Archive for July, 2012

Predator - Alternate

Directed By: John McTiernan

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Jesse Ventura, Bill Duke, Elpidia Carrillo, Sonny Landham, Richard Chaves, Shane Black, Kevin Peter Hall

Subgenre: Science Fiction

Synopsis: An elite Special Forces unit ventures into the harsh jungles of Central America to rescue a downed chopper.  Little do they know, they are being hunted by something not of this world.

Thoughts: It’s a bit of a stretch to call Predator a horror movie.  Sure, it has some pretty graphic scenes and Arny and his boys are being hunted by a pretty bad ass alien, but this is more of an action movie with a dabbling of sci fi and horror.  Regardless, it has a place in my collection as well as my heart.

While the story line is very linear and quite simple, Predator has all the ingredients for a classic action flick, starting with one hell of a cast.  I’m sure Sylvester Stallone had Predator in mind when he started pulling together the cast of The Expendables.  You couldn’t find a bigger action star in the 80s than Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Teaming him with Carl Weathers, Jesse Ventura, Bill Duke and Sonny Landham literally made the cast larger than life.  Those guys were all huge.  Shane Black and Richard Chaves round out the team and provide some comedic relief. Shane Black, who played Hawkins, is a noted Screenwriter, with movies such as Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout, Last Action Hero, The Long Kiss Goodnight, and my personal favorite, Monster Squad included in his filmography.

Even more impressive than the cast was the Predator itself.  With its intelligent design and badass qualities, it’s no surprise that it would go on to star in movies, comic books and countless merchandise. It was a great move to slowly reveal the creature in the movie, giving just glimpses of the Predator in the early stages.

Director John McTiernan turned his success with Predator into a pretty impressive Hollywood run with hits such as Die Hard and The Hunt for Red October.  He’s been pretty quiet the last decade other than a pretty nasty legal issue with wiretapping.  I would love to see him come back to the action genre.

While Predator wasn’t a hit with critics in its initial release, it has moved to the top of many lists since. It’s a really fun movie and has some of the best one-liners.  The initial Blue Ray release was pretty poor as far as picture quality, but that has since been remedied. You can pick up a two pack of the first two movies pretty cheap, and it is a worthy addition to any colletion.

Just in time for Halloween! The Criterion Collection will be releasing Rosemary’s Baby on October 30th.

Rosemary's Baby - Criterion

Courtesy of
Terrifying and darkly comic, Rosemary’s Baby marked the Hollywood debut of Roman Polanski. This wildly entertaining nightmare, faithfully adapted from Ira Levin’s best seller, stars a revelatory Mia Farrow as a young mother-to-be who grows increasingly suspicious that her overfriendly elderly neighbors, played by Sidney Blackmer and an Oscar-winning Ruth Gordon, and self-involved husband (John Cassavetes) are hatching a satanic plot against her and her baby. In the decades of occult cinema Polanski’s ungodly masterpiece has spawned, it’s never been outdone for sheer psychological terror.


  • New high-definition digital restoration, approved by director Roman Polanski, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • New interviews with Polanski, actor Mia Farrow, and producer Robert Evans
  • Komeda, Komeda, a feature-length documentary on the life and work of jazz musician and composer Krzysztof Komeda, who wrote the score for Rosemary’s Baby
  • 1997 radio interview with author Ira Levin from Leonard Lopate’s WNYC program New York and Company on the 1967 novel, the sequel, and the film
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Ed Park and Levin’s afterword for the 2003 New American Library edition of his novel, in which he discusses its and the film’s origins

Alligator (1980)


Directed By: Lewis Teague

Starring: Robert Forster, Robin Riker, Michael V. Gazzo, Dean Jagger, Sydney Lassick, Jack Carter, Henry Silva

Subgenre: Creature Feature

Synopsis: When a baby alligator that was flushed down the toilet feasts on chemically enhanced animal carcasses in the sewer, it grows to monstrous proportions and wreaks havoc on the city.

