Monday, October 12, 2020

October Horror Movie Challenge: The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave (1971)

The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave (1971)

Note: I had this one for another night, so I pulled the post to rewatch the HD 106-minute version.  Other than being much nicer to watch I can't really tell where the differences are. I figure I can have an Erika Blanc double feature! 

This movie is known by a lot of different titles.  The original title, La notte che Evelyn uscì dalla tomba, and the title I am currently watching it under, The Night She Arose from the Tomb. 

The version I have is 99 minutes. So not the 88-minute cut version or even the full 103-minute version. Not sure where that rates this one.  

So crazy Lord Alan Cunningham picks up women that look like his presumed dead wife. He seduces them, tortures them and kills them.  All because he thought his wife was having an affair.

The biggest issue I am having with my version of this video is that the copy is so washed out.

Here is a picture of Polly, played by Maria Teresa Tofano, Alan's first victim, and I had to dig it up to see why she supposedly looked like his dead wife or how Erika Blanc featured into it.

Note: On the HD version I rewatched is much nicer and Maria Tofano is quite adorable.

and Erika Blanc,

vs the version on my screen:

Yeah. Less than optimal.  This is from the same DVD collection that my original copy of The Devil's Nightmare came from. So I should not be surprised.

In fact, some scenes are really screwed up. Split screens, bad color correction, and generally bad lighting.
Note: I am glad I rewatched the HD version.

Eventually, Alan meets a woman he falls in love with, but then all sorts of strange things start happening.  Is the ghost of Evelyn back?

Now I swear I have seen this movie. There is a scene where Alan is talking to all the blonde maids that is just too familiar and the ending.  I must have seen the shorter version under yet another name.  But I recall so little of the rest of it.  And I certainly would have remembered Erika Blanc in this. The music though sounds familiar, but I have heard the same music used in lots of different movies, so that is nothing really.

I was hoping for a supernatural element to this one, but no such luck.

Going to call this one as "Watched Previously" though for the life of me I can't recall when or where.  I even went through all my old October Horror movies but no luck.

I am going to be dragging today.

Watched: 20
New: 13

Throwing in another one. I had a lot of caffeine tonight. I'll come up with something.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

October Horror Movie Challenge: The Devil's Nightmare (1971)

The Devil's Nightmare (1971)

This is the movie I thought I was going to watch earlier tonight.

This is an older one and one I had seen before, but have had a difficult time finding it.   When I first saw it, years ago, it was under the title "The Succubus".  This BluRay transfer is a bit better than a copy I saw just a couple years ago.  I noticed I have talked about it, but never gave it a proper review.  I did give it a brief review while watching some 70s horror films a few years back. I figure I should pop it in.  Plus it is a "Succubus Sunday" so let's have it.

The DVD transfer I had is good, but not great, transfer.  Still a lot of hisses and pops from the source. But still viewable. It does seem to have some material cut from it, or I am remembering it wrong.

The Blu-Ray is fantastic. Also, it has all the scenes I remembered.

We start the movie with a woman giving birth in Nazi Germany near the end of WWII.  The woman's father is a Nazi officer and wants to know if the child is a boy or a girl.  The woman dies in childbirth but the baby survives...until the Nazi officer stabs and kills the baby.

The story follows a group of seven tourists as they become waylaid in a creepy German castle.  Turns out the Baron of the castle is the same Nazi officer from the beginning.

The guests gather and we begin to learn a little about each one.  As they begin to talk about the family curse the Baron is under, another guest, Lisa Müller, arrives.  One known to the housekeeper, Martha.  In pure succubus fashion, she is a beautiful redhead with blue eyes.  I'll be honest, I watched this movie for the first time early in my D&D years so a lot of what a succubus *is* for me comes from this movie. Or. Rather, my memory of this movie.

Each guest is revealed to represent each of the seven deadly sins. The deaths are really what makes this movie fun.  Seven Deadly sins deaths years before Brad Pitt screamed: "What's in the box!"  Makes it worth seeing again.

As soon as six of the guests die, the remaining living guest, the seminarian, Alvin Sorelle, trades his own soul to Satan to bring the other guests back to life.  There is a nice twist at the end which really makes the movie memorable.

The succubus, Lisa, was played by cult horror figure Erika Blanc.  Her demonic make-up effects are both understated and extremely effective.  While I know others could see them as cheap, I rather liked it.  Plus regardless, Erika Blanc is great to look at.  It is no shock looking back on this that I have had so many witchy characters with red hair and blue eyes.

The BluRay is so much better than the old VHS I watched back in the 80s and the DVD copy I watched just a couple of years back.  Well worth getting. Mondo Macabro really puts out a great disc.

