ORBzine - Cellar Club - Movie Reviews

Cellar Club w/ Caroline Munro


Vintage Horror movies shown on Talking Pictures TV channel

Afraid Of The Dark (1992)

Afraid Of The Dark (1992) A young boy with a visual impairment investigates when a maniac starts attacking blind women with a razor. His father (Edward Fox - ) is the chief of police, but the boy makes far more progress. There are a number of suspects, including David Thewlis ( Dragonheart ) and Paul McGann ( Dr Who ).

The storyline flips at the midpoint, like Mulholland Drive . It turns out that the story is a lot more complicated.

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The Amazing Transparent Man (1960)

The Amazing Transparent Man (1960)

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Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders, The (1965)

Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders, The (1965) Moll Flanders ( Kim Novak ) is raised in an orphanage, and seems destined to be nothing more than a servant girl. The good news is that she marries a rich man. The bad news is that her husband (Derren Nesbitt - The Prisoner ) is a drunken fool who leaves her nothing in his will. Finally, she becomes servant to a lady ( Angela Lansbury ) - and takes full advantage of the situation.

Just as Moll is a con-woman who exaggerates her social status in order to trap a rich husband, so a highwayman poses as a rich sea-captain in order to seduce her. This comedy of errors is the heart of the story, which is based on Daniel Defoe's parody of the good-girl memoirs of the time. Especially memorable is Leo Mckern ( The Omen ) as the highwayman's comic-relief sidekick.

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Angel On My Shoulder (1949)

Angel On My Shoulder (1949)

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The Ape (1940)

The Ape (1940)

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Assassination Bureau, The (1969)

Assassination Bureau (1969) This is a comedy-thriller set in the Edwardian era. The story starts with exposition by Sonya Winter ( Diana Rigg ), who wants to be a journalist like Nelly Bly. She has spotted a trend in a series of recent political assassinations, and she pitches her story to a major newspaper. With the paper's backing, she goes undercover as a prospective client for the assassins. Then, in a cunning move that seems to have inspired Arya in Game of Thrones , she hires chairman Ivan Dragunovich (Oliver Reed - Gladiator ) to assassinate himself.

Ivan accepts the contract, because it gives him an excuse to hunt down and kill his own members. He is a moralist, who believes in only assassinating those who deserve it. Sonya also claims to be a moralist, and is nominally against killing people, but she is certainly happy enough to involve herself by instigating the killings. Yes, they are both a pair of hypocrites.

Ivan's rival for leadership of the bureau, Telly Savalas ( On Her Majesty's Secret Service ), plots with his sidekick Curd Jurgens ( The Spy Who Loved Me ) to start the First World War - like in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen . As the casting illustrates, a Bond girl is facing off against a couple of Bond villains. A pity that Oliver Reed never got the role of James Bond, because this movie shows what a good job he could have done.

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The Atomic Brain (1964)

The Atomic Brain (1964)

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The Bat (1959)

The Bat (1959) This starts with a voice-over narration, a typical device in 1950s movies that was used to deliver exposition ... and foreshadowing.

We learn from a character reading a newspaper article that a serial killer has been murdering young women in the town. Those characters apparently had nothing to do with the main plot, so this is probably just more foreshadowing, but it could be the killer's plan to copy The ABC Murders and slip a targeted killing among a series of random ones. This is never explained, but it does not matter. The killer, nicknamed the Bat, makes his appearance quickly enough. His face is covered, perhaps because it was burnt off in a fire, while he wears a fedora hat and a glove with claw-tipped fingers. Yes, he has all the trappings of Freddy Kreuger. The big difference is that he is human rather than a vengeful ghost. Or is he?

The main storyline is laid out very succinctly at the start. Someone embezzeled a million dollars (1950s money) from the small town's bank. A bank-teller is in jail on suspicion of the crime, but the cash has never been located. The logical hiding place is somewhere in the mansion that used to belong to the bank manager ... who died in a mysterious fire. The house has been rented by a lady who writes crime thrillers, and like Murder She Wrote she is always at the centre of murder sprees.

It seems that the Bat wants to find the cash in the house. The thing is that there are only three suspects. Since one of them is the town doctor (Vincent Price - The Raven ), it is a wonder that the movie runs as long as it does.

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Beast From Haunted Cave (1958)

Beast From Haunted Cave (1958)

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Beast In The Cellar, The (1971)

Beast In The Cellar, The (1971)

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Behemoth The Sea Monster (1959)

Behemoth The Sea Monster (1959)

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Black Torment, The (1964)

Black Torment, The (1964) In the 1800s, an Aristocrat returns to his mansion accompanied by his new bride. Unfortunately the local peasants who work his land have been beset by a tragedy. A farm-worker's daughter was murdered, and the Aristocrat himself has been named as a suspect. This is all linked to stories about the ghost of his previous wife, who died years previously under mysterious circumstances.

The supernatural element of the story, along with the historical setting, makes this film a generic horror in the mould of all Hammer films of the period. Without it, the movie is a very simple whodunnit with the prime suspects blatantly obvious.

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Blood Of The Vampire (1958)

Blood Of The Vampire (1958)

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Bluebeard (1944)

Bluebeard (1944) This is set in Paris during the 1800s. Not the real Paris, but the Hollywood version inspired by the works of Edgar Allan Poe . This movie came out the same year as the US military liberated France, just as Casablanca (1942) came out when the US Army liberated Morocco, so we must view the setting in the same context.

A serial killer is stalking the streets of Paris, leaving a series of young women's corpses in the river. He is nicknamed Bluebeard because he targets young women, after the fairy tale about the man who killed his many wives. Since this was filmed during the Hayes Code era, the killer is a strangler instead of a slasher. Of course, since this is a Film Noir rather than a Police Procedural we know who the killer is from the start.

The killer is Gaston Morrell (John Carradine - House of the Long Shadows ), a puppeteer who has a sideline in portrait painting. Of course, to keep his artistic vision unsullied he kills the women who model for his paintings. Until he meets his perfect woman, that is.

By incredible coincidence, the puppeteer's new must has a sister who is dating the Police detective in charge of the case. The sister volunteers herself as bait in a honeytrap to catch the killer.

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The Borley Rectory (2017)

The Borley Rectory (2017)

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Bringing Out The Dead (1999)

Bringing Out The Dead (1999) Frank Pierce (Nicholas Cage - Face/Off ) and Larry (John Goodman - King Ralph ) are paramedics on the night shift in New York City, in the Pre-Guliani days of the early 1990s. A combination of stress and sleep deprivation seem to have left Frank seeing the ghosts of patients he lost, although this is not the focus of the storyline.

Frank spends the night interacting with fellow paramedics Tom Sizemore ( Red Planet ) and Marcus (Ving Rhames - ). The main focus is on a patient's daughter, Mary Burke, played by Cage's then-wife Patricia Arquette .

This was directed by Martin Scorsese , best known for his crime dramas. As a result, there is a subplot about Red Death, a new strain of heroin that has caused a series of overdoses in the neighbourhood. A rival dealer, Cy Coates (Cliff Curtis - Fear The Walking Dead ), is wiping out the Red Death dealers. Cy's front-woman ( Sonja Sohn ) and a Red Death dealer (Michael K. Williams - Flashforward ) are both recognisable faces from The Wire, although as very different characters. In contrast, the ICU nurse ( Judy Reyes ) is literally Carla from Scrubs.

