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Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Amazing Mr. X (1948)

Hell o Prisoners

Time for Disc #2, Movie #4, 50 Horror Classics

"I live by feeding people's desires to escape the present." Alexis--The Amazing Mr. X


Eagle Lion Films, Inc.
Presents
Director Bernard Vorhaus'
The Amazing Mr. X
1948



Christine (Lynn Bari), wealthy widow and socialite, lives with her younger sister, Janet, (Cathy O'Donnell) in a coastal mansion on cliff, but she just can’t seem to get over her husband, Paul, (Donald Curtis) who’s been "dead" for two years. It doesn't help that she hears him calling to her in the waves (and from the hidden electronic equipment he’s set up in the basement below). 

As she walks along the beach, she meets a mysterious man in suit and tie, Alexis (Turhan Bey), leaning against the rocks. He seems to know all about her, and may be in a position to help her reach her dead husband. He disappears as suddenly as he appeared, and she can't shake the feeling that she should seek him out just in case he can help her. It seems he's the only one who understands. 

Her would-be suitor, Martin (Richard Carlson), an all to logical attorney, certainly doesn't. In fact he believes she should stop pining away over Paul, whether it be with him or someone else. But with that said, he's still determined to help console her grieving and delusions. 

Alexis, The Amazing Mr. X, turns out to be a seer, but not a very good one. His talents consist of nothing more than props and gadgets and simple magic tricks. He's all about conning Christine, a wealthy mixed up widow who lives in a mansion on the beach, and better yet, he has a bonus in the form of her naive little sister who along with Martin want to get to the bottom of Christine's odd behavior and her belief that Alexis can indeed raise Paul from the dead. 

But his plan soon backfires when Janet, who visits Alexis undercover as "Mrs. Charles Harper", soon falls under the charms of The Amazing Mr. X, when he plays to her vulnerabilities, the vulnerabilities of all young women, that she is indeed far more mature than most her age, or the older boys, and even her sister, of whom she has always been a tad jealous. However, Paul isn't dead at all, and really does show up at one of Alexis' seances, much to his surprise. 

You see, Alexis isn't the only con man on the bill. Paul isn't dead at all. He is merely "technically dead". The body found in his car, was none other than his first wife, who tried to pull her inheritance from ever reaching his bank account, once she saw through his scheme. He recognizes an opportunity when he sees it, so he blackmails Alexis to continue with his scam but on a higher level. The Amazing Mr. X must marry Janet. Paul will have easier access to the fortune through the young woman, and after all, she is too young and naive to be of any threat.  If Alexis wants to stay out of jail, he'll have to go along with it. but he is not in the murdering business. He's a simple charlatan, not a murderer. He doesn't want to hurt these women. He just wants to rip them off.  

Now he must watch as Paul gaslights Christine with the intent of eventually offing her, which he almost succeeds in doing in the best scene of the movie. He has Emily (Virginia Gregg), his accomplice who is posing as the resident maid, drug her warm milk before Christine retires. And then through a microphone and speakers hidden in the chimney in her bedroom, Paul coaxes her to the balcony and down the stairs to the cliffs, upon which they used to race. "Last one there is a coward" she mumbles. And through warped vision she makes her way down, fully seeing Paul in the lead, but she's high, and she trips and falls and rolls head over heals down this massive cliff. I have to say, the stunt was awesome. Alexis, wooing Janet on the beach, turns out to be more of a man than we thought, and saves her.  

Through drugs and The Amazing Mr. X, Paul speaks from the shadows, on the piano, and through seance. But Janet isn't as stupid as he thinks, in fact he's the stupid one. He should be more careful when he is speaking through his microphone filling Christine's room with his words and recorded music. 

Don't you just hate it when you're trying to gaslight someone with an LP recording and the darn thing skips? This alerts Janet who is holding vigil next to Christine's bed after her fall, and she makes her way towards the sound, towards the chimney, and once she looks inside and up, she spies the speakers. 

Down to the basement she goes and finds Alexis. While confronting him, Paul walks in. But when Paul aims a gun at Janet, Alexis tunes into his "kinder side" once more, and they grapple. The gun goes off. The Amazing Mr. X has been shot. Janet runs for the phone, but before Paul has a chance to cut the wires, Martin hears a scream. All the commotion brings Christine downstairs as well, but when Paul tries to kill both women, Alexis uses his last bit of strength to take him down. The sirens approach, and Martin and the police arrive in time to see Janet saying her good byes to her beloved, Alexis, who was indeed falling for the lovely young lady. He whispers to her, "Do not dwell on the past." 
The End

Although the ending was a pretty good segway to a sequel, thank God they spared us.

What begins with the makings for a pretty decent horror film: a raven's caw, a mansion on a cliff, whispers heard in the crashing waves, a gnarled tree on the sand, a man who appears out of nowhere to a vulnerable widow who wishes her dead husband will return, and a dark and mystifying tone, turns out to nothing more than a charlatan who feeds on people’s desires to escape the present by seemingly raising the dead and in turn gets caught up in the life of an egotistical murderous wretch who marries women for their money. Excuse me for saying...A Classic Horror Film should have real seers or real dead raising...or both.

I hesitate to give this film even one flame on the flame scale. I don’t think it’s much of a horror film. Let alone a Classic horror film. Granted their was an ominous mansion on a cliff, and Christine's gowns flowed in the marine breeze no less so than the Bride of Frankenstein’s in her castle, but it wasn't scary. Not even the apparition. I did like one thing about it, though, well, besides the cliff fall, the mansion, and the tresses and dresses, it was the tracers during the seance. They were cool. When the hands appeared over the girls' heads and moved from side to side, they left tracers. Kind of reminded me of one night in high school when the leaves in the trees had tracers as well. But that's enough about that. Yes. The tracers the hands left were truly a sight to behold, albeit, maybe not enough to watch the film. Unless, of course, you are particularly in need of tracers or find seeing them nostalgic, as I do.

So since there were some scary elements, even if they were sketchy scary elements, The Amazing Mr. X., (released as The Spiritualist in the United Kingdom), I believe, warrants at least one flame. I certainly wouldn’t consider this a “Horror Classic”, by any means, but at least it wasn't a Crime/Adventure like The World Gone Mad and Swamp Women.

Next time it’s Dead Man Walk (1943), and I sure I hope they do! Even though I’m not a Zombie gal, as I've said before, at least I could call it Horror! Until Next time…Keep those fires stoked!

Eternally Yours
Warden Stokely

Saturday, December 21, 2013

And we have a winner....FREDDY? Seriously?

Hell o Prisoners!


Thanks to all of you who voted for MICHAEL, Jason, and Freddy! Michael was like that race horse who had the lead till the finish line, and then in the final stretch was beat by a razor sharp finger nail. What a world! As the wicked witch says. I appreciate your votes, even if I'm in mourning thi 'smorning with the outcome. To all you die hard Michael fans? Let's wear black today. Well, more black then usual. Maybe black with a little red...and a white mask with holes for eyes...and a plumber's jumper...and carry a nice sharp butcher's knife...just in case YOU SEE A FREDDY FAN!  Oh, and I suppose I can't leave out all FIVE of you Jason fans! lol. No wonder they are making another installment and published a beautifully done, I might add, coffee table book.


Maybe if they keep trying, they'll be able to stab it like they did the first time. What is it now, 14? Even though they are the clear LOSERS in my poll, I can't knock them for their tenacity!


The whole day is not an entire loss, however. Classic Gothic films won out Slasher by a razor thin line. So I'll add a little white with my black today. 

All in all, for my first poll, I'm thrilled and chilled with the number of votes, even if there were only 24 votes in 180 days, and Michael didn't win. Next poll I'm shooting for 25! So for all of you die hard Michael fans, like Holly over at Holly's Horrorland! This ones for you! Better than a Bud any day. 







And yes. I do like Rob Zombie and Sheri Moon. Cute as a spider. Until next time...Keep those fires stoked! I'll get to The Amazing Mr. X ones of these days. Classic work avoidance, I know, just can't wait till I run into another five flamer on my 50 Horror Classics 5 disc set! There have been three, and I have like 37 to go, so I have hope! Just like the Jason fans (lol), and even if Freddy did win.....

Eternally Yours
Warden Stokely

ps And not to discourage all of you Freddy fans from voting next time...but can I say all you winners are losers? I mean seriously, Freddy doesn't have the balls to kill you when you're awake! Has to wait till you're asleep. What a...kitten. hah.


Monday, December 16, 2013

Colin Clarke's Witchfinder (2013)

Hell o Prisoners

Since many of my "50 Horror Classics" are, like Brandon over at Movies at Dog Farm noted, neither Horror or Classic, I think we all need a diversion.


