ORBzine - UK Horror - Movie Reviews

TITLE & REVIEW

And Soon The Darkness (1971)

And Soon The Darkness (1971) A pair of English nurses are on a bicycling holiday in a remote rural region of France. They stop off by a clump of trees ... and then the creepiness begins.

One of the girls goes missing in broad daylight. The other must find her. But who can be trusted?

Despite the fact that it takes place in broad sunny daylight, with not a hockey mask or chainsaw in sight, the film delivers a wonderful level of suspense. It is a great example of the slasher genre in the pre- Halloween era.

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    And Soon The Darkness (2010)

    And Soon The Darkness (2010) Amber Heard and her friend, Odette Annable nee Yustman , go on a bicycle tour of Argentina. They end up in a remote village in the foothills of the Andes, which allows for some impressive footage of the scenery. Unfortunately the locals, as always in small towns in movies, are creepy as hell and possibly inbred. Then one of the girls goes missing ...

    This is a remake of the original little-known classic. The setting has been updated from rural France to rural Argentina - being south of the Brandt line makes it seem more remote, although the characters manage to get a signal on their mobile phones at all times, even when literally in the middle of nowhere.

    It is hard to see why someone felt it necessary to remake the original. One excuse is that audiences like to see new actors in a story. When this movie was released, the biggest star was Karl Urban ( Dredd 3-D ), although he is merely a supporting character as a man whose girlfriend disappeared under similar circumstances. Heard was best known for slasher genre thriller All The Boys Love Mandy Lane , but here she is just another Final Girl.

    The original was a masterpiece of suspense. As a whodunnit it works because we never find out who the serial killer is until the very end. The new version is about a sex-trafficking ring, and gives a lot away throughout the story.

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    Fear in the Night

    Fear in the Night This is a Hammer Horror film, set in the era it was filmed in. Since this was the early 1970s it looks a bit dated now.

    Judy Geeson goes to live with her new husband Ralph Bates ( Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde ) at the school he teaches at. Peter Cushing ( Star Wars ) is the headmaster, and Joan Collins is his wife.

    The young woman has a history of mental problems. She believes she is being stalked by a black-gloved Giallo-type killer. Is she imagining it? Is there a real killer after her? Or is this an extended homage to a classic suspense thriller?

    The climactic twist is a well-executed take on a classic Vincent Price movie.

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    Flesh and Blood Show

    Flesh and Blood Show This was made in England in 1972, Produced and directed by Pete Walker. The last section is in 3-D, which is evidently a William Castle style way of making it cheaper than putting the entire thing in 3-D.

    A group of out-of-work actors rehearse for a stage-play in a disused theatre on an out-of-use seaside pier. They are ordered to turn up, start improvising a play ... and wait to be contacted. Four men, three women - the fourth woman is nowhere to be found. Are they the victims of a practical joker ... or a predatory homeless man ... or is a far more sinister mind at work?

    This is a product of a more enlightened age, allowing female toplessness and even some male nudity (full frontal). It also lacks the tropes and cliches that modern slashers have. In fact, it seems more like a whodunnit at times. One standard horror movie trope is isolation, but here the characters interact with the local townsfolk. Instead of teenagers, the characters are all adults.

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    Lair of the White Worm, The

    Lair of the White Worm, The Archaeologist Peter Capaldi ( Dr Who ) discovers the skull of an enormous snake in a Roman ruin. Countryside virginal sisters Sammi Davis & Catherine Oxenberg are not impressed, but Lord of the Manor Hugh Grant ( Cloud Atlas ) realises this may be linked to a local legend of a dragon.

    The heroes suspect that mysterious lady-of-the-manor Amanda Donohoe has something to so with missing persons cases.

    The virgin sacrifice is a theme in this film.

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    The Legacy (1979)

    The Legacy (1979) Katharine Ross is summoned to the reading of a dying man's will in a creepy old countryside mansion in England. The other guests include Roger Daltrey ( Highlander: The Series ) and Charles Grey ( Diamonds Are Forever ). People start to die in mysterious fashions, reminiscent of The Omen .