Thoughts: Every horror fan I know has a list of movies that they love that most fans don’t share the same sentiment for.  Alligator is very high up on that list for me.  It’s a really fun movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously but yet still delivers some pretty suspenseful scenes.  Alligator offers up some tongue in cheek humor, but not at a level where the movie becomes campy.

The lighting and cinematography stand out for a B level production as well although I wasn’t a huge fan of the shots where we see the ‘gator’s perspective. I preferred the scenes where you saw a glimpse of the gators eye when a flashlight crossed over it, and thought the scene where the pool light came on was great.

B movie actor extraordinaire Robert Forster plays the cop who takes it upon himself to destroy the gator that ate his partner. He teams up with (and beds down) an attractive reptile expert that his half his age, played by Robin Riker.  In many ways this is tougher to believe than the 40 foot alligator running through the sewer.  There are a few other character actors you may recognize in the roles of the Police Chief (Michael Gazzo) and the professional hunter (Henry Silva).  All in all, this is a pretty good cast.

Director Lewis Teague isn’t a name known to a lot of fans, but he has brought us some pretty good flicks.  He followed up Alligator with Cujo and Cat’s Eye before moving on to more action fare in The Jewel of the Nile and another personal favorite of mine, Navy SEALs.

It’s pretty obvious that Alligator is a derivative of the success of Jaws, along with quite a few of the animal attack movies of this era, but it is one of my favorites.  If you’ve missed it, track it down and give it a shot, but beware the sewers!

Hostel: Part III (2011)

Hostel 3

Directed By: Scott Spiegel

Starring: Brian Hallisay, Kip Pardue, John Hensley, Skyler Stone, Sarah Habel, Zulay Henao, Thomas Kretschmann, Chris Croy, Nickola Shreli, Evelina Oboza

Subgenre: Thriller, Torture

Synopsis: A Bachelor Party in Las Vegas takes a killer turn when the revelers pick the wrong club to party at.

Thoughts: I have admittedly never been a fan of the “torture” genre that exploded with the success of the first Hostel and Saw.  I am a believer that less is often more in a movie, although I am not one to shy away from a decent gore shot (especially in zombie movies!).  Even so, I thought the first Hostel was pretty decent and you could tell that Eli Roth really loves the genre.

I doubt I would have gone out of my way to see Hostel III, but seeing as how it was available on Netflix Instant, I thought I would give it a shot.  I’m glad I did.  It wasn’t a great movie by any means, but I thought it was pretty good.  The third installment pulls back on the gore, leaving some of what happens off the screen, something I thought worked very well.  Gorehounds need not fret though, there are still a couple pretty gruesome shots, including someone having their face surgically removed.

I was pretty impressed with the cast as everyone seemed to hold their own.  There were no real standouts, but there were also no abysmal performances.  The guys at the Bachelor Party all fill the stereotypical roles you would expect, but they do it well.  The first part plays out much like The Hangover, but with a much worse twist on the night.  You can also expect plenty of very beautiful women, both from the stars of the movie and the supporting cast.

Director Scott Spiegel has been around the horror genre for quite some time, just not often at the forefront.  He was an actor in Within the Woods, the short that would lead to The Evil Dead.  He was also a writer for Evil Dead II.  He’s also worked with Eli Roth quite a bit, being a producer for all three Hostel movies, and eventually directing this installment.  He does a good job here and keeps the movie rolling along.  I thought it was much better than Texas Blood Money, the sequel to From Dusk till Dawn that Spiegel directed.

If you are like me and tend to dismiss this style of movie, you may want to reconsider watching Hostel: Part III.  It has the same mischievous sense of humor as the first, but cuts back the on screen torture to a much more acceptable level (at least to me).  There are still a couple of scenes that will make your skin crawl, especially if you don’t like bugs, but that is part of what makes the horror genre great.

Italian Horror Week
Dr. Terrors’ Blog of Horrors is featuring a very special Italian Horror Week. It is a chance to celebrate with good gore, good pizza and great beer (PERONI or Moretti?) This is about having fun, learning something and getting free goodies.

