Thursday, October 28, 2010

Overlooked Horror Movies

I've seen a few lists of best and scariest horror movies. There are a few that have been overlooked.

Black Sunday - 1960. I've always been hard to scare but I watched this movie alone at night when I was around 13 and it scared the crap out of me. My wife who saw it at the same time with friends and it scared them, also (and they were two years older).

The movie stars Barbara Steele in dual roles as a witch and as her decedent. It was an Italian production at a high point in Italian movies.

It begins with the witch being executed by having a spiked iron mask driven into her face. She was supposed to be burned after that but a rainstorm put out the flames. She was buried in a tomb in a stone coffin with a cross on top and a window so that her corpse could see the cross.

Two centuries later a pair of doctors are on their way to a convention when their carriage loses a wheel. While waiting for it to be repaired, the doctors explore the witch's tomb. A bat attacks the older one and he tries to hit it with his cane, breaking the cross and the window. He reaches through the window and takes the mask as a souvenir but he cuts himself in the process and a drop of blood drips onto the witch's dried-up remains. This is enough to revive the witch a bit. She brings her servant back to life.

The doctors have taken rooms for the night. The servant poses as a messenger for the local noble and summons the older doctor and leads him through the castle. He does not notice it but he has been led into a secret passage.

The doctor stops to look at some old furniture. The servant with the lantern continues on for a ways. When the doctor catches up he finds the lantern floating. He reaches for it but it drops, leaving him in the dark.

There is a door but it opens into the tomb and the door to the outside is swinging shut. He rushes to it but is too late. Then the door he entered through swings shut. Trapped in the tomb the witch's coffin starts to vibrate then explodes, exposing the partly restored witch.

I'll leave off the description from there.

The Others - 2001. This movie is best seen in a dark theater. That's how I saw it. The audience was mesmerized. In the light with people talking you completely lose the tense atmosphere.

The movie is about a woman and her children living in a haunted house on an island off the British coast just after World War II. Nichole Kidman stars as the mother who is so tightly wound you expect her to snap any moment.

Son of Dracula - 1943. This is a real oddity for 1940s vampire movies. There is no real heroine and the hero is insane by the end of the movie. While poor by today's standards, this movie is the first to show Dracula changing into a bat or a mist. Lon Chaney Jr. as the Count makes no attempt to imitate Bela Legosi. Still, it is one of his better roles. He is much more impressive as the Count than the tortured Wolfman.

The Beast of Morocco - 1968. Not even IMDB has much information on this movie except that it was an independent production. It is sort of a cross between the movie She and a vampire movie with an ageless vampire queen living in the desert. By day she has to take shelter but at night she comes back to life and the ruins of her palace are whole again. Will the hero join her in her half-life? Does he even want to?

No comments: