Arsenic and Old Lace 1944
Directed by Frank Capra and adapted for the screen by Julius and Philip Epstein from Joseph Kesselring’s play, Arsenic and Old Lace is a whirlwind farce set in a cozy Brooklyn home. The home’s occupants are two charmingly batty elderly ladies, portrayed by Josephine Hull and Jean Adair, who have an unusual hobby: they poison lonely old men with elderberry wine, believing death to be a preferable fate for them. These deceased individuals are then discreetly interred in the basement with the assistance of their harmless and offbeat nephew, who envisions himself burying yellow fever victims in the Panama Canal.
The plot takes a humorous twist when the sisters’ less-than-amiable nephew, Jonathan, played by Raymond Massey, arrives on the scene with a few deceased individuals of his own. To complicate matters further, Massey’s character bears an uncanny resemblance to Boris Karloff, after having plastic surgeon Peter Lorre give him his new face. Karloff originally portrayed Jonathan in the Broadway play but was unavailable for the film. The script cleverly alludes to this likeness, provoking intense anger in Massey’s character whenever it’s remarked upon by the other characters.
Cary Grant assumes the role of Mortimer Brewster, the film’s romantic lead, who is attempting to enjoy his honeymoon with Priscilla Lane’s character, Elaine. The film also boasts the talents of Edward Everett Horton and Jack Carson in supporting roles.
Arsenic and Old Lace” is celebrated for its witty and chaotic humor and has secured its status as a classic in the realm of dark comedies, renowned for its unforgettable performances and enduring popularity.
The Amazing Colossal Man 1957
Directed by Bert I. Gordon, The Amazing Colossal Man 1957 is a story that revolves around Colonel Glenn Manning, a military officer who becomes the victim of a tragic accident involving a plutonium explosion during a test flight. As a result of the explosion, Manning begins to grow uncontrollably in size, becoming a colossal giant.
This transformation not only poses a threat to Manning’s own well-being but also becomes a matter of national security as the military tries to contain and study this astonishing phenomenon. As Manning’s condition worsens, he grapples with the physical and emotional toll of his transformation, while the military races against time to find a way to stop his relentless growth.
“The Amazing Colossal Man” is a beloved classic of 1950s science fiction cinema that ushers in the giant consequences of unchecked science that threatens man’s existence and his shoe size.
Attack of the Giant Leeches 1959
Directed by Bernard L. Kowalski, Attack of the Giant Leeches 1959 is set in a remote swampland community that finds itself terrorized by enormous, monstrous blood-sucking leeches. The townspeople become victims of these grotesque creatures, while the police don’t believe the stories behind the disappearances of the locals. Ken Clark as game warden Steve Benton must investigate the strange occurrences in the swampland by himself and Jan Shepard as Nan Greyson gets caught up in the deadly threat of the leech-infested swamp. The film stars scream queen Yvette Vickers as Liz Walker, Bruno VeSota’s unfaithful wife, and also co-stars Michael Emmett and Gene Roth as Sheriff Kovis. The giant leech suits are hilarious and the atmosphere is suffocatingly schlocky considering Daniel Haller (The Dunwich Horror 1970, Die, Monster, Die! 1965) was the art director of the film.
Atom Age Vampire 1960
Atom Age Vampire aka Seddok 1961 is a vintage Italian horror film directed by Anton Giulio Majano. The movie tells the story of a lovesick, obsessed doctor who is determined to restore the beauty of a disfigured exotic dancer who was maimed in a car accident. In his desperate pursuit, the doctor resorts to a macabre method, extracting blood from dead women in an attempt to rejuvenate the object of his obsession. However, his gruesome experiments spiral out of control. The film stars Alberto Lupo as Prof. Alberto Levin and Suzanne Loret plays Jeanette Moreneau his beautiful fixation.
The Awful Dr. Orlof 1962
The Awful Dr. Orlof is a 1962 horror film directed by Jesús Franco, it marked the beginning of his prolific and distinctive career in the genre. The movie follows the chilling exploits of the enigmatic Dr. Orlof, a mad scientist who kidnaps and murders young women in order to harvest their skin for his disfigured and paralyzed sister, Melissa. Dr. Orlof’s sinister activities attract the attention of the police, and Inspector Tanner is determined to bring the mysterious doctor to justice.
As the investigation unfolds, it becomes apparent that Dr. Orlof is not acting alone. He has a henchman, the pop-eyed Morpho looking like a psychotic mannequin who helps him carry out his gruesome crimes. The film delves into themes of obsession, sadism, and the blurred lines between science and madness.
