Friday, February 25, 2011

Enter the Spooky Schlocky Haunted Castle

By Chris Dimick
Pants-wetting terror caused by creepy celluloid is great and all.
But horror movies shouldn’t just be scary; they should also be fun.
No one understood this better than William Castle, the 1950s and 60s horror movie producer/director that's been shamefully underappreciated by mainstream critics.

Overshadowed repeatedly by his contemporary, Alfred Hitchcock, Castle created a different kind of horror/suspense product – one that elicited less praise from critics than Hitch, but an equal amount of adoration from true horror fans.

Because William Castle’s movies have been mistakenly and accidently left out of the RDHP movie stable to date (and hopefully we can change this soon), here is an homage to the king of spooky schlock and his impressive library of endearing horror films.

Great Grabbing Gimmicks
Though he created such beloved horror films as “House on Haunted Hill” and “13 Ghosts,” Castle was never content enough with his films to let them stand on their own merit. In addition to that insecurity, newfangled TV was also sucking away theater audiences.
So, to GUARANTEE people would fill the theater for his movies, Castle accompanied each picture with a new exciting gimmick.
These tactics were less than subtle.

For his 1959 Vincent Price vehicle, “The Tingler,” Castle had theaters install electric shock devices in random theater seats. At a specific moment in the film where the actors are confronted by menacing body-inhabitant “the tingler,” theater management would throw a switch and send a mild electric shock into audience members, eliciting screams of terror.
This gimmick, named “Percepto,” and was just one of many “o” themed attractions Castle included in his films.

For perhaps his biggest hit, 1959’s “House on Haunted Hill,” the new, amazing film technique “Emergo” was employed.
When a skeleton rises from an acid vat in the film, a lighted plastic skeleton on a wire would appear in the actual theater from a black box next to the screen.
This “frightening” prop would then swoop over the heads of the audience, controlled by a lucky theater usher. The skeleton would be pulled back into the box as Vincent Price reels in the skeleton in the film.

According to IMDB, many theaters soon stopped using “Emergo” because when the local boys heard about it, they brought slingshots to the theater. When the skeleton started its journey, the rowdy boys would pull out their slingshots bombard it with stones, BBs, ball bearings and whatever else they could find.

For 1960’s “13 Ghosts,” the gimmick "Illusion-O" involved the audience receiving a pair of special glasses that were needed to “see the ghosts”. These ghost shaped "ghost viewers" contained a red filter and a blue filter.

Like many of his films, Castle himself filmed an introduction to 13 Ghosts where he explained the gimmick to audiences.

If you believed in ghosts, you would look through the red glasses, causing the ghosts to appear on the screen.
But if you didn’t believe in ghosts, or were too scared to actually see them, you would look through the blue filter, causing the ghosts to remain unseen.

Scream and a Smile
Castle was a marketing genius for including these gimmicks in his films. Even if they didn’t always work right or live up to their hype, the tricks elicited great word of mouth among the B-movie horror crowd.
How many movies do you hear from a recent viewer “we were sitting there, and then all of a sudden I got electrocuted at the film’s climax!” or “seriously, a fake-looking skeleton comes out of the screen at one point.” You’d probably want to check that out, wouldn’t you?!


But beyond all the gimmicks, Castle’s movies are great for more film-focused reasons. They don’t take themselves too seriously, and in turn invite the audience to just sit back and enjoy the entertainment value of the film.
If you get scared, okay, great. But that wasn’t the entire point of a Castle movie. He wanted to entertain you more than scare you, and succeeded time and time again with his schlocky, spirited B-horror flicks.

Time has been more than kind to Castle’s movies because of this. While his scares might not get modern day folks to jump, his humor, wit and snarky attitude still rings home.
How can you not root for a guy who appears before each one of his films, and goes to such promotional lengths to get an audience’s attention?

Castle personalized his movies, making it easy for audiences to develop a relationship with the director (much like Hitchcock did by directly promoting his films.)
It doesn’t matter that the plots of some films were flimsy and outlandish (the tingler is an inherit body-monster that grows on and crushes one’s spine when they don’t scream in fright?)

Each Castle film is a party, not a funeral! Don’t sweat the details, just enjoy the ride. It is rare that Hollywood gives us such free-wheeling fun and abandon for convention, even in horror.
On shoe-string budgets, Castle managed to create films that are both creepy and captivating. You just feel good watching these films.

In the mood to smile while you scream? Pop in one of the great William Castle films listed below. Even if a skeleton doesn’t fly out of your screen, you will feel your own skeleton tingle with contentment.

