Dracula (1958)

Director: Terence Fisher

Writer: Jimmy Sangster (Screenplay) Bram Stoker (Novel)

Starring: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Michael Gough, Melissa Stribling, Carol Marsh, Olga Dickie, John Van Eyssen

 

Plot: Jonathan Harker begets the ire of Count Dracula after he accepts a job at the vampire’s castle under false pretenses, forcing his colleague Dr. Van Helsing to destroy the predatory villain when he targets Harker’s loved ones.


Tagline – Sensational SHOCK and THRILL SHOW!

Runtime: 1 Hour 22 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Another Dracula Story

 

Story: Dracula starts when Jonathan (Van Eyssen) heads to meet Count Dracula (Lee) in an attempt to have learn the truth about the mysterious Dracula, when Doctor Van Helsing (Cushing) doesn’t hear back from Jonathan, he heads to the castle only to learn the tragic truth.

Returning to London, Van Helsing soon discovers Dracula has followed him, searching for his latest victim, which will see him haunt the family of the fiancée of Jonathan, trying to make his new latest bride, Van Helsing sets out to end the reign of terror Dracula has been having for years, can he stop him?

 

Thoughts on Dracula

 

Characters – Doctor Van Helsing has been trying to hunt down Dracula for years now, his latest attempt sees him anger the vampire, forcing him to defend his loved ones before he starts his own attack on the vampire. Count Dracula has lived a life where his presence has struck fear in the locals, he is a vampire with his age seemingly unknown, after his bride is taken from him, he goes after the people that took her, in search of finding his new bride. Arthur is one of the people working with Van Helsing, it is his family that has becomes the target of Dracula, with Mina being the wife of Arthur that is one of the women Dracula wants to make his brides.

PerformancesPeter Cushing and Christopher Lee are the icons on the 50’s horrors, this film shows they are just wonderful in the horror performances both sides of the good and evil scale. When it comes to the supporting roles, it appears that the rest of the cast are meant to just let the lead two stars take the spotlight.

StoryThe story here is the basic Dracula story, where after one of his brides is killed, Dracula targets the family that took his bride to get his own new bride and revenge. The Dracula story has been told so many times, it does become slightly boring to watch a story that doesn’t offer anything new to the tried and tested formula. If you do know the basic story, you will know everything that happens in this film which just ends up being nothing refreshing.

HorrorThe horror comes the ideas of vampires with Dracula lurking in the darkness, most doesn’t come off scary though which is disappointing.

SettingsThe film uses the couple of main locations, we have the castle of course which we don’t spend enough time around, the English house that shows how the family will try to hide from Dracula.

Special EffectsThe effects are practical which do bring one of the most memorable scenes in the film.


Scene of the Movie –
final showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It isn’t anything new.

Final ThoughtsThis is a hammer horror version of Dracula, it works well enough for the basic idea, only it doesn’t reach too much new to the story idea.

 

Overall: Hammer Horror Dracula.

Rating

 

 

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The Abominable Snowman (1957)

Director: Val Guest

Writer: Nigel Kneale (Screenplay)

Starring: Forrest Tucker, Peter Cushing, Maureen Connell, Richard Wattis, Robert Brown, Michael Brill, Wolfe Morris

 

Plot: A kindly English botanist and a gruff American scientist lead an expedition to the Himalayas in search of the legendary Yeti.


Tagline – Demon-prowler of the mountain shadows…Dreaded man-beast of Tibet…The terror of all that is human

Runtime: 1 Hour 31 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Classic Hammer Horror

 

Story: The Abominable Snowman when an English botanist working in Tibet Dr Rollason (Cushing) decides to join forces with gruff American explore Tom Friend (Tucker) as they lead an expedition into the Himalayas in search for a Yeti.

What the small group discovers will put them all to the test as they never imagined they would come face to face with a monster this big, the race to survive against the unkillable monster is on.

 

Thoughts on The Abominable Snowman

 

Characters – Dr Rollason is an English botanist that has worked hand in hand with the Lhama in a small Tibetan village, he has built up an honest relationship over his time, though he has been waiting for the chance to go on his own expedition in search for a yeti. He is the one that knows how the danger could cost them their lives and is willing to accept just seeing one rather than catching one. Tom Friend is a hunter that has a reputation of being able to capture the unknown creatures, he wants to capture the Yeti to prove he is the best too. Helen is the Doctor’s wife, she joins him on the expedition, while making sure he doesn’t get involved in the climbing side, she isn’t happy that he choices to go on this latest one. Peter is the pure upper-class English man that looks down on everyone and wants out of Tibet as soon as possible, he doesn’t go on the expedition, though he aims to talk Helen into not following her husband.