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A Bucket Of Blood (1959)

A Bucket Of Blood (1959)

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Burke and Hare (1972)

Burke and Hare (1972) Burke (Derren Nesbitt - The Prisoner ) and Hare (Glynn Edwards - Get Carter (1971)) are a pair of down-on-their-luck Irishmen living in Edinburgh in the 1700s. They earn a living by robbing graves and selling the corpses to the surgeon, Dr Knox (Harry Andrews - Equus ), for teaching purposes in his school of anatomy.

The movie is about very grim subject matter, especially since the protagonists decide that robbing graves is too hard and they will instead just murder people. However, their incompetence borders on slapstick. This comedic undertone is at complete juxtapositions with the theme of the movie. If the film-makers had decided to make it a full-on comedy, like the Simon Pegg version circa 2012, the result would have been better. Instead we get a racist stereotype of the Irish as getting drunk, starting fights and murdering people.

While the bodysnatchers live in poverty, the medical students have the time and money to attend the local brothel. This leads on to a parallel storyline involving high-class prostitutes like Janet ( Yutte Stensgaard ). Of course, despite the inappropriate slapstick this will all eventually end in tragedy when the two storylines cross over.

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Candle For The Devil, A (1973)

Candle For The Devil, A (1973)

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Castle Sinister (1948)

Castle Sinister (1948) Although this was made in the late 1940s, it is set several years earlier during the Second World War. The necessary exposition is provided by a briefing session, provided by a senior officer to a security man sent to solve a murder in a Scottish castle. The castle is meant to be a secure building, used for military secrets. Now it is being stalked by a murderous phantom. Is it a serial killer, or a ghost?

Compared to American movies of the time, this seems incredibly dated in terms of shot composition. It seems more like a silent film from the 1920s, shot like a theatrical stage-play.

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Cat Girl (1957)

Cat Girl (1957) This story is about a family who have a mystical psychic bond with a leopard. The bond will be passed on to the heir at a ceremony held in the family's ancestoral home. Since the current incumbant is childless, the heir is his younger brother's only child.

The heir, Leonora Johnson ( Barbara Shelley ), has brought her husband and a couple of friends. The bad news is that her husband is a philanderer. The good news is that when she inherits the family super-power, the leopard can read her mind and eat anyone that she is angry at.

As the protagonist gets more comfortable with the power, she starts to target her female love-rivals. Not only is this storyline stolen from Cat People (1942) , but the climactic Third Act completely rips off that film.

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The Changeling (1980)

The Changeling (1980) John Russell (George C. Scott - ) rents a large empty mansion after the death of his wife ( Jean Marsh ) and daughter in a horrific car crash. He quickly realises that the house is haunted, so he consults a parapsychologist (Barry Morse - Space: 1999 ).

The ghost inspires Russell to do some research, and he uncovers a plot involving Senator Carmichael. In retaliation, Carmichael sends in Captain Dewitt (John Colicos - Star Trek: TOS ) - a corrupt if high-ranking policeman.

This an early Seacouver movie - set in Seattle, filmed in Vancouver. It has a few other signs of its limited budget. There is minimal use of special effects - except for a couple of pyrotechnics shots in the final episode, the ghostly scenes are generally a mix of camera angles and edits. That said, this approach is remarkably effective.

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Claws (1977)

Claws (1977)

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Comedy of Terrors (1964)

Comedy of Terrors (1964) Vincent Price ( Theatre of Blood ) is an impoverished undertaker, living with his assistant (Peter Lorre - The Raven ) and his elderly father-in-law (Boris Karloff - Frankenstein ). Since business is going badly, Price decides to increase demand by killing off the oldest and richest men in the town. He sets his eyes on his arch-enemy, the landlord (Basil Rathbone - ). Unfortunately the landlord has a tendency towards catatonic episodes, like in The Premature Burial .

The main three actors worked together previously in The Raven , although Karloff was too infirm to play the antagonist again and was given the smaller supporting role instead. There are a few other in-jokes. There is a subplot involving Price's wife ( Joyce Jameson ) who has an affair with Lorre. This is a reference to The Black Cat , in which the same actress played Lorre's wife having an affair with Price.

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Creature from The Haunted Sea (1961)

Creature from The Haunted Sea (1961) This was shot by Roger Corman , master of the B-Movie genre, who made it back-to-back with The Last Woman on Earth using the same cast and crew. Some people think it is deliberately bad, as a parody of Creature From The Black Lagoon . After all, the narration is definitely tongue-in-cheek. Lines like It was dusk: I could tell because the sun was going down cannot be taken seriously.

After the Cuban revolution succeeds, a group of right-wing refugees tries to smuggle themselves and their wealth out of the country on a boat. They hire an American gambler and gangster to help them. A US Intelligence Agent has secreted himself among the crew, and narrates the story.

The gangster plans to get the loot for himself, so he has his crew hoax an attack by a monster. When the Cuban General agrees to change course to Puerto Rico, the gangster deliberately runs the boat onto the rocks. This leaves the survivors trapped on an island, so whoever survives will be able to retrieve the loot. Unfortunately, there happens to be a real monster on the loose.

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The Crucible (1996)

The Crucible (1996)

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Crucible of Horror (1969)

Crucible of Horror (1969) Michael Gough ( ) is happily married with a wife and two grown children. Yes, this is the image of traditional 1960s married bliss. Unfortunately he is a violent abusive asshole, so his wife and daughter make a plan to be rid of him. They wait until he is alone in his Cabin in the Woods , when the rest of the family will have an alibi, and then confront him with an ultimatum. Of course, it all goes violently wrong.

Now the women are in a terrible mess. They have to dispose of the body, establish an alibi and avoid a nosy neighbour. But worst of all, like Les Diaboliques they have to deal with signs that he might be returned from the dead.

Unfortunately, this is let down by the tacked-on ending. It seems that the writers just did not know how to write a conclusion.

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Cry Of The Banshee (1970)

Cry Of The Banshee (1970) A witch-finder (Vincent Price - ) persecutes a sect of pagans. Their chief priestess curses him and his entire bloodline. This leads them to get bumped off one at a time.

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Curse Of The Faceless Man, The (1958)

Curse Of The Faceless Man, The (1958) A body is discovered, well-preserved after thousands of years. However, it was preserved by magical means ... and now rises from its undead slumber every night in order to punish those who stand between it and its treasure. Now it becomes romantically obsessed with a modern-day woman who may be the reincarnation of a woman it once knew personally. Yes, this is basically a retelling of The Mummy , which has had so many other retellings that this version seems refreshingly original.

After a brief explanation of the destruction of Pompeii by a volcano in the year 89CE, we switch to the main storyline. A modern-day (well, 1958CE) excavator digs up human remains at Pompeii. In reality, the so-called bodies on display at Pompeii are plaster casts of voids found in the thick layers of ash - voids created when the original bodies decayed down to bones.

The Italians call in an American, Dr Paul Allen ( The Six Million Dollar Man ), to help them investigate. By incredible coincidence, his fiance has a telepathic connection with the mumified man. Before long, the faceless man starts shuffling around and murdering anyone who gets in his way.

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Curse Of The Fly (1965)

Curse Of The Fly (1965) This starts with a beautiful woman, Patricia Stanley ( Carole Gray ) breaking out of a mental asylum wearing nothing but her underwear. She hitches a lift with a friendly stranger, Martin Delamore (George Baker - ), and ends up marrying him. All in all, this seems like a bog-standard setup in the mould of early-1960s B-movies like Dementia 13 which set out to rip off Psycho . A beautiful woman on the run, a doomed romance, the spectre of mental instability hanging over the lovers ...

