Thursday, 31 December 2015

DECEMBER 31, 2015

I offer, in no particular order of preference, ten films that I saw for the first time in 2015 that I enjoyed more than all the other films I also saw for the first time.
CRIMSON PEAK (2015) Guillermo Del Toro
THE DOCKS OF NEW YORK (1927) Josef von Sternberg
GRAVITY (2013) Alfredo Cuaron....
INTERSTELLAR (2014) Christopher Nolan
MR. TURNER (2014) Mike Leigh
INTO THE WOODS (2014) Rob Marshall
LEGEND (2015) Brian Hegeland
THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (2013) Martin Scorsese
THE GHOSTS OF YOTSUYA (1959) Nobuo Onuki

Monday, 28 December 2015

DECEMBER 28, 2015


KRAMPUS : THE CHRISTMAS DEVIL (2013) Directed by Jason Hull  *

Under no circumstances should this piece of crap be mistaken for the film currently in release. This is a totally amateurish production - badly acted and atrociously photographed with zero quality. Just dreadful despite the neat poster.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

DECEMBER15, 2015

HORROR EXPRESS / P├ínico en el Transiberiano (1972) Directed by Eugenio Martin **

I'm a sucker for films set on trains (SHANGHAI EXPRESS, ROME EXPRESS, TERROR BY NIGHT etc) so I was more than usually tolerant of this Ango-Spanish production. I've had it around for years but only recently got around to watching it and admit to being pleasantly surprised - by which I mean that I wasn't bored. Helping the plot along are Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, a mad monk, a living fossil and a bunch of Cossacks led by Telly Savalas while Martino's direction is adequate for the story which tends to get a bit repetitive.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

DECEMBER 10, 2015


CORRIDORS OF BLOOD (1958) Directed by Robert Day ***

The second and superior of the two Karloff films made by producer Richard Gordon. This one has a bigger budget and better sets and is really an historical drama about the discovery of anaesthetic (much the same ground was covered, albeit less sensationally in Preston Sturges'1944 film THE GREAT MOMENT) rather that a horror thriller, although the presence of Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee (fresh for his first Hammer DRACULA) guarantees that is the route it takes. The superior supporting cast is a real asset here with the aforementioned Lee teamed with Francis DeWolff  as Resurrection Joe and Black Ben, an enterprising pair of body snatchers, Betta St. John as Karloff's daughter and Adrienne Corri and Yvonne Warren (later Romain) as the local wenches. This, and THE GRIP OF THE STRANGLER are available on DVD with an excellent booklet containing very informative viewing notes by Jonathan Rigby. Although made in 1958 the film was not released in England until 1962.

DECEMBER 10, 2015

GRIP OF THE STRANGLER/The Haunted Strangler (1958) Directed by Robert Day **

The first of two films produced by Richard Gordon and directed by Robert Day in 1958 which marked Karloff's return to English films for the first time since the mid-1930's. A Jekyll and Hyde like tale set in Victorian London with Karloff as the elderly author trying to prove the true identity of "The Haymarket Strangler", supposedly executed years before. Given the actor's age of 70 and his health problems the most surprising thing about the film is the athletic quality of the lead performance, even given that some of the more strenuous parts featured a stunt man. In the mid-60's I was lucky enough to meet actor Tim Turner (best remembered today as the voice of THE INVISIBLE MAN in the popular TV series and as narrator of the LOOK AT LIFE documentaries shown at Rank cinemas). Turner told me that working with Karloff on this film was one of the most pleasant experiences of his career. The film itself (available on DVD) is no classic but is competently made with a good cast.