The Horrorathon – The Raven (1963)

maddy loves her classic films has announced her Horrorathon a month ago (I’m guessing for Halloween) and I thought I’d pick a Vincent Price film I haven’t seen yet for the occasion.

The Raven (1963) seemed like a good choice because I was always fascinated with Edgar Allan Poe’s work and Vincent Price is one of my favorite actors, but my film verdict isn’t as tolerant as my love for Price.

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Even though I’m usually up to a classic b-movies spoof, The Raven just didn’t cut it for and I truly thought it was a lousy spoof. Even for a spoof, it sucked and I hope Vincent’s ghost isn’t going to come haunting my scared ass just because I said The Raven sucked.

The Raven is b-rated farce about a mediocre wizard (Peter Lorre) turned into a raven by a powerful sorcerer named Dr. Scarabus (Boris Karloff). The wizard turns to Dr. Erasmus Craven (Vincent Price) to ask for help in bringing him back to his human form. Unaware of his powers and still bereaved of the death of his wife, Lenore, Craven takes pity on the poor whining bird and brews a shape-shifting potion. Dr. Bedlo (the former Raven) declares he’s after revenge and tells Dr. Craven he had seen Lenore in Scarabus’ castle and convinces him to come along and see her for himself. Accompanied by his beautiful daughter Estelle and Bedlo’s son Rexford (Jack Nicholson), Craven faces Dr. Scarabus in a duel of magic.

The Raven is not my first Roger Corman film and yet the first one making me go “ohhhh… no”. After a glorified trail of films including House of Usher (producer), Dementia 13 (producer), and The Masque of the Red Death (producer), which I loved, The Raven, I must say, was a bit of a blow which I didn’t bother watching all the way through (your forgiveness, Maddy). Choosing a cast so refined as Corman did is what saves the film from being a total disaster, starting with Vincent Price – the Horror king who always delivered an exquisite performance. The man embeds dread with humor oh so well, and his ghoulish voice is just… AHHH… everything. Watching him act is a delight for any Horror lover when even the shittiest role turns into his masterpiece. The man is a living and breathing horror legend.

The rest of the cast includes A-listers Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, and a then unfamiliar Jack Nicholson. Boris Karloff is one of the most iconic names in Horror cinema mostly known for his mythical characters, The Mummy, Frankenstein and my recent The Black Cat’s Hjalmar Poelzig. Peter Lorre’s Dr. Bedlo is a truly odd looking character much like Lorre himself, which probably explains why he starred in everything terror – Tales of Terror, The Comedy of Terrors, and The Man Who Knew Too Much (not terror). Mystery, Horror, and Oddity are written all over this guy’s face.

Jack Nicholson as Bedlo’s son Rexford, is a total goofball and very much dissimilar to the Jack we all know and love. But I guess we all need to start somewhere.

I love the ghastly setting of Craven’s house and Scarabus’ castle. Nothing does it for me more than old haunted rooms covered in spiderwebs and dim candle lights, morbid paintings of dead wives and in-house mausoleums. Corman is fantastic at setting a grim mood even if he slips in a few comic props.

After all of my ranting about The Raven, I still can’t decide if I was being way too harsh or simply honest. I’ll just remain ambivalent and on to the next one.

Thanks for reading.

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The Black Cat (1934) – The Great Breening Blogathon!

Today I’m joining Tiffany from pure entertainment preservation society (PEPS) in her first and awesome blogathon centered around October 14, which is  TODAY, and also the 129th birthday of Joseph I. Breen, the head of the Production Code Administration. My film choice is from an era before the Breen Production Code was actually carried out and I explained, as required, what I think makes The Black Cat a pre-code film.

If you wish to know more about the Production Code during the Breen era, head over to PEPS’s blog.

Also… Tiffany just sent me the link to day 2 of the Breenathon, which includes myself and other wonderful participants’ contributions and tributes, so you can check them out on there as well.

Welcome to my entry for The Great Breening Blogathon!

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The enigmatic Horror The Black Cat (1934) stars two iconic actors Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi pairing up for the time. It is 65 minutes long and released two months before the Production Code was enforced. The film is an obvious pre-code simply because it’s undoubtedly a boundary crosser, according to the code’s guidelines, and includes unpleasant themes such as Pedophilia, Necrophilia, human sacrifice, torture, drug abuse, and Ailurophobia (dread of cats).