Guest Writers! Amazing Giveaways from Fright Rags, Diabolik DVD, Mondo Macabro, Arrow Video, House of Mysterious Secrets and Cult Collectibles. Starts Friday the 13th and runs for a week. Tell your friends. These won’t be your average ordinary giveaways.

Like to keep updated and to be eligible for giveaways.

We’ll be covering the time tested Fulci and Argento but that’s not all. Learn about Independent Italian Cinema as it’s happening NOW!!! 8 Bits From Hell Featuring Frank Browning’s artwork (Got Wood?), ITALIAN HORROR in gorgeous THREE DIMENSIONS!!! An Italian Night Club feature of musical treats and ITALIAN HEAVY METAL!!! and MORE MORE MORE.

Pumpkinhead (1988)


Directed By: Stan Winston

Starring: Lance Henriksen, Jeff East, John D’Aquino, Kimberly Ross, Joel Hoffman, Cynthia Bain, Kerry Remsen, Florence Schauffler, Brian Bremer

Subgenre: Creature Feature

Synopsis: Ed Harley summons the evil creature Pumpkinhead to exact revenge upon the group of teens that are responsible for his son’s death.

Thoughts: While the 80s were dominated by slashers, this little gem went old school and gave us one of the coolest looking movie monsters in recent history in Pumpkinhead.  It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the creature looks so cool, as it was created by the legendary Stan Winston, who is responsible for bringing to life some of the most iconic characters in film history with The Terminator, Aliens and Predator, plus many, many others.

Other than the creature, the cast is easily dominated by Lance Henriksen.  This guy instantly makes any movie he is in 50% cooler.  He really embodies the backwoods anguished father looking for revenge.  The group of “teens” isn’t all that memorable, with the exception of John D’Aquino, who played the biggest ass of the group, and not surprisingly, the one responsible for the death of the boy.  In typical Hollywood fashion, the group of “teens” appears to be closer to 30 than 20, but that is almost as much of a horror cliché as the final girl in a slasher movie.

Not only did Stan Winston create Pumpkinhead, he directed it as well, making this his directorial debut.  Surprisingly, he would only return to the Director’s chair one more time, for the kids’ movie A Gnome Named Gnorm.  Pumpkinhead takes place at night, but Winston did a good job of taking advantage of that and giving us quick glimpses of Pumpkinhead before the big reveal in the finale.  I’m honestly surprised he didn’t direct more, but that almost had to have been his decision.

Like I mentioned, Pumpkinhead is a throwback of sorts.  There is just something special about a good old fashioned monster movie with no CGI.  The storyline for Pumpkinhead is not overly complicated, nor is it overly cliché.  If you haven’t seen the original, do yourself a favor and check it out.  I haven’t seen any of the sequels, but I imagine that I will, eventually.

Pumpkinhead – The Poem

Posted: July 10, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Keep away from Pumpkinhead,

Unless you’re tired of living,

His enemies are mostly dead,

He’s mean and unforgiving,

Laugh at him and you’re undone,

But in some dreadful fashion,

Vengeance, he considers fun,

And plans it with a passion,

Time will not erase or blot,

A plot that he has brewing,

It’s when you think that he’s forgot,

He’ll conjure your undoing,

Bolted doors and windows barred,

Guard dogs prowling in the yard,

Won’t protect you in your bed,

Nothing will, from Pumpkinhead.

-Ed Justin

Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

Bram Stoker's Dracula

Directed By: Francis Ford Coppola

Starring: Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, Keanu Reeves, Richard Grant, Cary Elwes, Billy Campbell, Sadie Frost, Tom Waits

Subgenre: Vampires

Synopsis: Francis Ford Coppola brings Bram Stoker’s famed novel to the big screen.

Thoughts: The story of Dracula has been brought to the big screen more times than any other story.  The Count has been featured in more than 200 films.  His character is second only to Sherlock Holmes in screen appearances.  While you can argue that there have been better adaptations, I would say that Francis Ford Coppola brought us the most stunningly beautiful version.  The set pieces and costumes are amazing.

