Here at Balladeer’s Blog I often hear from people who like scary movies for Halloween but who really don’t like blood-soaked or sexually explicit films. Since I review a LOT of extreme horror movies here’s some equal time for people who want chills but not graphic violence.
CROWHAVEN FARM (1970) – Do you like ghosts and witches? Do you enjoy slow burn horror like Rosemary’s Baby? Give Crowhaven Farm a viewing or two. It’s perfect for a viewing party after the trick or treaters are done for the night. And at just 74 minutes what do you have to lose?
Hope Lange and Paul Burke portray a couple whose marriage is on the rocks. When they inherit the title farm they decide to give their relationship one last try by relocating there. John “He’s probably even in the Zapruder Film if you look hard enough” Carradine portrays a creepy handyman, Lloyd Bochner tags along for some Lloyd Bochnering and William “Big Bill” Smith shows up as a policeman.
VAMPIRE (1979) – Incredibly underappreciated horror film that concentrates on atmosphere and eeriness rather than in-your-face antics. Cult actor Richard Lynch stars as the title menace, Prince Anton Voytek. When the undead bloodsucker’s tomb is disturbed by construction for a new church (talk about adding insult to injury), the vampire subjects the city to a reign of terror.
Jason The Exorcist Miller plays the new church’s architect and E.G. Marshall portrays an elderly cop who helps Miller in his struggle against Voytek. Kathryn Harrold, Jessica Walter and a very subdued Joe Spinell also star. Part Martin, part Grave of the Vampire, this flick is an excellent showcase for Richard Lynch’s villainous charisma and very odd looks. (Not being cruel, just making an observation.) If you watch only one movie on this list, make it this one.
THE WORLD BEYOND (1978) – Made in Canada pilot for a series that never materialized. Granville van Dusen (love that name) stars as a sports reporter who has a near-death experience and afterward can hear whispers from the recently deceased. This leads him to JoBeth Williams, Barnard Hughes and a remote island.
A golem – but remembered by most viewers as “a mud monster” – is at large on the island and looking for victims. Granville and company hunker down in the cabin of the man who accidentally unleashed the menace. The creature besieges them, Night of the Living Mud Monster style. Not great but good and with no real blood and gore.
THE NIGHTMARE MAN (1981) – In the 70s and 80s British television did some great limited series adapting stories like Day of the Triffids, The Quatermass Conclusion and The Invisible Man (reviewed previously here at Balladeer’s Blog). The Nightmare Man consists of four 30-ish minute episodes regarding dismemberment killings in a remote Scottish island town.
James Warwick and Celia Imrie star in this above average tale about some sort of monstrosity preying on townspeople just as intense fog begins to cut off the town from the rest of civilization – including communications devices. Fun “Dr Who or Quatermass for grownups” feel as it keeps you guessing if the entity is extraterrestrial, supernatural or like something from Doomwatch. And the fog continues to thicken.
CURSE OF THE BLACK WIDOW (1977) – This baby is from Dan Curtis and plays like an extended episode of his Night Stalker television series. Unfortunately that means that the monster, when finally glimpsed, is much less than scary, but again, this list is geared toward people who don’t want extreme horror. Patty Duke, Donna Mills and June Lockhart are three members of a very strange family in this flick.
Tony Franciosa plays a private detective trying to get to the bottom of a series of deaths in which the all-male victims have been found wrapped in silk webs and with all their bodily fluids drained. Franciosa’s Not Kolchak character is assisted by a feisty sidekick played by Roz Kelly. Vic Morrow is the police chief trying to cover up the crimes and hindering Not Kolchak’s investigation. Sid Caesar and June Allyson pop up, too.