Top Five William Castle Films

House on Haunted Hill (1959)
Millionaire Frederick Loren (Vincent Price) offers five people $10,000 to stay a night in a remote haunted house, giving each of them a loaded gun as a “party favor.” Throughout the night, they're terrorized by skeletons, disembodied heads and other grisly apparitions. Will any of the guests survive to win the prize? Or will the house scare them to death?

13 Ghosts (1960)
A bumbling family man on the brink of losing his house inherits his eccentric ghost-hunting uncle's mansion, and stumbles upon spirits that are only visible to guests who wear special goggles. While his family is thrilled at first to have a huge home of their own, the uncle’s captured Caspers soon revolt against their new keepers.

Mr. Sardonicus (1961)
A search for a winning lottery ticket in his dead father's grave causes Baron Sardonicus' face to freeze in a horrible grimace, until he forces a doctor to treat his affliction – with even more grotesque results! For this films gimmick, Castle let the audience vote on the evil Sardonicus’ fate at the end of the film --via the "Punishment Poll.”

The Tingler (1959)
Dr. Warren Chapin is a pathologist who regularly conducts autopsies on executed prisoners at the State prison. He has a theory that fear is the result of a creature that inhabits all of us, and this creature is only suppressed by our ability to scream when fear strikes us.
He gets a chance to test his theories when he meets Ollie and Martha Higgins, who own and operate a second-run movie theater. Martha is deaf and mute, and if she is unable to scream, extreme fear should make the creature, which Chapin has called the Tingler, come to life and grow. Using LSD to induce nightmares, he begins his experiment.

I Saw What You Did (1965)
Two prank-calling teenagers become the target for terror when they whisper “I saw what you did” to a psychopath who has just murdered his wife. Various antics bring one of the teen girls in contact with the killer, who stalks the girl in an attempt to silence her. Features a fabulously over-the-top performance by Joan Crawford as the killer’s amorous (and much older) neighbor.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Film #56: Faust (1926)

Free-will is like a mullet.
You can choose a clean-cut business hair cut, OR wicked-long party hair.
But try and have them together, and you just end up looking like a fool.
In other words, it is impossible to be saintly and sinnerly at the same second, as beardo Faust finds out in this week’s silent film, "Faust."

Title character Faust is a smart dude. A well liked old man physician and alchemist, he is busy expanding his mind with the sciences and trying to turn lead into gold. Basically just minding his own business.

But somewhere in the netherworld, an angel and demon get tired playing with their human toy-things and get into a school-yard argument.
“When it comes to humans, evil will always win,” shouts the demon. “No way, I mean, good’s better. Wanna bet?” yells the angel.

The immortals spot Faust and agree he is the perfect man to test their torturous bet on. The angel says that although man has free will (his greatest attribute), he will still side with “good” when tempted… at least eventually.
No so, the demon says, who bets that given the right circumstances even an educated, typically good man like Faust will fall to the dark side. It’s a bet! But what are the stakes?

If the dark side wins, evil gets control of all of mankind. If good wins, man retains his free will and, well, they don’t get much of anything else… besides bragging rights… but ohhhhhhhhh how those angels will gloat at the Company Picnic that year!

The demon gets right to business, tempting Faust by giving him the ability to stop a raging plague, find eternal youth, have any woman in the world, and receive great riches and power…. all in exchange for the small price of his soul.

Will Faust give into temptation and banish mankind to evil control?
Will the angels get a chance to tell the Devil “I told you so, dum-dum?”
Just why is Faust’s beard so whack? Find out in the 1926 German made silent, “Faust.”

RDHP Ratings and Reviews

C-Rating: 0.1
Chris Dimick states:
“Preachy and boring. Put these together in a movie, and the result is my lowest RDHP rating to date. Faust was part religious propaganda, part self-indulgent snoooooooooooooze fest.
Not a second of this film will entertain or illicit any human emotion beyond the feeling to turn off the screen and do something more useful with your time; like do your taxes, clip your nails, or watch paint dry.
Faust, you Fail.

I try to give all silent films a chance, keeping in mind the culture at the time of their production, the production quality they had to work with, and the fact that sound is just not an option. Only in that environment can a person fully take in a silent film.
With this mindset, there are times when the silent movie experience is magical, i.e. Metropolis or The Cabinet of Dr. Cagliari. And then there are times like Faust.

When the characters weren’t wrestling with morally-simplistic demons and angels in predictable, cliché, and stereotypical fashion, they were dilly-dallying along in the most boring love affair in the history of film.
At two hours in length, the movie is just too long for the amount of “entertainment” that is provided. Was there entertainment in this movie? No… it was drab, depressing, drawn out and just a plain miserable experience.