Martin takes his bride to his family mansion, run by a couple of Chinese servants - Burt Kwouk ( ) and his wife (a white woman with unconvincing yellowface makeup). This is the base for George and his father to conduct experiments that they have somehow self-funded.

Delamore Senior (Brian Donlevy - ) is not around to greet the happy couple because he has secretly teleported to England. Well, the movie is shot in Shepperton Studios, but for some reason is actually set in Canada. Anyway, the reason for keeping the secret - that the family have managed to create workable teleportation on a shoestring budget in a basement - is that it is illegal to travel between Canada and England without having your passport stamped. Yes, this is even in spite of the fact that Canada was still part of the British Empire at the time. Anyway, the problem is exacerbated when the police arrive and start asking questions about the runaway mental patient. Worse, the supposedly Chinese woman starts to gaslight the afore-mentioned mental patient. The whole family starts to fall apart, and things quickly escalate to murder. Yes, instead of making things better they just get worse.

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Dark Tower (1987)

Dark Tower (1987) A window-cleaner dies mysteriously while working on a high-rose building. Michael Moriarty ( ) is called in to investigate. Yes, this has all the hallmarks of Q: The Winged Serpent . However, it takes the story in a completely different direction.

The killings seem to target people who come into contact with the architect ( Jenny Agutter ). It turns out the ghost has a grudge against her.

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Daughters of Satan (1972)

Daughters of Satan (1972) It is the 1970s, and Tom Selleck ( High Road to China ) drives around a tropical island in a red convertible sports car while trying to solve a mystery. No, this is not Magnum: PI - but it seems to have inspired it.

Selleck is living in the Philipines, a former Spanish colony in the South Pacific. He buys a painting which features a woman who looks just like his wife. The painting depicts a historical event, a witch-burning conducted by the Spanish Inquisition in 1594. It turns out that Selleck's ancestor was the Inquisitor responsible, and the witches' reincarnations want to take revenge on him.

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Deathdream (1974) AKA Dead of Night

Deathdream (1974)

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Dementia 13 (1963)

Dementia 13 (1963) This is a Roger Corman production, written and directed by a very young Francis Ford Coppola . While intended as a Psycho (1960) pastiche, it ticks all the boxes that City of the Dead (1960) did not.

When a man dies of a heart attack, his widow conceals his body and then visits his family home. Although she is an American, her in-laws are the Haloran family living in Castle Howard, County Cork, Ireland. They are about to conduct their annual ceremony to commemorate the death of their sister, Kathleen. However, more deaths start to happen.

A mysterious axe-murderer starts to terrorise the family and the rest of the cast. That said, this is not exactly a Hitchcock movie.

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Diary Of A Madman (1963)

Diary Of A Madman (1963) This is set in Paris during the 1800s. Not the real Paris, but the Hollywood version inspired by the works of Edgar Allan Poe . A magistrate (Vincent Price - The Raven ) is buried, and after his funeral in accordance with his will a group of the mourners are invited to attend another ceremony. This is a reading of his diary ...

The diary leads on to an extended flashback, in which the magistrate explains how he visited a convicted killer who was on Death Row. The convicted killer claimed he was possessed by a hostile spirit. Later, the magistrate starts to notice strange things. He even begins to doubt his own sanity.

It turns out that the hostile spirit is a demonic entity, which has lived for centuries and can physically possess a person's body. If this sounds familiar, it is because this was used in the Star Trek: TOS episode A Wolf In The Fold, which explains that Jack the Ripper was possessed by a bloodthirsty body-hopping alien spirit.

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Die Monster Die! (1965)

Die Monster Die! (1965) A young man, an American named Steve Rheinhardt - (Nick Adams - Invasion of the Astro-Monsters (1965) ) arrives at a small town in rural England. The taxi driver refuses to take him once his destination is revealed ... Yes, this kind of red flag is prevalent in the genre - and as always it is ignored. The local men either hurry away or laugh in his face, but the protagonist still does not take the hint. Even when he walks to his destination, and discovers strange signs of destruction along the way.

The lord of the manor, Mr Whitley (Boris Karloff - Frankenstein ), is less than welcoming towards the newcomer. He is aided by a sinister manservant, Mervyn, who looks like a thirty-year-old Charles Hawtrey ( Carry On Spying ) made up to look like a seventy-year-old. They spend their time hanging out in a basement that is so creepy it must have been designed that way on purpose.

However, the women of the house are different. The lord's daughter, Susan ( Suzan Farmer ), is very young compared to her octogenerian father. Her mother provides some exposition - just enough to make the slow-witted protagonist suspicious.

Dialogue between Susan's parents implies it has something to do with a family curse that killed her grandfather. Steve uncovers a book that mentions the Old Gods. Yes, this could be either a supernatural threat or cosmic horror from the works of HP Lovecraft . Then Steve discovers Mr Whitley has been experimenting with a radioactive rock. Yes, this seems an unnecessary kludge of three different setups. And since Susan not only knows her house and her family history, but also studied science on the University course where she met Steve, why does she not work any of this out for herself? Steve could still play a useful role in the storyline, because he has a set of combat skills that would do well in a swashbuckler!

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Donovan's Brain (1953)

Donovan's Brain (1953) A plane crashes near a remote laboratory, and the group of scientists recover a dead body from the wreckage. Rather than hand all of it over to the authorities, they save the brain for their experiments.

Once plugged into scientists' elecronic machinery, the brain starts to telepathically control people. Unfortunately it be longed to a corrupt billionaire who seeks to control his fortune from beyond the grave. This story has shades of Traitor to the Living by Philip Jose Farmer .

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Dr Blood's Coffin (1961)

Dr Blood's Coffin (1961) A doctor works in a small village in Cornwall, England. He is assisted by Linda ( Hazel Court ), the village nurse.

People start to go missing. The doctor has a secret sideline - he is abducting people and experimenting on them. This movie was made almost two decades before the first successful heart transplant, so the topic may seem like science fiction. However, this story puts a horror twist on it. The mad scientist thinks that if he Frankensteins up a corpse he can revive it and bring it back from the dead.

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Dracula (1974)

Dracula (1974) Writer/Producer Dan Curtis delivers a version of the story which is relatively close to the original novel. The main differences seem to be budgetary, since it has a made-for-TV feel about it.

Dracula (Jack Palance - Hawk The Slayer ) summons an estate agent, Jonathan Harker (Murray Brown - ), to his transylvanian castle. It quickly becomes evident that Drac has evil plans, and Harker finds himself trapped with Drac's three wives (including Sarah Douglas ).

Dracula travels alone to England, where he obsesses over Lucy Westenra ( Fiona Lewis ). Her fiance, Arthur (Simon Ward - ), seeks help from the fabled Van Helsing (Nigel Davenport - ). Arthur seems to be the protagonist - in the book Lucy had three potential suitors, but here she has only one man in her life. Well, two if you count the bloodsucker.

Drac later turns his attention to Mina ( Penelope Horner ), friend of Lucy and fiance of the unfortunate Harker. She does not have much success in her love life, but there is worse to come. Although her name is short for Wilhelmina, everyone pronounces it Minnow - like the fish.

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The Earth Dies Screaming (1964)

The Earth Dies Screaming (1964) A test-pilot takes a pressurised plane up to altitude, but when he returns to land he discovers everyone is dead. He later discovers other survivors, who were also in airtight circumstances when the mysterious apocalyptic event took place.

