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Copyright © Kitley's Krypt
2013 RONDO AWARD
At a ground breaking ceremony for a new church, a huge cross towers behind the podium where a priest is blessing the site. The shadow of the cross falls across the ground behind the small stage. Where the cross is casting a shadow, the ground has turned black, as if burnt, and is smoldering. Later that night, a hand breaks through the dirt, pulling it’s owner to the surface. Rising from his grave for the first time in 30 years, a creature of the night returns to stalk the city of San Francisco. And so starts the 1979 TV movie VAMPIRE.
Genre star Richard Lynch plays the 800 year old vampire, Price Anton Voytek, known in his day as the “Golden Vampire”. Lynch has always been a personal favorite of mine, with his raspy voice and his leathery face. Apparently due to the fact that in the 60’s, while on LSD, he set fire to himself in New York’s Central Park.
Lynch was born to play the bad guy and the more evil the better. Here, he is elegant and courtesy. But he also shows us an underlying evil in his eyes that shows his true power. This power also shows in his confidence when dealing with his modern-day vampire hunters. He shows no fear of them, and makes sure that he puts the fear into them…if not for themselves, for ones close to them.
His adversaries here are played by two other actors well known in the genre. E.G. Marshall plays a retired police detective, who remembers investigating a series of murders like the recent ones of mutilated bodies, drained of blood. Except that was 30 years ago. Marshall does a great job fitting into the Van Helsing type character. His partner is Jason Miller, probably most known from his role as Father Karras in THE EXORCIST. Miller plays an architect who teams up with Marshall after his wife is killed by the vampire. Also having a small bit-part is everybody’s favorite popular character actor / sleaze ball, Joe Spinell.
I think the real power of this movie is because of Lynch and Marshall. Both give such realistic portrayals in their characters. Miller is also good, but tends to go a little overboard on some of the more emotional parts.
This was a pilot for a possible new series. But for some reason, it was never picked up. That’s a real shame, since I would have loved to have seen where the series would have gone. But, this was very THE NIGHT STALKER was dead and gone, and years before Buffy would start slaying vampires. But like the NIGHT STALKER series, this movie stayed with the old-fashion vampire mythology. The plot even resembles parts of Stoker’s Dracula when Marshall and Miller are searching out for all his different resting places. Although the film sticks with most vampire trappings, the vampires themselves don’t have fangs, at least none that you see. They do seem to have that hypnotic power over their human prey. Since the film was made for TV, there’s not a lot of violence and I don’t believe you see any blood.
This was released on video by MTM Enterprises, but has never been released on DVD, as of yet. We can all hope for a special edition, with maybe audio commentary by Lynch. Now that would be worth the wait.
Here’s a film that took a very old and worn out sub-genre and gave it an interesting twist to it. The police capture a person they believe to be behind a series of murders, where the victims are drained of blood. Of course, the minute they capture the person, the government takes control and takes their prisoner. They are not interested in making him pay for his crimes, but to find out if he is in fact what they think he is, then to use him as a lab rat and study him as such. The problem is that the more they learn about their test subject, the group starts to think differently on what should be done with him.
Jason Carter plays the mysterious title character and does it quite well. He was Francis Ford Coppola’s choice to play Dracula in his 1992 film. But it seems Carter has played this type of character or at least in vampire films a few times. But he gives the character a little more than just playing a gothic wanna-be vampire. Garett Maggart plays the young doctor who is brought on board to help tend to the vampires wounds and physical well-being. At first he thinks his patient is being mistreated, but once he realizes the man they have locked up could be responsible for many murders, he starts to re-think his Hippocratic Oath.
Jack Donner plays the scientist leading the study, after his colleague is killed during the capture of the creature. Donner has been around forever and has worked in so many different genre pictures that he is always recognizable, but you probably won’t remember from where. Donner has a very distinct face and even more so of a voice. He plays this scientist with the typical style that it’s more about the facts that can be learned, even at the cost of a few lives.
Not sure why this is being re-released under this title, since it was already released on DVD back in 2002 under the title DEMON UNDER GLASS. I can only imagine it’s to tie in with all recent vampire interests from TRUE BLOOD and TWILIGHT. None the less, it is a film that is quite different than your usual vampire film and is worth watching.
Years ago, when I was a young and dumber horror fan, I would resist getting into any newer sub-genre of horror movies. My reasoning at the that time was that there was already too much of the regular stuff that I hadn't seen, so didn't want to add to that ever growing list. Then a friend of mine, against my wishes, sent me a few tapes with some of the Mexican horror movies from the 50's. And after watching them, not only was I hooked, but I also seen the errors of my way. With so much great stuff out there, from all different countries, you really don't want to limit yourself. You will miss a lot.
So once I was a devoted fan of the Mexi-horror films, like the other sub-genres, I sought out whatever titles I could find. The one of the first of these films was EL VAMPIRO (aka THE VAMPIRE). Like the rest of the Mexi-horror films, this film just seeps atmosphere. From a couple walking down the lonely and deserted road, with fog swilling about, to the creaking as the coffin lid slowly opens up to unleash the evil vampire, atmosphere is what these movies are all about.
