September 2nd, 2010

Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Public Domain Horror "The House on the Haunted Hill"

William Castle's "The House on the Haunted Hill" is classic 1959 haunted house flick, one can see the influence upon Walt Disney's "Haunted Mansion" with a touch of modernism. Unlike the usually gothic cliches from such a haunted house, this house of Vincent Price and Carol Omhart seems to have been designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Besides "Spider Baby or The Maddest Story Ever Told," "The House on the Haunted Hill" is Carol Omhart's best known movie. Not quite a scream queen, Omhart is a sexy and flirty evil.

The ensemble cast includes Richard Long, before he made his mark on the television shows "The Big Valley" and "Nanny and the Professor." Elisha Cook Jr. opens the film with a warning about ghosts in "The House on the Haunted Hill," he is perfectly creepy as he details the previous murders in the house.

Being a William Castle film, gimmicks rule over substance, but this film is so much fun. This is the famous Castle movie in which the EMERGO skeleton makes a cameo appearence. While this might be a disappointment on the small televsion screen or a cell phone, in the theatres the EMERGO skeleton was dropped by a movie projectionist at the appropriate time.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Public Domain Horror "The Last Man on Earth,"

Richard Matheson's "I Am Legend" spawned three movies for three well known actors,; Vincent Price was "The Last Man on Earth," Charlton Heston was "The Omega Man" and Will Smith became "I Am Legend" a few years ago. The plat remains the same, a man lives alone in a city after a pandemic destroyed humanity. The only thing that survives are vampires that come out at night.

While a bit drawn out, the Vincent Price version is a moody contemplation. Unlike Charlton Heston's interpetation as a mercenary-for-hire, Vincent Price's character is an erudite man who lost the sensual pleasures of life. The Vincent Price protagonist has brecome a grubby hermit and his performance is fascinating.

"The Last Man on earth" is a must see for horror mavens. Richard Matheson's novel laid the ground work for george romero's current apocalyptic zombies, living dead and the dead.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Public Domain Horror "Dementia 13"

"Dementia 13" has grown in status after Francis Ford Coppola became a household name on the VHS shelf. Shot in the Rebublic of ireland under Roger Corman's influence, "Dementia 13" creates an aire of a celtic banshee. Written by Coppola, this is a ghost story from a demented mind.

Shot around the time of "Masque of Red Death," Patrick McNee is a pschiatrist who is trying to unravel the mystery of the Haloran Family. Given how famous McNee became known as a victim in "Masque of Red Death" and "A Clockwork Orange," this role is a nice change of pace for the sinister looking actor. Besides Corman regular Luana Anders, regular guest villain William Campbell plays the romantic leading man.

Novice indepdendent film makers should study movies like "Dementia 13," it is a low budget motion picture that takes full advangtage of the landscape, architecture and scenery. The use of a child's toys as a symbol of doom enchances the errie paranormal atmosphere of "Dementia 13."
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Public Domain Horror "Phantom of 10,000 Leagues"

"Phantom of 10,000 Leagues" is the finale of this Public Domain Series.
It is a disappointing finish, yet one sees how a disappointing film like this would inspire future film makers. While sitting in a "Drive-In," one future film maker would say something like, "I can do better than that."

The film opens in the open water and a lone fisherman is capsized and is killed by an under water monster. A scientist is called to investigate. He meets a girl who wears a one piece bathing suit and, when not sun tanning at the beach, works in the laboratory. Complications ensue on the beach.

This "Phantom" lacks any personality, even Roger Corman's "Creature from the Haunted Sea" made out of tennis balls and burlap, has more personality.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Public Domain Horror Epilogue

From Memorial Day to Labor Day, Cinema Dave has viewed and reported on "The 50 Movie Pack Horror Classics." These 50 films cover a lifetime of film making, from John Barrymore's "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (circa 1920) to George Romero's "Night of the Living Dead" (circa 1968).

One would think there is much moral distance between a John Barrymore movie and a George Romero movie, but this collection revealed the 1930's near pornography of "Maniac," (aka "Sex Maniac"). "Phantom of 20,000 Leagues" revealed the inept nerdiness of scientific discovery circa 1956, while "The Amazing Mr. X" is a reminder of the con game that thrives at psychic fairs.

Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

"Machete" is mean Grindhouse

It has been five years since Robert Rodriquez has produced and directed "Sin City." A sequel was forthcoming, but Rodriquez was distracted by other projects like "Grindhouse." In the five years since, Brittany Murphy died and one wonders if we we ever see "Sin City 2 A Dame to Die For."

Based on a three minute trailer from "Grindhouse," "Machete" was a fake trailer that turned into a feature length motion picture in three years. It honors the Drive-In trash that used to be advertised on the small screen during wrestling and afternoon cartoons.