Cinema Sunday: Tower of London (1962)

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Title: Tower of London

Distributor: Universal Pictures

Writers: Leo Gordon, Edward Small, F. Amos Powell

Director: Roger Corman

Producers: Gene Corman, Edward Small

Starring: Vincent Price, Michael Pate, Joan Freeman, Robert Brown, Charles MacCaulay

Released: October 1962

MPAA: Approved

 

After a brief hiatus (one weekend for a quick vacation!), Cinema Sunday has returned! And of course, with a film starring one of the all time greats (if not the greatest), Vincent Price! This film is one I’ve been dying to see, and now that I’ve watched it two or three times, I’ll be spotlighting it today! In typical Price fashion, we get some very disturbing scenes in this film, and his fabulous portrayal of this sinister character. Listen, not everyone can take a historical setting, elements from the works of Shakespeare, and murder, and turn them into gold. But yes, Vincent Price can do the impossible.

The rest of the cast is good as well, and you should definitely recognize a few faces in this one. Murder, ghosts, and insanity, are all present in this gem! Alright, without further interruption, here we go!

 

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The film begins with a narrator telling the viewer that the Tower of London, and the insanity that went on within the structure. The year is 1483, and Edward IV King of England is on his death-bed. He’s surrounded by his family, which includes his brother, Richard, The Duke of Gloucester (Vincent Price). We see Edward’s two sons as well, and they will take over once they become of age. In the meantime, Edward’s other brother, George (Charles Macaulay), Duke of Clarence, is named as protector of the young boys that will one day rule. The three son’s mother is also there, and she seems suspicious that Edward being weak, puts the throne and England in jeopardy.

 

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Later that night, Richard and George (although Richard and Edward call him Clarence) are having a drink together, as they have not seen each other in many years. The two men compliment each other but Richard seems a bit illusory with his words. George then asks Richard for his help in protecting the boys, and puts out his hands for an embrace. As Richard hugs his brother, he pulls out a knife, and stabs him in the back! He then dumps the body into a barrel of water (to make sure the job is done?).

 

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Richard then retreats to his room, where his wife, Anne (Joan Camden) knows about these plans, and urges Richard to wash the blood off of his hands. The others present then find George murdered, and call for Richard. Once he arrives and acts surprised, everyone notices that the blade bears a certain family crest on it, and it is the family of King Edward’s wife’s family, the Woodville’s. Edward’s wife (Sarah Selby) is present, and can’t believe what her family is being accused of this day. They all go to Edward’s chambers to give him the bad news, and in his grief, he thinks that his wife’s family may have done it, in a power play for the throne. Edward then names Richard as the new protector of the children.

 

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Later that night, Richard is quoting Shakespeare to himself, but all of a sudden he hears a voice nearby. He then sees his dead brother (a ghost), and he tells Richard that there will be a reckoning. Richard tries to explain his actions but George tells him that he’ll die a violent death, and at the hands of a dead man. At this very moment, there’s an explosion (lighting, cannon misfires?), and it sends some rubble from the top of the Tower crashing down, almost killing Richard. George tells him again, that death will come for him soon. Richard scurries to him bedroom, and Anne attempts to calm him down, and he reveals to her that a ghost tried to kill him.

 

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Richard goes to visit Edward one last time, and their mother is by his bedside. She speaks very sharply at Richard, and seems to know him for the malefactor that he has become. She urges him to see his dying brother, and as he bids him goodbye, he kisses him on the forehead. As he backs away, he sees blood where his lips touched his brother. He screams in fear, and his mother tells him she doesn’t see anything, and she accuses him of treachery. He shoots back at her, and blames her for his deformities (apparently he has something along the lines of curvature of the spine, and other physical handicaps).

 

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The Queen then launches a secret investigation into the death of George. At this point, we have two factions in the castle. One loyal to Richard, and the others loyal to the Queen and her family. The aid of Sir Richard Ratcliffe (Michael Pate), helps Richard keep everyone off-balance for a while, but when he tries to coerce the Lady-in-waiting, Mistress Shore (Sandra Knight – image below), and later murders her, things really begin to get out of hand.