The main man responsible for all of these great Mexican horror movies is Abel Salazar. He produced and starred in most of the horror films that came out in the late 50's to early 60's. Another one was Germán Robles. He was wearing the cape and fangs (maybe the first screen vampire to have fangs?) a year before Hammer released Christopher Lee as the King of Vampires. But Salazar and Robles gave us plenty of entertainment with their films. Sometimes the acting wasn't the greatest, but their hearts and attitudes where definitely in the right place.
And thanks to the awesome people at Mondo Macabre, they had released this film on DVD in all their typical wonderful glory. The film has both English and Spanish language tracks, as well as optional English subtitles. There is also special photo-novel version of the sequel, THE VAMPIRE'S COFFIN. But the real highlight of the extras is a great 20 minute documentary on the history of Mexican horror movies. They start at the beginning with films like THE VAMPIRE, go through the films of EL SANTO, all the way to Juan López Moctezuma. Great for both beginning fans and old ones alike. This release is region 0 PAL DVD.
In this film, Count Lavud comes to a small Mexican village to revive his dead brother. Seducing the owner of the house, under where his dead brother is buried in the crypt, his plans seemed not to be able to fail. Especially after the death of the woman's sister, who was a deeply religious woman. Arriving with the niece is doctor who is secretly there to investigate the strange things that have been going on.
For beginning fans, this is a great place to start. If you are a fan of the old Universal films of the 30's, you can't miss with this one, or the many other Mexican horror films of that time. If you want to find out more about these early Mexican horror movies, check out this website: The Wonderful World of K. Gordon Murray. He was the guy who dubbed a lot of these films into English and had them playing on television here in the states. Because of this guy, a lot of people got to see these classic films that might not have otherwise.
In this day of True Blood and Twilight, it seems that vampires have replaced the zombie craze that we’ve been beating to death for quite some time. In our continuing journey to help dig up some lost or forgotten films to new viewers, we offer up this vampire morsel that is a little different your normal blood sucking fare. While it is probably not like many vampire film you’ve seen before, it will give you something that most fanged features don’t give you…something that will sink into your brain, as well as your neck.
VAMPYRES is a film that no heterosexual man could watch and not remembered; especially if they saw it at a young age. At face value, the film is filled with intense scenes of eroticism, coupled with brutal acts of violence and bloodshed. Did I mention there is a bit of nudity in the film as well?
The opening scene shows two lovely ladies enjoying each other’s naked bodies, only to be surprised and gun down by an unknown assailant. Did these two become vampires after their violent deaths? Or is this sequence really the end of the film but played in the beginning? If Tarantino would have edited this film, people might have looked a little deeper into the storyline. And that is one of the beauties of it, since there might be a few different ways to interpret this movie. We’ll get a little more into those thoughts and ideas a little later.
After the opening death scene, we follow the same two alluring women we just saw killed, Fran (Marianne Morris) and Miriam (Anulka Dziubinska) as they lure men into their large home for a night of drinking…in more ways than one. But when Ted (Murray Brown) picks up Fran, she decides not to finish him off just yet, much to the disapproval of her companion Miriam. Instead, after a night of hot sex and feeding on his blood, Ted awakens alone, dizzy and disorientated, and with a large gash on his forearm. He tries to leave, but when he comes across a couple that are camping on the grounds, he stops by to see if they could help him the cut on his arm. Afterwards, he goes back to the house, waiting for Fran to show up to learn more of this strange woman. After she arrives with her companion and another ‘friend’, they continue their party. As the night progresses and he becomes weaker and weaker, he starts to realize the danger that he might be in.
The film was written and directed by Spanish filmmaker José Ramón Larraz, even though D. Daubeney is credited as writer. That was Larraz’s wife’s name, and they felt it would sell better with an English sounding name for the writer. Go figure. But Larraz, who came from a comic book background, wrote and filmed his movies with a very visual style to them. Images or things that happened in his life, he incorporated into his films. This film is a perfect example. For example, there is a scene where Ted wakes up to see Fran laying there staring at him, but she’s actually asleep with her eyes open. Larraz said when he was younger, he had slept with a woman who did that and it scared the crap out of him. He wanted to incorporate that into his film. So there’s a lot in here that is not really explained. Hinted at maybe, but you just never know. Some may find the story a little disjointed, and not really able to figure it all out. Maybe we’re not meant to. But in any case, it’s one that can stay with you, for multiple reasons, long after the movie is over.
We’re never really sure if Fran and Miriam are real vampires. The only hint of the supernatural is that clocks seem to stop during their presence or while in the old house. They do move about in the daylight hours, though not in direct sunlight and is in the evening. It’s usually as they make their way back to the cemetery, or out on the road in the evening looking for potential victims. Yes, they do have a blood lust, but is it supernatural or just psychosis? We never know. There is where the beauty lies in this movie.