As well as the human survivors, there are some humanoids walking around in EVA suits. It seems they are the ones who killed the human race, using a gas that has now disappated. They have a second truck up their sleeve. Just like in Plan 9 from Outer Space , they can raise the human dead and use them as an army of zombies. Well, if one or two at a time counts as an army. To do this, they use a local radio transmitter. The human survivors loot a Territorial Army base, and set out to destroy the transmitter.

This was directed by Terence Fisher , best known for his work with Hammer, House of Horror.

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Empire Of The Ants (1977)

Empire Of The Ants (1977) A corrupt businesswoman ( Joan Collins ) takes a group of middle-class, middle-aged Americans (and Pamela Susan Shoop ) on a boat trip to an island. She is basically trying to sell them real-estate in Florida.

The land she wants to sell them is infested with ants. Not the regular-sized ones, either. These ants have been exposed to nuclear waste that was illegally dumped in the ocean and washed up on a nearby beach. Now the ants have mutated to gigantic size, so they can hunt down and eat the humans.

Some of the people survive, and take a boat up the river. They get to the nearest town, which is full of strangely-acting people. This makes the people from Deliverance seem normal in comparison. And like all good 1970s films, there is the compulsory car chase.

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Equus (1977)

Equus (1977) Psychiatrist Martin Dysart (Richard Burton - Medusa Syndrome ) takes on a new patient - a young man named Alan Strang (Peter Firth - Chill Factor ) who committed a monsterous crime.

Dysart investigates, discovering that the youngster worked for stable-owner Harry Dalton (Harry Andrews - Burke and Hare (1972) ) and spent time with co-worker Jill Mason ( Jenny Agutter ).

This is not a psychological thriller, but rather a drama that sees the protagonist examine his own soul. Burton hoped it would reboot his fading career, and insisted on the casting of Firth (who had spent years in the role on the stage play). Unfortunately it failed to get the critical or financial success it deserved, and Burton's performance - probably the best of his career - never got the acclaim it deserved.

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The Evictors (1979)

The Evictors (1979) This is another American Crime-Horror effort by Charles B. Pierce , most famous for The Town That Dreaded Sundown . This is in a similar vein, although it is unique insofar as the killer does not wear a mask.

The story starts with a shootout in 1928, when some rednecks refuse to be evicted from their home in Louisiana. Sixteen years later, Michael Parks ( From Dusk Til Dawn ) and his wife ( ) move into the house. Unfortunately it turns out that the previous residents of the house all met with brutal and untimely deaths. Later, a mysterious redneck starts murdering the supporting cast.

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Eyewitness (1970)

Eyewitness (1970) Ziggy (Mark Lester - ) lives with his grandpa (Lionel Jeffries - Revenge of Frankenstein ) on an unnamed sovereign Mediterranean island. Well, this was filmed on location in Malta so we can easily work out where it is meant to be. Ziggy has an incredibly overactive imagination, and Grandpa is sick of hearing about his daydreams and wild tales.

One day Ziggy's sister Pippa ( Susan George ) takes him into town, when a foreign VIP is arriving. Ziggy wanders off, and sees a police officer (Peter Vaughn - ) and his partner (Peter Bowles - ) assassinate this political dignitary. The assassins see the boy, but when he tells his family what he saw they dismiss this as another tall tale.

As the killers start to cover their tracks, they have to kill a series of innocent bystanders in order to get to the eyewitness. This all climaxes in a siege and a car chase.

The problem with the film is its uneven tone. It opens with a daydreaming boy, reminiscent of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang even down to the casting of Lionel Jeffries. However, the killers' ever-growing body-count is expanded with a ruthlessness that gives this movie a somewhat bitter undercurrent.

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Family Life (1971)

Family Life (1971)

This is a social realist drama by Ken Loach .

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Four-Sided Triangle, The (1953)

Four-Sided Triangle, The (1953) This is one of the first Hammer sci-fi movies, written and directed by Terence Fisher himself. It is set in a small town in England, and starts with an introduction narrated by the town's Doctor. All a bit reminiscent of Went The Day Well, the classic piece of violent propaganda from the Second World War.

Two young men and their female friend work on a science project together. They build what they call a reproducer. Anyone familiar with Star Trek: TNG would nowadays call this a matter replicator. The debate begins - should they keep it secret son that only the UK can use it, or should they share it with the entire world? After all, it will be easily weaponised. Although it might seem to create a post-scarcity civilisation, the truth is that it will still be limited to the amount of electricity that the civilisation itself can generate.

The real storyline, the one that the title refers to, is a love triangle. The token girl marries one of the scientists, Robin. His cow-orker, Bill, is secretly in love with the girl. He modifies the replicator so it can reproduce living things, and then duplicates the woman of his dreams. Of course, the duplicate is too precise a copy ...

Despite the fictionalised science of the main storyline, there are also references to then-groundbreaking methods that are now much better-understood medical techniques - defibulation to start the heart beating, and electro-convulsive therapy to delete human memories.

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Frogs (1972)

Frogs (1972)

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Funnyman (1994)

Funnyman (1994)

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Gas-s-s-s (1970) AKA How We Had To Destroy The World In Order To Save It

Gas-s-s-s (1970) This is one of the last movies by producer/director Roger Corman . It was severely re-cut by the studio, AIP, and the experience caused Corman to quit directing for the next two decades.

The story starts with an animated sequence. A US Army General, parodying John Wayne, oversees a catastrophic error at a US chemical warfare facility. The result is the release of a nerve gas that causes death by old age for anyone over the age of twenty-five. In other words, an apocalyptic scenario.

The main storyline starts in Dallas, Texas. The protagonist is a hippy, on the run from the police. He meets up with Cilla ( Elaine Giftos ), who provides exposition that duplicates what the audience already learned in the animated sequence. Then the two of them go on a road trip together, along with a group of their friends, in search of a safe place in New Mexico.

This is very much a product of its time. Anti-war sentiment, and the mixed title itself, are reminiscent of Dr Strangelove . The idea of the hippy road-trip comes after Easy Rider, which came out only a year earlier.

So what about the cut-off age of twenty-five for the survivors? Well, most of the main cast are about that age anyway, and some of the guest-stars seem to be a lot older, but the extras all seem to be in their late teens. Should the cut-off age have been different? Planet of the Apes has Charlton Heston say never trust anyone over the age of thirty, which was also the cut-off date for the citizens in the movie of Logan's Run . That said, the original age was twenty-one in the book ... While the later TV show Jeremiah (2002) had the population reduced to everyone pre-pubescent, which meant the virtual destruction of civilisation. In comparison, this movie has twenty-somethings acting like teenage hooligans.

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Grave of the Vampire (1972)

Grave of the Vampire (1972)

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Greed of William Hart (1948)

Greed of William Hart (1948)

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Half-Human (1958)

Half-Human (1958)

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The Hand Of Night (1966)

The Hand Of Night (1966) Carver (William Sylvester - 2001: A Space Odyssey ), a widowed British archaeologist, goes for a job in Morocco. One night he meets Marisa ( Alizia Gur ), a beautiful woman with aristocratic bearing. However, the next morning he can find no trace of her or of her entire entourage. This is all a bit reminiscent of The Zaragoza Manuscript .

This is one of the few British vampire-related movies of this era that is not linked to Hammer House of Horror or one of its imitators.

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Hands Of A Stranger (1962)

Hands Of A Stranger (1962) A gangster type is killed by a couple of other crooks. His body is taken to the local hospital, where a musician has been brought in after a car crash. The surgeon takes the opportunity to replace the musician's hands, shattered by the crash, with the gangster's pristine pair.