** The code required all films released on or after July 1, 1934 to obtain a certificate of approval before being released (according to Wikipedia).

Just as I like ’em, the plot is slightly based on a short story written by Edgar Allan Poe. It entails American honeymooners, Joan and Peter Alison, travelling in Hungary by train and encountering a mysterious man named Dr. Vitus Werdegast (Béla Lugosi), which seems oddly taken by the two lovebirds. Following a road accident in which the bride is injured, Dr. Vitus takes the Alisons to the eerie home of an old friend, one Hjalmar Poelzig, a villainous occultist, to recuperate. Trapped and kept from leaving, the lovers end up caught in a strife of good and evil.

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Why I Think The Black Cat is a pre-code film?

** Beware! Spoilers Ahead**

  1. Dr. Werdegast seems a bit fixated on his fellow travelers kissing and cuddling and even allows himself to gently stroke the woman’s hair while she’s sleeping. If anything, his behaviour is odd and unsettling.
  2. The good Dr. is a practiced psychiatrist, and yet he gives Joan medical treatment and injects her a sedative to calm her down and ease her sleep, which later on causes Joan to act erratically.
  3.  Hjalmar Poelzig is an Austrian architect by day and a satanic priest by night, waiting to execute his human sacrifice ritual during the dark of the moon. 
  4. Poelzig nurtures a glorified gallery of dead women kept in glass coffins, suggesting they were former sacrifices and he’s still quite infatuated with their beauty and youth.
  5. Poelzig is seen reading The Rites of Lucifer in his bed with a young blonde woman sleeping next to him. The woman is later on revealed to be Werdegast’s daughter, whom was lost for decades when she was a child. Hints of Pedophilia suggest that Poelzig must have had his eye on the girl since she was young, and when her mother “passed” she became her replacement.
  6. To salvage the Alisons from Poelzig’s monstrosity, the two rivals play a game of chess, gambling on the couple’s lives. An implication of a battle between good and evil, perhaps… and gambling.
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Lugosi & Karloff butting heads on a critical chess game

8. From the moment he met her, Poelzig desires to covets Joan and make her his next human sacrifice. “Don’t pretend, Hjalmar. There was nothing spiritual in your eyes when you looked at that girl.”

9. Discovering his daughter was kept alive and away for all these years, the maddened and vengeful Dr. Werdegast strikes down his devilish friend and hangs him by his arms only to skin him alive. “Ultra violence”. ⏰🍊

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Fun facts 

  • Karloff’s character, Hjalmar Poelzig, draws inspiration from Aleister Crowley’s life, infamous for being “the most notorious occultist magician of the twentieth century” and the most wicked man the world has ever witnessed.
  • The Black Cat is notable in pairing Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi for the first time.
  • The film’s original title was House of Doom, as director Edgar G. Ulmer tried to create an arresting feeling of doom on each Poelzig house scene.

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The Black Cat wasn’t critically acclaimed in Hollywood back then and is considered an underdog, despite of his legendary cast. It was quite abnormal for its cinematic era. It’s not a scary film per se, but it has so many rough edges and does leave you pondering upon its jagged plot overall. I mean, satanism, dark rituals, human sacrifices, and perverted suggestions cannot be that easily brushed off, after all.

By the way… 

I ran into Danny’s blog, pre-code.com, on which he completely dissects The Black Cat and explains why it is a pre-code film and does it so remarkably well. If you want to delve more into this wonderful film, check it out!

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016)

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I am so glad I read the books first.

Having read both books, I can safely say that the Tim Burton movie is way less intriguing than I thought it would be. Apart from the amazing CGI and Eva Green obviously, the movie was a bit laggish and missing so many significant details mentioned in the book and there was a slight mix-up (I’m guessing intentional) in the children’s peculiarity… Wasn’t Emma suppose to have the fiery hands and Olive the ability to lift off? Dr. Golan is also originally a man. I’m not quite sure why Tim Burton decided to alter the original story, but I’m sure he had his reasons.