If that isn’t bad enough, I have major problems with the anti-Enlightenment/science ideology of this film as well as its self-righteous religious overtones… but here is not the time nor place for that discussion (religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin are not appropriate discussion topics for the RDHP, and for good reason).

Bottom line, the film fails on many levels.

Yet why, Chris, didn’t you give Faust a 0.0 if you hated it so much? The .1 is split into a .05 for the brilliant effects (which must have been amazing to viewers in 1926) and a .05 for the infectious face-expressions/laugh/cackle of the demon Mephiso.
I've never seen anything like that full faced Mephiso look, and it was a small flicker of fun amongst the awful slog of pious boredom.

Go clean up the dog crap in the back yard. Scrape out the rock-hard cheese crust from the top of your microwave. Do anything… but watch this.

N-Rating: 2.3
Nick Rich states:
“As a horror movie Faust doesn't make the grade.
There's rarely a creepy moment (notwithstanding the copious shots of dejected looks on the peasant faces), there's no suspense (except for the viewer waiting for the film to end), and the film just has a general lack of things that might scare you (well, except the eternal damnation of your soul). Chris hit the nail on the head with this one: Faust is boring; but I'm not ready to write it off completely just yet.
As a horror movie Faust might not make the grade, but as a study of the time and people who made it I think it has merit.
Germany, 1926. 8 years after the most horrifying war the world has ever seen that robbed a generation of its brethren, and a nation of its dignity and prosperity. When I look at Faust, I see many parallels to the lives of the German people who may have been watching it in theaters when it was released; parallels that most likely would have evoked strong emotions in them.
  • The plague: Much like good old bubonic, the Great War cut a swath through Europe stealing millions of souls. Faust shows people dying in droves, at random, before your very eyes... imagine watching this as a people with the fresh memory of losing loved ones to a war that so completely devastated their lives.
  • The waring powers above: I'm certain the concept of greater powers deciding the fate of mankind evoked a strong feeling in Germans - as a country they had been stripped bare and hopelessly indebted, all by powers which I'm sure felt beyond their control.
  • Science and technology: Have you ever had one of those moments where you look at some newfangled piece of technology and think "why can't things be like they were in the good ol' days?" The loss of 9 millions combatants (not including civilians) due to "advances" in technology, likely made the world bitter of its recent technological advances, and honestly, I wouldn't blame them.
  • The evils of the world: Historically, most people on this little blue ball we reside on have had faith of some sort, and most of those faiths espouse the defending/removing oneself from the evils of this world. With the moral vacuum and spiritual vacuum left from the war, I would wager seeing clearcut illustrations of people succumbing to the indulgences of the world would stir strong feelings in an audience that had itself succumb or that was watching friends and family around it succumb.

All of these themes no doubt had a strong emotional resonance with their intended audience (one that is a bit more difficult for us to engage in 85 years later from our comfy couches) and are just a few things to consider while watching this film. Personally, I didn't find Faust to be preachy any more than a movie about the life of a sexually perverted killer is preachy; both are speaking to a world view (one may be more comfortable to swallow than the other depending on the audience, but I digress). I found Faust to be true to the time it was made by addressing relevant issues, fears, and emotions in a language and style its audience would know and understand.

You may be wondering why I scored Faust so highly if I didn't overtly enjoy it... well, that's a good question. As I've mentioned before, one of the things I love about films is that they are a time-capsule of sorts, giving you insight to the time and people from whence they came. I think Faust did an excellent job of doing just that and combined with the mostly solid acting and breathtaking visuals for its time make Faust a film that can't be dismissed. While modern audiences will likely feel as if this film drags on and would be disappointed if they went into it expecting horror movie, I think Faust holds a valuable glimpse into the mind of our past.

The Skinny: Check this film out of you want to get into a truly horrifying place - the head of a German post to World War I. Or if you have always wondered what would happen to you if you grew a 3 foot beard.”

Things We Learned From Faust:
-The Fourth Horseman is lazy.
-The plague doesn’t mess around.
-The Klan is always ready to help carry dead bodies.
-Faust’s beard caused the plaque, and AIDS, and bird flu, and...
-Youth makes you foolish.
-Out of ink? Use the blood from your arm sore!
-One can make a beard grow by eating Wheaties and pulling on it twice a day.
-Celine Dion signing in French is twice as horrible.
-People are horrible.
-Due to obesity, females are receiving their “monthly gift” earlier in life.
-Further back in time you go, the faster folks fall in love.
-Babies can be a constant reminder of the most horrible day of one’s life.
-Europeans get a little too close to their mothers and sisters:

RDHP Presents:
Famous Beards!
Main character Faust rocked a gnarly chin-strap that reached nearly down to his knees. While most who rock this style are currently in-between homes (homeless), we here at the RDHP respect Faust for his facial follicle freedom! Below, some famous beards blowing in the wind.