This is the fourth adaptation of Hands of Orlac. However, the killer is not possessed. These particular hands do not have supernatural powers, and their original owner is never identified. No, this time the killer is driven by pure old-fashioned revenge.

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Haunted House Of Horror (1969)

Haunted House Of Horror (1969)

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House of the Long Shadows (1983)

House of the Long Shadows (1983) An American novelist (Dezi Arnaz Jr - ) visits London, and enters a bet with his publisher. If the writer can produce a publishable novel written in a twenty-four hour period, he will win twenty thousand dollars (in 1983 money). The venue of the writing will be a remote mansion somewhere in Wales.

The novelist is confronted by a beautiful woman who seems to have wandered in from a different genre. She warns him about OPIT - the Organisation for the Promotion of International Terrorism. Of course, this is deliberate deception.

The mansion is meant to be uninhabited, but a caretaker (John Carradine - Bluebeard ) and his wife are staying there. Before long they are joined by a visitor (Peter Cushing - Frankenstein ), who claims his car has broken down. Then Lionel Brisbane (Vincent Price - Witchfinder General ), former inhabitant and owner, arrives. The old folk assure the novelist that this is all coincidental, but there is clearly more at work.

Finally, Mr Corrigan (Christopher Lee - Dracula ) arrives and gives everyone a hard time. He is buying the mansion, and plans to knock it down. However, now the four big legacy actors have arrived the storyline really takes off. It turns out that the house has a terrible secret, and the cast start to get picked off one at a time.

The movie seems a lot like The Cat and the Canary . Perhaps that is because this is based on a novel that came out around the same time as the first movie, and thus shares a lot of the same tropes.

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House Of Whipcord (1974)

House Of Whipcord (1974)

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I Bury The Living (1958)

I Bury The Living (1958)

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Indestructible Man, The (1956)

Indestructible Man, The (1956) This is narrated by the investigator, a police detective, in the manner of classic Police procedural show Dragnet . In fact, that trope - and the climax set in the sewers - is taken from classic 1940s Film Noir He Walked By Night.

Butcher Benton (Lon Chaney Jnr - ) is on Death Row for robbery-turned-homicide. His last wish is to get revenge on his accomplices, who put the blame on him so they could help themselves to the loot. He does not bother to donate his body to science, but an enterprising scientist steals it anyway and experiments on it with electricity - like in Frankenstein .

The dead man comes back for revenge. A modern-day equivalent would be Shocker , although that movie's villain moved using electricity itself - courtesy of vastly updated SPFX technology - rather than the city's sewer system.

The detective spends his time pursuing Butcher's girlfriend, Eva the burlesque dancer. She is not a suspect in the criminal case, but she is a burlesque dancer. This is an old-fashioned equivalent of the modern cop movie trope every investigation must involve a trip to a trip club.

All in all, an interesting mix of tropes - both old and new.

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Innocents, The (1961)

Innocents, The (1961) This is a black and white version of Turn of the Screw by Henry James . Despite its old-fashioned look, the camera-work has a strangely modern feel to it.

A Governess ( Deborah Kerr ) is put in charge of two young children that live in a lonely old countryside mansion. She begins to suspect that the children, who appear wise beyond their years, are possessed by the spirits of her predecessor and her lover. However, the Governess is the only one who can see the ghosts. Is she herself simply going insane?

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Journey To The Seventh Planet (1962)

Journey To The Seventh Planet (1962)

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The Killings At Outpost Zeta (1980)

The Killings At Outpost Zeta (1980) This is an amazingly low-budget sci-fi film, part of the post- Star Wars glut that came out after 1977. That said, for all its limitations it actually makes a bit of an effort. If it had a bigger budget, if could have been a lot more successful. The result is that it features a cast of unknowns, wandering around cheap-looking movie sets. Due to the limited budget, the filmmakers had to forget the maxim show, don't tell. Yes, there is lots of clunky exposition through dialogue. In all fairness, it is nowhere near as clunky as television shows of the era, such as V: The Series .

In the far future, humans are sending colony ships to colonise other planets. One such planet is Outpost Zeta. Unfortunately the six-man recon team failed to report back. So did the two rescue teams. Starfleet cannot abandon the mission altogether, because colonising that planet is essential to colonising that entire sector of the galaxy. Instead they send out another six-person mixed-gender team. They select the best crew they can find, even though this is a suicide mission. Except for the new faces, they are not doing anything different from the three previous failed missions.

Once they get to the planet, the explorers wander around in their spacesuits. Their faces are all covered by opaque visors, and unlike the Power Rangers the space suits are all uniformly coloured orange. However, we can tell them apart because their names are written on the front of their helmets. Anyway, they arrive at the settlement and find the bodies of most of their predecessors. As they explore further, they get bumped off one at a time.

The basic premise is a lot like Event Horizon , down to a message being recovered from the missing explorers and use of an ominous phrase in Latin that warns of Hell. Later, a space marine goes exploring while the female scientist watches the display from his helmet-camera, and warns him to get out because a hostile presence is detected nearby. Yes, this sequence was done so much better a few years later in Aliens (1986) ... but we can certainly see what the director was aiming for. The truth is that this is a lot more like Carpenter's Dark Star (1974) than Ridley Scott's Alien (1979) , so it might have worked better with a more light-hearted touch. The truth is that it is just a bit too grim for a mass-market audience.

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Kingdom of the Spiders (1977)

Kingdom of the Spiders (1977) This starts with some footage of Monument Valley, USA - the part of Arizona where so many Western movies were shot. The storyline starts on a farm owned by Woody Strode, a face familiar from Westerns like The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. His prize cow comes down with a strange ailment, so he involves the local vet (William Shatner - Star Trek: TOS .

The beginning of this film is reminiscent of Jaws , to the extent that the town Mayor does not want to cause a panic because the county fayre will be disrupted. However, as the story progresses it becomes more like The Birds - the small town's entire human population being driven out by a massive population of aggressive creatures. In all fairness, this movie is part of a 1970s sub-genre of wild species going on the rampage - most famously in Day of the Animals .

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Ladyhawke (1985)

Ladyhawke (1985) This is set in medieval France, when the Church of Rome was in control rather than any secular King or Lord. Phillipe Gaston (Matthew Broderick - Godzilla ), a boy thief, escapes from the dungeons of the Bishop (John Wood - ). Pursued by the Bishop's guardsmen, he blunders into Etienne Navarre (Rutger Hauer - Blade Runner ) - the one man who has both the ability and the motive to defy the cruel Bishop.

The plot thickens when Phillipe discovers that every night they are stalked by a monsterous wolf. Even more mysterious, a woman named Isabeau ( Michelle Pfeiffer ) appears when Navarre is not around. She is very upset when the Bishop's wolf-hunter, Cezar (Alfred Molina - Spider-Man: No Way Home ), makes an appearance.

Luckily, an old monk named Imperius (Leo McKern - The Omen ) provides the necessary exposition. The Bishop made a satanic pact to curse the couple. The knight becomes a wolf by night, while the lady becomes a hawk by day, so they can never truly be together. However, it turns out that there may be a way to end the curse.

Richard Donner made a series of Renaissance romps in the 1970s, such as The Three Musketeers . This movie was his foray into the Fantasy genre, before he went into the Contemporary Romp genre with the Lethal Weapon series. Even his Western, the feature-length Maverick remake, shares the same comedy-thriller tone.