Daredevil Films
Presents
Director Colin Clarke's
Witchfinder (2013)



Daredevil Films' Colin Clarke takes us back to New England for a little magic and a witch fry, circa 17th century Salem.


Rule #2 (Rule #1 Always pack a Swiss Army Knife, in case you break down in a remote area, and some psycho wants to kill you, as in Peter Duke's Alone.) Think twice before asking a Dark Witch to improve your love life--You may just end up dangling from the end of a rope.


Rule #3 Think thrice before hammering a metal mask onto a witch and then burning her---you might lose your loved ones.


Witchfinder delighted me in more ways then one. You can have your vampires and zombies; I like witches...at a distance, of course, or on the TV, Laptop, or Big Screen, especially 17th Century witches in New England. I think most of them got a bad rap, as many weren't witches at all, but not this one. You knew this Dark Witch (Valerie Meachum) was bad news from the moment she wiped goo all over John Hawthorne's (Travis Worthey) face when he came to her seeking help in ways of the heart. But before the spell is cast, Witchfinder William Thatcher Blake (Dave Juehring) bursts in, and the next Hawthorne knows, he's dangling from the end of a rope, Blake's cursed, and the Dark Witch is wearing a metal mask and burning at the stake. 


This is not your average iron mask. Who needs clasps in the back when you have four inch nails protruding from it's underside--a couple where the eyes go, and well, isn't that enough? And what better way to fasten it then by whacking it with a wooden mallet? Streams of blood ran freely from her iron eyes. Truly made me cringe and watch with one eye closed, either out of horror or sympathy pains, I'm not sure.


After a rough night and a long day's ride, Blake makes it home. But while settling down for a good nights sleep, his wife Sarah (Nicole Kilmer) starts gasping for breath, coughs up blood, and drops dead. Shortly thereafter the witch returns, and if the mask scene wasn't grim enough, we meet little Mary, (Chloe Konieczki) whose makeup is second only to her acting, and in my opinion the little darling steals the show. Like a cat sucking the air from a baby, Mary's breath becomes labored. Each of her gasps for air takes my breath away, and then in her father's arm's she breathes her last. Her head falls back, and with eyes fully open she dies. I believe we will be seeing much more from little Chloe Konieczki. 


Witchfinder is not just straight horror, though. Colin provides us with a reprieve, allows us to catch our breath, so to speak, between the witch fry and the chaos of Blake's wife and child dying before his eyes, with the Witchfinder's ride home. I don't know where you picked up that horse Colin, but he/she was a beaut. I was truly mesmerized by its gait, main, tale, and sheen. Your groom oughta get a raise. Just watching Blake riding through the woods with the bare trees, and the cinematic grays, was beautiful. All in all, like James from Behind the Couch (one of my favorite places to hide!) wrote, more or less, There was a lot packed in to this 18 minute film, and Colin, I'll add, you used ever minute of it, including the opening and closing credits, which were just as mesmerizing as Blake's trip through the woods. What a joy.....Thanks for giving me a snapshot into an era near and dear to my heart, and hooking me up with your short. Now for your viewing pleasure, here's the trailer and a link to the movie over at Popcorn Horror.



Until next time...Keep those fires stoked!

Eternally Yours
Warden Stokely

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The World Gone Mad (1933)

Hell o Prisoners

Time for Disc #2, Movie #3, 50 Horror Classics


Majestic Pictures Corp.

Presents

Christy Cabbane's
The World Gone Mad (1933)

Well, Prisoners, here we go again. THIS IS NOT A HORROR PICTURE EITHER! I AM BEGINNING TO THINK THAT I HAVE BEEN DUPED! This is a crime film with your typical fast talking press agent on a mission. He and his buddy, the new D.A., try to figure out who took down the old D.A, uncovering high society Wall Street stock mongers have embezzled their own company's stock to invest in a pyramid scheme. The End. 

In short, I found the speed of the dialogue simply too fast to pick up. I'm either deaf, a dumb ass, just plain slow, or they just talk too damn fast. That seemed to be quite the trend in the 30s. Press agents that talk too damn fast. Slow the hell down, so I don't have to rewind every 20 seconds. It makes a 1.5 hour movie last about 3 hours, which wouldn't be so bad, if the movie was great, but it wasn't! OR it wouldn't have been so bad, if it was A HORROR MOVIE! But it wasn't! So I muddled through three hours thinking, Damn it! Hurry the hell up, because I have to write a post about how I can't write a post on a horror movie....AGAIN! 

