Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Back from the undead

Posted in Uncategorized on 04/12/2014 by vincentstark

I’ve lapsed with the blog  but the last year has been a pretty rough time, loads of upheaval in my life. However that’s all over now and things are starting to smooth out so I’ll be getting things going around here pretty soon. I’ve got a lot to talk about – The Walking Dead’s just finished it’s fourth season and , Stephen King’s delivered a follow up to the Shining. There’s much to talk about…hopefully I’ll find time to do so.

The Ultimate Hammer Collection – The Nanny

Posted in halloween movies, the ultimate hammer collection, Uncategorized on 06/19/2013 by vincentstark
She's got Bettie Davies eyes

She’s got Bette Davies eyes

This is the second title in the massive Ultimate Hammer Collection  and out of the 21 films contained in the set  it is the only one in black and white. Made in 1965, the studio made a good choice in deciding to make the movie in old school black and white – there are some effectively blocked shots here, shadows dancing over Bette Davies’s face, caressing and highlighting her bone structure, that just wouldn’t be the same in colour, especially the blood red tones Hammer are known for.

The movie is not the standard horror picee that Hammer became famous for, but rather a clever psychological thriller that will keep new viewers guessing right up to the very last reel.

“Is it Master Joey who is actually mad? Or is he right about his seemingly gentle nanny? Is she actually a barmy fruitcake with murder in mind?

When I placed the disc in the player, I was of the impression that I’d never seen this movie before but a few minutes in and I realised that I had seen the film before, though long ago on a TV viewing and I’d not realised the film was done by Hammer who I associated with Dracula, Frankenstein and other gothic chillers. Mind you I didn’t really remember that much, just had the vague impression that I’d seen it somewhere. sometime. And so I was not sure how things would turn out and then cleverly laid aura of mystery completely enveloped me.

When we are first introduced to Master Joey (William Dix) we are shown a troubled, though clever little boy who has a very black sense of humour. He scares one of the teachers at his home for disturbed children, by rigging up a device that makes it look as if he has hung himself, within the first few minutes of the movie. And as soon as he returns home to his family he is shows as cheeky and incredibly naughty, while his nemesis, the titular Nanny, comes across as all sweetness and light. If anything the old woman, played by Bette Davies, comes across as having the patience of a saint in the way she deals with the boisterous  Joey.

the nannyThe movie contains a commentary from Jimmy Sangster,  Marcus Hearne (author of The Hammer Vault) and Rene Glynne and for a commentary recorded  41 years since the film was made, the anecdotes come thick and fast – it seems both Sangster and especially Glynne who possesses an incredible memory. Sangster tells us that Greer Garson was Hammer’s first choice for the role of the Nanny but when the actress turned the role down, Bette Davies was approached.

Besides the Hollywood weight of Bet Davies, we have British actress Wendy Craig as Joey’s mother. I found it unusual to find Craig in such a dramatic role since I was brought up watching her playing variations of a dizzy middle aged Wendy Craig The Nannymum in sitcom after sitcom. And although her part isn’t that substantial, she seems to spend most of the movie lounging about half wasted, she certainly comes across well – through subtle use of her eyes she clearly shows the anguish of the woman who is still mourning the accidental drowning of her daughter. The young actor playing Joey is William Dix and the Internet Database tells us that he made one more film in 1967 and then didn’t make another until 2001. The rest of the cast are made up those familiar British faces that often turn up in old movies or TV shows.

joey and creepy doll

I really enjoyed this movie – Bette Davies and her young co-star William Dix are particularly good, and the plot is paced so the suspense runs right up until the final denouncement.

A creepy movie, excellently directed, written and acted…and you can’t really ask for more than that.

The Ultimate Hammer Collection

Posted in the ultimate hammer collection, Uncategorized on 06/02/2013 by vincentstark

I’ve just picked up the amazing box set, The Ultimate Hammer Collection – this impressive set contains 21 films on 21 discs. That’s a lot of hours from the house of horror – expect reviews here as I watch each and every movie, some of them for the first time.  Stay tuned, fright fans…ghoulish fun comes your way.hammer_ultimate

Scary Stats

Posted in Uncategorized on 12/17/2012 by vincentstark

Weekly Stats Report: 10 Dec – 16 Dec 2012
Project: Scary Motherfucker


  Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Total Avg
Pageloads 110 141 118 151 105 89 112 826 118
Unique Visits 80 99 85 118 76 59 85 602 86
First Time Visits 78 97 83 117 74 57 84 590 84
Returning Visits 2 2 2 1 2 2 1 12 2Weekly Stats Report: 10 Dec – 16 Dec 2012
Project: Scary Motherfucker


  Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun Total Avg
Pageloads 110 141 118 151 105 89 112 826 118
Unique Visits 80 99 85 118 76 59 85 602 86
First Time Visits 78 97 83 117 74 57 84 590 84
Returning Visits 2 2 2 1 2 2 1 12 2