PerformancesPeter Cushing the hammer horror icon is wonderful in the leading role, with Forrest Tucker going hand in hand with Cushing playing the opposite which makes us see the tension between them. The rest of the cast are giving the basic performance without having too much to do.

StoryThe story follows a team that head into the Himalayas in search of a yeti, what they end up finding will put their lives in danger as they are not prepared for what they have come up against. In traditional Hammer Horror style we go through the idea of people’s greed going to take over sensible nature, while trying to prove another species is alive only undiscovered. This is simple enough to follow and the clash in the two leads ideas does get the payoff required for the discovery the two make through the film.

Adventure/HorrorThe adventure side of this movie comes from the ideas of how the expedition takes place showing us just how exploring the Himalayas could be. The horror fits into a classic monster from stories, both real and fictional, this does work for the film as the creature creation is scary for when this was released.

SettingsMost of the film is set on the Himalayas, well what is meant to be them, we get to see just how far the people are willing tot ravel for science and what could be in the undiscovered areas.

Special EffectsThe effects used in the film are basic and for the time are make up ones that are used to add terror to the snowmen.


Scene of the Movie –
The first glimpse of the yeti.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The random addition to the mission which doesn’t make sense to everything.

Final ThoughtsThis is an easy to watch Hammer Horror classic, it does everything right without shocking the audience like many others from the company once did.

 

Overall: Easy to watch.

Rating

 

 

Tales from the Crypt (1972)

Director: Freddie Francis

Writer: Milton Subotsky (Screenplay) Al Feldstein, Johnny Craig, William M Gaines, Graham Ingels, George Evans (Story)

Starring: Ralph Richardson, Joan Collins, Ian Hendry, Peter Cushing, Richard Greene

 

Plot: Five strangers get lost in a crypt and, after meeting the mysterious Crypt Keeper, receive visions of how they will die.


Tagline – DEATH LIVES in the Vault of Horror!

Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Simple Horror Anthology

 

Story: Tales from the Crypt starts as we follow a tour group inside the crypt, when the five Joanne (Collins), Carl (Hendry), Elliot (Phillips), Jason (Greene) and Rogers (Patrick) get lose in the crypt, the Crypt Keeper (Richardson) entertains them.

Each one sees how they will die in a vision, showing us that they’re not so perfect lives will take a dark turn when they stop living the honest lives they have built for themselves.

 

Thoughts on Tales from the Crypt

 

Characters – Where this film is an anthology we don’t get too much time with each character, Joanne is a married woman with her own desires for life, showing a darker side after killer her husband on Christmas Eve. Carl Maitland is a married man that is planning on leaving his wife and children, he is involved in an accident which brings into a new lease of horror. Grimsdyke is an older man, he has lived with his wife in one home, with her passed away he wants to die in this house and must deal with the snotty neighbours that is trying to force him out. Jason is a businessman that has spent more than he has earnt forcing him to face bankruptcy for his actions. Rogers is the final story as a manager of home, he comes in with his strict ideas struggle to connect with the people he is meant to be caring for.

PerformancesBy being an anthology the stars only get limited time, Joan Collins gets the ball rolling as is good in her role with us believing how calculated her actions are. Ian Hendry is solid in his role, he is behind the camera for the most part making it hard to believe everything. Peter Cushing shines as the kindly old man that is getting pushed out of town.  Richard Greene is solid enough without getting too much time to show us what makes his character unique. Nigel Patrick does make this character one of the more unlikable with ease.

StoryThe story here takes us down the horror anthology line, we get to see five stories of five characters deaths, this does give us something different in each side of the horror scale, we know some are shorter than others with Blind Alleys and Poetic Justice being the stand out of the five stories. There is a big twist in the connection to the stories, but if you do know the TV show you will know the outcome. For a horror anthology this is everything you need without being to the extremes they go nowadays. Each short could easily become a longer film which is always positive.

HorrorWhen it comes to horror we sometimes get to best moments in shorts, anthologies give us a chance to experience different types of horror which will offer something for all horror fans.

SettingsEach film takes us to the world where the character comes from which shows us how the normal lives they live have the darker secrets.

Special EffectsThe effects in the film are good through the film they show us what is capable with good practical effects.


Scene of the Movie –
Blind Alleys when the door opens.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Some stories are too short.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good anthology for horror, it gets the best moments correct and keeps us guessing to what will happen to the characters involved.

 

Overall: Simple anthology.

Rating

 

 

The Evil of Frankenstein (1964)

Director: Freddie Francis

Writer: Anthony Hinds (Screenplay)

Starring: Peter Cushing, Kiwi Kingston, Peter Woodthorpe, Sandor Eles

 

Plot: Upon returning to his home village to continue his experimental research, the destitute Dr. Frankenstein revives his old creature, but a hypnotist wants the monster to control for himself.