Will Richard’s plan to usurp the throne of England come to fruition? Or will the Woodville’s and their accomplices be able to stop him before he kills everyone in his way? Watch to learn the answers!

 

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OK, here are my thoughts:

As far as films starring Vincent Price go, this is definitely a must see. It’s right up there with House of Wax, Last Man on Earth, The Fly, etc. His performance alone is worth the price of admission, but you do get solid jobs from Michael Pate (he plays a great weasel in this film), and even Charles MacCauly (Blacula) in just a couple of scenes that he has in this one.

The special effects are good, and Price really does an excellent job in the scenes with the ghosts. One scene in particular, which I didn’t mention above, is when one of the ghosts inhabits the body of Price’s wife in the film, and this causes him to go off the deep end even further, and he strangles his own wife, believing she’s the ghost. The sets were convincing for sure, but the music wasn’t anything you’ll remember.

Search this one out, and believe me when I say that it’s definitely worth owning. Even if you’re not a huge Price fan like I am, you’ll be impressed with this one after just one viewing!

 

Click here for a couple of clips!

 

Cinema Sunday: Day The World Ended (1955)

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Title: Day The World Ended

Distributor: American International Pictures

Writer: Lou Rusoff

Director: Roger Corman

Producer: Roger Corman

Starring: Richard Denning, Lori Nelson, Adele Jergens, Mike Connors, Chet Huntley (narrator)

Released: December 1955

MPAA: Approved

 

 

As we roll into October, the threat of Halloween is here! Maybe a hockey-masked killer will visit or even the Boogeyman. Until then, I’d like to spotlight a great sci-fi film from the greatest era of said films (1950s-1960s). I mean, listen, you can never go wrong with an atomic disaster movie. The genre is full of great flicks from this era, and rightly so. It was a hot button topic back then (still is), and in its infancy. There was a lot of paranoia, and rightly so as it was a scary invention.

The most familiar face in this film is action/horror/sci-fi star, Richard Denning (Creature from the Black Lagoon). He was a stalwart of the film industry back in those days, and was your a-typical “macho man” of the films he was in. The rest of the cast is quirky in this one, and so was the entire film to be honest, but hey, isn’t that to be expected from Roger Corman?!? Alright, here we go…

 

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The film begins with a narrator (Chet Huntley) explaining that a nuclear holocaust has decimated the planet, and only a few pockets of people have survived. One of these people is Rick (no, not Grimes…Richard Denning!), and he spots a man who’s injured and suffering from radiation burns. He grabs the guy and throws him over his shoulder, caveman style. He heads for the nearest house he sees, but he’s behind a couple that are bolting for the same door. These two, Tony (Mike Connors) and Ruby (Adele Jergens) are very odd in the fact that they look like gangsters (Bonnie and Clyde?) from the 1920’s. Inside the home is a father, Jim Maddison (Paul Birch), and his daughter, Louise (Lori Nelson). They’re a couple of bumpkins that just want to be left alone. Ruby and Tony come knocking at the door, but Jim wont let them in at first. Tony then begins to shoot at the door, so Jim relents and lets them inside.

 

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Soon after, Rick shows up, and now the house is packed with unwanted guests. Jim tells his daughter that he didn’t want to take on any other survivors because he only has provisions for them. Now those provisions will be split four different ways. OK, make it five different ways after some old man and a jackass show up. The old-timer seems to be interested in nothing except the animal and making moonshine. Tensions are high for obvious reasons , but you also have everyone on edge even more because of Tony and his big mouth. Jim has his own gun and tells all the house guests to change their clothes and wash up because they might be contaminated.

 

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Right away, Rick and Tony butt heads. Rick gives Tony a whooping after they argue, and Tony vows revenge. A few weeks pass, and the guy that Rick brought into the house is exhibiting some strange symptoms from radiation poisoning. His face is starting to mutate, but into what, no one knows. He sneaks out every night to hunt for “meat” as he puts it. Rick is worried, and Jim thinks they should off him. The two women go swimming to relax for a while. Louise gets the creeps when she sees someone and believes she hears the person call her name. Ruby doesn’t see anybody but gets creeped out too, so they quickly leave.

