Monday, August 8, 2016

More Horror Four You!

The Screaming Skull is the outlier in a four movie collection I picked up a few weeks ago. It is the only movie here not about vampires in some way, and sadly it's also the weakest movie of the bunch. But it does have a fantastic poster. This movie is a low-budget affair, set almost exclusively at a pretty fancy house (Huntington Hartford Estate) the movie blunders along as we follow a woman who suffers from the dread that she might well be mad and her husband is there too. She is haunted seemingly by the ghost of his dead first wife who appears to manifest as a skull which whimsically appears and disappears and even rolls along from time to time. It's pretty weak tea overall with little surprise and some painful acting from the lead actress especially.  The producer instructs viewers to get insurance in case they are frightened to death by the movie, but I see little danger of that.

Much better is The Vampire, a saucy attempt to translate the classic vampire tale to the suburbs and modern America. A local doctor takes a pill he shouldn't and it makes him into a maniac who craves blood and who infects his victims with a deadly virus. The police stumble along behind and researchers from out of town fail to understand what is going on until many folks have to die. It's a pretty good parable for drug addiction and the acting in this one is top notch with lots of familiar faces around to populate what is a surprisingly effective movie.

The Bat People is another story. A doctor gets bitten by a bat in a local tourist cavern and slowly becomes a bat person. Or does he? The question is an open one for much of this movie with ambles along at a snail's pace for much of its duration. Stan Winston is on hand to offer up some meager special effects in a show which has some credible acting and some horrible narrative construction. The title implies more than one and this tepid movie delivers on that promise eventually.

The Vampire Lovers is the movie which motivated me to pick up this collection. This notorious Hammer movie is the first of the Karnstein Trilogy which adapt the story "Carmilla" The upshot on this one is that to keep the audience they were steadily losing, Hammer decided to spice up its classic cleavage and blood formula with actual full on nudity. Ingid Pitt is well famous for playing a vampire here who seeks especially female victims as the lesbian angle here is on full display. All quite beautiful are Madeline Smith and Kate O'Mara. Peter Cushing shows up at the beginning and the end to help end the threat, but mostly we are witness to the vampire's predations on two separate households. Truth told, it's a pretty languid movie which takes time for its erotic scenes as well as every other thing to flesh out the running time. A quicker pace would help this one a lot. Still it was a disappointment after all I'd heard for years and years.

As with any of these collections the price matters and this one was small dollars indeed, well worth the gamble. There is good and bad here, but the good is worth the cost of admission.

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