I was doing a bit of reading before posting and I noticed that "The Unholy" with Ben Cross is a similar themed movie. I will have to check it out.

Watched: 21
New: 13

Ok. Now I am dragging.  Succubi are a fantastic choice in NIGHT SHIFT.  So much so I am planning on posting more about them.  But later.

October Horror Movie Challenge: Succubus (1968)

I thought for sure I had seen this movie.  It is a little earlier than my "sweet spot" of movies, but it is a Jesús Franco movie and it is about a Succubus (maybe). So yeah feels like something I would have seen.
Well not so much.

Succubus, also called "Necronomicon – Geträumte Sünden" has nothing to do with Lovecraft and maybe nothing to do with succubi.

The lovely (and almost 40 at the time) Janine Reynaud plays Lorna, the star act of a live S&M show at some seedy European nightclub. A voice-over by the club owner leads us to believe that Lorna here has sold her soul to the devil.  She is called "Faustina" at various points and  "the essence of evil... a devil on earth!"

Lorna manages to move through the movie is a semi-languid daze, that is when she is not killing people she almost has sex with.  There is plenty of nudity, drugs, and killings.  You are never sure if Lorna is possessed by a demon or just crazy.  Either could be true.

Since this is a Jesús Franco flick Jeanine Reynaud is front and center and spends more time undressed than dressed.  She is supposed to be a succubus after all.

The ending is also what should be expected. But it is still a fun romp. Very 60s.

Watched: 19
New: 13

I am thinking a longer post about Succubi in NIGHT SHIFT is in order.

October Horror Movie Challenge: The Baztán Trilogy

Spent the day watching all the movies of the Baztán Trilogy today. I had plans, but these movies sucked me in.  I debated whether or not they count as horror.  They are typical police murder dramas on the surface. But beyond that they feature child sacrifice, ancient witch cults, good vs evil, mind control, and at least three different mythological monsters that were all (mostly) new to me.  So yeah, I am going to call it horror.

The Invisible Guardian (2017)

This is the first of the trilogy.  The story takes place in Baztan, Navarre in the Basque region of Spain near France. It is a lovely, picturesque countryside and one is immediately reminded of such folk horror movies like "The Wicker Man."  Like The Wicker Man, this area is steeped in ancient superstitions and folklore and this plays into these stories. 

The story focuses on inspector Amaia Salazar.  She is the chief homicide inspector and is investigating the murder of a 13-year girl.  During the investigation, she has to return to home town and deal with her sisters.  Amaia left years ago to join the FBI and there is an obvious rift between her and her family.  This rift is investigated and how it relates to her case.  Soon more girls turn up murdered and the killer is dubbed "El Basajaún", named for a forest creature from the region. 

During the investigation, there is an obvious occult connection, but one that does not become obvious right away.

There are a lot of questions, even when the murderer is discovered.  One is, is Basajaún real?  We hear it's weird whistling in the forest in the mountains. Something pulls Inspector Salazar from her car wreck.  Something directs the detectives to the cave where tons of human bones are. And we catch a glimpse of something large and hairy in the distance. 

The Legacy of the Bones (2019)

It's a year or so later and Amaia Salazar has a new baby boy and is drawn back to Baztan where there is a string of unrelated suicides. Unrelated save they all ask for her before they kill themselves and they leave a word behind, usually scrawled in the victims on blood, Tartalo; another monster from the Basque region that may have had something to do with the local witchcraft covens.

We also learn more about Amaia's relationship with her institutionalized mother who tried to kill her on several occasions when she was a girl. Likely part of the reason she left the family to live in America for a while. 

The movie focuses on the bones found in the local cave and how there has been a long history of cult-like killings. 

Amaia also gets closer to a local judge while her American husband is pushed further away.   

The climax comes when Amaia's mother escapes a clinic run by the Opus Dei.  She kidnaps her grandson, thinking it is a granddaughter, to sacrifice "her."   Amaia stops her by pointing out it that it is a boy that ruins the sacrifice. 

Her mother manages to escape and everyone, save Amaia, thinks she drowns in the flood.

Offering to the Storm (2020)

The final chapter ties together all sorts of plot threads.  Amaia is having an affair with Judge Juez Markina.  More murdered baby girls are turning up and they all seem to lead back to a single house in the country.  A house where Amaia's mother used to frequent with other women.   Sound like a witch cult? Yeah. It does.  And the similarities don't end there.  The members of the cult will make a sacrifice and then become very rich. The ones that don't have their lives destroyed.  

