Sunday, October 31, 2010

Doctor Blood's Coffin (1961)

Notes: 10/31/10
British mystery thriller. Strange disappearances in town.
The nurse looks so old.
Peter? (Kieron Moore) Love the accent.
Very atmospheric. Creepy.
Love story on top of it with old nurse lady.
Peter is kind of attractive. Porn star attractive.
Sexual tension in the car. Uncomfortable and hot.
The music is pretty suspenseful. Maybe overwrought?
Umm whoa! Beating heart. Gross.
Very Hammer-inspired.

Review: C+
I had fun watching this one for Halloween. I think I had more fun taking notes than I did watching the movie. I wasn't sure what to expect, but it turned out to be a pretty decent blend of Hammer influence and Psycho's psychology. Atmospheric and creepy with an intriguingly creepy central character. Not all that memorable, but worth a look if you like your British crazy and frightened.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Creature from the Haunted Sea (1961)

Notes: 10/23/10
Ridiculous. Not really a horror film. More of a silly comedy with political subplots.
The narration is a kind of amusing.
Not very interesting to watch.
The monster is as silly as one would expect from a Roger Corman movie. Too bad it takes forever to show up.
Best part is definitely the finale.

Review: D+
Schlock-master Roger Corman is playing with genres here to make something other than a low-grade monster movie. In this case, the low-grade monster element turns out to be the most interesting part of the movie. Unfortunately, the monster scenes are relegated to the last five minutes of the movie, making this kind of a waste of time. Not really fun to watch, despite some amusing narration and another pretty ridiculous monster in Corman's menagerie.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Absent-Minded Professor (1961)

Notes: 10/23/10
Fred MacMurray is very likable to watch, even when playing immoral characters in Double Indemnity and The Apartment.
Enjoyable Disney. Good direction. Well shot.
Keenan Wynn makes a fun nemesis..
The flying car scene and the basketball game are pretty cool. Not bad special effects.
One enjoyable scene after another.
Fun without being hokey or overly-sentimental.

Review: B
Enjoyable live-action Disney with a delightful Fred MacMurray as the titular professor who invents a flying rubber known as flubber. Keenan Wynn is also fun as the businessman looking to cash in on the professor's creation. Lots of fun sequences, including a rousing basketball game and a late night ride in a flying Model T. Great for kids, without being too hokey or overly-sentimental for adults.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Homicidal (1961)

Notes: 10/22/10
Strange, unusual William Castle chiller. Creepy, kooky characters.
Shocking and bloody first death scene. Effectively shifts tone from kooky to frightening.
Elements of Psycho: title, driving scene after first murder, woman running away from crime, woman has a lot of cash with her, bathroom to wash blood off knife, hotel, staircase, invalid 'mother' figure
Richard Rust – cute in a John Ireland sort of way
Glenn Corbett – adorable
Fright break is rather amusing. 45 seconds of time provided prior to the film's finale for audience members to decide if they will be able to handle it..
Intriguing twist, in some ways. Homosexual/transsexual undertones.
Possibly the first Psycho rip-off/clone. Even the tacked on ending is lifted!

Review: B-
William Castle's psychological chiller is so obviously influenced by last year's Psycho that it's a bit difficult to fairly assess. To its credit, it does have an effectively frightening moment or two, and it has some rather unusual subtext that isn't as evident until the finale plays out. The dialogue and acting are probably the least interesting part of the movie, but the characters themselves have some interesting enough backstories and the staging is amply creepy to make it worth recommending. Not a classic, but certainly worth seeing for it's campy shock value.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Year Was 1960

I think the most fascinating era for film was the dawn of the 1960s to the fade out of the 1970s. I've only begun this era, but I'm already seeing how its effects have advanced film to where it is today. Last year, I finished up the 1950s and headed straight into 1960 without a thought. One year later, I'm about to finish up 1960 with an exciting new outlook.

I haven't really found many stand-out American films that year, but those I did find didn't really seem to gain recognition until years later. Most of my favorites are from foreign lands. The most prominent of these is Breathless, the film that made the world notice the French New Wave. Breathless is so brazen that it requires repeat viewings. It's like nothing ever made before. I watched it on DVD and then, months later, on the big screen in New York City (where many saw it for the very first time 50 years earlier).  Other foreign films that stood out to me were Hiroshima, Mon Amour, L'Avventura, Le Trou, Kapo, Never on Sunday, and The Virgin Spring. 

Above all, however, the one 1960 film that ranks as my favorite does happen to be American; Alfred Hitchcock's classic Psycho. The film has been hailed and praised by many for years now, but as I watched it alongside other titles from that year, I couldn't help but notice how it stands so tall above the rest. Beautifully shot in creepy black and white, Psycho has so many memorable scenes that mesmerize and terrorize.  Hitchcock is my favorite film director and he really knew how to push the envelope in a way that thoroughly entertained an audience.

I'm going to be starting 1961 sometime next week. I'm pretty excited to see where the decade is heading in terms of movie styles and techniques. I feel that movies are about to mature and that international flavor will continue to dominate.