The cast features many big names and is a bit of a mixed bag of performances.  Keanu Reeves is laughable at times as Jonathan Harker and Winona Ryder’s accent often sounds forced, but other than that, the cast is pretty remarkable.  Anthony Hopkins delivers a different sort of Van Helsing than we are used to seeing.  He doesn’t have the charm of Peter Cushing, instead opting for a bit of a disheveled look.  He reminds me of a professor with his vast knowledge and often mussed hair.

What makes the movie is the performance of Gary Oldman as Count Dracula.  While Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee have given us some iconic performances as the Count, you cannot diminish what Oldman did in his single turn as Dracula.  The makeup work allows Oldman to play the Count as a younger man, the older version, as well as some rather monstrous incarnations.  Some years ago, I was at Coppola’s winery in the Napa Valley and he had several movie pieces in a museum.  One of the pieces was the red suit or armor that Dracula donned in the first segment of the movie.  It was an amazing sight to behold.

There is a lot going on in this story, and Coppola tried to put as much of the novel onto the screen as he could.  This created a movie that tended to be a little confusing and long at times.  Coppola’s direction is what you would expect, a thing of beauty.  Since Dracula, Coppola has not had much luck with his releases.  His last two movies have not been successful at all, but he still remains one of my all-time favorite Directors.  He has brought us some of the greatest movies of all time in The Godfather and Apocalypse Now.  I hold out hope that he has one more bit of greatness in him.

While this version of Dracula has its detractors, I am a fan of it.  I can overlook the suspect acting from Reeves and enjoy it for what it is, a visual smorgasbord waiting to be feasted on.   If you have never seen it, check it out, and if it has been awhile, give it another shot. 

Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994)

Interview with the Vampire

Directed By: Neil Jordan

Starring: Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Kirsten Dunst, Christian Slater, Antonio Banderas, Stephen Rea

Subgenre: Vampires

Synopsis: A vampire tells his epic life story: love, betrayal, loneliness, and hunger. (Courtesy of IMDb)

Thoughts: Interview with the Vampire isn’t your typical horror movie.  It is a dramatic piece of cinema that just happens to feature vampires.  While vampirism is definitely in the center of the movie, you feel as if you are watching a period piece for the majority of the movie.

Interview is based on the Anne Rice series of novels dubbed The Vampire Chronicles.  I’ve read a few of Anne Rice’s novels, but not any of the one’s that this movie is based on.  From what I have heard, it is a pretty faithful adaptation and Anne Rice was generally pleased with the movie.  She initially hated the casting of Tom Cruise, but relented after seeing his performance.

Speaking of the cast, it is quite the collection of Hollywood’s biggest names.  Not only did it star Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Christian Slater and Antonio Banderas, but it also featured Kirsten Dunst in one of her first movies.  I thought her acting was better than that of Cruise and Pitt.  It’s not that they did a bad job, but I just felt like I was watching Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, not Lestat and Loius the vampires.  The costumes and set pieces were worthy of an Oscar nominated film.  In fact Interview was nominated for two golden statues, Best Set Direction and Best Music – Original Score.  Kirsten Dunst was nominated for Best Supporting Actress by several other organizations, just not by the Motion Picture Academy.

It seemed as if Director Neil Jordan was an odd choice for such a grand movie, having previously directed The Crying Game, but he also directed Company of Wolves, another critically acclaimed horror movie.  I thought he did a pretty f antastic job here.  There were some beautifully composed shots and the story came together very well.

I’ll repeat what I said before; Interview with the Vampire is not a typical horror movie.  This isn’t something that you throw on when you are in the mood for some vampire carnage.  It’s pacing is slower than most horror movies and also boasts a run time of just over two hours.  It’s not part of my usual rotation of horror movies I rewatch, but I probably see it every couple of years.  It’s a must see, especially for vampire fans.