Abe Lincoln
Just try and hold a 3rd grade play about Abe without strapping a itchy beard on some squirmy 8-year-old. Can’t do it, and why would you even try!?

Liza Minnelli
Not only was she an occasional “date” for Michael Jackson, she also married producer David Gest. Those two gents are about as straight as Christina Hendricks figure… not that they would have noticed.

Conan O’Brien
After his heart-wrenching breakup with NBC (who left him for old flame Jay), O’Brien went into hiding and grew a creepy beard in a fit of depression. Happens to all the broken guys. But seems he liked the homeless look, because he kept the mug-rug when he returned to TV in November.

The king of back-woods-terrorist-chic.

ZZ Top
What is more awesome than these beards? Answer, the irony that their beardless band drummer is named Frank Beard.

Kids in the Hall – The Beard
Always shave after a vacation... your life might depend on it.

Film #55: Altered (2006)

Aliens have a raging affair with rednecks.
The lovefools just can’t keep their probes out of those good olde boys.
And who can blame the little green love machines? Just look at those hicks; their jiggling hairy beer bellies; the Kentucky Waterfall greased by years of bath-aversion; the black corn teeth festering behind blistered lips.
Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, hooooot.

The aliens in this week’s flick, Altered, are no different than their saucer-driving counterparts. Somewhere in the Deep South 15 years ago, five t'ween yokels were abducted by rapey ETs and made into lab gerbils. All but one finally returned, but faced ridicule after explaining their disappearance with tales of prison-tough space men.

The t'ween kept captive the longest by the aliens, Wyatt, decided he had enough of alien-play-time when he got back and self-removed an alien-GPS from his innards. Then, he went into hiding.
The other three survivors made it a habit of returning to their abduction site to try to trap/kill/probe the aliens that turned their lives into a post-traumatic hell.

Call it Southern ingenuity, or just dumb luck, but the SOBs actually managed to capture one of the ferocious Venusians. With pissed off outer space buddies hot on the missing alien’s trail, the rednecks freak out and search for a place to not only hide, but exact their revenge on their alien.
“Let’s take it to Wyatt; he lived with them the longest! He’ll know what to do!” they say.

Wyatt is not very pleased to see his fellow abductees for the first time in years, who have more than just a touch of bad yellow alien blood between them. Kill the alien, Wyatt warns, and other aliens will kill them. And he doesn’t just mean them them, but all of human kind them.
The aliens are so superior, it would be more a slaughter than a war, he warns.

What follows is a tension dance over just what to do with their alien, and later, how to avoid it killing them.

And you thought the government goons in ET were the bad guys. They were just trying to save us from the alien apocalypse! Not so much? Well, yeah, thing is, Altered’s aliens aren’t like ET. They are strong, clawed, telepathic, and don’t like warm-touch fingering humans. Then again, who does?

Will the four intergalactic travelers find the forgiveness and compassion to spare the alien’s life, thereby sparing humanity? Is Wyatt somehow the key to all mankind’s survival? Just what do aliens find so fascinating about human intestines?
Find out, in the 2006 splatter horror/sci-fi film, “Altered.”

RDHP Ratings and Reviews

C-Rating: 4.5
Chris Dimick probes:
“I believe in aliens. There, I said it. And if you believe too, you shouldn’t be ashamed. Science and logic are on our side.
With billions and billions of stars in the universe supporting billions and billions of planets, the chances are more than good that Earth isn’t the only place that has developed intelligent life.

The bigger question people should ask is not if alien life exists, but whether it could travel to Earth. This I also believe is possible, given the right technology (wormholes anyone?).

But why would aliens travel millions of light years across open space, risking life and antennae, just to abduct and study backwoods rednecks? Why don’t they just plop their space ships down on the White House lawn and announce to the world “What up bitches! Let’s party!”
Why do they always seem to just mutilate cattle and rape morons?

The answer is simple: the mullet.

Yes, from Billy Ray to Altered character Duke, the mullet is so enchanting that aliens have come billions of miles to Earth to study it. Who can blame them? The mullet defies all science. There is business in the front, but party out the back! “Illogical,” Spock, an alien, would scream at the sight.

It’s more than a hairstyle, it is a religion and probably the key to all happiness (You never know…). Mullets take patience to grow, dignity to maintain, and hair gel to grease.
A mulleter in the 21st century has to sport chutzpa to rock a glorious mud flap, and are due an examination by an alien race as to their ability to shield all pop culture and preppy distain.