Perhaps because of the Director's inexperience with Fantasy, with the element of keeping the budget low, the transformation scenes are non-existent. The most we get are a few camera transitions, the kind of post-production editing work used in The Changeling .

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Little Devils (1993)

Little Devils (1993) A twenty-something scientist uses strange green goo to make ugly little monsters. It has been said that Ghoulies makes Critters look like Gremlins , but these monsters are scraping the bottom of the barrel.

The real protagonist is the scientist's neighbour, who teams up with his friend Doc (Russ Tamblyn - Twin Peaks ) to fight the monsters.

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The Mad Room (1969)

The Mad Room (1969)

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Man With The X-Ray Eyes, The (1963)

Man With The X-Ray Eyes, The (1963) Dr James Xavier (Ray Milland - The Premature Burial ) is a scientist experimenting with a serum that can enhance eyes to allow them to see through solid objects. To get his funding continued he must show results, so he experiments on himself. However, this backfires.

With his funding gone, Dr Xavier returns from experimentation to mainstream medicine. This gives him a moral quandry. If he allows a senior doctor to perform unnecessary surgery, he will be breaching the hippocratic oath. However, when he intervenes and saves the patient's life he is technically acting in an unethical manner and loses his medical licence.

To up the ante a bit, Xavier loses more than his medical licence. The old Film Noir trope is invoked that someone dies and the protagonist is implicated. He joins a carnival under an assumed name, and reluctantly teams up with Don Rickles (playing the same character as in Kelly's Heroes). They set up a faith-healer operation, which would make sense if they bothered to move to a different city. When Xavier's gal-pal tracks him down, which only takes a few weeks, he elopes with her to Las Vegas in order to swindle the casinos. Perhaps he should have done this with Rickles instead. For a smart man, he seems very stupid when the plot demands it. After all, he observes that the serum's effect is cumulative ... yet he keeps taking it!

The lead character's surname is pronounced Ecks-Saviour, to go with the X-ray eyes of the title. When he runs away to join the circus, Xavier poses as a mind-reader named Mentallo. This seems to have inspired the leader of the X-Men, a mind-reader named Professor Charles Xavier, who does not pronounce his surname in the normal way.

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Monster Club (1981)

Monster Club (1981) R. Chetwynd-Hayes (John Carradine - Bluebeard ), the horror writer who wrote many short stories used in portmanteau movies, befriends a vampire named Erasmus (Vincent Price - The Raven ). In gratitude, the vampire invites the writer to the Monster Club, a venue with an exclusively supernatural membership. This bookends the horror stories in this portmanteau, interspersed with musical interludes from bands like UB40. There is even a strip-tease sequence that seems to have inspired the famous Robbie Williams music video.

Erasmus explains to his guest that there are three main types of monster - vampires, werewolves and ghouls. Yes, zombies are not a thing yet - well, this was made in 1980. There are other types of monsters, but they are half-breeds. To give an example, Erasmus tells about George (Simon Ward - ) - who is a catatonic patient in an asylum. If a flashback, we see how George got his girlfriend Angela ( Barbara Kellerman ) to attempt to rob a rich man who was secretly a half-breed monster called a Shadmock.

The second story is a movie-within-a-movie, when the Monster Club holds a screening of a Vampire's autobiographical film. It is about a boy who lives with his mother ( Britt Ekland ), while his father works all night an sleeps all day. Then a creepy priest (Donald Pleasance - Halloween ) and his henchman (Anthony Valentine - To The Devil A Daughter ) come nosing around.

The third story is another anecdote about half-breed monsters. A horror-movie director (Stuart Whitman - ) goes location-scouting by himself. He arrives at a remote village filled with creepy people, and finds himself besieged there. The villagers are ghouls - like zombies they eat the flesh of the dead, and can walk in the daylight - but they can breed with humans, and are afraid of the crucifix.

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Night Caller (1965) AKA Night Caller From Outer Space AKA Blood Beast From Outer Space

Night Caller (1965) A scientist (John Saxon - Nightmare on Elm Street ) detects a strange object entering Earth's atmosphere at ten thousand miles per hour. It lands in England, but does not cause a crater. Yes, somehow it landed under control. The object is a glowing orb, small and light enough to be carried to the scientist's lab. The British army secures the area, but they are not prepared for what takes place.

The orb is a teleportation transceiver, sent at sublight speed from Ganymede, moon of Jupiter. The aliens who sent it now use it to transport one of their own, who breaks out through the army's perimeter.

With the alien on the loose, the focus of the story turns to the police detective who is assigned with hunting him down. It turns out that the alien may be involved in the disappearance of some young women. Saxon joins the detective at an interview with Alf Garnett, father of one of the missing women.

The alien abducts women and murders witnesses. All this appears to be pretty needless, since he could easily get volunteers if he marketed himself properly. After all, he is offering the unique experience of traveling to an alien planet, which has a more advanced level of technology, and becoming a saviour of that civilisation. One character in particular is killed off who should have been an eager participant.

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Night of the Demon (1957)

Night of the Demon (1957) This is a b&w classic from the 1950s, based on a short story by MR James . It starts with a voice-over that delivers exposition reminiscent of a Pathe newsreel. Apparently the druids of Stonehenge communed with demons. There are lots of other inaccuracies, but this movie is intended to thrill rather than educate.

An American psychologist goes to England to investigate allegations of satanism. The casting is quite straight-forward. Our hero is tall, clean-shaven and American. The villain is shorter, fatter, goatee beard-wearing and English.

The demon is set to kill its victim on a specific day at exactly ten o'clock in the evening. As a result we get a nice countdown as the tension slowly ramps up.

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Night Tide (1961)

Night Tide (1961)

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Prince And The Pauper (1978) AKA Crossed Swords

Prince And The Pauper (1978) Tom Canty (Mark Lester - Who Killed Aunt Roo? ) lives in a slum in Tudor London with his abusive father (Ernest Borgnine - The Black Hole ) and his young mother ( Sybill Danning ). The old man sends his boy out to earn money in the family trade, thievery, which is apparently the only way they can earn money. When the boy blunders into the palace of King Henry the Eighth (Charlton Heston - The Awakening ), he meets the Prince - who is his identical doppelganger. At the Prince's insistence, they exchange clothing to play a practical joke. This all goes wrong thanks to the Duke of Norfolk (Rex Harrison - Dr Doolittle ), who is then arrested for treason and replaced by his rival Hertford (Harry Andrews - Equus ).

The Prince, dressed as a pauper, is thrown out of the Palace. Luckily he meets up with Miles Hendon (Oliver Reed - Gladiator ), a soldier-of-fortune recently returned from Germany. Borgnine goes on the run after a violent encounter, and takes with him the boy he believes to be his son. They hide out in Hendon forest, in the hope of teaming up with the local band of robbers. Their leader, Ruffler (George C. Scott - ), claims to have been a monk who was cast out when the King dissolved the monasteries twenty years previously. One of the robbers, Hodge (Dudley Sutton - Lovejoy ), gives a sob story about being a ploughman and losing his livelihood when enclosure happened. In reality, the dissolution and enclosures were a step in the ending of the medieval agricultural society which led to the growth of the cities and the middle class.

Back in the Palace, King Henry dies of natural causes. Tom, now known as Prince Edward, takes over the government. He would rather be flirting with Lady Jane ( Felicity Dean ). This illustrates the strange lack of women in the palace. For example, Queen Catherine Parr out-lived King Henry and would have been Regent until her step-son Edward was of age. Instead all we get is a bossy brunette played by Lalla Ward . She seems to be set up as Princess Mary, but it turns out that she is meant to be Elizabeth Tudor. Yes, somehow Bloody Mary has been erased from history. This is certainly good news for Lady Jane, if she happens to be Lady Jane Grey!

