From the DVD case: Marianne (Yvonne Monlaur) is traveling to Eastern Europe from Paris for a teaching post. She gets stranded at an inn after her stagecoach mysteriously leaves her. She is persuaded to stay at Baroness Meinster’s chateau. During her stay Marianne meets the Baroness’s son (David Peel) who is chained to a wall. Feeling bad for the son, Marianne frees him, only to discover that he is a vampire. Luckily for her, Dr. Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) is on his way to rescue Marianne and destroy the vampire. (1960, color)
Mark says: Before Christopher Lee could be convinced to reprise his role as the fiendish Count from Horror of Dracula, Hammer Films had to come up with a contrivance to keep audiences interested until Mr. Lee could be persuaded to don his fangs again (which he would do in 1966’s Dracula: Prince of Darkness). What they concocted was a story involving the “living” disciples of Dracula, with David Peel in the lead role of Master Bloodsucker, Baron Meinster.
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From the DVD case: A deranged plastic surgeon (Anton Diffring) takes over a traveling circus then transforms horribly disfigured young women into ravishing beauties and forces them to perform in his three-ring extravaganza. But when the re-sculpted lovelies try to escape the clutches of the obsessed doctor, they begin to meet with sudden and horrific “accidents.” Now the trapeze is swinging, the knives are flying, the wild animals are loose, and “The Grisliest Show On Earth” is about to begin! (1960, color)
Mark says: Circus of Horrors is Anglo Amalgamated’s attempt to cash in on Hammer Films successful formula of combining horror with sexuality. The film works rather well, and though considered tame by today’s standards, it still has the power to shock and entertain.
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From the DVD case: A cosmetics magnate fearful of aging uses a potion made from queen wasp enzymes in her quest for eternal beauty, causing her to periodically turn into a wasp-monster that must kill. (1960, b&w)
Mark says: The Wasp Woman is a poor production even for low-budget producer/director Roger Corman (It Conquered the World, Attack of the Crab Monsters). Made in less than a week, Wasp Woman was obviously meant to capitalize on the success of 1958’s The Fly. Needless to say, Corman’s film does not come close to matching The Fly in quality, concept, story, or production.
The Wasp Woman insults the viewer’s intelligence almost every step of the way. From the opening credits, that roll over a shot of honeybees (not wasps) to the final credits where the honeybees shot is replayed, we are treated to inane concepts, bad science, horrendous “effects,” and poorly scripted scenes. In other words, this is the epitome of a B picture. The annoying music by Fred Katz only aggravates matters.
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From the video case: When an Earth rocket lands on Mars, the crew finds the planet more pink than red and not entirely dead. As these well-armed scientists begin to explore, they are attacked by unbelievably horrific and demented creatures at every turn. Battling for their lives, the survivors make it back to their ship only to discover intelligent life – and a warning they’ll never forget! (1960, color)
Mark says: Let me state right up front: I rarely get through this movie without falling into a hard slumber. However, for the purpose of this review, I slugged down a pot of coffee and was able to view the film in its entirety.
I’m not saying The Angry Red Planet is a complete loss; it does have some camp value and one memorable creature, but be prepared to listen to a lot of inane dialog before finding anything of value here. Even the technology known as “Cinemagic” can’t save this sleeper.
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From the DVD case: This psychological chiller tells the story of a man who pushes his mistress out of a lighthouse to her death, only to have her ethereal body parts return to haunt him.
With mostly laughable special effects this film proves that the best fissions are those created by the imagination. (1960, b&w)
Mark says: Ok, so you’re not going to go to sleep with the lights on after viewing this film, but I think you’ll find it entertaining.
Tormented stars one of my favorite B-actors, Richard Carlson (It Came from Outer Space, Creature from the Black Lagoon), playing the part of Tom Stewart, a jazz pianist, who is about to marry Meg Hubbard (Lugene Sanders). Unfortunately, Tom has a former mistress, a Marilyn Monroe knock-off named Vi (Juli Reding) who is not so willing to let him go.
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From the DVD case: We have met the enemies and they are our children. Well, perhaps not our children, and that’s the problem: they are the offspring of aliens who secretly impregnated human women!
That’s the riveting premise of Village of the Damned, a science-fiction classic rife with paranoia and set in England’s tiny Midwich. There, the glow-eyed humanoids develop at an alarming rate and use astonishing powers of mind to assert their supremacy. Woe to parents or anyone who defies them. Yet one intrepid soul (George Sanders) does. (1960, b&w)
Mark says: This is another marvelous film saddled with an unfortunate title. It is based on the John Wyndham novel, Midwich Cuckoos. Cuckoos being birds that lay their eggs in foreign nests to be raised by foreign parents. Wyndham also penned the novel, Day of the Triffids, which was used as a basis for another B film.
What I admire so much about Village of the Damned is how understated it is. The events unfold in a tiny town populated with predominantly common people. There is something about ordinary people dealing with extraordinary circumstances that naturally draws our interest.
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From the DVD case: A college student (Venetia Stevenson), with an interest in witchcraft, travels to a foggy, spooky town in Massachusetts and meets with the owner of the Raven’s Inn, Mrs. Newless (Patricia Jessel). Mrs. Newless is in fact a 268-year old witch, who sold her soul to the devil to regain her life after being burned at the stake. Christopher Lee plays Stevenson’s helpful history teacher who along with the town is controlled by the evil witch. When Stevenson’s brother and boyfriend arrive in town to find the missing woman, they discover evil and disgusting happenings going on. (1960, b&w)
Mark Says: Horror Hotel is a brilliant movie saddled with an unfortunate title. You may have heard this movie referred to as City of the Dead, which isn’t much better, but once you get past the campy title, you are in for a real treat.
This is a genuinely eerie film with an interesting plot and great black and white photography. I was surprised, after viewing the movie, that I had never heard of it before. This is certainly an underrated gem.
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