 

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A few weeks later, and tensions are at an all time high, especially between Rick and Tony. Jim is on edge as well, because he knows it’s only a matter of time before they run out of food. Tony begins to hit on Louise, but Rick takes the exception to that because he and Louise have become an “item.” Rick and Tony get into another brawl, and Ruby tries to console Tony. He brushes her off, and we begin to see that he really doesn’t even care for her. He’s all about himself, and this will be a recurring theme throughout the film. Rick and Jim try to keep tabs on the irradiated man, but most nights they can’t keep up with him because he travels into an area that’s still full of radioactive activity. We (the viewers) do see him though, and one  night he gets surprised by a monstrosity near a wooded area, and he flees in fear for his life.

 

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Will the monster get to the survivors? Will Tony and Rick kill each other first? Will Louise be able to repopulate the Earth? Watch and get some of the answers!

 

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OK, here are my thoughts:

This is one wacky film. I love the post-nuke world movies because not only do they represent something that at any time could be reality, but also they give you so many options. Zombies, freaks, giant monsters, etc. This film really tries to utilize the build up of tension. Some of the acting is hammy and even borders on the ridiculous, BUT, don’t sleep on this one. Richard Denning is still cool as a cucumber here and there are a couple of deaths were a little crazy as well.

One slight disappointment was the fact that the monster doesn’t really show up until very late in the film. The fact that it’s very cheesy doesn’t bother me one bit though. The sets were bland, as were most in this era. They just weren’t a big focus the majority of the time, as films relied on gimmicks, or atmosphere, or star power. You certainly had that with Denning, especially after his performance in Creature from the Black Lagoon. This picture obviously doesn’t have Richard Carlson or Julie Adams, but Denning, Nelson, and Jergens (image below) provided depth and sex appeal for sure!

 

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Click here for the trailer!

 

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Cinema Sunday: It Conquered the World (1956)

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Title: It Conquered The World

Distributor: American International Pictures

Writers: Lou Rusoff, Charles B. Griffith

Director: Roger Corman

Producer: Roger Corman

Starring: Peter Graves, Beverly Garland, Lee Van Cleef, Dick Miller

Released: July, 1956

MPAA: Approved

 

If you put aside Hammer and Universal Studios, I think I’d have to give AIP the nod as far as movie studios go in the impact category. Their horror and sci-fi films were great. Sure, they didn’t have the biggest budgets, so the special effects weren’t the best, but the stories were cool, and they always found good actors for the roles. Whether it was “The Amazing Colossal Man” or Blacula,” AIP always gave it their all when producing a picture!

Speaking of pictures, you’ll love this one as any watcher of this film will tell you, it’s a sci-fi classic that must be viewed! The film isn’t very long, but does have a few actors you’ll definitely recognize. Well, without any more interruption, here’s the plot…

 

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The film begins with four scientists, as they’re keeping an eye on a space probe that’s circling the Earth. Dr. Paul Nelson (Peter Graves), remarks at how much the satellite cost, and that everything better go as planned or this project will get dumped. In a nearby office, a general, Secretary Platt, and another man, Dr. Tom Anderson (Lee Van Cleef), is explaining to them that this satellite business must stop because the aliens will put a stop to it if they don’t. He vehemently pushes back, but they don’t care. Later that day, Tom and Paul, who are good friends, are having dinner together (both wives are present too). Tom takes the time to tell Paul that he’s made contact with an alien via his radio transmitter. Tom’s wife, Claire (Beverly Garland), is reluctant for Tom to tell him what’s going on, but Tom doesn’t care. He shows Paul his radio but just then the telephone rings, and Paul is called away to the lab.

Back at Tom’s house, he and Claire argue over the revelation about the alien. She’s very wary about this, but Tom is convinced the alien is going to help humanity. Over at the installation, the satellite lost contact with Earth, and they can’t figure out why. Tom then makes contact with the alien, and informs Tom that he hitched a ride on the satellite to Earth. Claire begs Tom to come to bed, but he refuses, and tells her he’s going to sleep by the radio. She doesn’t seem to broken up about it.