However you take the storyline, there is no getting past the sheer ferociousness and wildness these two attack their victims. They lure them in with wine and possible sex, only to jump on them like rabid dogs, biting, stabbing, licking and sucking the crimson rivers that flow. As Larrez puts it himself, “I always associate the vampire with brutality. I don’t believe in that romantic kind of vampire. When I put these two girls in those parts I imagined them like two wild animals, urgently taking the blood they need. That is why my film is so brutal.” We won’t argue with him either.
The two stars of the film, Anulka Dziubinska and Marianne Morris give their roles such an intense and haunting performance that they are hard to forget. The way they attack their victims and go after the spilled blood, it is as if we’re watching two wild animals who haven’t fed in weeks. This was also back at a time when actress didn’t have to be so damn skinny you could almost see through them. They both have such stunning and hypnotic gazes, especially Morris. They stare at you with both a look of desire and hunger.
The house that was used for the exterior shots was the same house that Hammer Films used to use in quite a few of their pictures. It was also the house used in ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW. The interiors of the house were shot at another location.
Now if you haven’t seen the movie and don’t want anything spoiled for you, then please stop reading now. But if you have seen it, continue to read and see how your thoughts on it compare with mine.
* * * S P O I L E R S * * *
I’m sure the first few times I watched this film, a lot of the little things were lost on me. I was too busy being entranced by all the sex and violence. But the more I watched the film; I started to look deeper into it. This is how I feel the movie is meant to be played out. I have no confirmation on most of this, but is just my opinion. The film opens up with the murder of the two women, gunned down by an unknown assailant. Then we see Ted (Murray Brown) show up at a hotel asking for a room. The old hotel clerk there says he remembers him coming to the hotel from some time ago, but Ted admittedly denies that he had ever been there before. This is where I believe the non-lineal editing first starts.
I believe this is a jump in the time line between those two scenes. The murder of the two girls actually takes place years BEFORE Ted checks into the hotel. Basically, here is how I break down the movie in key scenes as it would happen if it was edited in lineal fashion:
Now one of the key elements or clues to my theory is near the end of the film, when Ted is staggering towards his car to escape, he has blood on the left sleeve of his white shirt. When he is woken up by the realtor, while he is wearing a white shirt, there is no blood on the sleeve. Continuity error? Possibly. Or maybe not.
It also helped that on the audio commentary of the film, director Larraz states that Ted was in fact the mysterious killer, who comes back to the scene of the crime to remember what he had done in the past. That was what really got me thinking about how the story was really edited in a disjointed way.
Of course, if these two girls were really just psychotic killers with a blood lust, it does not explain the thing about the watches stopping when they are in the house. Since at that time, they had not been shot yet by Ted. So I’m up for any thoughts on that part.
But none the less, no matter what your take or theory on this movie, what really is happening, are they real vampires, it is not going to take away any enjoyment of watching this great movie. There is plenty enough here in to please anyone watching. So seek it out, watch it with an open mind and see what you think. We’d always love to hear your thoughts on it.
aka VIJ (1967)
Apparently this film has been one of those titles that everybody has been looking to find for years. Somehow I must have missed out on these discussion, since I had never heard of it. But since it has recently been released on DVD, and it’s been getting rave reviews on the internet, I figured I should see what all the fuss is about. And man am I glad I did.
The story is pretty simple. A young man who is a seminary student has a run in with an old witch. She climbs up on his shoulders and rides him like a broom, flying over the countryside. Afterwards, he beats her to death, at which time she turns into a young girl. Once he returns to the seminary, he finds out that a rich landowner’s daughter on her deathbed had requested his presents. Once he gets there, not only has she just passed away, but also it’s the girl whom the old witch turned into. The grieving father demands that he spend three nights with her in the church reading prayers. This where the film really kicks in.
The special effects used in the film are for the most part very simple, but yet are very effective. It reminded me a lot of the German films of the silent era. The makeup for some of the demons that appear looked like twisted images from somebody’s nightmare.
The film does take a little time to get going, but once it does, it’s one of those films that you can watch over and over and still get the same enjoyment, if not more, with each viewing.
The DVD is in great quality, with some awesome animated menus. You can play the movie with English subtitles, or have the English dubbed audio, although sometimes what is said isn’t exactly what the subtitles are reading. It also features three short Russian silent films on the disc. They are THE PORTRAIT, THE QUEEN OF SPADES, and SATAN EXULTANT. All are pretty entertaining, but THE PORTRAIT is extremely chilling, especially for anyone who had thought of paintings coming to life.
I would highly recommend this film to any fan of great cinematography, style and effects. And of course, if you are a student of the horror genre, then this simply is a must see. You won’t regret it.
One could wonder just how bad could a witchcraft movie be when it has tons of gratuitous nudity in it, and that’s just during the opening credits. At least, that was my first thought when I started watching this film. I soon realized that was probably the reason for all the nudity early on. The makers of this film knew how bad their movie was, so they put all this nudity there to keep you at least through the opening credits.