    This is basic female-in-jeopardy stuff. Luckily she has her boyfriend along - Sam Elliot ( Roadhouse ). He deals with the action-adventure stuff, including taking a crossbow to a gunfight. Luckily the other guy thinks that a shotgun can be used as a sniper rifle.

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    The Man Who Haunted Himself

    The Man Who Haunted Himself Pelham (Roger Moore - The Spy Who Loved Me ) is board member of a marine engineering firm based in an office in central London. Since this is 1970 he wears a suit and tie to work, complete with bowler hat and umbrella One day, driving home from work, he is inexplicably possessed by the spirit of an adrenaline junkie. Unfortunately he then crashes.

    After the car crash, Pelham discovers that someone has assumed his identity. Has he got two personalities that exist independently of one another, or is there a sinister impersonator gaslighting him? Well, since he appears to be in two places at the same time it cannot be the latter. However, to pad the story out from Twilight Zone episode length to full feature-film status he sees a psychiatrist (Freddie Jones - Krull ).

    The main thrust of the storyline is that Pelham has a supernatural doppelganger, a repressed personality that has manifested itself as a physically identical, but physically seperate, alter-ego. Basically Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde , but without any kind of scientific explanation.

    This was made a couple of years before Moore was selected for the role of James Bond. At the time he was a television actor, not the world-famous super-star he was later to become. As such this is a small-scale film with only a few scenes of imaginative cinematography, far better suited in both scale and duration to the small screen. However, Moore adequately acquits himself as a man going gradually insane.

    One thing that stands out to a modern audience is the gender roles. The woman stays at home, where she looks after the children and the servants. Meanwhile, at work Moore is the youngest member of the board. The others are stale, male and pale - but they are probably all veterans of the Royal Navy in the Second World War. On the surface of it this film should not even come close to passing the Bechdel test, although there is a scene where two named women talk about winnings in a casino.

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    Peeping Tom

    Peeping Tom This is an early slasher film, different from the standard suspense thriller because it is told from the killer's perspective, rather than that of the detectives investigating the murders.

    The film is about Mark, a professional movie cameraman who also takes his cine camera everywhere. Not unlike characters in modern Found Footage movies, who seem to have their video cameras with them all the time! Mark targets women he works with - movie stand-ins, nudie models and so on. But he starts to develop feelings for the girl in the apartment downstairs, who works in a local library ...

    This was written by Leo Marks, whose wartime experience as the SOE cryptographer would have familiarised him with exotic weaponry such as the device used by the killer. It was directed by Michael Powell , a former collaborator of Alfred Hitchcock . This may be stylistically influenced by Vertigo , and may in turn have influenced the promotional strategy of Psycho .

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    Prey (1978)

    Prey (1978) An alien explorer (Barry Stokes - Alien Mine ) lands in a forest in England in the late 1970s. The nearby mansion is home to a lesbian couple, who welcome him into their home. He poses as a human from London, though they soon realise there is something very strange about him. This is not a nice cuddly humans befriend an alien story like E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial .

    One of the lesbians is a man-hating cliche, played by an English actress who has many many supporting credits on UK TV shows. The other one is a Canadian who has done a few soft-core movies. When the movie has its compulsory soft-core sex scenes, it is easy to guess which one will do the full-frontal nudity.

    To call this movie cheap is an understatement. It was shot in ten days with a handheld camera, centred around a single building in a forest. There are only half a dozen speaking parts, and everyone except the police officers wore their own clothes. It makes you wonder why relatively successful (if small-time) actors agreed to work in this slasher/softcore porn effort. It certainly was not for the money!

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    Straight on Til Morning

    Straight on Til Morning This is a Hammer film, directed by Peter Collinson (most famous for The Italian Job). Unusually it has a contemporary setting rather than a period one.