 

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The next day, the satellite crashes, and the alien arrives. He hides out in a cave near some hot springs, as to closer simulate the climate from its home planet of Venus. Suddenly, every mechanical device n town stops working. Apparently, the alien wants to create chaos, and knows this will get everybody crazy in a short period of time. We next see Tom talking to him again, and giving him a list of names of the most influential people in town (I guess the alien has the Yellow Pages?). The alien responds, telling Tom that he has a control device he can use to subjugate the populace with. Just then, we see the alien, as it release these bat-like creatures that have stingers that implant a radio controlled device when they sting the back of the neck.

 

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The first victim is the sheriff (Taggart Casey), and he gets hit immediately. Next is the general that runs the facility where Paul works. He attempts to hot-foot it to somewhere, but gets attacked by one of the bat creatures. He attempts to pistol whip the creature, and not shoot it…yeah. So, anyway, moments later, two of the biggest wheels in the area are under the control of the alien, and there are more to follow. Paul and his wife were on their way to town, but when their car died, they went to Tom’s house. He then tells them the whole story, and both of them are appalled. Paul tells him he’ll never submit to this alien, and Tom is not happy. Tom then takes them home, and the alien tells him that he must be assimilated.

 

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Back in town, the sheriff tells everyone to get out-of-town, and they listen. One man wont leave, and the sheriff shoots him in cold blood! Paul questions him about it but he only says that the master wants everyone out-of-town. The sheriff attacks Paul, but the alien tells him to let Paul go. Back at Tom’s house, he and his wife argue about the moral ramifications of this situation. Tom doesn’t care, and his wife storms off. Paul then heads to the installation, but is stopped by the general. Paul can tell something is up, so he whacks the general over the head, knocking him unconscious. He takes the general’s Jeep to Tom’s house and questions him further about the alien. Tom spills the beans about everything, and Paul swears he’ll fight this until his last breath, and storms off.

Can Paul stop this invasion by himself? Can he somehow rally the townspeople and stop this menace? The answers are here for the taking!

 

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OK, here are my thoughts:

Just seeing Van Cleef and Graves at this early stage in both of their careers is great. You can see the potential in both, and that they had big things ahead. Beverly Garland was also pretty good, even though her scene near the end where she tried to act all tough in wasn’t so good. The rest of the cast was very milquetoast, and didn’t really add much to the film.

The sets were very plain, and basically what you’d expect from a low-budget offering like this one. The music score was just mediocre as well, except for a few short moments. The special effects were decent for 1956, and you’ll really get a kick out of the bat creatures that the alien has at its disposal. Lets be honest though, when you see Roger Corman’s name attached to something, you know you’re in for a wild ride!

Definitely give this one a watch, because you need to be able to say that you’ve seen an alien from Venus, right (and the beautiful Beverly Garland – image below)?

 

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Click here for the trailer!

 

Cinema Sunday: The Haunted Palace (1963)

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Title: The Haunted Palace

Distributor: American International Pictures

Writer: Charles Beaumont (screenplay), based on a story by H.P. Lovecraft

Director: Roger Corman

Producers: Samuel Z. Arkoff, Roger Corman, James H. Nicholson

Starring: Vincent Price, Lon Chaney Jr., Debra Paget, Frank Maxwell

Released: August 1963

MPAA: Approved

 

Once again, I’m strolling down the halls of the horror hall of fame! Not only does this film have Vincent Price, Lon Chaney Jr., but it also has Roger Corman directing! This is the first American film to introduce the works of H.P. Lovecraft to moviegoers. The film is based on a story called “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward” and not off of an Edgar Allan Poe story (a common misconception because of the way the movie was promoted as being part of the set of movies Corman had previously done). For fans of the film that don’t know about the story behind it, definitely read up on Lovecraft, he was an interesting writer.

Alright, well, you can see from the movie poster, that this film is a wild one that involves all sorts of creepy elements. Murder, black magic, and beautiful ladies are what classic horror movies are made of…or so I’m told. AIP (American International Pictures) and Roger Corman made a lot of films together with this formula (8-9 I believe), and it worked out brilliantly. Price, along with people like Karloff, Lorre, and so on, had so much talent and an eeriness about them that vault these films from flimsy to fantastic! Now, without any further delay, here’s the film!

