Mario Bava's Black Sunday (1960)

Mario Bava's Black Sabbath (1963)

Mario Bava's The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1963)

Mario Bava's Blood and Black Lace (1964)

Mario Bava's Kill Baby, Kill (1966)

Sergio Martino's The Case of the Scorpion's Tail (1971)

Luciano Ercoli's Death Walks on High Heels (1971)

Duccio Tessari's The Bloodstained Butterfly (1971)

Emilio Miraglia's The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave (1971)

Peter Newbrook's The Asphyx (1972)

Luciano Ercoli's Death Walks at Midnight (1972)

Richard Friedman's Doom Asylum (1972)

Wes Craven's The Last House on the Left (1972)

Emilio Miraglia's The Red Queen Kills Seven Times (1972)

Sergio Martino's Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (1972)

Sergio Martino's Torso (1973)

Alfred Sole's Alice, Sweet Alice (1976)

Lucio Fulci's Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979)

Lucio Fulci's The Black Cat (1981)

Juan Piquer Simón's Pieces (1982)

Harry Bromley Davenport's Xtro (1982)

Wayne Berwick's Microwave Massacre (1983)

Joseph S. Cardone's The Slayer (1982)

Stephen King's Firestarter (1984)

Buddy Cooper's The Mutilator (1984)

Larry Stewart's The Initiation (1984)

Steve Miner's House (1985)

Tibor Takacs The Gate (1987)

Ethan Wiley's House II: The Second Story (1987)

Frank Henenlotter's Brain Damage (1988)

Ken Russell’s The Lair of the White Worm (1988)

Juan Piquer Simon's Slugs (1988)

James Isaac's The Horror Show (1989)

Wes Craven's The People Under the Stairs (1991)

Lewis Abernathy's House IV The Repossession (1992)

Anders Jacobsson's Evil Ed (1995)

Wes Craven's Mind Ripper (1995)

Robert Kurtzman’s Wishmaster (1997)

Robert Kurtzman's Wishmaster (1997) Blu-ray Review

Wishmaster (1997) on IMDb

Ken Russell's The Lair of the White Worm (1988) Blu-ray Review

The Lair of the White Worm (1988) on IMDb

When nineteenth century horror writer Bram Stoker penned his bestselling novel, Dracula in 1897, the renowned author couldn’t possibly have envisioned the plethora of vampire films, books and plays that would quickly follow, both in an official and unofficial depiction of Count Dracula, indeed, the Gothic author himself would transcribe the first theatrical adaption of his famous character, appearing at the Lyceum Theatre, London, in May 1887, entitled “The Undead” shortly before Constable and Robinson would publish the novel; this adaption was performed once and once only in an attempt for the author to establish and maintain any future copyright claims that may have arisen, and as such, he would be proved right...

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Tibor Takács The Gate (1987) Blu-ray Review

The Gate (1987) on IMDb

In a time before the earth, before the sun and before the light and the stars, when all that was darkness and chaos; the Old Gods, the Forgotten Gods ruled the darkness and what was once theirs now belonged to the world of Light and Substance. The Old Gods, the rightful masters are jealous, watching mankind with a hatred that remains as boundless as the stars. The plans for the destruction of man are beyond imagining but there is a passageway between our physical earth and their spiritual world of madness and pain; a gate behind which the demons wait for the chance to take back what is rightfully theirs...

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Mario Bava's Black Sunday (1960) Retrospective Analysis

Black Sunday (1960) on IMDb

One day in each century, it is said that Satan walks amongst us, and to the God fearing, this day is known as Black Sunday. In the seventeenth century, the Devil appeared amidst the people of Moldovia, and those who served him were monstrous beings, avidly thirsting for human blood. History has given these slaves of Satan the name of Vampire, and whenever they were caught, they were put to a horrible death. Princess Asa of the aristocratic Vajda family was one of these, she was sentenced to a witches' death by her own brother, Prince Vajda, and before the moment of death, the brand of Satan was burned into her flesh. As if by command of the Devil himself, the sudden fury of the elements extinguished the purifying flames. The terror stricken people ran in panic from that cursed place. And all that long and dreadful night, church bells tolled to keep off the spirits of evil. In the chill dawn, the body of Princess Asa's serf Javuto is covered with earth and buried in unconsecrated ground, amidst murderers and suicides. The body of Asa the witch is placed in the tomb of her ancestors, forever more to be called by that foulest of names, vampire...

