Monday, February 19, 2018

"He Probably Took Them on an Impromptu Picnic" - The Children (1980)

(Note: This post is a contribution to The Deadly Doll's House of Horror Nonsense's 8th annual The Shortening, which celebrates the shortest month by covering "films that deal with vertically challenged villains." This film, The Children, was covered on that blog here in 2010.)

We turn our attention to Max Kalmanowicz's The Children (1980), one of the most fondly remembered--and rightfully so--horror films of the early 1980s. Unfortunately, I have found that, inexplicably, not all of your universe's critics appreciate this suburban nightmare.

Here are some of the most blatantly ignorant reviews I have found of The Children. Reviewer schmecking writes, "The characters weren't interesting, the movie gets tedious and it didn't have any momentum." Reviewer duke1907 writes, "I couldn't believe that I had waited 26 years to see such a bad movie.... The effects are horrible. There wasn't a single scene that was scary." Reviewer trishaade writes, "The ending was so very predictable, made no sense within the context of the movie and was really a huge disappointment. Plot holes abounded and much was left unexplained. It definitely could have been better written."

Suffice it to say all these misgivings about the film are entirely incorrect. Let us look at the film in some detail to contravert such delusional fallacies.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Buster's Blockbusters: The Commercial Success of Buster Keaton's Features

This post is part of Fourth Annual Buster Keaton Blogathon hosted by Silent-ology.

The popularity of Buster Keaton's silent features has waxed and waned over the decades since they were created nearly a century ago, but how were they received when they were first released?

Monday, February 12, 2018

"I Have a Magnificent View of the Canyon" - Godmonster of Indian Flats (1973)

It is time to turn our attention to artist Fredric Hobbs's final film, Godmonster of Indian Flats (1973), a well mounted combination of Western and monster movie that for some reason is not as revered in your universe as it most definitely should be.

For example, reviewer emm writes, evocatively to be sure, "It's another no-budget creation that is by far remaining to be extremely unusual to this day....It also has what may very well be the looniest, dumbest ending ever recorded on film!" Reviewer PaJRJ writes, "This is an awful movie that takes itself way to[o] seriously." Reviewer Michael_Elliott writes, "Yes the acting, directing, cinematography, music score and everything else here is simply bad but you expect that out of a movie like this."

All of these reviews, and more, are entirely wrong about the film. It is clearly not a "no-budget creation," it does not take itself seriously as it is filled with humor, and the acting, directing, cinematography, and music are highly professional. I can only respond by pointing out the many positive qualities of this powerful and artistic film, so please read on...

Monday, February 5, 2018

"Here Comes the Busby Berkeley Quartet" - For Love or Murder (1970)

It is time to discuss Theodore Gershuny's existential crime film For Love or Murder (1970), known originally as Kemek, the only film as far as I know to combine the titanic acting talents of the great Al (David) Hedison and the even greater Mary Woronov.

It is difficult to find reviews of Kemek on the internet, so I will assume that it is considered a classic by most critics, who simply declined to review it because everyone considers it such. However, I did find one negative review on IMDB: Mike17 calls the film, "An exasperatingly bad film with a generic plot about a mad scientist's mind-controlling drug." (Although Mike17's conclusion is erroneous, I must give him credit for inferring that the drug in the film is a mind-controlling drug, as that is something I must have missed).

In any case, it is time to look at For Love or Murder in great detail so we may appreciate its excellence.

Monday, January 29, 2018

"Things That Go Beep and Buzz" - Death Spa (1989)

The late 1980s were a high water mark for devotees of neon-infused horror movies, and few films are as neon-infused as the remarkable Death Spa (1989), a combination of Hitchcockian suspense, American giallo, supernatural thrills, and 12-inch computer monitors.

Many of your universe's top critics fail to appreciate the qualities of Death Spa. For example, the renowned writer shark-43, on IMDB, writes that Death Spa consists of a "ridiculous script, bad acting, lame music and horrible directing." Similarly, revronster writes, "'Death Spa' is terribly made and is filled with bad acting, atrocious editing, a story that pretty much makes no logical sense and terrible practical effects and death sequences." Finally, adriangr writes, "Death Spa has forgettable characters (several of whom look the same), confusing motivations, a really silly true culprit, and really bad gore scenes." I must say this last sentence is unusual in that it is entirely wrong. None of the characters look remotely similar, their motivations are clearer than clear, the culprit is frightening, and the gore scenes are tremendous.

I suppose the only way to counter the critics' ridiculous assertions is to review the brilliant cinematic tour de force that is Death Spa.

Monday, January 22, 2018

"No Tricks, No Goober Dust" - Grave of the Vampire (1972)

We do not review many vampire films here at Senseless Cinema, in part because there are few that reach the cinematic heights of the classics we cover. However, some vampire films do display cinematic excellence, and at the forefront of that group is 1972's Grave of the Vampire, starring the reliable Michael Pataki of Graduation Day (1981) fame.

On IMDB, soulexpress writes, "a lame script, horrendous acting, cut-rate sets, ludicrous props, humdrum camera work, a grating (though occasionally effective) score, machete- styled editing, riotously bad sound effects, and one of the most predictable "surprise" endings I've ever seen." Reviewer mark.waltz, perhaps unfairly, writes that the film gave him "the urge to burn the four film DVD it is on to prevent this from getting into further hands." Reviewer GL84 writes that the film is "hindered by the inane and wholly illogical romance subplot that doesn't do the film any favors at all."