Two young sisters runaway from home, off to London, one with hopes to become a professional model. The one sister gets a modeling job, and her and sister go out to the country for the photo shoot. The lady who runs the modeling agency is not only a lesbian, but also part of a coven of witches. The one sister, who apparently has some sort of second sight or something, decides she wants to join the coven, while the other sister is too afraid.
Okay, so you have lesbians and witches, right? How could this be bad movie? Well, while the witches have sacrifices, they don’t actually kill anybody, just implying. Pretty lame. It seems that the only reason for the rituals is so that the head priest can have sex with the new member of the coven (not a bad job, if you can get it).
So if you’re looking for a good witch movie, don’t look here. If you just want to see a bunch of naked women . . . hell, you might as well just watch a Franco film. At least there you’ll get some sort of enjoyment from the movie.
There had been so many times over the years that we heard that Hammer Films, the famous British studio, was rising from the grave, like so many of the creatures they put in their movies. So many times, that most serious horror fans didn’t pay too much attention to the latest announcement. And even if the studio did resurrect itself, would it be able to really continue the incredible work that its forefather did before it? But then in 2007, it really did happen. Hammer Films was back. Granted, it really was in name only for the most part, since all of the original members of the studio are long since retired, passed away, or just forgotten. But the new CEO promised to not forget about its heritage and to continue the work they had started. We all know there would be no way to bring back the style and feel of those films from yesteryear. Or could there?
The first title to be announced under the new Hammer name was THE WAKE WOOD. It would be a co-production with a couple other companies, but would be Hammer’s first. For some reason, it seemed to take longer to get released than one would think. Before it did, Hammer had two more films come out: LET ME IN, the remake of the Swedish film LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, and an original film, THE RESIDENT, starring Oscar winner Hilary Swank. While LET ME IN was a pretty decent film for a remake, the only nods it had to the famous studios was its use of great character actors in supporting roles. THE RESIDENT just didn’t seem to have that much going for it, even though it co-starred one of Hammer’s original stars, Christopher Lee. Not a terrible film, but just not too memorable. And then WAKE WOOD finally got a release here in the states.
The film takes place in Ireland and stars Aidan Gillen and Eva Birthistle as husband and wife Patrick and Louise, who lose their young daughter in a violent animal attack in the very beginning of the film. Understandably, they are both devastated and have trouble coping with this great lost. They move to the village of Wake Wood, to try to start fresh. But their lives are still filled with such an emptiness that just won’t go away, especially for Louise. As a parent, there can be no greater loss than that of your child. One can only imagine the horror of having to go through something like that.
Then one evening, Louise witnesses something strange going on in this little town. Something very strange. She sees some sort of ritual with some of the townspeople. The next day, Louise meets one of the local women and her “niece”, who seems a bit off. Even more so when the daughter mentions to Louise that her daughter Alice has a wonderful voice. It seems that there is some ancient paganism, witchcraft, or something unnatural going on in Wake Wood. When one of the town’s leaders tells them that he could bring their daughter back to them. But it would only be for 3 days, which would give them time to properly say their goodbyes. While Patrick is doubtful of this whole thing, Louise will do anything to see her little girl again. But like in all good stories, it comes with a cost.
Both Gillen and especially Birthistle’s performances make our heart ache seeing them going through the torment of losing their child. When they hear some impossible story from Aidan’s boss Arthur, that he could bring her back, they will do whatever necessary…even lie. We’ve been a fan of Timothy Spall ever since seeing him in Ken Russell’s GOTHIC (1986). While he doesn’t do too much work in the horror genre, he always is entertaining to watch. And here in WAKE WOOD, he continues that trend.
Another noticeable addition to this movie is the soundtrack. Composer Michael Convertino has worked in just about every film genre out there. With WAKE WOOD, he creates something that seems to be playing the background throughout the movie. Using a simple beat, almost like two pieces of wood knocking together, he creates a rhythm that fits the movie perfectly. It is not immediately creepy or scary sounding, but blends in with the movie so well that it heightens whatever is going on.
If Hammer Films never went under in the late ’70 and had continued to make movies, then WAKE WOOD would have been one they would have produced. It fits the banner perfectly: a village with an ancient secret; a couple of outsiders discovering that secret; and having to deal with their actions. The film works so well because first and foremost, we actually have a decent story. Something different that is being churned out through the Hollywood sewer system. It may have a nod or two to other movies or themes, but it does it in a way that is completely fresh and new, which was a very welcomed discovery. This is not your typical horror movie where a monster is running around. There are many things here that are not laid out in black and white. What amazed me the most is that that since this film was released on DVD that there has not been more press about this. If you are a fan of Hammer films, then I think you will enjoy this movie. This is one film that truly deserves to be under the Hammer banner.
While I was never a big fan of the first film, THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN, I enjoyed this one quite a bit. Maybe since the title character is more of a monster in this one, or at least looks like one. Or maybe since he's not running around yelling, "I DON'T WANT TO GROW ANYMORE!". But if you enjoyed the first one, then you will enjoy this one as well.