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Mario Bava's The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1963) Retrospective

Evil Eye (1963) on IMDb

It’s quite simple. Ten years ago, I was a rather influential newspaper reporter here in Rome. My professional duty obliged me to report on the first murder. It was a woman, a foreigner. The article was just a few lines in the local news. The murder had been preceded by an anonymous phone call. The second murder took place two weeks later and was identical to the first. The killer would certainly strike again. He had to be found. The killer was able to make himself invisible. He didn’t leave even a trace. I embarked on a kind of race with the police to discover the truth. I was convinced the killer was a pervert and I argued this theory in many articles, always accusing the police of incompetence. Until, one night, Emily Craven was murdered. They found her right outside with a knife in her back. She lived in this house with her sister, Laura, the woman who invited you to stay here. During my investigation of that murder, I met Professor Torrani, Laura’s husband, a renowned psychiatrist. We became good friends. He agreed with my theory that the killer was a madman. He encouraged me to keep on. And the police arrested the killer. Torrani himself had pointed out a homeless man to me. A very suspicious looking psychopath. They called him Stracccianeve. I myself tracked him down and led the police to him. There was no hard proof against him but lots of circumstantial evidence. He even confessed, under pressure. But when he got to court, he denied everything. They found him guilty and locked him up in an asylum for the criminally insane. He was mentally ill, you see. It was a triumph for me and Professor Torrani. Stracccianeve proclaimed his innocence and the trial had a strange effect on me. I was less and less sure that Stracccianeve was guilty. I kept rereading the sentence. I even studied my own articles. Finally, I became convinced Stracccianeve was innocent. I tried to talk to Torrani but he wouldn’t listen. I started writing about it again. I tried to arouse the press but the story was getting old and everyone had lost interest. I became too insistent, finally, one day I lost my job. After such a long struggle, I found myself alone. But I couldn’t forget. I kept coming back here, deluding myself that I might find some clue, some trace. Until one morning I found you unconscious, right outside. I was trying to revive you when I heard a policeman approaching. I didn’t want him to find me there, with you lying on the ground, unconscious. So I hid, not far away. When you no longer have a job, and you’ve let yourself go a little, it’s easy to get into trouble. I heard you said that you’d witnessed the murder of a woman right in front of this house. At first glance, it might have seemed unrelated to the “alphabet murders.” But I knew right away there was a connection, I’ve followed you ever since. I had to know, speak to you. If you really did witness a murder, you are perhaps the only person that can help me...

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Terence Fisher's The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) Retrospective

The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) on IMDb

We must wait, what we have done up to now is nothing, nothing to what we will do. We have only just started, just opened the door, but now is the time to go through that door and find out what lies beyond it. Don’t you see, we have discovered the source of life itself, and we have used it to restore a creature that was dead. This is a tremendous discovery, but we must not share it yet, we must move on to the next stage. We've restored life where life was extinct, it's no longer sufficient to bring the dead back to life; we must create from the beginning. We must build up our own creature, and build it up from nothing, forget the whole, now we must think of parts: limbs, organs, we must build the most complex thing known to man, man himself. We must create a human being, a man with the perfect physique, with the hands of an artist and the matured brain of a genius, we can do it, don't you see, and as for revolting against nature, haven't we done so already and succeeded, isn't the thing that's dead supposed to be dead for all time? Yet we have brought it back to life, we hold in the palms of our hands such secrets that have never been dreamed of, where nature puts up barriers to confine the scope of man, we have broken through those barriers. There is nothing to stop us now...