 

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The movie opens with a few men hanging out at a local pub (around 1765, somewhere in New England). One of them, Ezra Weeden (Leo Gordon – image above), sits by the window, as if he’s on watch. Another man, Micah Smith (Elisha Cook Jr. – image above) urges him to chill out and have some fun, but he refuses, citing that there’s foul play about, and he knows who’s behind it. Suddenly, amidst the fog, we see a young woman walking alone. Through the town, and up to the old house at the end of the town. The door opens, and she’s met by two people. Joseph Curwen (Vincent Price), and Hester Tillinghast (Cathie Merchant), welcome her in, and then proceed to take her to the bowels of the old palace. Once there, they chain her up over a pit, and after reciting some kind of incantation, a hellish creature begins to rise from the fiery pit.

 

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Meanwhile, the villagers have grabbed their pitchforks and torches, and are heading to the house. They hear her scream and begin to pound on the door. Curwen answers, and tells them to get lost. They question the girl, and she seems to be in a trance, so they agree that he’s a warlock, and drag him off to be burned at the stake. They initially grab the woman as well, but Curwen tells them to leave her alone because she’s been “hexed.” After they drag Curwen away, he tells Hester that once he’s dead, they’ll be able to be together again. They all march towards town, and then condemn him, and he warns them that he’ll return to seek revenge against the town leaders. They light the straw, and burn him anyway.

 

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Sherman set the WABAC machine 110 years into the future in New England. We see a man, Charles Dexter Ward (Vincent Price), and his wife, Anne (Debra Paget), arrive at the docks, and head into the town of Arkham. They are very excited to see a house that Charles has inherited, but cannot find it initially. They stop at a local pub, and ask the inhabitants of the home’s whereabouts. The townspeople are very frigid toward them, and even refuse to tell the location of the house. Ward and his wife are about to give up, when one of the men, Dr. Willet (Frank Maxwell), tells them how to get to the house. As they leave the pub, they run into some people with terrible deformities, and they wonder why so many in the town have this affliction. Back at the pub, the descendants of the original townspeople argue over the curse that Curwen laid on them, and the fact that Ward is a dead-ringer for him.

 

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As Charles and Anne near the home, they get an uneasy feeling, but enter once they arrive.  Ward then sees a painting of the previous owner, his great-grandfather, Curwen, and is struck into a momentary trance. Anne asks what’s wrong, and he tells her nothing. Anne attempts to open a cabinet, but then a poisonous snake pops out. Ward grabs a hatchet and chops its head off. Anne then moves towards another room, but Charles tells her that it doesn’t lead anywhere. She asks how he knows this, and he replies that “it’s just a guess.” As they search through the dark house, they’re surprised by a man, Simon Orne (Lon Chaney Jr.). He tells them that he’s the caretaker of the old palace, and that he has been so for a long time. Anne is frightened out her skin, but Charles seems to be OK with the creepy old guy. She wants to leave, but Charles insists that they stay the night.

 

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Over on the other side of town, we see one of the villagers, Edgar Weeden, and his wife. Edgar feeds a beast/person, that’s locked up behind a huge door. The thing grabs Weeden, and almost tears his arm off, but he uses the flame of the candle he’s carrying to burn it. Weeden then tells his wife that the beast knows who’s come back to Arkham, and that is why the beast is upset. Back at the palace, Charles has a cigar, and stares at the painting of Curwen. It seems to be driving him mad, but then he suddenly turns around, and has a sinister look on his face. The next day, Anne is ready to leave and asks Charles if he’s ready to leave. He tells her he’s decided to stay, so he can fix up the place and sell it. His demeanor is completely different, and he suggests that if she doesn’t want to stay, she can go home without him. She’s shocked by his abrupt attitude, but he then apologizes.

 

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That night, they head into town, but everyone seems to be gone, and the pub is closed. As they turn around, they’re surrounded by the deformed people in the town. As the church bells ring, they walk simply away. The two have Dr. Willet over, and have dinner with him. He explains to them why the other townspeople don’t like them, and all about the warlock, Joseph Curwen. He tells them that Curwen’s wife, died in labor, so Curwen selected Weeden’s betrothed for his new “woman.” He tells them that young woman began to disappear and Curwen was suspected. They then learned the rest of the gory details, including the curse. He also mentions that Curwen was rumored to have gained possession of a book called the Necronomicon (there’s your Lovecraft reference), and that it supposedly could give a man ultimate power, by being able to summon the Old Ones (Cthulhu, Yog-Sothoth, etc.).