Taking place shortly after the first film, truckloads of food are disappearing on the way through Mexico. When they recover the last truck and driver, they find both in bad shape. The driver is delirious, screaming in terror, while the truck has been smashed. Not to mention the giant footprints found near the truck. Sally Fraser plays the sister of Glenn Manning, the title character. She's convinced that her brother didn't die at the end of the first film, especially since they couldn't seemed of have found his 60ft body. Kind of hard to miss that, don't you think? So she goes down to Mexico to investigate herself.
I love the way they show the government works even back then, as far as anybody taking responsibility. Congress says it's not their responsibility, but check with the Department of Medical Research. And then they say check with the Health and Welfare Department. And then of course, they turn it back over to Congress. Nice to see that things haven't changed since then.
Like the first one, there is a lot of unintentional humor here. My favorite line in the film is when Sally, along with a couple of guys from the Army and a scientist discover a huge footprint. The scientist states that the man who made this footprint would have to be 60 feet tall. Sally pipes in, "Glenn was 60 feet tall!", as if there might be another 60 foot giant running around! What a hoot.
One other unique item in this movie is the brief color footage at the end of the film. Once the giant Manning decides to end it all and grabs the high tension wires, the film turns to color, as the sparks fly! AIP was doing that with a few of their films, such as in HOW TO MAKE A MONSTER, which came out the same year. It's a nice little surprise for the audiences.
Granted, these types of films have been made fun of by the likes of Mystery Science Theater, and deservedly so. But that doesn't mean that they're still not entertaining. At least to some of us. I think the special effect work that Gordon did on this film worked out much better than the previous film. Maybe it's the little kid in me, but I really enjoyed this film. It made me laugh and it made me yearn for those Saturday afternoons with my face glued to the small black and white TV watching whatever monster movies were going to playing that day.
And as much as this film may be laughed at or made fun of, especially by today's standards, if you were to look at how much the film cost to make, and how much money it actually made, some people might be very surprised. The first COLOSSAL MAN movie made close to a million dollars in the first 6 months. And remember, that was in 1957.
Lions Gate Home Entertainment released this on a double feature DVD, along with another B.I.G. classic, EARTH VS THE SPIDER. No extras, but for the price, it's definitely worth adding to the collection.
Most low budget films that we see are usually not that great. Sure, there might be a lot of passion and desire there, but if there's no talent, it can get pretty bad. But we're always willing to give new ones a try. So when we sat down with this new film WATCH ME, we honestly weren't expecting that much.
So it was a nice surprise to find a film that was made with some real talent. The camera work was really enjoyable and very fresh for a low-budget film. The film makers really took the extra time to do some nice camera set ups, which can really highlight what we are watching. It really is noticeable. It takes the film up to a higher level than one that obviously looks like someone was filming with their video camera.
The acting was also pretty good. Not great mind you, but effective enough. Most of the low budget stuff can be painful to watch. But here, they found some decent actors that really came across as real people. And then the music here is also pretty effective which adds even more to the atmosphere. Nicely done.
Another nice touch the film had was the ambiguity of the story. Not too much was explain as to who this ghastly visitor was. There were a few clues given, or what might have been clues, but they are never explained or gone into further. So it was nice to see something where they didn't go overboard trying to explain what their movie was about.
The one big flaw here was the storyline. It wasn't the most original, taking a lot from the J-Horror genre over the last few years. From the cursed email attachment to even the ghost that appears after you watch it to do some nasty things to you.
Since this was made in Australia, we're not sure if this is going to turn up on DVD over here in the States. But you can check out the official website for the movie HERE.
Originally titled IL GATTO DAGLI OCCHI DI GIADA (THE CAT WITH THE JADE EYES), the American re-title of this film is completely inaccurate of what the film really is about. Not that this was the first time this happened in the movie world before. They seemed to be trying to go for a slasher look and feel, which this movie is nowhere even close to that.
What we do have here instead is a pretty good thriller, where someone is out on a killing spree. But are all the victims connected, and if so, how? Just when you think you know what’s going on, they come up with something different. This is definitely not your typical killer-on-the-loose film. Someone actually took the time to come up with a pretty interesting and intricate plot. That is something that you don’t see too often anymore.
Of course, another thing you don’t see too often is when someone is killed by having their face pressed down on a hot pot of food cooking in the oven. I have to give them points for originality there.
Another real highlight of the film for me was the music. It reminded me Goblin’s work at that time. It really gave it that feel of Italian films of the 70’s. That would make a nice soundtrack cd.
But the only disappointing part of this movie is the print used for this DVD release from VCI Entertainment. In the past, VCI has put some out some incredible looking releases, such as CITY OF THE DEAD. So I had expected the same quality in this release as well. But that was not the case. Instead, what we get is a print that looks like was taken right off the videotape. Very grainy, very dark and nowhere near what a DVD movie should look like. If they didn’t want to go through the cost and trouble of re-mastering the print, then they shouldn’t have bothered putting it out.
While the packaging lists the film as widescreen, when compared to the Thorn EMI video tape, it looks like they just cropped the top and bottom. There doesn’t seem to be any extra footage on the sides, just the missing footage on the top and bottom. The DVD is a little bit sharper quality of the videotape, but not by much.