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Mario Bava's Black Sabbath (1963) Retrospective and Analysis

Black Sabbath (1963) on IMDb

Mario Bava’s Black Sabbath a.k.a The Three Faces of Fear (I tre volti della paura), released 23rd August, 1963, in Italy’s capital city, Rome, features standout performances from Michèle Mercier, Boris Karloff and Jacqueline Pierreux in The Telephone, The Wurdulak and The Drop of Water respectively, and in particular, the chilling spectre of the recently deceased medium, as she slowly rises from her bed quite literally lives long in the memory, although, quite understandably, the scene does raise a chuckle or two. Mario Bava’s use of colour in The Drop of Water is especially satisfying, bright pinks and blues appear at will, draping Jacqueline Pierreux with beautiful neon lights. And of course, this is a trend that occurs throughout the movie, understandable with Bava’s experience as a cinematographer, we see the same searing light effects in Black Sunday a.k.a The Mask of Satan (La maschera del demonio), rightly described by today’s critics as a masterpiece...

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Robert Wiene's Das Cabinet Des Dr. Caligari (1922) Retrospective

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) on IMDb

Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari is a film that needs little introduction and remains as influential a picture today as it did back in February 1920, when it premiered at the Marmorhaus theatre, in Berlin, and in that respect, the film opened the floodgates to the International market for German silent cinema, which was severely lagging behind its European counterparts; in the Pre-War era, German theatres relied heavily on pictures from the United States of America, France, Italy and Denmark. Silent prints from the latter were proving to be extremely popular, due mainly to a lack of language boundaries. Often described as the quintessential work of German Expressionist cinema, Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari remains incredibly effective, with its cubist inspired décor, twisted and oblique visuals, curved structures and painted stages, designed in principal by Hermann Warm, Walter Reimann and Walter Röhrig, the likes of which hadn’t been seen before in a motion picture and the chilling performances of Werner Krauss, as the delightfully mad hypnotist and the title character, Dr. Caligari, and Conrad Veidt as the somnambulist, Cesare, who unwittingly commits heinous murders, on behalf of the mysterious showman. Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari changed the way German films were made, and inspired a plethora of imitations, which ultimately helped to inaugurate the popular genres of both Horror and Science Fiction; these aesthetic visuals, expressionist in both style and fabric, continued to inspire impersonators and copycats for generations to come, and would be a key aspect to the development and understanding of film noir in the United States of America....

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Mario Bava's Blood and Black Lace (1964) Retrospective

Blood and Black Lace (1964) on IMDb

Although Mario Bava’s previous pictures, namely Black Sunday (1960), The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1963) and Black Sabbath (1963) were not hugely successful in his native Italy, in the United States of America, where they were released through American International Pictures (AIP) the films proved to be lucrative and as such, the production company were initially interested in continuing that trend, however, once Mario Bava and Marcello Fondato had completed work on the screenplay, AIP passed on the distribution rights, due to the combination of violence and sexuality, and believed the picture to be “far too intense for the kiddie trade.” Instead, Emmepi Cinematografica and Monachia Films signed a deal with the Woolner Brothers for release in the United States...

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Terence Fisher's Horror of Dracula (1958) Retrospective

Horror of Dracula (1958) on IMDb

But at that instant, another sensation swept through me as quick as lightning. I was conscious of the presence of the Count, and of his being as if lapped in a storm of fury. As my eyes opened involuntarily I saw his strong hand grasp the slender neck of the fair woman and with giant's power draw it back, the blue eyes transformed with fury, the white teeth champing with rage, and the fair cheeks blazing red with passion. But the Count! Never did I imagine such wrath and fury, even to the demons of the pit. His eyes were positively blazing. The red light in them was lurid, as if the flames of hell fire blazed behind them. His face was deathly pale, and the lines of it were hard like drawn wires. The thick eyebrows that met over the nose now seemed like a heaving bar of white-hot metal. With a fierce sweep of his arm, he hurled the woman from him, and then motioned to the others, as though he were beating them back...