The dead are here for Halloween

Posted in Uncategorized on 10/31/2012 by vincentstark

Book one and two available now


Book three early 2013



Hammer’s blood drenched hound

Posted in Uncategorized on 10/28/2012 by vincentstark

Hammer’s Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)

So suitable for the British horror studio was Conan Doyle’s, The Hound of the Baskervilles that it could have been written with Hammer Films in mind. Indeed following their success with revamping the Dracula and Frankenstein franchises Hammer turned to the most famous fictional detective of them all, Sherlock Holmes for this movie which was intended to be the first in a new series with Peter Cushing in the title role. Alas the movie didn’t perform as well at the box office as expected and plans for the series were scrapped while Hammer concentrated on more gothic material. Pity really – I would have loved to have seen Hammer tackle The Giant Rat of Sumatra.

The film looks like a Hammer movie – the colour is excellent, garish in places with all that over saturated red and the gothic elements that the studio did so well, are brought out in Doyle’s story like never before. Of course they were always there, even in the original story but Hammer emphasise these parts of the storyline without really altering the original. There are some differences to the original story – Stapleton’s webbed hands for one thing, the tarantula attack for another but these work well within the story and indeed the  webbed hands carried by one line of the Baskerville clan is inspired and is a nice little macabre touch.

Peter Cushing here gives an excellent performance as Sherlock Holmes – the actor was a Sherlockian himself and he brings his knowledge of the character to the role. Andre Morell is a more than suitable Watson. It is also nice to see Christopher Lee playing a romantic lead role and one wonders what would have happened had he played more such roles. He is certainly convincing here. All in all this is a great Sherlock Holmes movie and under the direction of Terence Fisher the ponderous middle section so obvious in most productions of this story moves along at a great pace.

Why wasn’t it a big box office hit then? Well the blame for this lies with Hammer themselves. They promoted the movie as a big horror flick in the style of their successful Dracula and Frankenstein movies, with hardly any mention that this was in fact a Sherlock Holmes movie. The advertising posters suggested a kind of werewolf but when we see the hound on screen it is nothing more than an over sized Great Dane. Movie fans back in the day may have been disappointed – after all, they were going to see a film starring Hammer’s two biggest horror icons with a large slavering hound in the advertising posters and what they got  Sherlock Holmes adventure. A damn thrilling one nonetheless but word of mouth could have harmed the movie after its strong opening weekend.  SEE THE ORIGINAL CINEMA TRAILER EMBEDDED BELOW TO SEE HOW THE FILM WAS MARKETED.

Still the movie’s stood the test of time and this is a great version of the much filmed story – it’s also nice to see the current DVD version showing such an impressive looking cut of the movie. The colours are vibrant and the sound booming. It is only a pity that it is a full frame 4.3 version on the UK release when I believe the American market get a true widescreen version.

Peter Cushing would of course go onto play Holmes for the BBC, but his performance as the detective here is perhaps his definitive stab at the part. Christopher Lee also got a stab at playing both Watson and Holmes in future Holmes movies but the less said about them the better.

Countdown to Halloween – Dracula the second part now live online

Posted in Uncategorized on 10/22/2012 by vincentstark

The second part of the BBC new version of Dracula is now available to listen to Here

“Bram Stoker wrote it in the late 19th century, having been both a civil servant and the personal manager of actor Sir Henry Irving. No doubt he was as much informed by the metaphorical blood-sucking propensities of governments and actor managers as by Vlad the Impaler, legendary 15th-century Wallachian king said to be his original inspiration. Most of us have grown up with Count Dracula, recognising him even when he craftily spells his name backwards in Hammer horror films. We know this monster as well as we know our uncles. We have learned what to do when someone sleeps all day in a coffin or mirrors don’t hold his reflection. Hand me a crucifix, get the garlic, pass the stake.

It is, therefore, a challenge to any adaptor to make Dracula scary again. Writer Rebecca Lenkiewicz did well here. Actor Nicky Henson did even better. His Count guzzled blood with the kind of lipsmacking relish only heard on Woman’s Hour when some visiting cook is handing round fresh chocolate cake. He even made it sexy. But so did his victim, lovely Lucy (Scarlett Brookes), longing for the next visit of the demon lover she calls the man bird, the Earl King, the dream. Lucy is adored by shy Dr Seward (Charles Edwards), engaged to handsome Arthur (Joe Sims), watched over by canny Dr Van Helsing (John Dougall) all of whom transfuse her with blood when she is reduced to waxen pallor by nightly visits from the Count. She tries to resist him. In vain.” Gillian Reynolds, The Telegraph


Halloween Countdown – The Cabin in the Woods

Posted in halloween, halloween countdown, horror, HORROR MOVIES, the cabin in the woods, Uncategorized on 10/15/2012 by vincentstark

This film was held in limbo due to  MGM’s financial problems – those same problems that also kept the latest James Bond movie, Red Dawn  and The Hobbit from the big screen.It was actually made way back in 2009 but only saw the inside of a cinema in 2012.