I will give them credit on the animated menus. Those are pretty cool. Of course, when you see how much work was done on them that just makes you more disappointed when you see the print quality.
We can hope that their other upcoming releases, such as HORRORS OF THE BLACK MUSEUM, CROCODILE and KISS OF THE TARANTULA as not as bad looking as this one is.
Also on the DVD are some Italian horror film trailers, the original 30 second and 60 second radio spots, and an Antonio Bido bio, who you can see in a small cameo as the dancing director, pictured on the right here.
A naked woman with a dirty body dances rhythmically while eventually growing fur on parts of her body as a narrator talks about a werewolf woman! Some flame bearing villagers soon interrupt the proceedings and start chasing this creature around a wooded area. One unfortunate soul gets axed in the head by the psychotic she wolf.
Some screams lead us to believe it was all a bad dream by Daniela (Annik Borel). She imagines herself to be a reincarnation of an ancient ancestor, whom we allegedly viewed in the prologue. Her father is worried about her condition, as is her sister (Dagmar Lassander). When Daniela spies her sister and brother-in-law making love, her psychosis acts up (along with a full moon) and she lures said brother out in the open for a quick shag. That sex session turns out bad when Daniela goes for the jugular and promptly throws the poor slob over the side of a cliff!
A quick edit and Daniela is now in a hospital for the mentally disturbed. She gets a visit by her sister which turns ugly (again) as she spouts some profanities at her, in an inspired nod to Elke Summer from HOUSE OF EXORCISM. A nymphomaniac (!) helps Daniela escape, but not before getting scissors jammed into her neck! A few victims later, Daniela eventually finds love and peace in the arms of stuntman Luca. However their romantic bliss is soon interrupted by 3 rapist thugs who kill Luca. Daniela goes into rape/revenge mode and sets out to destroy the trio before regressing back into her lupine from (psychologically that is) in a sequence that echoes the opening flashback/dream.
Whew, this oddball tale of sex and sauce has a little bit of everything, but director Rino De Silvestro can only sit back and watch leading lady Annik Borel go crazy in a performance that must be seen to be believed! She rips out throats and rips off her clothes with the best of 'em, and it appears as if nothing will stop her from delivering the most over-the-top actions ever spied in a horror/sexploitation film! To Silvestros credit, he avoids a cut-and-paste werewolf pastiche, and opts for a more believable tale of lycanthropy, by presenting it as a mental disorder of the mind. To hammer the point home, we get countless scenes of doctors and cops explaining this dilemma to us whenever the action slows down. But hey, those looking for sleaze and gore won't be let down, since this one delivers up the goods in spades, and that's really the bottom line here, despite the somewhat heavy handed story.
When Shriek Show put Werewolf Woman out on DVD domestically, they delivered the full uncut version (all prior US VHS tapes, known under a myriad of titles, were missing some sexy stuff) but they cropped the picture on all four sides, leaving out important visual information. Over in Japan, the Trash Mountain Video label released the film uncut, and properly framed, but decided to digitally fog two instances of lower abdominal pubic hair (boo!). The Raro label out of Italy just put out another version of Werewolf Woman on DVD, in a version that looks to be definitive. Any way you slice it, Werewolf Woman is one of those movies that is never easily forgotten, and for those looking for something off the beaten path will be wise to check it out pronto!
Review by Dave Kosanke
This is one of those famous cult titles that we all remember reading about or seeing mentioned in some reference book. What a great exploitation title, huh? Right there you have two different types of exploitation movies together...bikers and monsters! What more could you ask for?
I do have to say that I was slightly disappointed with the film, only because I was expecting what the title states....a gang of werewolf bikers terrorizing the countryside. Turns out there's actually only two werewolves, and only one actually gets on wheels. And that is only briefly at the end of the movie. Instead, we have more of a standard biker flick with a horror twist thrown in. But since when did exploitation movies deliver 100% of what they’re ads promised? And is that a bad thing? Not at all.
But what they did deliver here is still an entertaining little movie about a biker gang roaming the west, that run into little trouble when they come across a strange monastery. Filled with robed monks who are worshipping big Lou, they just might have met their match. They think they're pretty tough and evil, they find out they're wrong.
Adam and his gang The Devil’s Advocates, seemed to be your typical biker gang, looking for fun and thrills, thought they do seemed to do a lot of hugging....When their mystic member Tarot tells them he can show them "where it's really at", they end up at this monastery. The robed figures come out of the place, carrying bread and wine for the bikers, who gladly partake in the communion. But after passing out, the monks start the real fun. Adam’s main squeeze is drawn to the worshipping and does a freaky naked snake dance for the monks. A very memorable moment in 70’s exploitation filmmaking if there ever was one.
Once the bikers start to wake up and realize what’s going on, they raid the monastery, beat up the monks, and take off into the night. Things seemed to be back to normal until the next night. Something attacks two of the members in the middle of the night, tearing their throats out. Was it some wandering beast in the desert, or was it the evil that Tarot warned them about?
