Movierob’s Alfred Hitchcock Blog-a-thon: “Lifeboat” (1944) Vic’s Review

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What’s it About?

Several survivors of a torpedoed ship find themselves in the same boat with one of the men who sunk it.

“Lifeboat”

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Hi everyone! Vic here with my first contribution to “Movierob’s” awesome movie blog. It is a review for his latest blog-a-thon of Alfred Hitchcock films. I will be reviewing Rob’s favorite Hitchcock film, “Lifeboat.”

I hope that I have done the film justice in this review and I hope that not only Rob, but his followers and readers enjoy my write up. Thanks very much, everyone!

Vic’s Review of “Lifeboat” HERE!

Enjoy!

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Parlor of Horror’s Top 5: “Gothic” Vincent Price Films

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Hello Everyone! Vic here to present another great post and contribution from my good pal, Mike from Parlor of Horror. This time, Mike is presenting his Top 5: Favorite “Gothic” Vincent Price Films. Please remember to visit Mike’s great page from here for awesome Movie Reviews, Horror Fiction Writing Tips, Monster Model Pics and Horror Novel Reviews!

My Top 5: Gothic Vincent Price Films

Guest Post by Mike from “Parlor of Horror”

1) The Pit and the Pendulum (1961)

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Only loosely based on the Poe story, and set in 16th century Spain, Nicholas (Price) is slowly driven insane by ghostly apparitions of his recently deceased wife, Elizabeth (Barbara Steele). His brother-in-law, Francis, arrives to investigate his sister’s death and is caught up in the man’s madness. In the end, all of Nicholas’s relationships are severed. Vivid dark imagery of the massive castle, the pendulum device and Price portraying an insane man (donning a twisted smile and black cloak & headpiece), make this the epitome of gothic films. Directed by Roger Corman and screenplay by Richard Matheson. Distributed by AIP.

2) House of Wax (1953)

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Henry is a NY sculpture artist in the 1890’s. He needs funding for his art but his wax exhibit is not making any money. His manager/partner sees a way to collect money, by burning down Henry’s studio with Henry in it, and collect on the insurance. But, Henry does not die and exacts revenge against all who betrayed him, turning them into the art exhibits in his new wax museum of horrors. Look for Henry’s mute assistant played by a young Charles Bronson. A Warner Brothers film directed by Andre de Toth.

3) The Witchfinder General (1968) aka: The Conquerer Worm (Currently available on Netflix)

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Sadistic tale about Mathew Hopkins, a lawyer appointed by British Parliament to purge the country of witches. He has a unique way of determining a witch. The suspect is stabbed in the back many times with a holy dagger. If the suspect lives, he or she must be a witch and is sentenced to hanging (think about that for a second). He falls in love with a young maiden in a small town and he uses her father’s life as a bargaining tool for her reciprocation. Sometimes mistaken for the Corman/Poe series, this film was produced by Tigon Films, directed by Michael Reeves and distributed by AIP.

4) The House of Usher (1960)

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Roderick (Price) is quite mad in this tale, convinced that his sister, Madeline, must not marry and pass down a terrible mental illness in the family genes. Madeline’s fiancé, Phillip, comes to rescue her but almost succumbs in the process. Madeline seems to die, but is instead buried alive. When she awakes in a sarcophagus, she goes mad and fulfills Roderick’s prophecy.  Price has bleach blond hair in this film and turns on the Shakespearean-style melodrama. The first of the Corman/Poe releases whose success produced a series of 8 films in all. Screenplay by Richard Matheson. Distributed by AIP.

5) Tomb of Ligeia (1965)

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Verden Fell’s wife, Ligeia, promises to return before she dies. Time has passed but Verden is still consumed with the idea of Ligeia’s return. To his new wife’s dismay, Verden’s behavior becomes increasingly stranger when they move into his Abbey after their honeymoon. Rowena begins to believe that Ligeia has already returned in the deep hours of night and hiding by day in the body of a mysterious black cat. Though the ending is a little choppy, this fine Poe adaptation is a remarkably underrated film and one of Price’s classic character portrayals. Directed by Roger Corman, screenplay by Robert Towne and based on the Poe story of the same name. Distributed by AIP, this was the last of the 8 Corman/Poe films.

Honorable Mention:

The Raven (1963)

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I could have easily put this horror-comedy satire in 5th place, starring Price, Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre. It’s a fun film of battling wizards that is still entertaining every time I view it.

Please enjoy the Trailers Below!

Thanks Mike, for another great post for Vic’s Movie Den. We cannot wait for the next one!

- Vic

Brian’s Review – John Carpenter’s “The Fog” (1980)

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Hello, Gang! Here is another older review from my bud, Brian Volke. It has been re-edited and I have added New Images!  Hope you all enjoy it and thanks for checking in on my re-vamped reviews during my hiatus!