Tagline – The monster bred from a dozen corpses.

Runtime: 1 Hour 24 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Hammer Horror 101

 

Story: The Evil of Frankenstein starts when Baron Frankenstein (Cushing) returns home with Hans (Eles) to create his next monster, he finds a carnival in town which makes it easier for him to get around and see what has changed in his time away from the village.

While in hiding from the locals that learn of his return, Baron discover the body of the original creature (Kingston) frozen, he takes it back to his castle to bring it back to life once again, turning to hypnotist Zoltan (Woodthorpe) to help command him, only he has his own ideas on what to use the creature for.

 

Thoughts on The Evil of Frankenstein

 

Characters – Baron Frankenstein is tired of his work being interrupted, he needs equipment which takes him home to use his old castle, he isn’t happy with how the village is operating now, but will continue his work even if the person he turns to for help only makes his life more difficult. Zoltan is the hypnotist that is being run out of the village, he gets recruited by Baron to help control the creature, he soon starts using his own motives to control the creature to eliminate the people that got in his way. Hans is the loyal partner of Baron who helps him through his experiments without questioning him. The Creature has been frozen for years and now it is free again to follow instruction not from Baron, but from Zoltan.

PerformancesPeter Cushing is the icon of Hammer Horror and this shows why, he can make himself the strongest member of nearly any cast, this is no different. Kiwi Kingston as the creature is an imposing presence on the camera, while Peter Woodthorpe shows strength as the hypnotist with his own agenda.

StoryThe story fits into the Hammer Horror style of film making, lets just keep making sequels to our strongest movies, this is the third of seven which shows that we still us events of the first films and try to build around it with what to do with the creature that is different from before and we get a nice enough spin on where to go. This time we focus more on the battle between Baron and Zoltan for control of the creation while it goes on to scary the people of the village. This doesn’t however give enough time to the creature which is one of the main drawing points.

HorrorThe horror in this film comes from the creature which shows us just how it terrified the local village, though it doesn’t feel as scary as it should be.

SettingsThe film returns to the main village setting which shows us just how the people will never forget what they once saw.


Scene of the Movie –
The creature attack.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not enough of the creature.

Final ThoughtsThis is a solid sequel that showed us just how the hammer horror system worked, just cash in on the names that work well.

 

Overall: Hammer horror system working well.

Rating

 

 

Horror Express (1972)

Director: Eugenio Martin

Writer: Arnaud d’Usseau, Julian Zimet (Screenplay)

Starring: Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Alberto De Mendoza, Silvia Tortosa, Julio Pena, Angel del Pozo

 

Plot: In 1906, in China, a British anthropologist discovers a frozen prehistoric creature and must transport it to Europe by train.


Tagline – A nightmare of terror travelling aboard the Horror Express!

Runtime: 1 Hour 24 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Cult Lovers Horror

 

Story: Horror Express starts as anthropologist Professor Sir Alexander Saxton (Lee) has made a prehistoric discovery in China and must now transfer it back to Europe for further studies. He discovery is secret and Dr Wells (Cushing) is curious about what is in the box and after people start disappearing and dying, Saxton is forced to open the box.

When the creature gets loose on the train, the bodies start piling up and the decision on whether to follow science or just survive get bought up.

 

Thoughts on Horror Express

 

Characters – Professor Sir Alexander Saxton has travelled the world for his anthropology missions and his latest find could well be his biggest find of his career, now he must fight to keep it from being killed as it hunts for prey. Dr Wells wants to conduct his own investigation into the creature which soon leads him to let the monster out the box. The characters on the train each face their own problems on how to tackle the creature roaming the halls.

PerformancesChristopher Lee and Peter Cushing are two of the biggest icons of horror films, they both shine with their characters which they bring to life. The supporting cast are good without being overly stand out.

StoryThe story follows the transportation of an unknown prehistoric creature from China to Europe when things start to go wrong and the question of science and faith come into question. The story here gains from being on the train meaning our characters must com together for the solution to the problem instead of running and hiding. This is good for a story, but sadly it doesn’t end up being as engrossing as it should be.

Horror/Sci-FiThe horror in the film comes from the idea of a creature loose on the train that is taking victims, with the sci-fi side looking at the history of life’s unknown moments before history was recorded.

SettingsThe film takes place on the train, we don’t leave the train which leaves out characters trapped at the mercy of the evil hunting them down.

Special EffectsThe effects for the movie are good for the time, the change in the characters after the creature attacks do work well.


Scene of the Movie –
The change in eyes.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is hard to believe in the supporting cast for the most part.

Final ThoughtsFor a cult movie this is a good movie, this does the basics for a horror to make us entertained throughout.

 

Overall: Good cult horror film.

Rating