The leader of the monks, simply called One, is played by Severn Darden. Though you can’t really see his face that clearly, he’s a very recognizable character actor from the 70’s, especially on TV. Here, he plays this cult leader with all the zest of a Shakespearian actor playing Hamlet! The biker gang is made up of very realistic looking actors, some of which are stunt men. Stephen Oliver plays the leader, Adam.
One of the highlights of the film for me, was somewhat of an accident. They needed a guy to play this gas station attendant that the bikers come to and take the gas. The director found this old guy, who was not an actor, but had no problem giving these bikers a mouthful. Watch for the scene, since this guy is hilarious.
One of the great things about this release is that Dark Sky (with some involvement from Blue Underground, since the commentary is moderated by David Gregory from BU) has tracked down the original director and writer of this film to do an audio commentary for the DVD. Who would have ever thought that this movie would ever get a DVD release, let alone being able to hear the director and writer talk about the movie! Director Michel Levesque and writer David M. Kaufman produce a commentary that is informative and very entertaining. Hearing these two reminisce about the film and the making of it is like hearing a history lesson from the days of exploitation filmmaking. Some of the stories are priceless.
The other special features include trailers (for both WEREWOLVES and THE LOSERS) and radio spots and a photo gallery that shows some great posters and lobby cards from the movie. Very nice.
Dark Sky Films has done another great service to the genre in releasing this DVD. Once again, here is another obscure title that might have been lost. But they have done a great job with this release. While the film is still a little dark in some spots, compared to the video release of the movie, the difference is literary night and day.
"I am not afraid of him now."
As many of you know, I’m not a huge fan of low budget films, mainly due to their lack of quality. But I’m starting to think that maybe there’s more of the good out there then I would have anticipated. A short time ago, we posted our review of another low budget short film called THE TREE (you can read our review HERE), which we enjoyed. And now some of the same people involved in that film have made a short film called THE WINTRESS.
Bill Elverman, who was one of the main actors in The Tree, wrote, directed, and stars in this short film, which is a simple tale of domestic abuse. It’s not preachy, it’s not overdone, it is just a simple story that works. Elverman plays Mike, who stops by the house of his friend Sam, since he didn’t show up for work that morning. He finds he wife Elizabeth outside chopping wood. Mike knows of the history of abuse she has put up with and really wants to help. But that is not a simple fix. And no one knows this more than Elizabeth, even though she thinks she knows how she can. Since Mike is willing to do whatever he can to help her, he has no problems following her into the woods.
Filmed in Kenosha County, Wisonsin, Elverman and Michael R. Steinbeck (who directed and co-wrote The Tree) had shown that low budget filmmaking doesn’t have to look cheesy or be over-the-top with blood and guts. And it doesn’t even need to be a feature length film. As long as you got good story and some good actors, you can do okay. And these guys show that.
I do need to point out that while there are only 3 people in this film, and Elverman and Johnson do a good job in their roles. But unfortunately, Sweatman could have been a little better. Granted, for having to endure what he did for this film that might have been the cause of the less than convincing acting. So for that, I do give him a lot of credit.
Keep an eye for these guys. It will be interesting to see what they can come up with if they move to a full-length feature. Looking forward to that.
Directed by J.S. Cardone
We didn’t get the chance to see this film during the After Dark Horrorfest last fall. But after seeing the trailer online, it peaked our interests. This film is the story about a small mountain town that is haunted by some children that were killed in a mine accident back in the early 1900’s. From the prolog, we learn that a group of children were left to be buried alive in the shaft at the start of a cave-in. The miner’s owner was found not guilty of any wrong doing in the accident. And so starts the vengeance of the dead.
Now we have always enjoyed a good old fashion ghost story. We don’t need to have the in-your-face scares, as along as you have a good ghost story. For example, films like THE FOG (of course the original), THE CHANGELING, or even another After Dark Horrorfest film Nacho Cerda’s THE ABANDONED, show a great example that if you have a classic type ghost story, with a some chilling moments, the payoff will be there.
And in WICKED LITTLE THINGS, director J.S. Cardone almost does that.
Lori Heuring plays a recently widowed woman who arrives at her late husband’s ancestral home in the mountains with her two daughters. Her plan is to make a fresh start after her husband’s lost a long battle with an illness. But once they get there, there are strange things a foot. There’s the creepy neighbor who is marking their front door with fresh blood. And then there’s noises at night, and little dark figures moving about the forest at night, dragging pickaxes and shovels behind them.
Cardone does do a very good job of creating some great atmosphere in the woods at night, with the fog bellowing in through the trees. How could you not, right? But he still has the creepy feel needed for a ghost story. The vengeful ghosts don't care who gets in their way to appease their thirst for blood. He also has a pretty good back story on how these title characters became what they are.
