LA ROSE DE FER (1973) – This film’s title was translated into English as The Iron Rose even though The Rose of Iron would be a more literal translation, but that’s just a tiny nitpick. La Rose de Fer was the fifth movie from Jean Rollin, whose horror productions can range from brilliant to So Bad They’re Good level.
The Iron Rose is possibly the greatest example of the “love it or hate it” nature of Rollin’s films. Personally, I love it and consider it one of his best works, but I can certainly understand why some viewers dismiss it as dull, pretentious and self-consciously artsy.
There IS a body count in The Iron Rose, but there is certainly no blood and gore. As our story begins, a beautiful woman (Francoise Pascal) lounges on the beach and regards an iron rose that has washed in with the tide. After tossing it aside she goes about her business, and before long is on a bicycling date with a young man (Hugues Quester).
Eventually the couple – listed as Le Femme and L’homme in the credits – end up taking a walk through one of those bizarrely scenic European graveyards which were tailor-made for this kind of atmospheric, artsy film. A creepy female clown and a sinister-seeming old woman are among the few other people our main characters encounter in the sprawling cemetery.
Viewers have had a few hints along the way that neither one of these young people are one hundred percent stable, but things soon go to the next level. Continue reading →
STRANGLER OF THE SWAMP (1946) – Halloween Month rolls along here at Balladeer’s Blog with this appealing cult film from 1946. Strangler of the Swamp seems destined to be forever overpraised or overpanned. Personally, I find it an ideal Halloween movie for those people who don’t like blood, gore and graphic violence in their horror films.
NOTE: I review movies from the most blood-soaked to the most mild, so be wary and don’t assume all horror films reviewed at Balladeer’s Blog are comparatively mild.
I’ll throw out some quick trivia to hopefully make this neglected work more appealing to people who normally scorn black & white and/or bloodless horror flicks:
*** THE Blake Edwards, prominent director famed for Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Pink Panther,10 and many other films, plays the male lead.
*** Charles Middleton, who played Ming the Merciless in early Flash Gordon serials, portrays the ghostly ferryman of the title.
*** Rosemary LaPlanche, Miss America of 1941, stars as the female lead.
Strangler of the Swamp was directed and co-written by German-American director Frank Wisbar. He was adapting his 1936 German film Fahrmann Maria to an American setting and amping up the horror angle.
In the 1936 movie the figure of Death personified was the main menace. For Strangler of the Swamp, Wisbar changed nearly the entire story and made a murderous ghost the villain. Wisbar masterfully converted the European flavor to Southern Gothic.
Halloween Month continues! Independent filmmaker Earl Owensby churned out a long list of movies over the years, including this horror flick. For more Earl Owensby horror films click HERE
Owensby’s macabre Grim Reaper/ Fool Killer style monster from A Day of Judgment.
A DAY OF JUDGMENT (1981) – This movie plays as if Owensby collaborated with Reverend Estus W Pirkle like Ron Ormond did for the religious zealot/ Cold War potboiler If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do?
You can strip away that movie’s Cold War angle, though, since A Day of Judgment is set in the 1920s American south. Well, 1920s-ISH we’ll say since the usual fun Owensby anachronisms turn up repeatedly in assorted scenes.
Reverend Cage addresses a church that is virtually empty and bores the few faithful who remain by bitching and moaning about how poor attendance has been. He’s leaving town and is basically washing his hands of the place, warning that the increasingly sinful town will get what’s coming to it.
Next we have a series of scenes featuring some of the more sinful citizens of the deep southern town. Adultery, bigotry, covetousness, greed and outright murderous passions lurk behind every corner of this Mayberry-turned-Sodom and Gomorrah. These scenes go on so long even Larry Buchanan would scream “Pick up the pace, dammit!” at the screen.
A sinister, monstrously ugly man in black arrives in town, driving a horse-drawn carriage and sporting a long scythe. This figure is the film’s Grim Reaper/ Angel of Death/ Foolkiller- type menace. Continue reading →
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. Continue reading →
BLOOD SONG (1982) – Singer Frankie Avalon as a 1980s- style slasher villain! The godfather’s Luca Brasi (Lenny Montana) as a co-star and co-producer! Who could possibly resist that? Frankie plays a homicidal maniac who escapes from an insane asylum with his beloved flute/recorder type thingee.
Turns out years earlier a girl played by Donna Wilkes – soon to star as Angel herself – got a blood transfusion from Psycho Frankie. In this movie’s logic-free universe that means that she has a mental link with our mad slasher. This link is causing him to track her down to kill her with the single-minded fury that Mike Myers showed toward Jaime Lee Curtis in the Halloween movies. Continue reading →
THE KINDRED (1987) – This monster movie was the third horror project from the writing and directing team of Stephen Carpenter and Jeffrey Obrow.
