Everybody has probably been haunted or permanently disturbed by some movie they saw as a kid that burned images into their brain they couldn’t process or handle. For me it was a sick little B-movie that popped up on the late show called THE HYPNOTIC EYE (1960) which I saw at the age of eight.       [...MORE]

Reimagining a Classic: Werner Herzog’s NOSFERATU

We live in the age of remakes and prequels. Every month Hollywood rolls out an easily recognizable title that’s been repackaged and recast with a plot that’s all too familiar. The horror and science fiction genre has been hit the hardest by these reimagined movies that all too often fall extremely short of the original film they’re trying to ape. But that’s not always the case. Once in a very rare while a talented director such as John Carpenter (THE THING; 1982), Philip Kaufman (INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS; 1978) or David Cronenberg (THE FLY; 1986) comes along and remakes a classic that’s as compelling as the original. Notice I didn’t say “better” than the original because I don’t think that’s always the case but a good remake can bring something unique to the work that allows us to see the original film with new eyes. A good remake should also be distinct enough to stand on its own as a gripping piece of filmmaking. Today too many directors rely on nostalgia and familiarity to bring in audiences. Their work seems to suffer from a lack of purpose and has no distinct vision.


“The Voices of Terror – Twisting Two Minds!”

On the surface, Kevin Billington’s VOICES (1973) is an unusual supernatural thriller involving ghosts and a haunted house but if you take the time to look beyond its spooky exterior you might be surprised by what you find there. This fascinating horror film has a rich history that first took shape in 1953.


Something Is Always Left Behind

“Though I wait for thee a thousand years, through waiting will I love thee yet the more. And though I fill an ocean with my tears, my joy will thus be greater than before. And this my prayer for evermore will be, that in the end thou will come back to me.”

- from A PLACE OF ONE’S OWN (1945)

Autumn officially arrives tomorrow. It’s my favorite time of year and I eagerly look forward to cooler temperatures and longer nights. As summer gives way to fall my appetite for things that go bump in the night becomes almost insatiable and nothing’s quite as satisfying as a good ghost story. I’ve been reading a lot of spooky Victorian tales lately, which inspired me to revisit Bernard Knowles’ supernatural thriller, A PLACE OF ONE’S OWN (1945).

When I first watched A PLACE OF ONE’S OWN a few months ago I wasn’t fully engaged with the film and it didn’t leave much of an impression on me. I knew I had to watch it again before I shared my thoughts on it and I’m so glad I took the time to reconsider this fascinating little British movie.


Geneviève Bujold is ISABEL (1968)

Paul Almond’s ISABEL (1968) begins with a train journey across a snow-covered landscape. We watch as the film’s star, Geneviève Bujold, sits awkwardly in her seat and squirms uncomfortably in front of the camera’s unrelenting eye. She is biding her time by shuffling through a small stack of books and papers in an effort to fend off unpleasant thoughts and feelings. You see, Isabel is a woman haunted by ghosts. These ghosts have hidden themselves deep within the recesses of Isabel’s troubled mind but when she’s asked to return to her family’s ancestral home following her mother’s death, Isabel is forced to confront the phantoms that posses her.


From the Archive of Hammer Films

During the holiday months I like to browse the shelves at my local bookstore to see what film related books publishers have released in anticipation of the “season of sharing.” This year I spotted many of the usual suspects; a couple of oversized glamour photo books featuring glossy pictures of Hollywood legends from the ‘40s and ‘50s as well as biographies of some highly acclaimed directors and celebrities. What I didn’t expect to see was Marcus Hearn’s latest book, The Art of Hammer: The Official Poster Collection From the Archive of Hammer Films. Recently I’ve been mourning the loss of Hammer starlet Ingrid Pitt and director Roy Ward Baker who helmed some of the studios best productions including Quatermass and the Pit (1967) and Dr Jekyll & Sister Hyde (1971). Coming across Hearn’s book was a much-welcomed surprise and an unexpected treat for this Hammer fan and movie poster admirer.