We learn that the children, all baby girls, were sacrificed to a demon named Inguma.  A demon that causes nightmares and kills babies in their sleep.  Dismissed today as a way to explain crib death.

In the process, Amaia learns that she had a twin sister who must have been sacrificed as a baby. Her bones were discovered in the cave from the first movie.  There are all sorts of other spooky things going on that would be a spoiler to share, but suffice to say that the Basque Witch cult that everyone talks about in the past tense in this movie is very much a current thing. 

Amaia hunts down members of the cult and learns her mother was an active member and she was supposed to be a sacrifice herself.  Also, the girls killed in the first movie were girls who were supposed to have been killed as babies. 

The movies are good on their own, but like the Millennium series (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) they are better as a series.  Also, like the Millennium series, it shows that the evilest monsters are humans.

Watched: 18
New: 12

I am starting my next movie now, so I will post something for Monstrous Monday tomorrow.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

October Horror Movie Challenge: Quatermass and The Pit (1967)

Quatermass and The Pit (1967)

Another Hammer choice, since I am in the mood. This movie is a classic. Rarely does Sci-fi and horror blend so well as with Quatermass and The Pit (1967).  I remember watching this one as a kid and thought how fantastic it was.  It has stayed surprisingly up to date.

Like the Creeping Flesh and the Image of Fendahl, this one features a near-human skeleton that is at least 5 million years old.  Found in a subway station under Hobbs End (formerly Hobs End) brings into question not only the origins of humankind, but of our concept of evil.

Quatermass is one of the iconic British characters, one I would say is right up there with Sherlock Holmes and the Doctor.  In fact I am sitting wondering now how come Steven Moffat hasn't given us a modern version of Prof. Quatermass. We are overdue.
Note: After I typed this all up I did find a 2005 Quatermass serial starring Jason Flemyng and long associated Doctor Who folk David Tennant and Mark Gatiss. 

This movie also was the first that got me onto my research of Hobs which would eventually lead to my decision that hobgoblins are a diabolic bread of goblins.  A "hob" is a type of devil.  The creature movie is often described as a goblin. 

This movie also uses the ages-old trope of women being more psychically sensitive than men. 

The ending of this one is still surprisingly effective and scary. 

Watched: 15
New: 9

NIGHT SHIFT and BlackStar Content.
Like I mentioned in the Creeping Flesh a skeleton that should not exist is a fantastic element of horror and sci-fi.   Like Image of Fendahl, this one brings a pentagram into the mix having it as being older than mankind. 

Maybe I can combine these various ideas and go 2001: Space Odyssey here.  A NIGHT SHIFT game taking place in the early 70s discovering a skeleton that just should not belong. Horror ensues. Then a BlackStar game where the USS Protector investigates a planet with eerie similarities.  

I do love a long-game plot covering multiple generations.

October Horror Movie Challenge: The Creeping Flesh (1973)

Been in a Hammer mood lately, so I thought I would revisit some old favorites. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that The Creeping Flesh, starring  Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, and directed by Freddie Francis was NOT a Hammer Film.  But more on that later.

This film scarred me crazy when I was little, but it also is responsible for me becoming more curious on both psychology, anthropology, and the Victorian era.  Christopher Lee plays a psychologist and Peter Cushing an anthropologist. 

Emmanuel Hildern (Cushing) has come back from a trip abroad to Papua New Guinea where he has found the skeleton of a giant humanoid.  It was buried in a lower stratum than Neanderthal, and thus much older (note, Neanderthals have only been discovered in Europe and the Middle East).  He is being financed by his younger half-brother James (Lee), who is a psychiatrist.  

The skeleton (which my wife and I agree is actually that of a Klingon) begins to grow new flesh when exposed to water.  

There is a bit about his dead wife, she died in his brother's insane asylum, and maybe his daughter inheriting her madness.   Oh. And an escaped mental patient Lenny.  "Lenny the Lunatic" would a focal point of many nightmares after that.  Not so much him but how he was killed. 

Cushing plays the absent-minded professor with his head full of science.  Lee plays the scientist looking for fame and money.   

Eventually, Emmanuel concocts an idea of using the Klingon's blood as a vaccine against evil.  Of course, the doctor injects his "unruly" daughter (Lorna Heilbron) with it (she went into her mother's room where she was forbidden!) but not before he sees what it does to his test monkey.  In pure Victorian fashion turning evil makes you hotter, his daughter Penelope starts tarting around London.  Oh and she turns from a blonde to a red-head in a red dress. Not at all subtle really. 

There is some back and forth between Lee and Cushing (as there should be, they were the best as antagonists) with the skeleton getting stolen and caught in the rain.  