The duo got started while they were film students at UCLA and released the regulation 1982 slasher movie Death Dorm aka Pranks aka The Dorm That Dripped Blood. Next came The Power (1984), about a cursed Aztec relic.
Neither of those works were exceptional nor were they trying to redefine the genre, but there was noticeable improvement between the 1984 project and the 1982 debut film. The Kindred continued that professional refinement and is the most watchable of “Carpbrow’s” early horror efforts.
THE Kim Hunter is in a few early scenes as Amanda Hollins, a biochemist who was engaged in some ethically questionable research before a car accident left her in a coma for years. She has just emerged from that coma and wants her son John (David Allen Brooks) to go to her old beach house and destroy all of her work, including her notes.
Rod Steiger, just one year away from his outrageous tour-de-force performance in the slasher film American Gothic (with YVONNE DE CARLO), plays Dr Phillip Lloyd, the villain of the story. The mad Dr Lloyd has been trying his own hand at the kind of research that Amanda Hollins excelled at. To that end he’s been paying an unscrupulous ambulance driver to covertly provide him with accident victims to use as human guinea pigs. Continue reading →
Halloween Month continues here at Balladeer’s Blog, this time with the definitive horror/ sci-fi/ monster franchise in cinema. 2019 is the 40th anniversary of the original movie Alien and earlier this year six authorized (not fan-made) short films were released to mark the occasion.
Bill Paxton’s son is in two of them, but just his voice on the radio in one.
The six films range from okay to excellent but they ALL capture the feel of the creepy Alien universe far better than most of the sequels. To get you in the mood here is Alien: Harvest. The others are titled Alone, Containment, Ore, Species and Night Shift. Check out Harvest below then check out the others HERE
Balladeer’s Blog’s month-long celebration of Halloween continues! If you’re like me you’re bored with zombies and pseudo-zombies. The 21st Century is as mired in tiresome, cookie-cutter zombie flicks as the 1980s were in tiresome, cookie-cutter slasher flicks.
Here is a look at seven films which, while technically classified as zombie movies at least adopt unique perspectives and don’t follow established formulas.
THE DEAD PIT (1989) – This horror film was the directorial debut of the very prolific director Brett Leonard. While not a four-star movie The Dead Pit is enjoyable enough for the Halloween Season and should certainly appeal to anyone into 1980s horror flicks. This movie’s hybrid of zombie elements and slasher elements is both its charm AND the reason behind its love-it-or-hate-it status.
Don’t expect non-stop Resident Evil-level action but DO expect to see some in-your-face gore very early in the flick for lovers of guts and decomposition. A physician (Dr Swan) at a mental hospital discovers the secret sub-basement where a rival MD (Dr Ramzi) is subjecting hopeless patients to horrific experiments involving a combination of science and the supernatural. Continue reading →
Halloween is celebrated all month long here at Balladeer’s Blog. Here’s my review of this Jean Rollin film. For even more reviews of horror films with a nudity theme click HERE
And for my look at three more Jean Rollin movies click HERE and HERE
The Nude Vampire
5. THE NUDE VAMPIRE (1970) – France’s Jean Rollin is one of those love-them-or-hate-them directors. The snooty French often bashed his films for their devotion to style over all else. Don’t believe reviews which claim that his movies have no comprehensible storylines.
Personally I find him more straightforward than Lynch or Jodorowsky. At any rate the central figure of this arthouse Euro-horror is indeed a beautiful female vampire in skimpy outfits and less.Continue reading →
Halloween Month continues here at Balladeer’s Blog.
Paul “Jacinto Molina” Naschy was Spain’s King of Horror decades ago. Many of his films featured his recurring character Waldemar Daninsky, a tormented lycanthrope who was seeking a cure for his curse.
Long ago I reviewed Assignment: Terror (1969), which pitted Waldemar against aliens, a faux Frankenstein Monster, a vampire and a mummy. Here are three more from Naschy:
Dr Jekyll vs The Wolfman (1972), in which a descendant of the original Dr Jekyll uses the family formula to cure Waldemar of lycanthropy. Trouble is he starts turning into a kinky and murderous Mr Hyde on the nights of the full moon. (This is better than being a werewolf?)
There’s even a scene in a disco, for that quintessential 70s touch. (Don’t you hate people who use the word “quintessential”?] Continue reading →