 

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Later that night, Anne wakes up, and finds Charles out on the balcony, in the middle of a storm. He hears wailing from the town below, and it seems to intrigue him. As he walks downstairs, some unseen force leads him outside, and he begins to hear the events of the night his ancestor was burned. He’s surprised by Simon, and he tells Charles to ask Curwen about the voices he heard. Simon then  follows him inside the house, and Curwen then possess the body of Charles Dexter Ward. Simon then brings him the Necronomicon, and another servant pops up as well. Curwen then tells them that Ward is fighting him, and that he wont be able to gain full control for a while yet. Anne finds him downstairs but he cannot explain how he got there or why he cannot leave.

 

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The next evening, the villagers are discussing what they might have to do, but Dr. Willet tells them to stop being foolish. Ward/Curwen then has his two henchmen dig up a corpse, and bring it back to the palace. Anne asks what’s going on, and he tells her to mind her own business. Ward then tries to fight Curwen’s influence, and he catches Anne spying on him. He shouts at her and tells her that tomorrow she must leave for Boston. Upstairs in the bedroom, Anne hears some wailing, so she gets up to investigate the noise. A door creaks open, and she heads inside. Down to the lower depths of the old palace she descends, rats pop up, and then she finds an old wooden door, and opens it. As she’s creeping around, she’s surprised by Simon, and faints. We then see that Curwen exhumed his dead wife, and uses a spell to resurrect her, but it seems that she might be dead for too long and the spell wont work. Simon rushes him upstairs, as Charles is trying to take control. Anne explains to a bewildered Charles that he hasn’t been himself, and he agrees to leave the next day.

The next day arrives, and they attempt to leave, but Simon holds them for a moment, and Curwen takes control. As Anne is waiting with the coach, Dr. Willet arrives and tells Anne about the grave robbing incident, and that the villagers blame her husband. Ward/Curwen appears and tells Willet and his wife that he wont be leaving, and that the villagers might as well give up, because he’ll never leave…

 

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Will Charles Dexter Ward be able to re-assume control of his body, or will the soul of his evil relative keep control and get his revenge against the villagers?!? Watch this one to find the answers!

OK, here are my thoughts:

As a mild fan of the Lovecraft mythos, I can’t claim to know much about the film’s influence from the story (I’ve never read it). I will say this though, that even if the influence isn’t exceptionally strong,it still will intrigue you (and it has me) to seek out Lovecraft’s work. Corman did his usual magic with virtually no money, and it’s his forte. He’s literally the only director I can think of that time and time again made solid films with very little money. Sure, some of them weren’t so great, but the majority of them have very solid scripts and/or acting.

Speaking of acting, Vincent Price delivers a performance for the ages in this one. I liken it to House of Wax or The Last Man on Earth. It’s that good. Debra Paget is great as the frightened wife, and really puts on a great performance. Her hatred for Curwen but love for Ward is incredible. Chaney isn’t in very many scenes, but adds his usual luster and presence to the film. The sets are small but effective, and of course, the budget had a lot to do with that. There wasn’t anything overly exceptional about the music score, but it was sufficient to get you riled up a time or two.

Solid acting, sets, and a story that is eerie, creepy, and all around evil! Get this one on the watch list sooner than later, because you’ll enjoy it if you’re a Price fan, Lovecraft fan, or just a classic horror fan in general!

Click here for the trailer!

Cinema Sunday: The Terror (1963)

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Title: The Terror

Distributor: AIP

Writer: Leo Gordon and Jack Hill

Director: Roger Corman

Producer: Roger Corman

Starring: Boris Karloff, Jack Nicholson, Sandra Knight, Dick Miller

Released: June 17th, 1963

MPAA: PG

 

With the scary day approaching later this month, I thought it best to showcase a movie starring one of the industries all-time greats. Boris Karloff is certainly recognized for his roles as the Frankenstein Monster, and the Mummy. But honestly, that’s just the tip of the iceberg for Mr. Karloff (William Henry Pratt). Karloff starred in many other horror films, and certainly the films with director Roger Corman must be mentioned!

