Archive for the '50’s b-movies' Category

Feb

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“Never fall asleep in a jacuzzi”

I remember looking forward to the arrival of the spring county fair. The crowds, the smell of the deep fried meat by-products and the eventual sugar coma I got from the elephant ears. Traveling down the row of colorful tents, the carnies would try to hussle you and you’d inevitably fall victim to spending $50 for a $2 stuff animal. Well worth the cost to impress your date with your amazing athletic ability to toss an oversized softball into a fruit basket (it really is harder than it looks.) Of course the big attraction were those crazy rides of the midway. Suspiciously held together by just a rusty bolt and a lock pin, your life hidged on the safety expertise of the greasy haired guy operating the speed dial below. You know, the guy with the two missing front teeth and bottle of Jack Daniels in his front pocket laughing maniacally as he spins you around to unconciousness. Tilt-a-hurl…the Toboggan Run to the Bathroom… all with their own blaring hard rock sound tracks. Midway rides were your quickest way to both deafness and dizziness so my favorite ride had to be the fun house. Sitting in that little two seat metal death trap that resembled those old motorcycle sidecars you’d experience the combination of dread and excitement as a chain driven track would drag you away to it’s mysterious dark world.  Warnings sprawled in dripping neon paint telling you to “turn back now before it’s too late” or “beware of vampires” as you were greated by plastic skeletons popping up via air hydraulics and creepy things dropping and buzzing from the ceilings. You’d be ducking from side to side as lumbering zombies and giant styrofoam demon heads would lurch at you as you passed by until you finally emerged back safely into the real world. Sure it wasn’t exactly blood curdling terror but it was a fun goofy ride that put a smile on your face. 

1959’s House on Haunted Hill had this same sort of campy horror charm of a funhouse ride. An eceentric millionaire Frederick Loren played by Vincent Price invites 5 strangers to stay locked in a haunted house. If they make it through the night they’ll get $10,000 each which was a pretty good chunk of change back then. His wife Annabell (Carol Ohmart) is his cold hearted back stabbing wife who suggested the idea to throw his little haunted party. Why he’d listen to someone who tried to poison him earlier in their marriage is beyond me but this is his 4th marriage so he’s probably already used to parting with his money. The greedy guests not fearful of voluntary imprisonment from a stranger arrive at the home which resembles more a roadside motor lodge  than a haunted house. There’s the quintessential hero test pilot, Lance, a fragile nerved typist, Nora, a uptight psychiatrist, Dr. Trent and Ruth whose a chain smoking gossip columnist with gambling addiction. Aren’t all gossip columninst chains smoking gamblers? Watson Pritchard The owner of the house is also in the contest. He’s a bug eyed little man whose love of alcohol can only be matched by his absolute fear of the supernatural as he constantly whines about how the ghosts in the house are going to kill them all.  As the evening festivities begin which mostly consists of a lot of scotch drinking and cigarette smoking, Fredrick gives everyone a handgun in their own limited edition collector coffin holster. Always a good idea to give paranoid drunks some loaded guns in a haunted house. What could go wrong?

 Pritchard proceeds to tell heart warming bedtime stories of how countless people were butchered in the house and pieces were found everywhere except the heads. I sometimes can’t find my car keys so I could see how that could happen. Curiousity gets the best of Nora and Lance as they start snooping around the basement where they encounter dead flattened rats, an in-ground swimming pool of acid and a creepy old witch who glides around on roller skates. They return to their rooms only to find that Annabell supposedly committed suicide swinging from the rafters like a pinata. Later on she makes a cameo outside Nora’s window performing her vegas magic show of levitation and rope tricks. Ceilings start dripping blood, severed heads start popping up in closets and people get accidentally shot. It’s just another typical typical night in L.A. There’s a few interesting plot twist along the way but the movie degrades down into a kill by the numbers murder mystery. It’s capped off with a dissapointing ending that makes you feel like you were told you’d be getting a free dessert after a good meal only to find out they ran out of pie and it was closing time.

Whether House on Haunted Hill deserved its status as a frightful cult classic by today’s standards is debatable but for the time it was a campy funhouse style film that used some great gimmicks both on and off screen to give it’s audiences a few good jumps. The director, Mr. Castle was known for doing this sort of schlock-o-rama movie liked rigging electrical buzzers to the theater chairs for a nice jolt during “The Tingler” or in the case of “House on Haunted Hill”  had plastic skeletons on wires to float mysteriously above the audience during the humorous walking skeleton scene coining the term emote-o-rama. Special nominations go to Elisha Cook Jr.  who plays the house owners for uttering the obvious lines “These guns are no good against the dead, only the living”  and to the immortal Vince Price who had such great lines as “Remember the fun we had when you poisioned me?” Vince you were a fine wine in a horror film surrounded by cheese. You will be missed.