The Awful Dr. Orlof is known for its gothic atmosphere, eerie cinematography, and a memorable performance by Howard Vernon as Dr. Orlof whose portrayal of the mad scientist is chilling and charismatic. The film is considered a classic of Spanish horror cinema and has influenced subsequent horror films with its macabre, atmospheric, and visually captivating storytelling. It’s Gothic atmosphere creates a dark shadowy cobweb-filled landscape with a haunting score and creepy elements that contribute to the macabre tone of Franco’s signature style. Orlof explores disturbing themes of sadism, obsession, and dehumanization of female victims as Dr. Orlof seeks to restore his sister’s beauty.
The film’s approach to horror characterized by its psychological terror and the blurred line between science and madness, has left a lasting impact on the genre. It foreshadowed the emergence of early Spanish horror films and European horror cinema in the 1960s and 1970s, influencing directors like Jean Rollin and Dario Argento.
Jesús Franco’s direction and experimental filmmaking for The Awful Dr. Orlof illustrates his early penchant for innovative camera work and editing techniques that were considered unconventional for its time. Franco’s willingness to take risks and push boundaries and the film’s distinctive psychological horror and Gothic aesthetics continue to focus on Dr. Orlof as a compelling example of Gothic European/Spanish horror cinema, with both a hauntingly dark atmosphere and disturbing elements, making it a seminal work in the genre and its influence on subsequent horror cinema.
The Asphyx 1972
The Asphyx is a 1972 British horror film starring Robert Stephens and Robert Powell. The story is set in the Victorian era and centers around Sir Hugo Cunningham, played by Robert Stephens, a scientist who becomes obsessed with a mysterious and deadly force called the “Asphyx.” Sir Hugo discovers that the Asphyx is a supernatural entity that appears at the moment of death and can be trapped in a photograph or film, and placed in a contraption- effectively granting immortality to the person in the image.
As Sir Hugo becomes increasingly obsessed with the Asphyx and its power, he conducts a series of unethical experiments in an attempt to capture and control it. His actions lead to tragic consequences for himself and his family, including his adopted son, Giles, portrayed by Robert Powell. It also stars Jane Lapotaire, Alex Scott, and Ralph Arliss. I saw this upon its theatrical release and remember it causing more than a few shivers.
Directed by Roy Ward Baker and written by horror master Robert Bloch (Psycho) Asylum 1972 is one of the most unusual horror portmanteaus – a chilling and immersive horror anthology that takes viewers on a spine-tingling journey through the dark corridors of the nightmarish horror trope of the long-abandoned asylum. Set in the year 1972, the film weaves together five distinct and haunting tales, each exploring the themes of madness, supernatural terror, and the thin line between reality and the macabre. The film stars Barbara Parkins, Richard Todd, and Sylvia Syms in Frozen Fear, Peter Cushing in The Weird Tailor, Charlotte Rampling, Britt Ekland and Megs Jenkins in Lucy’s Come to Stay, and Patrick Magee and Herbert Lom in Mannikins of Horror. Asylum also stars Robert Powell as Dr. Martin.
Asylum 1972 combines atmospheric cinematography, haunting soundscapes, and a talented ensemble cast to create a cheeky yet truly terrifying and unforgettable early 70s horror experience.
Alabama’s Ghost 1973
Alabama’s Ghost is a 1973 psychedelic horror film directed by Fredric Hobbs.
The nightclub janitor (Christopher Brooks) discovers a secret room, finds an old magician’s belongings, tries on the costumes, and becomes Alabama, King of the Cosmos. The film features a bizarre assortment of characters, including credits for ‘groupies, Carter’s Ghost, Marilyn Midnight, Dr. Caligula, Granny, and Mama Bama.
Alabama’s Ghost is a campy and offbeat film known for its low-budget, cult appeal among fans of unconventional cinema.
Axe 1977 also known as “Lisa, Lisa,” is a cult classic thriller that tells the harrowing story of Lisa, a young woman who becomes the target of a sadistic killer’s obsession. Set in the eerie and remote countryside, the film is a suspenseful and psychologically disturbing journey as Leslie Lee is assaulted by three criminals on a murder spree after they arrive at her farmhouse, where she lives with her paralyzed grandfather.
As Lisa fights for her survival, the film takes audiences on a suspenseful rollercoaster ride, filled with tension, brutality, and psychological terror. Axe is a relentless thriller that explores themes of brutality and vulnerability, and an unflinching portrayal of isolation and terror, which has led to its cult status in the realm of exploitation cinema.
This is your EverLovin’ Joey sayin’ I’ll BE back with the letter B! So bring me an apple, without a razor blade in it, please!