- Vic

What’s it About?

A Northern California fishing town, built 100 years ago over an ancient leper colony, becomes shrouded by a killer fog containing zombie-like ghosts seeking revenge for their deaths.

“The Fog”

Directed by John Carpenter

8 out of 10

By Brian

All of John Carpenter’s best films take simple ideas and expand them by the use of creative and atmospheric worlds. Halloween took a normal neighborhood and made it terrifying, “The Thing” created a sense of gloom within the snow and cold of Antarctica, and the Fog uses darkness and shadows to create one of my favorite ghost stories ever put to screen. His movies are more dependent on the setting and location than most filmmakers to create the mood.

The opening of the film really sets the stage with the legendary John Houseman telling a scary story around a campfire and then dropping us right into the island where we’ll spend the next 90 minutes. “The Fog” is a classic sleepover ghost story similar to the one we’ve all hear a million times about the murderer coming back for revenge and scratching the car with his hook(ironically, the ghosts have hooks here too).

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The script is really simplistic and silly. Supposedly, pirates were screwed over by the Church and now they’re back to re-claim their treasure. Now, before you start to get flashbacks of a Scooby-Doo episode, understand that this is a John Carpenter film and he is a master at creating suspense, mood and dread. Along with a healthy dose of fear and mysticism.

Director of Photography Dean Cundey was at the top of his game here too. The island is an absolutely perfect setting and his camera work is nothing short of stunning. He makes low budget films look a lot more expensive by his use of excellent framing as well as his use of darkness and shadows.

The performances are nothing to really write home about. Jamie Lee Curtis is really bland, Tom Atkins is blah, and Adrienne Barbeau is nice to look at but offers little else. So, why am I rating this an 8 with a simplistic story, bland acting, and a silly mystery? Because “The Fog” is all about atmosphere and suspense. And in that line of thinking, it delivers in spades.

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New Images Below!

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Brian’s Review – John Carpenter’s “Prince of Darkness” (1987)

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Hello, Gang! Here is another older review from my bud, Brian Volke. It has been re-edited and I have added new images. Hope you all enjoy it and thanks for checking in on my re-vamped reviews during my hiatus!

- Vic

What’s it About?

A research team finds a mysterious cylinder in a deserted church. If opened, it could mean the end of the world.

“Prince of Darkness”

Directed by John Carpenter

7 out of 10

By Brian

Horror films have one ineffable quality that no other genre can lay claim to: Mood is more important than story. There are some that may disagree with that statement, but, think of some of your favorite horror flicks of all time. Most of them have simple premises that don’t hold a lot of weight (Halloween, Night of the Living Dead, Texas Chainsaw Massacre) but they have a sense of mood and style that grips the audience and doesn’t let go. Prince of Darkness is not in the same league as the films I mentioned previously but it does share that one vital element: mood.

Director John Carpenter and Director of photography Gary Kibbe (his first film as cinematographer for Carpenter) populate the world with constant barriers that are being thrown up. It might be a door, or lunatics out in the street, or even a possessed person just around the corner. Carpenter creates a sense of claustrophobia that builds and builds as the story progresses until it reaches its climax.

The camera work throughout is top notch. Hallways go on forever, basements have corners that darken into nothingness, and the church itself feels like a shrine to evil. The cast of characters are generally wallpaper except for the great Donald Pleasance, who, as usual, anchors the film with a sense of believability that it otherwise would have lacked. His resume is exhaustive but his consistency throughout his entire career was nothing less than spectacular.

It will never be listed with the best of horror films ever, never won any awards, and is never even thought of as one of the better John Carpenter films. But, I have always had a soft spot for this movie. Time and time again we’re given “horror” films that are utterly boring and lifeless. The word horror refers to a sense of dread, shock and fear. By that definition, Prince of Darkness is a true horror film.

Enjoy the “Prince of Darkness” image gallery below!

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Brian’s Review – “Knowing” (2009)

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Hello, gang! Here is a newly re-edited review done by Brian Volke from a while back with new images. Hope you enjoy it. Thanks for stopping in and checking out the re-vamped posts!

- Victor

What’s it About?

M.I.T. professor John Koestler links a mysterious list of numbers from a time capsule to past and future disasters and sets out to prevent the ultimate catastrophe.

Knowing”

Directed by Alex Proyas

7 out of 10

By Brian

I was pleasantly surprised by this film. I’ve wanted to see it for a while simply because it was directed by Alex Proyas (The Crow and Dark City) and it had an interesting synopsis for the plot. What would you do if you suddenly found out that the world was ending and you knew exactly when it was going to happen?