Film adaptations can be quite tricky to produce as the original books often outshine them. Films are usually resized and squeezed into a 100 min’ feature (more or less) so it’s impossible not to leave out a few important things. Having said that, the movie just didn’t cut it for me and I feel exactly as I felt when Alice in Wonderland came out… a slight disappointment. Is Tim Burton neglecting the story-line completely for the sake of a brilliant CGI?

Some of the characters were so differently portrayed in the book than in the film. Bronwyn, for instance, I imagined to have a bigger and stronger physique, Millard I thought would be taller, Fiona more shabby looking and Olive much tinier. The rest was spot on, from the children’s home and the loop to the hollows and of course Miss Peregrine herself.

Eva Green is captivating and enigmatic as ever. Although a much prettier version than the book, I can’t think of a better choice for the role. She’s my ultimate girl-crush.

You have to appreciate Tim Burton for choosing what somehow works, be it his choice of actors, grim stories and collaborations. Although not choosing Danny Elfman to compose the music for this one, Burton is continuously working with costume designer Colleen Atwood who just pulls off the best costume designs beyond imagination. Every hem, stitch, knit, fabric and color coordination is thought of to pure perfection. This cannot be left unnoticed by someone who adores costumes as I, as they are for sure extremely symbolic to Burton’s quirky, eccentric and dark nature.

All in all, I would give Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children a 3.5 out of 5. Fascinating production, poor adaptation, though…

Thanks for reading.

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Genre Grandeur – 8 Femmes (2002) – Moody Moppet

Hey hey, awesome bloggers. Check out my review of 8 Femmes for MovieRob’s June Genre Grandeur. It’s all about our favorite musicals this time.

For this month’s next review for Genre Grandeur – Movie Musicals, here’s a review of 8 Femmes (2002) by Reut of Moody Moppet

Thanks again to Audrey of 1001 Movies and Beyond for choosing this month’s genre.

Next month’s Genre has been chosen by Ghezal of Ghezal Plus Movies and she has chosen the genre of Film Noir Movies.

Please get me your submissions by the 25th of July by sending them to NoirGhezal@movierob.net

Try to think out of the box! Great choice Ghezal!

Let’s see what Reut thought of this movie:

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Super excited about this Genre Grandeur theme chosen by Audrey of 1001 Movies and Beyond. We are reviewing our favorite musicals. Didn’t have to put much thought into what film to choose. It was fairly obvious. Thanks for reading!

8 Femmes (2002)

Set in the 1950’s, a large Parisian mansion, 8 women find themselves in the…

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Beautiful Predators – Two Gore-ish Mini Reviews

What is it about beautiful women and gore that makes a perfect cinematic compound? Lately I’ve had the chance to watch two very strange movies and I haven’t decided if I liked them or not. One thing’s for sure, I can’t stop thinking about them.

The Neon Demon (2016)

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Written and directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, The Neon Demon struck me as odd from the beginning only to quickly get a seriously disturbing twist towards the end. The words “What the fuck???” came up a lot.

Synopsis via Rotten Tomatoes “When aspiring model Jesse moves to Los Angeles, her youth and vitality are devoured by a group of beauty-obsessed women who will take any means necessary to get what she has.”

Starring Elle Fanning, Jena Malone and Keanu Reeves, The Neon Demon is a Psychological Thriller that addresses beauty in both its natural and fake forms. Models at each other’s throats. The first scene begins with a beautiful girl (Fanning) wearing a blue dress, lying on a sofa all covered in blood. The death of Snow White, as Refn implied on an interview. From then on, you are drawn towards what seems to be an awry plot that’s probably going to erupt any minute now. And I had no idea how much.

The Neon Demon has that same disturbing vibe as Black Swan, that just makes you super uncomfortable with every scene that occurs. Black Swan – not the other movie I was referring to, though, so bare with me. The photography is more than stunning, the story is a hot mess, and each character is stranger than the other. To make that clear, Refn emphasized colors Red and Blue in mostly dim-lighted sets, intense facial close-ups and a captivating soundtrack. Envy, violence, oddity, and grotesque are thrown right in your face, only to make you utterly shocked. No taboos in this movie, no, no. Are you curious enough? Do you have the stomach for it? Some called it rubbish, others, a mess. It even got booed off in Cannes. I rather found it unsettling but yet drawing. Your call. 