It was written by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard with Goddard also taking the  directorial duties, and offers, believe it or not, a fresh take on the teens in the cabin in the wood scenario. Now there are major spoilers in this post so if you’ve not seen the film then do not read on, but the plot and that clever twist is given away elsewhere on the web and most horror fans would have seen the movie by now. We get the same kind of set up we’ve seen in countless other slasher movies – group of teens made up of the jock, the slut,the fool, the studious one and the virgin camping in a remote cabin in the woods and then they are picked off one by one in ever more inventive ways. So far so familiar but there’s something else going on here and every now and then we get a scene of a group of office workers watching our teens  on monitor screens and taking bets on how they will die and in which order. There is also an invisible force field around the woods which makes escape impossible – are we in some kind of reality TV show? Is this a slasher Big Brother?

I must admit that by the half way point I had decided that the film would reveal that we were in fact watching a reality TV show and I was going with that – you’ve got to give it up for the humour in the movie, as well as the knowing nods to countless other horror movies, but when the twist comes we discover that this is not a reality TV show but that the teens are to be sacrificed to the old Gods, and that similar sacrifices are being carried out all over the world The rules are that all of the teens, with the exception of the virgin must die otherwise the Gods will be displeased and the world will end. It’s a clever concept and seems to suggest that all those other horror movies – the Friday 13th’s, the Evil Dead and so on were actually ritualistic sacrifices to the Gods.

This time though, thanks to the survival abilities of stoner, Marty the world really is doomed and then movie ends with a sudden cut to nothing but blackness. Getting there however is great fun with some excellent entertainment – the massive monster rampage in which every monster imaginable goes berserk in mission control is absolutely awesome. You’ve got to give it up for that alone.

Nuff said – I loved this movie.

Halloween Countdown – American Horror Story: Asylum

Posted in Uncategorized on 10/14/2012 by vincentstark

Advance word is that the eagerly awaited second season of American Horror story is going to be something special indeed. Watch the first five  minutes of episode one HERE

Halloween Countdown – the great directors: Terence Fisher

Posted in dracula, halloween, halloween countdown, halloween movies, HAMMER FILMS, Uncategorized on 10/11/2012 by vincentstark

Terence Fisher is the most famous of the Hammer films directors – he started off directing low budget thrillers such as Colonel Bogey, Stolen Face and Four Sided Triangle and it wasn’t until he helmed Hammer’s first full colour gothic horror, The Curse of Frankenstein in 1957 that he became a superstar. The movie starred Peter Cushing as the devious Baron Frankenstein and Christopher Lee as the sympathetic though horrifying creature. Fisher collaborated with screenwriter, Jimmy Sangster and with producer, Anthony Hinds they became a team that would go onto rule horror cinema for a great many years. They followed up Frankenstein with the even more successful, The Horror of Dracula (1958) which gave is arguably the finest ever screen Dracula.
Fisher’s style can be traced back to the old Saturday Morning cliffhangers that were so popular in the cinema when he was growing up – his sense of pacing is legendary and his films, particularly those done for Hammer, are provide real edge of the seat viewing. In the same year as Horror of Dracula, Fisher also directed  The Revenge of Frankenstein which saw Cushing return as the baron and this time he is a true evil character, driven by his own selfish needs. And then in 1960 Fisher returned to Dracula, this time without Lee for The Brides of Dracula – this time the film made the eroticism, which was evident in The Horror of Dracula, much more explicit. Again the movie is an energetic romp with a widely inventive climax in which Cushing, bitten by a vampire, cauterizes the wound himself before tackling the vampire. The film remains great fun but suffered without Lee as Fisher was pleased when Lee returned as Dracula for Dracula: Prince of Darkness.


Given their subject matter and lurid approach, Fisher’s films, though commercially successful, were largely dismissed by critics during his career. It is only in recent years that Fisher has become recognised as an auter  in his own right. His films are characterised by a blend of fairy-tale, myth and sexuality. They may have drawn heavily on Christian themes, and there is usually a hero who defeats the powers of darkness by a combination of faith and reason.


Fisher worked on a production line basis, often directing three films in a year, but no matter how flimsy the material his sense of style, pacing and use of bold saturated colours always resulted in an enjoyable picture. Many of the Fisher directed Hammer movies are classics – The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Mummy, The Curse of the Werewolf are all movies that feature the Fisher trademarks. During the mid-Sixties Fisher was offered directing duties on the James Bond movie, You Only Live Twice but he refused and instead remained with Hammer Pictures. And although he continued to work solidly for the rest of the decade he would never recapture the glory of the early films he made for Hammer.