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Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960) Ed Gein: Odd and Yet Harmless

Psycho (1960) on IMDb

Throughout the 1950’s, the genres of horror and science fiction fought an engaging battle of wills, a fight for supremacy, a bitter struggle for the hearts and minds, not to mention pockets, of thousands of cinema goers across the world; Universal’s original Monsters were literally dead in the water, with incarnations of Abbott and Costello meeting the Invisible Man, tangling with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and attempting to unravel the mysterious case of the Mummy. Universal’s last “real” monster movie would come in the shape of Creature from the Black Lagoon, in 1954, directed by Jack Arnold and featuring Richard Carlson and Julie Adams; from thereon, for what had been a golden generation of horror and science fiction films, Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931), The Mummy (1932), The Invisible Man (1933), Bride of Frankenstein (1935), The Wolf Man (1941), Phantom of the Opera (1943) and Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), Universal’s World of Monsters simply dried up. It’s also quite reasonable to suggest that the actors behind the masks, most notably Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Claude Rains and Lon Chaney, Jr., were well past their sell by date, indeed, Universal would ultimately flood the market with Monster Matinees, bringing their famous concoctions together in one house, however, by 1955, these too were diminished entities, reduced to penurious caricatures of their former selves, an undignified end, I think you’ll agree...

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Terence Fisher's The Mummy (1959) Retrospective and Analysis

The Mummy (1959) on IMDb

In the year 2000 BC, Princess Ananka, high priestess of the temple of Karnak, set out on a pilgrimage, bound for Amtak, the reputed birthplace of her god. The great procession travelled for three months, when the princess was stricken with a sickness from which she died. The body of the princess lay in state in her own tent, while the involved and lengthy mourning ceremonies took place. Then her body was prepared for embalming by the incredible process known only to the ancient Egyptians. First, it was anointed with the holy oils. Then the embalmers, with natron and sweet spices prepared her for everlasting preservation. And thus she lay for seventy days in her bath of natron. Custom decreed that after purification, the body of the princess should be returned to the coastal plains where she had ruled in life, but Kharis, high priest, for reasons of his own, chose to ignore custom. Here she had died and here she would remain for all time. He caused a tomb to be prepared close to the place of death, and it was to this tomb that the ceremonial cortege moved to in final procession. Centuries of time had laid down the laws governing the order of the procession. The Sektet Boat for bearing the spirit of the dead to the afterworld, the living god, personification of the recorder of souls, Anubis, guardian of the tomb, the head of the goddess Hathor, maidens bearing the Ushabti, symbols of mythical power and significance, the royal mummy itself, the mortal remains of princess Ananka, Kharis, high priest, the personal representative of his god, Karnak, nursing within him a terrible secret...

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Lucio Fulci's Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979) Retrospective

Zombie (1979) on IMDb

When George A. Romero released his nerve shredding Night of the Living Dead in 1968, little did he know that a slew of copycat zombie movies, most of which would originate from Italian shores, would eagerly follow, with an abundance of nightmarish titles, including Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971), Tombs of the Blind Dead (1971), Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things (1972), and The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue (1974), all topped with a healthy amount of sexploitation and gore, however, it wouldn’t be until Romero himself, alongside Italy’s Giallo master, Dario Argento, released a follow-up to his 1968 classic, entitled Dawn of the Dead (1978) that perhaps the most well-established of these copycats, Zombie Flesh Eaters, was released upon an unsuspecting audience. Initially appearing in Italian cinemas in August 1979, under the title of Zombi 2, to capitalise on the release of Romero’s Zombi, the film was a financial success, taking $740,000, easily recouping its $490,000 budget. Upon its release in the United States and other territories, including a much maligned release in the United Kingdom, Zombie Flesh Eaters became something of a cult classic, due in part to its notorious battle with the British Board of Film Classification and its horrific scenes of violence, not to mention revitalise the flagging career of renowned director, Lucio Fulci and kick-started the Italian film industry, which up until this point was in fear of dropping into stagnation. It also saw a wealth of zombie movies reappear, with Fulci again at the forefront with his Gates of Hell Trilogy, notably City of the Living Dead (1980), The Beyond (1981) and The House By the Cemetery (1981), as well as a whole host of equally violent dead movies from directors Umberto Lenzi, Bruno Mattei and Marino Girolami. But there is no doubt that Zombie Flesh Eaters stands tall, and continues to do so today, and is rightly regarded as a cult classic, and with that in mind, we’ll take a look at the origins of the movie, the outstanding special and make-up effects, and the instantly recognisable soundtrack. The boat can leave now, tell the crew…

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