The Lure (Córki dancingu, 2015)

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Another one I just stumbled across, but those always turn out to be the best, right?

Synopsis via IMDb “In Warsaw, a pair of mermaid sisters are adopted into a cabaret. While one seeks love with humans the other hungers to dine on the human population of the city.”

Starring two fairly unknown beauties, Marta Mazurek and Michalina Olszanska, The Lure is quite your bizarre comedy horror movie, filled with mystic and fantasy blended with glitter and cool music. Unlike The Neon Demon, which feels like walking through fog, The Lure pretty much tells it like it is. You mostly know what’s it about, but still anticipate to be thrown off. It’s your alternative version of The Little Mermaid.

The movie begins with twin sisters, Srebrna and Zlota (Silver and Gold) singing their luring mermaid song, drawing a father and a son into the water only to be discovered by the mother. Mermaids are known to seduce men with gentle singing, while women are immune to their charm. The aquatic sisters quickly join this family of cabaret performers and become the new talk of the town. Sequin costumes and flashy make-ups replace fish tails, and a glamorous stage substitutes the safe pond the twins resided in. Similar in physic, different in nature. Silver is naive and highly fascinated with humans. She soon falls in love. Gold is viciously dedicated to devouring human flesh and satisfying her never ending hunger. A contradiction splits between the sisters with one desperately trying to save the other from dissolving into foam. The Lure is amusing, monstrous, and seductive. It’s also very strange and puzzling, perhaps just another cinematic attempt from a foreign director to break the boundaries? One thing’s for sure, I was eager enough to see where it goes and how it ends and I absolutely enjoyed the songs and performances. Very cool.


The Neon Demon & The Lure – Common features

lead female roles, seduction, blood-shedding violence, entertainment, oddity, envy, fashion, neon, sequin and danger.

Did I miss anything?

 

The Text Message That Ruined it All!

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Not My Phone 🙂

One of the common tactics in online dating sites is reexamining a person’s profile over and over again, for a better assessment in finding THE ONE or just someone, I guess. It’s completely logical and acceptable, but when someone’s reevaluating you after many back and forth messaging and an amazing phone conversation you were sure is going to initiate a date, which it almost did, and then changes his mind and even more so, completely ignores you, it can really hurt your ego and confidence for at least 48 hours.

From the beginning.

I’m not naive. I know most people love to recheck a person’s exterior before committing to a date of whatever nature, be it a one night stand, short or long term dating or marriage. Is she hot enough? Is he going to waste my time? All sorts of questions rise up and it basically never ends. But… I guess I am naive after all. When a guy sends me loads of messages, asks for my number, has a super cool convo with me and asks me out saying he’s curious to meet me, I tend to take him seriously. I even nurture some expectations and get excited about meeting him. I have “naive” written all over me, ah?

I read too much into this, obviously.

A few hours after our cool phone talk, this dude decided to send me another text asking me to send him my picture. Said it might be a bit of a superficial request, but just in case, he wants to see more. Mind you, I have pictures on my dating profile, about 3 or 4 pictures on which I’m fully clothed, but you can still see my face and figure very clearly. Not too shabby, I may humbly add. But he asked. I offered Facebook, plenty of pics on there. He declined. I said I don’t have anything else to send. He sounded disappointed. I finally sent him a good picture I took of me and a friend on a party, not before I asked for his pic, though.

Sent.

And… that was that. He didn’t write back. I had a strong feeling I’m never going to hear from him again.

Got sucked into a fucked up scenario again.

I texted “let’s be Facebook friends meanwhile”. Mind you, we set a date for next night, and this guy decided to read my texts and completely ignore me. Needless to say, there was NO date.

He disappeared.

Gone with the wind. Wooooooooosh.

Just… like… that.

What’s a girl to do? Naturally, I was disappointed and did my fair share of cursing him, not to his face, but I wish I could say what I think to his face. Oh, man.

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Perhaps I’ve experienced too many dates, and sometimes this whole idea makes me so sick. Where are you, Mr. Right? I think I’ve kissed way too many frogs. Come the f$%^&k on!!

Meanwhile… BREAK!!!

Until next time, folks.