-Squished rats
-Blood oozing ceilings
-Gratutious scotch drinking
-Disembodied floating head monologues
-Creepy witches on rollerskates
-Head-in-a-box surprise
-Coffin gun holsters
-Gold diggin’ pinatas
-Acid bone cleaner
-Skeleton puppet shows

rated 7.6 out of 10

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Dec

posted by admin | December 7, 2008 | 50's b-movies, Horror movies, Review by Barry Goodall

Comments Off on A Bucket of Blood


who cut the cheese?

“Who would stab this helpless wedge of cheese? A shameless cheese cutter?!!”

When I was a student designer in college, one of my required classes was sculpting. As a young illustrator I went in a bit cocky thinking that I could create the next masterpiece simply by closing my eyes and molding the clay into a work of perfection. Or maybe I could be like Patrick Swayze in the movie “Ghost” and show my lady my sensual fruit bowl making skills except without the whole getting shot and being stuck with Whoopi Golburg as my post-death translator. My sculptures actually looked a bit more like a deranged Gumby or a Mr. Bill on a good day (after he got ran over by the steamroller.) But I persevered in a sort of horrifying dedication to congealed mud expressionism. The only perk you’d get was the  occassional female nude models that would pose for the class. You’d think that would be a great opportunity for us horny college guys to gawk at some of the finest female figures higher education has to offer. Well, these ladies were getting paid student rates so at best you got a large burly women who believes in the “all natural” look. Something a economy tub of Nare will barely make a dent into. I learned quickly that I was no Michelangelo and my sculptures would take a turn for the worst in not studying the delicate features of Lumber Jack Janice. My sad attempt at fine art turned out to be more of unintentional abstract expressionism. “You see the one leg is longer that the other to represent woman’s plight in societal oppression…errr.” “Uhhh…note how the face is lopsided…an obvious portrayal of humanities self reflection of it’s own inner turmoil…”  I never did end up wearing a beret or swilling wine at the latest art gallery opening but I did learn that clay is hard to clean out from under your fingernails and that if you’re going to get paid to be nude it better be at a bar with a 2 drink minimum.

Walter Paisley (Dick Miller) knows what it means to be a struggling artist. He works days as a bus boy at a beatnik bar/art gallery then at night likes to work a bit on his art career. He’s not the sharpest tool in tool shed though when he inadvertently stabs his land lady’s dimwitted cat who got stuck in his wall again. Consumed with a lack of talent and a deep hatred of PETA, he slaps some clay on the carcus and calls it art hoping to impress his beatnik peers. The owner of the gallery and fellow beatniks love his new masterpiece hailing him a genius and throwing him a party where they dress him up like a king and write him poems. It’s like his own personal Renaissance fair. Everyone is excited to see his next piece completely unaware of it’s ghoulish creamy nugget center, so Walter starts offing people left and right to put together a quick exhibition. Also a benefit of becoming a murderous psychotic artist is you can finally wear that beret and gay neck scarf you’ve had your eye on. Walter’s sculpture range from “Undercover Police Guy I hit with frying pan” to “Naked bimbo I invited over and then choked the life out of her.” But probably his best piece is “Some dude working on a table saw in the alley that I decapitated.” It was not only his best piece but the easiest to transport and makes an excellent table center piece.

 

heads up

The gallery’s owner soon discovers Walter’s little secret but wimps out in not calling the police and instead just acts akward around Walter and sweats a lot. The big art exhibition starts off well until the guests start fiddling with the sculptures discovering the grisly secret under their surface. Did somebody forgot to put out the do not touch signs the night before? Meanwhile Walter has confessed his love for one of the beatnick chicks, Carla, and nothing says love more than involuntary taxidermy, but she “ain’t into that scene can you dig?” so Walter ends up chasing Carla and a angry mob ends up chasing Walter. Carla must have been training for a triathlon because Walter gives up the chase and tries to hide in his apartment…nobody will EVER think of looking for him there. The tragic and ironic ending only emphasis the evils of play-dough but is also a testament to incompetent gallery owners everywhere. 

Roger Corman wrote and directed this 50’s flick. The man is a machine whose been turning out films since the dawn of celluloid and truly is the king of b-movies. One of his tammer and shorter films but surprisingly entertaining with a bit of a hitchcock flavor to it. Retroman Steve says check it out and be sure to bring your pottery wheel.

Roadside Attractions

-1 frying pan to the head
-1 chick chokin’
– Cat-atonic
– Extreme neck scarves
– Orson Wells beatnik poets
– Corpse drop ceilings
– Beatnik civil war actors
– Play-dough of death
– Table saw decapitation

rated 7.3 out of 10 for the movie

“No clay was harmed in the filming of this movie. Well maybe except for Clay Aikens.”

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