That it the tie that binds this film together and kept me interested during its two hour running time. This isn’t the kind of film you want to think too hard about. There’s a lot of implausible story choices.

I did wonder how Nicolas Cage found out the world was going to end so easily. The movie goes to great lengths to explain how he figures out the series of numbers contained within the paper from the time capsule and how they correlate to real world events. But, when it comes to the biggest surprise, the end of the world, he simply hops on his iMac and….POOF!..He knows the answer!

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Also, other than his great performance in Leaving Las Vegas, Nicolas Cage’s acting tends to be hammy and too dramatized. Knowing is no exception. His demeanor sometimes doesn’t even fit the scenes he’s in. However, he is excellent at resembling a horse and drinking alcohol while looking “concerned.” One last problem before I move on to the good stuff is the special effects. It’s a tale of two movies here because the end of the world stuff looks incredible.

Waves of explosions fills the sky and you see the Earth turn to rubble. But, in earlier scenes involving large scale accidents (plane and train, I won’t divulge more), it looks really fake and obviously CGI. The best special effects are ones that you don’t notice.

The film itself has a great visual look to it. It’s dark without coming across as dreary and the cinematography by Simon Duggan is one of the films’ stronger attributes. Also, Director Alex Proyas creates a great sense of suspense without having to resort to cheap cliches.

We are drawn in by the sheer enormity of end times and can feel it inching closer as the film progresses. I will admit that the end may turn some viewers off because of how it can feel detached from the rest of the movie, but, just keep in mind that it’s science fiction…not science.

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5 Awesome “Behind The Scenes” Pics: Gallery Two

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Yep. 5 More!

Hey, gang! Here is Vic’s Movie Den’s second gallery of very cool “Behind the Scenes” pics. (Not to be confused with my “On The Set” posts) They are scanned pics from various movie books that I own and / or borrow from the library.

Others are those I come across on the internet, to share with you all. I hope you enjoy them and I look forward to doing more of these in the near future. Thanks!

Vic

Where Chewbacca's from, boob grabs are considered a sign of peace.

Where Chewbacca’s from, boob grabs are considered a sign of peace.

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“Hmm. Taco Bell or Burger King?”

"You get to have a cigarette break and I can't even go pee?"

“You get to have a cigarette break and I can’t even go pee?”

The late great Jim Henson with Kermit on the set of "The Muppet Show"

The late great Jim Henson with Kermit on the set of “The Muppet Show”

Luc Beeson with Natalie Portman and Jean Reno on the set of "Leon: The Professional"

Luc Beeson with Natalie Portman and Jean Reno on the set of “Leon: The Professional”

Bonus Pics Below!

"Bruce!" ... nuff said!

“Bruce!” … nuff said!

Director George Lucas next to the iconic "Star Destroyer" from "Star Wars"

Director George Lucas next to the iconic “Star Destroyer” from “Star Wars”

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Hope you enjoyed the pictures, everyone. There will be another gallery coming shortly. Stay tuned!

 

Brian’s Review – “Scanners” (1981)

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What’s it About?

A scientist sends a man with extraordinary psychic powers to hunt others like him.

“Scanners”

Directed by  David Cronenberg

8 out of 10

By Brian

What if there were 237 people on Earth that had such tremendous psychic abilities that they could not only control others’ minds but they could inflict bodily harm and death? That’s the premise behind the terrific horror film that launched the career of the great David Cronenberg. I’ve always been an admirer of his work because he’s a man that likes to take chances and makes films that are truly a singular vision.

In Scanners, he creates a world where normal people are nothing but pawns in a game between the movement of the gifted psychics who want to control the world and an opposing group that has recruited a scanner of their own to stop them.

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The cat and mouse game between the opposing scanners is the real meat and potatoes of the story and will have you on the edge of your seat throughout this fast paced trip. The performances are nothing to write home about save for Michael Ironside who makes a truly formidable foe to our protagonist (played by Stephen Lack capably but not memorably). The real star here is the direction by Cronenberg and the ground breaking makeup effects that were way ahead of their time.

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If you’ve never heard of the famous “head exploding scene” until now, you’ll be shocked at just how convincing it is even by today’s movie magic standards. It brings me back to a time in films before computers did all the work and in many ways effects were more convincing because they had real world believability. They took up actual space on the set and the actors were given a chance to see what they’re reacting to versus an empty green screen.

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The camera-work throughout is excellent. Mood is put front and center. This is a dark world filled with desperate people that have clear goals. The mere fact that this film has such a devoted cult following after its release over 30 years ago should give you an idea of its impact. I must warn you that this is a very violent film and if you have a weak stomach, it’s not for you. But, if you like a dark twisted tale with a great plot hook, rent and enjoy!

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