Looking into the Eye of the Devil

EYE OF THE DEVIL (1966) opens with a minute long montage that reduces the entire film down to a series of disorientating images. It’s an impressive and beautifully edited beginning that you might expect to see at the start of an Ingmar Bergman film or in the middle of an Eisenstein picture and it sets the tone for the entire movie. This leisurely paced occult thriller wants to unsettle you as well as enchant you and it manages to do just that in its first few minutes. Most horror films will take their time building suspense or they’ll bludgeon you over the head with a few shocks to get your heart racing but EYE OF THE DEVIL takes an entirely different approach to terror that I deeply appreciate. It taps into your imagination immediately and before the title sequence even begins you know that it’s going to be a very different kind of horror film. And while it does make use of predictable elements found in classic Gothic literature including a cursed family, a tormented heroine, an old dark house and flamboyant villains, these familiar trappings work to its advantage. They give the viewer something familiar to cling to while the movie works its magic. [...MORE]

Dancing The Mephisto Waltz

The legend of Faust is one of the oldest occult tales in the Western world. This German fable has been the basis of countless plays, poems, novels, musical compositions, works of art and films. Although the Faust legend has been reinterpreted many times in various ways; most renderings describe Faust as an aging unsatisfied scholar who is bored with conventional wisdom and decides to take up magic. He uses his arcane abilities to conjure up a servant of the devil (Mephistopheles or Mephisto) and makes a bargain with him. Faust offers his soul to Mephistopheles in exchange for esoteric knowledge but his “deal with the devil” doesn’t serve him well. In the end Faust is faced with regrets and the prospect of internal damnation.


“Nothing can eat your soul!”

I must begin this with a confession. I’m obsessed with Hammer films. I love the “Studio That Dripped Blood” unconditionally so I was thrilled to learn that TCM was planning on showing Hammer films every Friday evening during the month of October. I was even more excited when I was told that The Movie Morlocks were planning a Hammer Blogathon to celebrate the event. Few things seem to invoke autumn and the Halloween spirit in me as strongly as the stylized gothic horror films made by Hammer. The diversity and sheer volume of the studio’s output was extremely impressive and this has occasionally led to some of their lesser seen films being overlooked because they didn’t live up to critic’s expectations or they followed a less conventional path than many horror fans had become accustomed to. One of the most widely dismissed and misunderstood Hammer films is the occult thriller THE WITCHES (aka The Devil’s Own; 1966) featuring the Oscar-winning actress Joan Fontaine in what would be her last starring film role. As a Hammer fan and a Fontaine admirer I thought this weeklong blogathon would be the perfect time to share my appreciation and affection for THE WITCHES.


It’s Lovecraft Season

Like many horror aficionados I enjoy reading horror fiction as well as watching horror movies. And as summer makes way for autumn I’ve been indulging in a bit of both. Much like my fellow Morlock, Richard Harland Smith, I eagerly await this time of year. It gives me an excuse to spend my free time focused on all things spooky and scary so that’s what I intend to do for the next few weeks. I thought I’d start the month off with a look at one of my favorite H.P. Lovecraft film adaptations, The Crimson Cult (aka Cult of the Crimson Alter; 1968).

This moody British horror movie has recently become available through the Netflix instant watch program that allows subscribers to view films online or stream them at home. I hadn’t seen The Crimson Cult in over 20 years so you can imagine my surprise when I discovered that it was suddenly available at Netflix. The company seems to have acquired the rights to a small but impressive batch of ‘60s and ‘70s era horror films recently that aren’t available on DVD in the US yet such as the Hammer film Vampire Circus (1971), the zombie movie Sugar Hill (1974), the made-for-TV thriller Night Drive (aka Night Terror; 1977) as well as the British Lovecraft adaptation The Crimson Cult.


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