Miles takes the Prince to Hendon Hall, the Hendon homeland which is conveniently located nearby. Yes, the Hendon family made a lot of money from Dissolution and Enclosure - which begs the question, why did a rich man like Miles become a soldier-of-fortune? Unfortunately, Miles discovers that his younger brother Hugh (David Hemmings - Barbarella ) has taken his inheritance ... and his fiance, Edith ( Raquel Welch ).

Based on a novel by Mark Twain , this was produced by Alexander Salkind and directed by Richard Lester . Although those two names are most popularly associated with Superman (1979) , this has far more in common with their earlier collaboration The Three Musketeers . Not only the cast, which has many familiar faces, but the tone is that of a historical comedy-thriller - a romp. Miles may be facing multiple opponents, but despite being a hero he still loses more fights than he wins. Also, since it was filmed in Pinewood Studios in England and on location in Hungary, it may have used the same settings as well.

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Quatermass Experiment, The (1955)

Quatermass Experiment, The (1955)

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Return of Count Yorga, The (1971)

Return of Count Yorga, The (1971) Despite the events of the first film, Count Yorga is back. The disfigured henchman is also in attendance. Instead of his small haren of three brides, he has now expanded it to half a dozen. However, that is not enough for him and he quickly becomes obsessed with a human woman.

Although the first film was set in the greater Los Angeles area, this one takes place near San Francisco. It starts with a young boy wandering off from an orphanage, into the grounds of the mansion next door. He finds out the hard way that the new tenant there is Count Yorga himself. The Count then introduces himself to the orphanage staff, with his usual charm and bluster. Of course, none of them realises that they are all now marked for death.

In a progressive step, one of the main characters is a deaf-mute woman who communicates only in sign language. However, when she reports seeing a murder scene we are back with the same old cliches. The police are baffled - even Detective Sergeant O'Connor (Craig T. Nelson - Action Jackson - in his movie debut). The protagonist calls on the famous occultist, Professor Rightstat. However, in a fine subversion of the Magic Negro trope where the specialist witch-doctor is always expert in the specific piece of folklore necessary to defeat the evil, the Professor is a senile incompetent.

Count Yorga may dress like a cliched vampire, with a long flowing black cape, but he must know it is a cliche because we see him watching The Vampire Lovers - a contemporary piece of Hammer schlock. He also loves to drink the blood of his female victims, in a subtly erotic series of scenes, but he only ever strangles his male victims. Yes, he is certainly a traditionalist.

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Return of Dracula (1958)

Return of Dracula (1958) The story starts in Eastern Europe, 1958. Dracula kills an artist and steals the dead man's identity. Since the artist was en route to the USA, Drac ends up emigrating to small-town California in his place. He blends in quite well in 1950s suburbia, and nobody seems too suspicious about the mysterious deaths that follow. Luckily a vampire-hunter is still on Dracula's trail.

Dracula sets out to recruit himself a trio of new brides. His main target is Rachel, the beautiful young blonde who is at the centre of the story. Her main defence is a crucifix, which protects her enough to stretch the story out. Strange, since it was a gift from Janny the blind girl ... and it did not help Jenny in the slightest!

The movie is shot in black and white. However, the film-makers edited in one colour shot - a very impressive sight that takes the B-movie to a higher level. Unfortunately this is a one-off, leaving the climax rather flat compared to what it could have been.

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Revenge Of The Zombies (1943)

Revenge Of The Zombies (1943)

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The Screaming Skull (1958)

The Screaming Skull (1958) A man takes his new bride home to his fancy mansion in Dixieland, USA. Unfortunately it has a bit of an unpleasant history. Well, not an actual history - in the 1950s the terrible history of American slavery and racism was still ignored. This is a more recent history, specifically the mysterious death of the man's first wife. Now it seems that his new wife might have a similar fate.

Is there a slasher killer out to claim her as his victim? Are the mysterious ghostly sightings the signs of an actual ghost? Or is someone trying to drive her insane? Well, there are a couple of twists - but they were done so much better the next year in William Castle's House on Haunted Hill (1959) .

There is one way in which the film is a blatant Castle rip-off. The advertising states that the movie is so scary that the Producers will pay for the funeral costs of any audience member scared to death by it! It is a pretty safe bet that they never had to make the payout.

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Secret Rites (1971)

Secret Rites (1971) This is an exploitation movie made in London, England. The story starts with a Satanic orgy that leads up to a human sacrifice. It has a voice-over narration which breaks the fourth wall, and it turns out that this Hammer House of Horror type scene is a movie-within a movie, a recreation for a documentary film.

The documentary is about the self-proclaimed King of Witches, and follows a young woman who is interested in joining the witchcraft religion. It is more of a mockumentary, made not for comedy but to maximise the amount of nudity on-screen. Yes, there are lots of witchcraft ceremonies that show lots of attractive twenty-somethings naked.

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Shatter (1974)

Shatter (1974) Shatter is a professional assassin who takes out international villains for large sums of money.

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Six Inches Tall (1958) AKA Attack of the Puppet People

Six Inches Tall (1958) The story is about a young woman who works for a doll-maker. He is a kindly old gentleman who seems completely harmless, and has a small factory to commercially produce very lifelike six-inch dolls. However, it turns out that the owner is linked to a surprising number of missing persons cases.

When the young lady's fiance goes missing, she reports her employer to a police detective. However, the doll-maker easily talks his way out of the investigation. This leaves the informant vulnerable, and before long she suffers the same fate as her fiance.

The good news is that, despite his creepy vibes, the old man is not a serial killer. However, as the title suggests he has turned his victims into six-inch-tall puppet people. Now the victims must somehow escape and reverse this procedure.

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Son of Monte Cristo (1940)

Son of Monte Cristo (1940) This is set in the Napoleonic era, in a fictional European country named Lichtenburg. The land is now a military dictatorship, and the heroes want to liberate it in the name of freedom. Since this film came out after the Second World War began, but while the USA was technically neutral, the theme makes this a subtle piece of wartime propaganda.

The Grand Duchess, a young and attractive damsel in distress, tries to escape the dictator and summon help from France. She runs into Edmund Dantes, who has inherited his father's title as the Count of Monte Cristo.

Dantes joins the rebels and goes undercover in the villain's palace. To do this, he passes himself off as a fop - like Percy Blakeney in The Scarlet Pimpernel , the character who inspired Zorro ... who then inspired Bruce Wayne's foppishness in Batman .

The villain has the decency to lead from the front, and is a skilled tracker among other things. This makes him a credible threat to the hero, and more well-rounded than many other antagonists.

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Spiritualist, The (1948)

Spiritualist, The (1948) A rich woman is grief-stricken over the death of her fiance, so she visits a spiritualist and pays him to conduct a seance. This spiritualist certainly gives the required results. However, things get a lot more complicated - and it veers into the typical B-Movie Film Noir territory.

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Strait-Jacket (1964)

Strait-Jacket (1964) Lucy ( Joan Crawford ) returns to her family home after twenty years in a lunatic asylum. A flashback explains that she had married a younger man, caught him cheating on her with his ex-girlfriend, and slaughtered them both with an axe. The family farm is now owned by her brother, while the work is done by a lumbering farm-hand (George Kennedy - Just Before Dawn ). It is an impressively suspenseful environment, with lots of a sharp implements and a herd of hungry swine to feed bodies to.