    A naive young woman ( Rita Tushingham ) goes to London at the end of the Swinging Sixties. After a failed romance with James Bolam (The Likely LadsPeter Pan quote for the title. The resulting film is reminiscent of Twisted Nerve , Peeping Tom and Brighton Rock. The one twist being that the final reveal is a voice recording rather than a cine film.

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    Terror (1978)

    Terror (1978) This starts as a typical British horror picture of the 1960s, a period costume concerning witchcraft in the Seventeenth Century. This is the kind of thing that made Hammer Horror studio famous, but it was clearly out-of-date by the time this effort was made. Luckily the film switches to a more contemporary kind of story, set in the modern day (circa 1978).

    A young Glynis Barber attends the movie premiere, which introduces the main characters. The movie's producer is the direct descendant of the man responsible for burning the witch. Soon a slasher is on the loose, stabbing the female cast members in descending order of attractiveness.

    The film is a bit of a mixed bag. The suspense scenes are reminiscent of a classic Italian giallo (slasher movie) of the time. However, there is a strong supernatural element to the later killings. So the question is, are the murders committed by a ghost or a slasher?

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    To The Devil A Daughter

    To The Devil A Daughter Nastassja Kinski is a young nun in a cult run by Christopher Lee ( Dracula ).

    Richard Widmark tries to save her. He persuades Anthony Valentine ( Robin of Sherwood ) and Honor Blackman to let the possessed nun stay in their apartment. What could possibly go wrong?

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    Twisted Nerve

    Twisted Nerve Hywell Bennett plays a disaffected young man who regresses into an alternate personality, Georgie. His hobbies include whistling the tune made famous by Daryl Hannah as the killer nurse in Kill Bill . He manipulates things so he can move into a Guest House run by the object of his affections ( Hayley Mills ) and her mother, Billie Whitelaw . Things come to a violent conclusion.

    This was written by Leo Marks (the SOE cryptographer) and directed by Michael Powell . Their previous collaboration was Peeping Tom , now regarded as a classic of the genre. This effort, perhaps due to the implied link between Downs Syndrome and homicidal mania, is rarely seen and difficult to find.

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    Clive Barker Franchise

    Book of Blood

    Book of Blood This is based on the intro to the short story collection by Clive Barker . A very young-looking Jonas Armstrong ( Robin Hood 2006 ) is recruited to be psychic guinea-pig in a haunted house.

    Sophie Ward provides some eye-catching nudity, which is quite an impressive statement about a woman over the age of forty.

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    Dread

    Dread This seems to be based in a story by Clive Barker , published in the Books of Blood anthology.

    A mature student helps a group of Undergrads with their psychology experiments. First, they interview classmates about their greatest fears. Then, the sick SOB in charge takes it to the next level ...

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    Midnight Meat Train

    Midnight Meat Train This is based on a short story by Clive Barker , but that is about the best thing you can say about it. Photographer Bradley Cooper ( Limitless ) spends his evenings taking snaps of NYC citizens. One person he snaps getting on the last train home ends up on the news as a Missing White Woman.

    In order to impress gallery owner Brooke Shields the protagonist turns photo-journalist, investigating the disappearance. His girlfriend ( Leslie Bibb ) gets worried about him, but in this kind of film there is only one role for women - damsel in distress! Likewise, the hero's wisecracking best buddy is likewise set up for a limited life expectancy.

    Our hero discovers that Vinnie Jones ( Swordfish ) has something to do with the disappearances.

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    Rawhead Rex

    Rawhead Rex This was written by Clive Barker , based on a short story he published in his Books of Blood compilation. It features the cream of Irish supporting actors from the 1980s, although some people might say it is let down by the 1980s straight-to-video SPFX. It was directed by a first-timer whose only qualification was that he was a friend of the author. In all fairness, it is still better that the low-budget CGI-Fests that dominate the Horror Channel these days.

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    Soon

    Soon

  • 2000
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