The movie is remarkably uneven, but still quite a lot of fun really.  Lorna Heilbron is absolutely adorable in this, first as the "Good" Penelope and then as the "Evil" Penelope.  Christopher Lee is his typical commanding self. Not evil, but certainly amoral. 

The ending bugged me then. Was it all in Emmanuel's head or has some ancient evil been released in the world? Now I think it is great.

Watched: 14
New: 9

Finding an ancient skeleton that should not exist is a hallmark of sci-fi horror.  Doctor Who would cover the same ground five years later with The Image of Fendahl about a 12 million-year-old human skull.  Quatermass and the Pit did it a few years back with a 5 million-year-old skull. I would use a similar idea in Ghosts of Albion: Dinosauria with a screaming skull. 

BlackStar Content.
My wife, who never watches horror movies with me, watched this one.  We both thought the skeleton looked like a Klingon.  So what about this. A Federation archaeological survey has turned up a 12 (or 5 or 6 or whatever) million-year-old Klingon skeleton on a planet far outside of the Klingon Empire, and millions of years before the Klingons achieved warp.  Since this is the dawn of the Federation-Klingon peace accords, everyone is on eggshells.  The survey team goes silent.  The Klingons send a ship. That goes silent. The closest ship in the sector is yours.  You intercept a Klingon transmission. It is the captain of the Klingon ship, he is covered in blood and screaming, "HeS'a' wa' tu'lu'bej!" (The Devil is here!)
I would avoid saying it is actually Fek'lhr, but that doesn't mean the characters don't know that.

We thought the skull looked a lot like a Klingon's.

And it was tall like Fek'lhr is.

It makes sense. Kahless pointed to a star and said to his followers "you would find me there" and was the planet of Boreth, home of the Klingon Time Crystals.  If there can be holy planets then there can be profane ones as well.   

October Horror Movie Challenge: Addams Family (1991, 1993)

When regular "family" channels start showing Halloween movies then you know October is in full swing.  These were on today and I thought I'd catch them while do other things.  Are they Horror?  Maybe not. But they are certainly in the spirit of Halloween and that is what matters to me.

The Addams Family (1991)

Gomez: Tish, when was the last time we waltzed?
Morticia: Oh, Gomez. Hours.

I have said it before, I'll say it again. Gomez and Morticia Addams might be the two most loving characters of all time. And no one does Gomez with the same flair and attitude as the late Raul Julia. Sorry John Astin, but it is true. If he were the only bright spot in this movie that would be enough. But we have chameleon actor Christopher Lloyd as Fester, a very young, but already brilliant, Christina Ricci (who claimed to be channeling Winona Ryder as Lydia Deetz for her role), a regal Anjelica Huston as Morticia Addams, and a great supporting cast. 

The movie deals with the return of Uncle Fester, but that is really not the point. You don't enjoy the Addams Family for its plot. You enjoy it for its wonderful campiness, its weirdness, and to paraphrase the old Addams Family TV series, its creepiness, and cookieness. 

Addams Family Values (1993)

Morticia: Wednesday's at that very special age when a girl has only one thing on her mind.
Ellen: Boys?
Wednesday: Homicide.

Why this movie wasn't spun off into a Wednesday Addams featured movie (or direct to video) still raises questions, because seriously. Christina Ricci outright stole this damn movie as teenage homicidal maniac Wednesday.  It is easy to see why Wednesday eclipsed the other characters here because she is just so much damn fun. It would later give us Adult Wednesday Addams from Melissa Hunter (which was taken down). 

The plot of this one, such that it is, is reminiscent of the first. Fester being manipulated to steal all the Addams' money. Maybe why it didn't fare as well in the box office. But that doesn't matter, the movie is fun and funny. 

Frankly, it would not be Halloween if I didn't catch one or the other of these.

NIGHT SHIFT and Old-school Content:  

I have talked about witch families in the past. I think what we have here is a very functional, loving family that just happens to be really weird.  It got me thinking, why do all D&D characters have a tragic backstory and are orphans? Well I guess that loving families don't produce adventurers any more than they produce Batman.  But what would an adventuring party of siblings be like? Wouldn't that be fun? I get along great with my sibs, taking them on an adventure would be fun. 

So what are the D&D classes of the Addams?

Gomez: Rogue
Morticia: Bard
Fester: Artificer (basing this on the old TV series)
Pugsly: Barbarian
Wednesday: Assassin
Grandma: Witch
Lurch: Golem Fighter
Thing: Familiar?

Ok, not a perfect fit, but something to have some fun with.

Watched: 13
New: 9

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