Of course, all these opinions are entirely misguided. We must recount the narrative of the film in order to demonstrate its classic qualities.

Monday, January 15, 2018

"I Got a Hang-Up About Your Hang-Ups" - Point of Terror (1971)

Today we look at an underappreciated drama classic from the early 1970s, Point of Terror.

Reviewer weho90069 writes, "Everything about this film is a howler: script, acting, production values (tin-foil sets), and the music...the music...oh, those songs!" Michael_Elliott says, "The film is bad enough to get a few laughs, especially the look at the bar, which seems to be decorated out of colored tin foil. Point of Terror fails on all other levels but I'd recommend you giving the soundtrack to someone you really hate." Reviewer Coventry writes, "Irredeemably bad & cheesy 70's horror (if you can call it horror...)....unendurably boring trash with a completely uninteresting plot."

As usual, these insults cannot stand. Prepare for the high drama and thrills of Point of Terror.

Monday, January 8, 2018

"My Sister Had Eyes Like Yours. She's Dead Now" - Graduation Day (1981)

One rule that holds across the universes is the fact that there are not many auteurs named Herb. Therefore, we need to cherish those we have. Perhaps the most accomplished of these unsung heroes is Herb Freed, director of Haunts (1977) and the topic at hand, the classic slasher film Graduation Day (1981).

As usual, many of your universe's top critics misunderstand Mr. Freed's genius. Reviewer capkronos writes, "GRADUATION DAY is not a 'good' or original film by any stretch." Reviewer FilmFatale writes, "Pretty lame and awful slasher about someone killing the members of a high school track team....Graduation Day fails to deliver on most counts." Finally, reviewer rott21, grading the film D-, writes, "This is one of the worst slasher movies that i have seen for a slowwwww and boringggggg."

Let us now turn to an in-depth discussion of director Herb Freed's Graduation Day.

Monday, January 1, 2018

"Asking Picasso to Paint Your Car" - Nightmares in a Damaged Brain (1981)

While 1981's Nightmares in a Damaged Brain (aka Nightmare, but I will use the more evocative title) is a slasher film of some renown in many quarters, there are misguided critics who fail to see its sophisticated qualities. For example, reviewr preppy-3 writes, “There's next to no plot, no brains, no nothing! I was equal parts bored, sickened and just amazed at how STUPID this was!” Reviewer Prismark10 writes, “Its an ultra low budget, seedy film but also dull….A lot of it is just boring with the older George in white underpants distressed and having bouts of screaming. In fact there are a lot of guys in white underpants in this film.” Finally, Rich Wright says, “Yep, this is a disjointed effort indeed, with a meandering story full of weird goings-on.”

I will give Mr. Wright points for his use of the term "goings-on," but I must differ with these reviewers because Nightmares in a Damaged Brain is not only a superior slasher film but an incisive critique of American culture in the early 1980s, approaching the sophistication of The Bees (1978), though substituting that film's images of John Saxon in a karate gi with images of actor Baird Stafford in what are colloquially called tighty-whities. Please read on...

Monday, December 25, 2017

"Curious and Curiouser, More and More, All the Time" - Dark Sanity (1982)

We now discuss yet another underrated film about murder, psychic visions, alcoholism, and developmentally delayed gardeners, director Martin Green's evocatively titled Dark Sanity (1982). This film, set in Los Angeles in the early 1980s, features the redoubtable Aldo Ray in a supporting role, and we all know Mr. Ray's presence is a mark of quality (see also Don't Go Near the Park, 1979 and Haunts, 1977).

As usual, some esteemed reviewers misunderstand the importance and quality of Dark Sanity. On IMDB, reviewer capkronos calls the film “slow moving, poorly made and pretty boring.” BA_Harrison writes, “A meandering mediocre mystery featuring very little gore and zero scares, Dark Sanity is humdrum stuff.” Brando5092 calls it “very low budget (as you can tell by the quality of the film and the way it looks like it was shot using less than standard film) and for the most part poorly acted.” I must disagree with each component of these terrible reviews (including the one about being shot using less than standard film), and again I am forced to counter the reviews with an in-depth discussion about the quality of the film in question. Please read on...

Monday, December 18, 2017

"He's a Strange Type. I Guess All Scientists Are" - Burial Ground (1985)

While Andrea Bianchi's classic zombie film Burial Ground (1985) aka The Nights of Terror aka Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror is appreciated by the finer critics of your universe, I have found some reviewers who, as usual, miss the point entirely.

On IMDB, reviewer signalelectric writes, "This movie has almost no directorial style, and the class equivalent of an 80's porno movie." Uriah43 writes, "I thought it went on way too long and I was totally bored about halfway through. I rate it as below average." Jonny_Numb writes, "Avoid this at all costs, unless you're VERY undiscriminating toward the genre."

For those who are discriminating toward (or at least in the general direction of) the zombie film genre, I must correct these critics and describe how Burial Ground serves as one of the finest examples of that very genre.