The Third Act involves Lucy's daughter, who has grown up without a mother. She is more than happy to be reunited, especially when she plans to marry her fiance. However, the fiance's rich parents might object.

This was produced by William Castle , the B-movie schlockmeister. It was written by writer, Robert Bloch, best known for Psycho (1960) , while the star's recent movie Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? kick-started the Hag-sploitation sub-genre.

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They Came From Beyond Space (1967)

They Came From Beyond Space (1967) This was made in England by Amicus Films, although it is based on a novel named The Gods Hate Kansas. Strangely, it seems to be inspired by Heinlein's The Puppet Masters . One might say that this little-known effort is a British version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers , although it is obviously a rip-off compared to original English works such as Wyndham's Village of the Damned .

A group of meteors crash in Cornwall. The Government civil servant gets on to the head of space research, Dr Temple. He sends his assistants to investigate. However, after examining the meteorites they act unusually. They borrow a million pounds from the local bank, then invest the loan (plus all their savings) in constructing a massive secret base.

The scientist investigates in person. Since he has a metal plate in his head, he appears immune to the alien influence. Everyone else ends up possessed or dead. Luckily, as well as immunity the scientist also possesses the skills of a secret agent or an action-movie hero.

The scientist gets involved in an espionage sub-plot. Then he discovers a mysterious plague outbreak. However, the action-adventure storyline takes over. Eventually the good guys have to confront the Master of the Moon (Michael Gough - Sleepy Hollow (1999) ), a cut-price Ming The Merciless type.

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Tormented (1960)

Tormented (1960) A blackmailer ends up dead, and the victim of the blackmail tries to cover his tracks - only to discover that his dead blackmailer has returned as a ghost. The result is a classic film noir storyline with a supernatural twist. Unfortunately the obvious comparison is with the works of Alfred Hitchcock , especially Vertigo, and this B-Movie effort falls far short in the comparison.

The ghost usually appears as a floating head or hand, clearly created by 1950s-style blue-screen technology. Since the movie over-relies on this effect, the story lacks any real form of suspense. We can only imagine how much better the film would be if it had a talented director who chose a more minimalist approach.

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Town That Dreaded Sundown, The (1976)

Town That Dreaded Sundown, The (1976) This is shot in semi-documentary style, with a narrator to explain the details. This is especially fitting, as it is based on the true story of an unsolved murder spree that lasted for four months in 1946.

The peaceful town of Texarkana, on the Texas/Arkansas state line, settles into the post-war period. One night, a young couple are attacked on lovers' lane. Deputy Andrew Prine ( V: The Final Battle ) investigates, but the incident is only the start of a killing spree. Captain JD Morales (Ben Jonson - ) of the Texas Rangers is sent to coordinate the investigation.

Although this has many of the hallmarks of a standard police procedural, it also has a few tropes familiar to the slasher genre. For example, the killer is seen only with a hood over his head ...

The storyline has a comic-relief character shoehorned in. This character was played by the director himself, which presumably explains his reluctance to cut it out.

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The Trial (1962)

The Trial (1962) Anthony Perkins ( The Black Hole ) is arrested and held without charge.

This is directed by Orson Welles , who also appears as the accused man's lawyer. It is based on a novel by Franz Kafka, a satire on the bureaucracy he experienced while working in the civil service of the Austro-Hungarian empire.

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Twice Told Tales (1963)

Twice Told Tales (1963)

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The Vampire (1957)

Vampire (1957) A scientist is discovered dead in his work-from-home lab in suburban USA. He has been experimenting to reverse evolution, and he may have been more successful than he wished.

The story follows the town doctor as he handles a series of heart attacks among people much younger than the stereotypical victim. Although the doctor does not seem too suspicious, the local police detective certainly thinks something is up.

This basically turns into a classic Film Noir plot, insofar as a crime has occurred and the protagonist is implicated. Rather than the Dracula stories, this bloodsucker owes his origins to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde . Every night he must take an addictive pill, but when he does so he devolves into a Lon Chaney-looking monster and must drink the blood of a new victim.

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Wasp Woman (1959)

Wasp Woman (1959) A woman who runs a major cosmetics company is desperate to find a cure for aging. She hires an old man who has managed to harvest royal jelly from a queen wasp. Unfortunately it affects everyone differently.

It affects the rich woman by transforming her into an enormous wasp. She uses this to fulfil two of her needs. One is to remove people who interfere in her business, and the other is to stay youthful ... by drinking the blood of her victims.

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The Werewolf (1956)

The Werewolf (1956)

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Who Slew Aunt Roo? (1972)

Who Slew Aunt Roo? (1972) This is set in Edwardian England, in the era of primitive motor cars. Aunt Roo ( Shirley Winters ) is a kindly old (well, early Fifties) widow who hosts orphaned children for a party every Xmas. This time, two kids from the orphanage - a brother and sister - stow away and join the party uninvited.

Auntie Roo decides the sister looks like her own deceased daughter, so she kidnaps the two stowaways. The boy (Mark Lester - Oliver! (1968) ) has read Hansel and Gretal, and assumes Auntie Roo is an old witch who wants to fatten the children up before she eats them. His attempts to escape start to escalate in violence.

As a relatively low-budget British film from the early 1970s, this has a small cast and limited sets. So how does it compare to modern low-budget films? Primarily the writing is of much higher quality. There is quite a lot of depth to the characters, not just the main characters either. Auntie Roo is a poor deranged woman, not really a villain at all. Albie the footman is a bit of a cruel sort, who cares only for his own profit and cheap thrills. This kind of attention to detail is lacking in modern, fast-plotted efforts.

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Zoltan, Hound of Dracula (1977) AKA Dracula's Dog

Zoltan, Hound of Dracula (1977) Some Warsaw Pact soldiers dynamite a crypt in Transylvania, disturbing the eternal slumber of its residents. That night, only one soldier is left on guard. Luckily, next morning a police inspector (Jose Ferrer - Dune (1984) ) visits the site and gives the necessary exposition. Well, that and Zoltan the vampiric dog has a flashback scene which explains his backstory.

Zoltan the vampiric dog gets smuggled to the USA by his keeper, a ghoul who worked as Dracula's servant. With the original vampires all destroyed, the ghoul and the dog need a new vampire as their master. The only one of Dracula's bloodline who survived emigrated to California as a child ... and changed his surname to Drake. Strangely, he is not a vampire yet ... he must have been born as a human and raised by vampires, which sort of defeats the advantages of vampiric reproduction.

Mr Drake is living in blissful suburbia with a wife, some dogs and a couple of kids. He takes the family camping in a National Park, where the kids and the dogs can run wild. The ghoul follows them, and every night he sends Zoltan out with the intention of turning Mr Drake into a vampire. Of course, Zoltan is more interested in biting the dogs and converting them into his own pack.

Although the inspector sets off at the same time as the ghoul, from the same place and with the same information, he arrives two days after the ghoul does. Despite the inspector travelling by jet-plane while the ghoul is on a cargo ship. Anyway, he catches up with Mr Drake - just in time for the climax.

The Director of Photography ( Bruce Logan ) worked on the Third Unit of Star Wars: ANH the same year, and a few years later worked on Tron . His cinematography is probably the best thing about the film. That said, although the film itself is quite terrible, the make-up effects are by the famous Stan Winston himself.

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Soon

Soon

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