Monday, November 1, 2010

Diary of the Dead 2010: Week 5 ½

Week 5 ½ of Psychobabble’s Monster Movie-a-thon...

October 29th

The Creature Walks Among Us (1956- dir. John Sherwood) ***1/2

The final chapter in the Gill Man trilogy strikes an oddly elegiac tone. Having had his scales burned off, the creature turns out to be almost human underneath. Further modifications by a mad doctor leave him unable to breathe underwater anymore. Poor Gilly is left to stare longingly at the sea as his familiar three-note theme music farts away on the soundtrack. I like the fact that the Gill Man is given something decidedly different to do in each of these movies. Too leisurely in the first half, The Creature Walks Among Us is not as thoroughly entertaining as Black Lagoon or Revenge, but it is the most unique Creature feature.

Mr. Sardonicus (1961- dir. William Castle) ****

Mr. Sardonicus is a sadistic aristocrat with a hideous grin patterned on Conrad Veidt in The Man Who Laughs. He employs a brilliant doctor to cure him of his affliction, but when the doctor fails to help him by giving him a massage, Sardonicus ups the incentive by threatening to mutilate his own wife if the doc won’t turn his frown smile upside down. The story is nonsensical, but that’s never really a detriment in a William Castle film. With a great combination of lavish period sets and phony backgrounds, an ace monster, rich black and white cinematography, and perhaps Castle’s greatest onscreen appearance, this is one of the gimmick maestro’s finest. And has eating a muffin ever been used to more sinister effect?

October 30th

Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors (1965- dir. Freddie Francis) ****

The horror portmanteau that launched Amicus Productions’ legacy as the home of horror portmanteaus. On board the terror train are Hammer all-stars Christopher Lee, Michael Gough, and Peter Cushing as tarot-reading Dr. Terror. Donald Sutherland’s along for the ride too. The five tales feature a werewolf that sleeps in a coffin like Dracula (dull but decent ending), a murderous plant (decent but dull ending), a voodoo god who takes vengeance on a thieving jazz musician (Great music! Great fun!), a killer disembodied hand with designs on Lee (not bad), and a sexy vampire who shacks up with Sutherland (Terrific twist!).

October 31st

Young Frankenstein (1974- dir. Mel Brooks) *****

Frankenstein (1931- dir. James Whale) *****

Bride of Frankenstein (1935- dir. James Whale) *****

Ummm, yeah, all these movies are great. Hope you had a happy Halloween!
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