Speaking of Corman films, today’s post is about the 1963 film “The Terror,” and it comes as no surprise that not only did Corman get a legend like Karloff for this film, but also a young man named Jack Nicholson! Another horror film staple, Dick Miller is in this one, and he collaborated with Corman before as well. Alright, let’s get down to this one!

 

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As the film opens, we see an old castle, being besieged by a thunder-storm. Inside, an old man, Baron von Leppe (Boris Karloff), is trudging through the halls. He suddenly sees blood drops leaving a trail. He follows the trail, and winds up finding a cadaver hiding behind a curtain. Cue the opening credits, then we watch as a soldier on a horse, Andre Duvalier  (Jack Nicholson) is very weary, and falls off of the horse, to the ground. He struggles to get o his feet, but then sees a beautiful woman nearby. A man is watching him from the top of the hill, but we cannot see who it is yet. As Andre nears the woman, she runs off, but then points him in the direction of some water. He tells her that he was lost from the regiment he was in, and that he doesn’t know where he’s located. The woman listens to his story, and tells him that her name is Helene (Sandra Knight). The two walk through the woods, and then the girl suddenly walks into the ocean and disappears. Andre goes after her, but almost drowns after being attacked by a hawk.

 

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Andre then wakes up in the home of some old hag (Dorothy Neumann). He asks the hag where Helene is, but the hag doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Andre wakes in the night, and heads outside. He notices someone down by the river, and once again, sees Helene. She strokes his face, then hugs him. The next thing you know she’s making out with him, but then abruptly walks away. He chases after her (who wouldn’t?), but gets stopped by the old hag’s servant, Gustaf. He tells Andre that there is danger near, and shows him that there is quicksand all around. Gustaf tells Andre that the woman is possessed, and that he can go to the nearby castle to help her.

The old woman begs him not to seek out the castle, and if he must, to at least not tell the Baron she is living nearby. He rides his horse for a while, but eventually reaches the castle. He spies the young woman, but she rebuffs his attempts. he then pounds on the door, demanding to be let inside. The Baron answers, and is hesitant to let him in, but does agree to his demand. The two engage in some small talk, and then the Baron calls his man-servant, Stefan (Dick Miller), and tells him to get them some Cognac. Andre asks where the girl is, and the Baron tells him that no girl lives at the castle. He shows him a portrait of the woman, and tells him that she was his wife, and, that she’s been dead for twenty years.

 

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Later that night, something is trying to break into the barn, and the horses are going wild. Andre is looks out to see what’s going on, and once again sees the young woman. He yells to her, but she ignores him, and walks away. He then hears some kind of wailing outside of his room, and grabs a gun for protection. The door is locked, and he demands that it be opened or he’ll shoot through it at whoever is outside. It unlocks, but when he opens the door, no one is there in the hallway. He quickly searches the castle, thinking someone must be near, but finds no one. He then heads to another area of the castle, and sees the memorial for the Baron’s dead wife. As he heads back towards his room, he hears a noise that startles him. He opens the door, and jumps back, because he thinks he sees the young woman. Inside his room, he finds a picture of the woman, and wonders what is going on in this castle.

The next morning, the Baron tells Stefan that they must get Andre to leave, but without any shenanigans. Andre confronts Stefan, but when he gets no answers, he then goes to the Baron. After some verbal jousting, the Baron consents and tells Andre that his wife was a peasant girl from the village below. He left one day for a war, and then later returned home, unannounced. He found his wife with another man, so he killed her. He then tells him that Stefan killed her lover. He also admits that there is a spirit torturing him, and he thinks it’s the spirit of his dead wife. Andre is skeptical, but then the Baron asks if Andre thinks he’s mad. Andre replies that he doesn’t know what to think yet. The Baron tells him that since he has seen the woman also, maybe they’re both mad. And he says it with a smile.

