Tag Archives: horror films

HORROR FILMS: EXTREME AND ENVELOPE-PUSHING

With Halloween Month rolling along, Balladeer’s Blog presents a list of some horror films that are extreme with their graphic gore or their envelope-pushing themes.

rabid grannies coverRABID GRANNIES (UNCUT VERSION) (1988) – We’ll start with the mildest one on this list. Yes, even in its original, uncut and graphically violent form it’s mild for this list. Those darn Belgians produced this Evil Dead-inspired movie which featured a pair of nonagenarian aunts being sent a birthday gift by their Satanist nephew.

When the gift is opened that night, it transforms the pair into hideously ugly demonoids who prey upon all of the relatives gathered to celebrate their birthday at their remote mansion home. Not even children are exempt from getting killed as the ever-mutating “grannies” slaughter the family members. 

What the two demonoids do to the priest in the family is very, very dark. FOR MY FULL-LENGTH REVIEW CLICK HERE.

NOTE: The movies below this point tend to be very distressing for people with more conventional tastes in horror films. Turn back NOW if you do not like extreme violence and/or extreme themes. Continue reading

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STRANGLER OF THE SWAMP (1946): HALLOWEEN GHOST FILM

strangler of the swampSTRANGLER 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.

maria and the Strangler of the Swamp*** 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.

THE STORY: Continue reading

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THE NIGHTMARE ENDS ON HALLOWEEN I & II

nightmare halloweenTHE NIGHTMARE ENDS ON HALLOWEEN (supercut) – Back in 2004 Chris R. Notarile wrote and directed one of the most acclaimed fan films in the horror genre with The Nightmare Ends on Halloween. Following the comparative disappointment of Freddy vs Jason the previous year, Notarile produced a short film pitting Freddy Krueger of Nightmare on Elm Street fame against Michael Myers from the Halloween franchise.

By adding Pinhead the Cenobite from Hellraiser, Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th, he gave his fan film the feel of monster rally movies like House of Dracula and House of Frankenstein.    

The Story: Continue reading

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WINNIE THE POOH: BLOOD AND HONEY

masc graveyard smallerRegular readers of Balladeer’s Blog know how fond I am of bad and weird movies. I cannot yet review Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey, the horror version of A.A. Milne’s characters from the Hundred Acre Wood, because it has not been released yet. A full trailer is out now and you can view it below.

NOTE: This is, indeed, a horror film. It may be tongue in cheek, but it doesn’t shy away from violence. People who have more conventional taste in movies are warned. Please don’t watch the trailer and then vent at me because of the violence.

Winnie the Pooh recently fell into the public domain if you’re wondering how this film is possible.  Continue reading

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INVASION FROM INNER EARTH (1974)

invasion from inner earth saucer

invasion from inner earthINVASION FROM INNER EARTH (1974) – This hilariously bad science fiction film was one of the early efforts from Bill Rebane, whose low budget movies were to Wisconsin what Larry Buchanan and his productions were to Texas. Invasion from Inner Earth is a perfect example of “so bad it’s good” filmmaking … for the first half hour or so. After that the story drags on agonizingly and the apparently improvised dialogue pushes your sanity to the breaking point.

A disease has been killing off human beings by the millions while the aliens who unleashed the disease further torment humanity with red smoke bombs and buzz attacks from their flying saucers. Scattered pockets of people have survived but most of those groups seem absurdly unfazed by the apocalyptic events that are unfolding.

invasion posterSome news broadcasts take the events seriously but others present the victims of the chaos as bone-headed rubes deserving of ridicule. We are even shown viewers laughing at these victims but we never understand why, since the Earth is obviously under attack with millions of dead and missing. At no time are we shown the mockers getting their comeuppance for their smirking callousness despite how wrong they are. It’s that kind of movie. Continue reading

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THE SECRET OF THE MUMMY (1982, 1983) – MOVIE REVIEW

o segredo da mumiaTHE SECRET OF THE MUMMY (1982, 1983) – This Brazilian horror film was released as O Segredo da Mumia in 1982 and with English subtitles as The Secret of the Mummy in 1983. It was directed by the one and only Ivan Cardoso aka Ivan the Terrible to fans.

That nickname was not an insult but was a sincere compliment to the cult horror film director, playing on the real-life Ivan the Terrible and his frightful reputation. Cardoso previously served as an Assistant Director to Brazil’s King of Horror – Coffin Joe himself! (For my look at eight Coffin Joe films click HERE.)

mummy 1982The Secret of the Mummy is a terrific starting point for Ivan’s movies, whether you’re interested in foreign cinema or looking for a change of pace in a mummy flick. It’s also a good introduction to his eccentric style – frequent changes between black & white footage and color footage, riffs on global cinema and periodic insertions of bizarre sex comedy. Continue reading

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IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS (1994)

Some of Balladeer’s Blog’s readers have let me know that they feel I did not do as many blog posts about horror as I usually do during October. I’m all about you readers, so here’s a horror film review to help make up for it.

in the mouth of madnessIN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS (1994) – Directed by John Carpenter and written by Michael De Luca, this movie was an unabashed valentine to H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King’s imitations of Lovecraft, and The King in Yellow by Robert W Chambers. The King in Yellow, of course, is the 1895 book previously reviewed here at Balladeer’s Blog, and which Lovecraft admitted was an influence on his own works.

