thought for Fright Fest we were taking a look at vampire movies? I watched this film for the first time specifically for this review. I had heard amazing things about this movie, most of which I completely agree with. However, in my opinion, this IS NOT a vampire movie. This is a zombie apocalypse film. Yes, the creatures have fangs and are called vamps. Yes, this is a gruesome, tear you limb from limb kind of take on one of the most famous horror creatures that we know of. However, to me this isn’t about vampires. The creatures barely resemble anything like what we know. This could be good for some, but for me, it didn’t work.  Continue Reading


Fright Fest 2018: Near Dark (1987)

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Directed By: Kathryn Bigelow (Point Break, Strange Days, Zero Dark Thirty

Starring: Adrian Pasdar (Heroes, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Solarbabies), Jenny Wright (Pink Floyd’s The Wall, Young Guns 2, Lawnmower Man), Lance Henriksen (Aliens, Pumpkinhead, Hard Target), Bill Paxton (Aliens, Frailty, Predator 2), Jennette Goldstein (Aliens, Terminator 2, Leathal Weapon 2), and Tim Thomerson (Dollman, Trancers Film Series)

Written By: Kathryn Bigelow (Blue Steel, The Loveless) and Eric Red (The Hitcher, Bad Moon, Body Parts)

Release Year: 1987

Growing up, my dad and I didn’t agree on many films. It might surprise one to know, but a preacher and his horror loving son aren’t going to have a lot in common when it comes to cinematic tastes, or much of anything really. Also, if you spell “Horror” a little different, that sentence takes on a whole new meaning, someone hit the rimshot sound effect for me. Despite the gulf between us, we did manage to connect on a handful of movies, The Last Starfighter¸ Enemy Mine, Predator, and the one you happen to be reading about right now, Near Dark. Maybe it was because the vampires didn’t act like the typical, supernatural vampires, maybe it’s because the western style distracted him from the fact he was watching a horror movie, or maybe he just liked it and I should stop analyzing why to better appreciate that we had one more movie to add to our very short list.  Continue Reading


Fright Fest 2018: Underworld (2003)

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Directed by Len Wiseman

Written by Len Wiseman, Kevin Grevioux & Danny McBride

Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Shane Brolly, Michael Sheen and Bill Nighy

The Gist: A war has been raging between vampires and lycans for centuries though there has been peace for many years until lycans come out of hiding once more. Selene, a vampire warrior, and daughter of one of the most powerful vampire lords, Viktor, finds herself in the middle of the war and a mystery when she meets Michael who is wanted by both sides.  Continue Reading