The good parts, well, and I hate to mention it now (maybe I should close with it. Naw, I've already started), but there was one scene between the press agent and his assistant, which was pretty entertaining, because their banter back and forth was so quick and on cue, problem was, I don't know what the hell they said, but it sounded funny. Another thing were the dresses, slinky and satin, the classic 30s hairdos (love them)-- the way it's just flat to the head, shiny, smooth, with little waves. My mom, rest her soul, was in her teens about then, and she said, to do that you put your finger on your hair at the top, and pushed it up towards your crown or towards the back of your head, and then inserted a bobby pin. You just kept doing that till it was wavy all the way down. I'm not sure how to explain it really, but I've tried it, and well, it didn't work. hahaha. MOM! And, if I may digress for just a moment...and this is not a generalization of all women, just most women....Back in the day, women took a lot more time to make sure they looked nice. Now granted, these girls are actresses with a costume designer and a make up artist, but my mother and her sister and her mother, my Nana, rest her soul, always looked as nice as they could. They didn't go out in sweats with their hair tied up in a messy bun donning slippers or shabby shoes. Women now, not all, of course, are lazy! Just plain lazy! Get up earlier and wash your face and brush your hair and put on some clean clothes and shoes for goodness sakes! And maybe a little lip color or mascara. But back to what I liked. Oh yes, sheez, here I go again, their boobs. haha. Maybe I'm just a boob gal. Hell, Idk. lol. I don't seem to notice them so much in the horror movies. Maybe I just have nothing else to focus on in these crime movies. ug. Anywho, they really are quite interesting. I think I could write a whole social history on breasts and how they change from decade to decade. 

For instance, in the 30s, unlike the 50s in Swamp Women, women embraced their flatness! Yay! I'm a 30s girl, well, without the satin gown and wavy hair. I never really thought about it, but at the turn of the century, they were accentuated, and then in the 20s, they were definitely just flat, like the flappers, then in the 30s, they were defined somewhat, but still, flat was fine, and then in the 40s, they started popping out again with bras and suits, and in the 50s, well, we've talked about the 50s in their perky Vasserettes, and then in the 60s, well, they barely wore clothes at all in the 60s, and then in the 70s, no bras, and then in the 80s, 90s, and the turn of the millenium, they just got huge and fake, and now I think they are tapering down to a more natural size again. And, Yes, I really am a Horror Blogger. I am a full fledged member of the Horror Blogger Alliance, (Jeremy told me so), and I have a T shirt to prove it. But if I can't produce a write up of a horror movie, I've learned boobs are a big hit! lol. Alas, I'm done. Sorry fellas. 

Oh yes, I did like a couple other things, well maybe more than a couple. The Director was a girl! Christy Cabbane! In 1933! That's what I'm talking about. Chalk one up for the ladies! And I loved the, gosh, I don't know the lingo, but the fade in and out shots? Every time a scene changed, well, almost every time, you saw the shudder close and open to the new scene. Sometimes it would simply close from left to right or vice versa, and sometimes it would close in completely in a circle and open back up. I thought that was dandy. And the camera played some tricks with the angles. For instance, in one scene the shot opened on some calves, girl's calves with shoes, and as the camera rose, it wasn't a girl at all, but just some fake calves! It was funny, and what made it funnier was that when the camera backed up, it shot a photographer taking a picture of the calves! I thought that was fun and clever. Oh yeah, and one other thing. Boy, I'll tell you, Carlotta Lamont (Evelyn Brent) had a seriously provocative role. In fact, she and her two accomplices were seriously cozy, and neither one of the gents seem to mind that she was kissing on both of them. She was a vamp after my own heart. Aww the 30s. 

Alas, it still must warrant zero flames on the flame scale, as it is NOT a horror movie. 

So, as time is of the essence....AGAIN.... I'm moving on to Disc #2, Movie #4, The Amazing Mr. X (1948). And please let it be a horror movie.

Until next time...Keep those fires stoked!
Eternally Yours
Warden Stokely

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Swamp Women (1956)

Hell o Prisoners

Time for Disc #2, Movie #2, "50 Horror Classics"



Woolner Brothers Pictures, Inc. 