The story is about the title “king”, or more precisely about a stage play about that monarch. Everyone who reads the play The King in Yellow goes insane, causing worldwide chaos. Some of the King’s minions enter into our dimension to do his evil bidding, but unlike Lovecraft’s tentacled, enormous Old Ones, the monstrous servitors of the King in Yellow are humanoid in size and form.

That out of the way, let’s take it from the top. My LEAST favorite element of this otherwise excellent movie is the way it opens up. We are shown a crazed John Trent (Sam Neill) being committed to an insane asylum. Dialogue makes it clear that he’s just one of many people going mad in a worldwide epidemic of violent insanity. Even some of the staff at the insane asylum seem like they’re not all there anymore.

in the mouth of madness picSoon, Trent is visited in his padded cell, where he has used a black crayon to cover his body and the padded walls with crucifixes for protection. His visitor is Dr Wrenn, played by David Warner, the panicked, crucifix-surrounded man from The Omen, now talking to the panicked, crucifix-surrounded Sam Neill in this film. (I admit that’s a sly touch in keeping with the style of the movie. It even has echoes of the victim in Equinox fixating on his protective crucifix.)   Continue reading

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TWENTY-FOUR GREAT SILENT HORROR FILMS

Halloween month continues at Balladeer’s Blog with this look at two dozen of my favorite silent horror films.

The Crimson Stain MysteryTHE CRIMSON STAIN MYSTERY (1916) – This was a 16 chapter silent serial that contained multiple horrific elements. The fact that it is so little remembered these days makes it perfect for this list, given Balladeer’s Blog’s overall theme. A mad scientist calling himself the Crimson Stain experiments on human guinea pigs in an attempt to create an intellectually superior race. His experiments all fail, producing hideous, mutated monsters. The Crimson Stain organizes his misbegotten menagerie into a villainous organization and wages a campaign of terror on the world at large. A heroic detective leads the opposition against them and tries to learn the identity of the Crimson Stain. Chapters in this serial boasted wonderfully campy titles like The Brand of Satan, The Devil’s Symphony, Despoiling Brutes and The Human Tiger.  

THE MAN WITHOUT A SOUL (1916) – A man returns from the dead bereft of any trace of morality or humanity. He now views the people around him as victims and prey. 

THE GOLEM AND THE DANCER (1917) – In the very first known horror movie sequel Paul Wegener starred and directed himself once again as the clay monster called the Golem. In this enjoyably “meta” production decades before Scream or The Human Caterpillar II, Wegener played himself. Continue reading

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ZUMA (1985) AND DAUGHTER OF ZUMA (1987)

Halloween month rolls along with Balladeer’s Blog’s salute to Zuma, the king of Philippine horror movies, and his sequel film Daughter of Zuma.

ZUMA (1985) – Category: Enjoyably bad movie elevated by its obscurity value      

There’s an old saying that goes “Once you have a big green bald guy with pythons growing out of his neck you never go back.” Or something to that effect. This monstrous figure is Zuma  himself, the Freddy Krueger of the Philippines in the 1980s. Big, muscular and green like the Hulk, bald like Mr Clean and with pythons growing out of his neck like the late Michael Jackson. (Disclaimer: The preceding remark is probably not true)

Originally a comic book character in the Philippines, Zuma took the film industry of the islands by storm with his debut film in 1985 and a sequel in 1987. Copies of these films have been Continue reading

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HORROR FILM: THE NEST OF THE CUCKOO BIRDS (1965)

nest of the cuckoo birdsTHE NEST OF THE CUCKOO BIRDS (1965) – Halloween Month continues here at Balladeer’s Blog with a review of this low-budget, black & white bomb which played a few theaters in 1965 then was considered lost until 2017. Florida’s Bert Williams produced, wrote, directed and starred in this very strange film which strives for “Psycho Meets Tennessee Williams” levels but falls more into territory occupied by the likes of Spider Baby and Manos, The Hands of Fate.

Williams’ wife Peggy sang the title song, which inspired a later version by the Cramps, believe it or not. Peggy also sang the closing song Lisa.

Our auteur Bert Williams plays Johnson, a Liquor Control Department Agent aka “Revenuer” in the slang of deep south moonshiners. He is sent on an assignment into the Everglades to infiltrate and bring down a violent gang of moonshiners who make their own bootleg whiskey via their still on one of the scattered pieces of solid land found in the swamps of the Florida Everglades.

After an absurdly irrelevant recollection to his chief about a lost love of his from long ago, Agent Johnson departs on his mission. 

masked killer from cuckoosJohnson’s cover is blown, and he flees into the swamplands to escape the bootleggers, who are led by their murderous boss called Doc. Half wading and half swimming, our exhausted protagonist arrives after dark at another isolated and uncharted little “island” amid the Everglades. He is nearly stabbed to death by a naked woman wearing a wig and a bizarre mask, a woman he at first mistakes for a statue.

The Revenue Agent manages to outfight and escape the woman in an utterly ridiculous fast-motion scene which could use the Benny Hill Theme as accompaniment. Johnson stumbles upon the tiny island’s lone structure – a dilapidated hotel called the Cuckoo Bird Inn, run by some of the strangest people this side of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Eaten Alive. Needless to say, the hilarity horror is just beginning. Continue reading

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