The cast also does a great job here. Heuring gives a strong performance of a mother on the edge of a breakdown, desperately trying to keep her remaining family together. Scout Taylor-Compton plays the daughter, who is not too happy about moving way out in the middle of nowhere, also does a good job. Geoffrey Lewis has a small but memorable role as a local handyman who is doing a few repairs on their house. He's always fun to watch. But the real standout performance here is Ben Cross. I almost didn't recognize him, with the half-rotted teeth and the scruffy look to him. Cross plays the 'crazy' neighbor who seems to know what is going on.
The audio commentary has director Cardone and the lead actress Heuring. At one point, Cardone doesn't seemed to want to consider this is a horror film, which I don't understand how you can have movie about zombie children and not consider it a horror movie. But that's just me. But besides that, they do have some interesting stories about working in Bulgaria, where this was filmed, and with working with the little kids who play the zombie/ghosts.
But, I did have two small problems with the story. The first one is that the ghost children are more zombies than ghosts. They feed on flesh, both human and animal. Now, they did look pretty cool, with their black eyes and dirt and blood stained faces. But mixing in some zombie lore with the typical ghost story just didn’t cut it with me. I will give them credit from trying something different. But I am one that prefers his ghost stories pretty traditional. And I just don't think mixing ghosts with zombies worked that well. At least not here. But here's where the reasoning came in. This was the film that Tobe Hooper was originally attached to, called ZOMBIES. According to the audio commentary, Cardone wanted to do something a little more like the classic "children horror" stories, creating more of a "dark fairy tale". But I think if they would have just dropped the whole zombie aspect of it would have made it better, and more to what it seems like Cardone wanted.
The other thing that bothered me was the very ending. Slight spoiler here, folks, but nothing major. In traditional stories, the ghosts are haunting for a reason. Once the “wrong has been set right” or whatever that is causing the unrest is corrected, the ghosts pass on and are at rest. But in here, once the wrong has been righted, the ghosts still remain. Granted, they don’t seemed to be pissed off as before, but they’re still there.
Now these are minor complaints, and really didn’t take out any enjoyment I had with the film. But I did want to mention it. I think they were trying to do something different and it just didn't work out, as far as I'm concerned. But with those complaints notwithstanding, I do think that Cardone has done a worth while job here and is definitely worth your time.
I don’t remember if it was due to a review I had read, but for some reason, I had always thought this film to be one of those poverty row pictures, featuring Chaney Jr. who would appear in just about anything just to keep working. And this shows that even a well seasoned student of the genre like me can completely misjudge a movie, just because of what they may have read or heard.
I had been in the mood for some older B&W films, and thought that since I had never seen this film, now was a good time as any. Especially now that it finally got a DVD release (thanks to MGM’s Midnight Movie series). But what I wasn’t expecting was to find just how much I really enjoyed it.
Director Don Sharp had many plenty of films in the genre. He worked with Hammer Studios the year before this movie on KISS OF THE VAMPIRE. He also went on to do RASPUTIN: THE MAD MONK for Hammer as well. Other titles in his horror resume are CURSE OF THE FLY, DARK PLACES, and even PSYCHOMANIA. But for this film, he sure must have been inspired by watching some of the films coming out of Italy around this time, specifically Bava’s BLACK SUNDAY. There are quite a few scenes in foggy cemeteries, with the figure of a hooded witch standing there. So you can see a strong Italian influence here. And that is not a bad thing.
Lon Chaney Jr., while doesn’t have a lot of screen time here, sure makes an impact when he is on the screen. As the bitter old Morgan Whitlock, whose hatred for the Lanier family comes out in every one of his actions. Their families have been feuding for centuries, and Chaney plays the inborn hatred towards this family as if he himself was the one that was wronged.
But it wasn’t him. It was an ancestor who was accused of being a witch and buried alive, over 300 years ago. Now that some of that land where she was buried is being re-developed, indirectly by the Laniers, the 300 year-old grave is disturbed. And so she sets out to get her revenge.
Sharp does an excellent job of setting up beautiful night time landscapes with the shrouded fog creeping in. He gives us shots of the old cemetery, with the decrepit tombstones, and slow camera pans across the foggy sets, only to settle upon the feet of a hooded figure standing there. Nicely done.
There are some other familiar faces in the rest of the cast. Hammer fans might recognize Diane Clare from PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES. Unfortunately, she is about as flat here as she was in that movie. Jack Hedley had also worked for Hammer, but mainly in a couple of their non-horror films, such as swashbuckling THE SCARLET BLADE and prison war film THE SECRET OF BLOOD ISLAND. He also was in Hammer’s dark comedy THE ANNIVERSARY, starring Bette Davis. Yvette Rees plays the resurrected witch, Vanessa Whitlock. Though she is silent, her looks make up for that. With her shrouded robe and the help of some eerie lighting, she comes across as one scary lady. She went on to work with Sharp again in CURSE OF THE FLY.
If you’re looking for a nice creepy black and white film, you will enjoy this one. Sure, it’s no comparison to Bava’s BLACK SUNDAY. But it’s definitely a lot better than you might have thought, or read about as in my case. Since it was released in a double feature DVD release, with the price tag pretty low, I’m sure it will be well worth your investment to add this to your collection. Or even enough for you to rent it and give it your 90 minutes.