Presents

Roger Corman's
Swamp Women 
(1956)

JUST BECAUSE ROGER CORMAN DIRECTED THIS, AND IT IS ONE OF 50 "HORROR CLASSICS", DOES NOT MEAN IT IS A HORROR FILM! IT'S NOT! SO, JUST LIKE I DIDN'T WANT TO WASTE YOUR TIME WITH A WRITE-UP ON WILLIAM NIGH'S DOOMED TO DIE (1940), FEATURING BORIS KARLOFF, DUE TO IT'S NOT BEING A HORROR FILM, I WILL NOT WASTE YOUR TIME WITH THIS ONE, AS IT IS NOT A HORROR FILM EITHER, BUT AN ADVENTURE/CRIME FILM, AND HAS NO BUSINESS BEING ON A FIVE-DISC SET ENTITLED, "50 HORROR CLASSICS". (Please excuse the run on sentence with triple negatives. I figured since it was not a double negative, and is chocked full of expletives, it would be alright.) 

SWAMP WOMEN RATES A BIG FAT ZERO FLAMES ON THE FLAME SCALE. SINCE THE FLAME SCALE IS RATING HORROR FILMS, NOT ADVENTURE/CRIME FILMS. BUT, HAD IT BEEN ON A FIVE-DISC SET ENTITLED "50 ADVENTURE/CRIME CLASSICS" I WOULD HAVE GIVEN IT AT LEAST 2 FLAMES, AS IT KIND OF GREW ON ME. 

THE SWAMP WOMEN WERE BAD ASS CHICKS. THE BEGINNING WAS HORRIBLY BORING, AND THE AUDIO WAS JUST BAD, AS WELL AS THE LIGHTING, BUT IT GOT BETTER AS TIME WENT ON. I FOUND THE GALS HIGHLY ENTERTAINING, A REAL SWELL LINE UP, HONESTLY, NOT TO MENTION, EASY ON THE EYES. THEY WORE REALLY CUTE 50'S HIGH WASTED SHORTS, SHIRTS THAT WERE CROPPED, TIED, OR TUCKED IN, AND THEIR BREASTS, NOT THAT I'M A BIG BREAST GAL (no pun intended, i'm flat as they come, sorry--tmi, and I probably just lost a few followers. oh well, sucks to be me), ACTUALLY, I'M STRAIGHT AS THEY COME, BUT THEIR BREASTS WERE PERFECT IN THEIR VASSERETTES. WE JUST DON'T LOOK LIKE THAT ANYMORE. AND, QUITE FRANKLY, VICTORIA, YOU'VE GOT NOTHING ON THESE GALS! 

AND WHAT'S MORE! IF BEING AN ADVENTURE/CRIME MOVIE, INSTEAD OF A HORROR MOVIE, ISN'T HORRORBLE ENOUGH, THE MENU ON THE SCREEN DOESN'T EVEN READ "SWAMP WOMEN"; IT READS SWAMP WOMAN! WITH AN A! IT WAS THE SAME ON THE BACK OF THE CASE! SO THE WHOLE THING HAD ME QUESTIONING MY SANITY, AND WORSE THAN THAT, MY VISION! SOMETHING WITH, AT THIS POINT IN MY LIFE, I NEED NO HELP! 

AFTER THE INITIAL VIEWING (WELL, THE INITAL VIEWING WAS SOME TIME AGO, I MEAN THE VIEWING FOR MY WRITE-UP), I KEPT THINKING TO MYSELF, WHY THE HELL DID HE CALL IT SWAMP WOMAN? THERE WERE AT LEAST FOUR WOMEN? IF ANYTHING, IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN TITLED SWAMP WOMEN. PLUS I DON'T SEE ALL THAT GREAT, AND IT SEEMS TO GET WORSE ON A DAILY BASIS, SO THE TITLE LOOKED LIKE SWAMP WOMEN, BUT THE MENU AND THE CASE SAID SWAMP WOMAN, SO I THOUGHT I WAS LOSING MY EVER LOVING MIND...AGAIN!

Alas, I have to give it zero flames for reasons stated above. I mean you no disrespect, Mr. Corman. I'm an avid fan. I'm sure you see my dilemna here. The scariest part about this film is the opening credit image of the girl with her hands tied behind her back. So, Spit On Your Grave.

But as time is of the essence, I'm moving on to Disc #2, Movie #3 The World Gone Mad (1933). 

Until next time...Keep those fires stoked!
Eternally Yours
Warden Stokely