 

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The following day, we see Gustaf, and he’s watching Ilsa standing by the sea. Gustaf tells the woman to go back to the sea, but she refuses, and tells Gustaf that the old woman commands her, and she’ll not relent until she tells her to. Ilsa also give Gustaf a warning to not interfere, or else the old woman won’t keep looking the other way. Speaking of the old woman, she’s back at her house, preparing a potion, and using  black magic on Ilsa. A man watches from the window, take sit all in. The man is Stefan, ans he comes inside, and threatens to kill her if she doesn’t leave by tomorrow night. Stefan returns to the castle, and tells the Baron that they should kill Andre. The Baron forbids it, and Stefan gets angry.

 

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Andre then begins to explore more of the castle, searching for Ilsa/Helene. He finds a room (possibly Stefan’s?), and begins to look for clues. He finds a pistol, and checks it out, but then turns his attention to the rest of the room. He then hears a door lock, and attempts to open it with no success. A voice then calls out to him, and he tries the door again, and it opens. As he looks for the woman, we see the Baron is nearby, and something is amiss. He hears a conversation, and bursts into the Baron’s room. No one is there beside the Baron. Stefan returns from the village with a horse for Andre, and he then asks him “who Eric is.” Stefan explains that he was Ilsa’s lover that he killed years ago. Meanwhile, out by the coastline, Gustaf is trying to help Andre, but that crazy hawk returns, and pecks his eyes out (image above)! he then tumbles down the cliff to his death. Andre tries to help, but Gustaf only has one gasp left in him, and he tells Andre to go back to the castle to help the woman.

 

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He does return, and find the girl, and we get another make-out scene ( no woman can resist 1960’s Jack!). Her plunging neckline nightie is enough to keep his attention, and she tells him that she cannot leave the castle until the crypt is destroyed. He begs her to come away with him, but she refuses out of fear. Cue another make-out scene, and they both declare their love for the other. As Andre tells her to wait there for him to return, he walks away, but when he looks back, she’s gone again. He enters the castle, and the Baron, unaware that he’s back, opens the same gate from the beginning of the movie. He then opens a secret passageway to another room, and Andre follows him. The Baron heads down into the basement, creeping further and further into the bowels, until he reaches the crypt. he talks to the coffin, and tells Ilsa that they’ll soon be together, because Stefan is going to flood the crypt and kill him. A voice cries out to him, and tells him that he must do something. Just then, Andre bursts into the room, and calls out to the woman. The Baron struggles to stop him, and faints from the excitement.

 

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Andre and Stefan head to the chapel, and then try to open the vault. It’s rusted shut, and they cannot open it. On their way to get a crowbar, they notice a light in the window of the former baroness’s window. They investigate, but have to break down the door to get in. Stefan warns Andre that the Baron won’t be happy about this, and just as they enter, the Baron shouts at them from behind. He’s got his pistol, and he orders Stefan to escort Andre out of the castle, and if he resists, to shoot him. His former wife shows up, and tells him to commit suicide. She tells him that they can be together again if he will. On the way out of the castle, Andre jumps Stefan, and knocks him unconscious.

I’ll stop here because to go further would be insanity!

OK, here are my thoughts:

Listen, for all those detractors out there, I get the criticisms about this movie. I cannot deny that the movie is sluggish, and doesn’t have the best acting, or sets, or special effects, or…OK, listen, Boris Karloff does a great job playing an old loony guy in a castle. There is a neat little twist at the end, and it will surprise anyone that watches this flick. It’s a total reversal of what is initially shown. The only problem I have is that there isn’t a true “villain” in the movie, or lost causes. Well, I guess the old hag is pretty much a villain, but she has motives beyond simple avarice or blood-lust.

The sets weren’t the best, but the old castle was pretty cool. It looked like something from a Tyburn or Amicus flick. You know, not quite Hammer but decent, nonetheless. The music score was actually pretty good, and we have Ronald Stein and Les Baxter to thank for that. Dick Miller plays a good henchman, and really adds just a bit of flavor to the film. Anybody that knows Corman, will be able to take into consideration that the guy made films for basically no budget, and reused everything including the kitchen sink. When you factor that in, you have to at least appreciate the film on those grounds. Nicholson was OK, but watching this movie now, after seeing many of his other films, I just can’t get into his character. He just isn’t very convincing.

Definitely give a click on the link below, because the film is public domain. Decide for yourself if it’s any good, but remember, Corman probably made this film for $50, and a few favors, so give the guy a break, huh?

 

Click here to watch the movie!