Tuesday, August 9, 2016
Picked up a set of four flicks gathered under the title Classic Horror from a local shop the other day and have thoroughly enjoyed them all, each in its own way.
Terror of the Tongs starring Christopher Lee is the reason I dropped a few dollars to begin with for this set. Though the reviews of this movie are generally tepid, I still had a hankering to see what Lee did with an Oriental menace clearly in the Fu Manchu tradition. He didn't disappoint, though he's not on screen all that much, he does chew the scenery in dandy fashion when he does. The story is a rather hoary one admittedly, though with some real surprises. A sturdy and forthright sea captain finds himself pitted against the local criminal outfit, the Dragon Tong. Their murderous ways strike close to him and he seeks vengeance and goe about it in the most ham-fisted way possible. But there are some neat ruckuses along the path he chooses as he pits his good guy power against the murderous hatchet men of the Tong.
Five is a post-apocalyptic tale, according to some sources the first post-nuclear movie fable ever. It's a cheapie for sure, filmed largely at the house of the writer and director Arch Obloer. The actors are largely unknowns and the film has that spare quality many such low-budget efforts have, though there is a grace to certain scenes many of these films do not aspire to. It's largely the story of five people who gather together (eventually) at house in the mountains after the bombs have dropped. They each have their own tale of survival though we mostly follow the saga of the sole woman who it turns out is pregnant. One of the male survivors is black and race does become an issue in the story. One of the notable features of the movie is that the house was apparently designed by Frank Loyd Wright and it's a handsome ediface for sure.
Vincent Price is outstanding (per usual) in The Mad Magician. The story is straightforward enough. Price is a master builder of great illusions who seeks the limelight for himself but is forestalled by his partner who demands he remain a faceless technician. They also shared the same woman as wife and that tension results in a flurry of murders, each carried out with aplomb and style and ferocious energy. Lots of fun characters, especially a married couple who dabble in solving murder mysteries and a pretty assistant make this one a totally watchable bit of fluff. My favorite moment is when Price loses track of one of his decapitated heads and has to chase across the town to locate it before it falls quite literally into the hands of the police. Humor like this gives the movie a grisly quality that is quite effective.
And finally we have The Man Who Turned to Stone. I expected little of this story of a girls reform school haunted by a mysterious killer, but it turns out there was much more to it thanks to a completely competent cast filled with the likes of Victor Jory. It turns out the killer works for a deadly cabal who run the joint and use the hapless girls as guinea pigs in experiments which have gone on longer that anyone can suspect at first. A well-meaning young woman seeks to investigate the mysterious deaths and is helped by the local young and handsome doctor. The two conduct an investigation that's filled with blunders, but of course we all know justice will eventually win out. This one has some really rather creepy scenes in it and the back story is quite rich.
All in all, a completely solid set of four movies which one might be inclined to overlook. They are worth the time and money (small money really) for any fan of horror. Highly recommended.