From the outside looking in, the aliens must think of mulleters as our leaders. The haircut screams pure intelligence (why choose between long or short hair when you can have them both) and steadfast resolve to habit.
What can’t a redneck teach the aliens that a Congressman would? Could Obama teach ET to hate other races and chug a 1/5 of Jack?
A direct path to understanding human kind is to “follow the mullet,” as aliens like to say.

In addition to its beautiful display of white trash language and streaming mullets, Altered has even more to offer than an explanation for extraterrestrials efforts. Directed by The Blair Witch Project’s co-creator Eduardo Sánchez, the film packs the edge of Blair Witch while backing up the scare with brilliant special effects.

This was more than just a monster on the loose movie. Pockets of depth lined this premise, with apocalypse undertones and an X-Files type mystery feel to the plot.

The tension hummed steadily as the main players first fought, then defended against the alien. And let’s talk about that alien. He was a badass, a mix between Independence Day’s intelligent war hawks and Predator’s man-rippers.

The piece is pure in its intentions, to scare and disgust in equal measure. But Sanchez never trades effects for story, balancing both among dramatic dialog exchanges and freaky twists. Altered is a fresh take on the scary alien – its tone is like the film “Signs,” but with more punch and bite. Literary, the aliens bite.

Why do aliens abduct rednecks so often? The same reason it was great to watch them in this film.
They are rowdy, spontaneous, foul-mouthed, unintelligent and disorganized… yep, sounds like a representation of mankind to me.”

N-Rating: 4.2
Nick Rich probes:
"It feels strange to say, but who knew mullets could be so refreshingly fun? I genuinely forgot how much fun it is to watch rednecks (and their illustrious plumage) flail around in situations that are way beyond their depth.

First things first: you may notice that Chris and I are quite worked up by the mullet factor in this film... and rightfully so! The mullet is the universal symbol for "you are about to have a rockin' time" and it doesn't take itself seriously, so you can enjoy a guilt-free laugh at its expense (which is truly priceless). Yes, I referred to the mullet as I would a person... if you have a problem with that I suggest you take it up with him.

Now that we have that out of the way, on to Altered! What can I say? It was a fun-filled romp that had just about everything you could want in a sci-fi horror film offering. As mentioned, it is set in the Deep South complete with stereotypical characters, which in other instances might seem clichè, but in this film it truly worked. Chris and I were instantly put at ease with the film once we heard the ornery spewings of the puffed up redneck and witnessed the luscious mullety locks of the lead redneck swaying in the moonlight - it was like going in for a job interview and having the interviewer throw away their question list and instead opt to ask you what you thought of last night's episode of Fringe; instant ease. Needless to say this loosened us up nicely, allowing us to enjoy the ride the remainder of the film would present.

And present it did! I went into this film knowing nothing about it, but somehow assumed that it would be a low-budget film (possibly because of the Blair Witch connection, which makes no sense because that film made like a bajillion dollars) and boy-howdy was I wrong!
The acting was appropriate (except for the girlfriend, who was a bit stiff), the effects were extremely well done (and squirm-worthy!) and the story had a freshness to it. I dug that the story tried to be more than a simple monster mash, but for my money, there were some gaping holes in the logic at times... not enough to make me enjoy the film less, but enough to make Altered fall short of being an A-list film.

But the universe is as it should be, because somehow this film just wouldn't feel right if it were A-list (aka business)... there'd be no room for the party in the back! And while Altered may not be the smartest film in the world, in this case, country don't mean dumb.

The Skinny: Check this flick out if you're in the mood for a workhorse film that will entertain and make you jump... or if you've ever wondered who would win in the coming war between rednecks and aliens."

Things We Learned From Altered:
-If you grow a mullet, you give up the right to be a human.
-Harpoons are ineffectual weapons when hunting aliens.
-Best way to wake up is with a whiskey bottle.
-Hillbillies love guns, “because guns are awesome.”
-Nick thinks the lead actor is comparatively more attractive than his onscreen wife.
-There is nothing worse than infected junk.
-Even in the 21st century, rednecks still love them some Confederacy.
-Human intestines fascinate aliens.
-Beer can disinfect a bear trap wound:

RDHP Salute:
The mullets! The drinking! The cussing! The stupidity! What’s not to love about rednecks? They are the sons of the Earth, drinking shine and spouting nonsense. Whether you like your rednecks white trash or cowboy, there is a genre for every preppy city-slicker to detest.
Below, we give a random salute to all things redneck, which could serve as a crash course on the species for any aliens reading. All hail rednecks! May your mullets grow long and your sister’s remain doable!

They love guns:

And gittin' dirty:

They outpopulate "normal" people:

Because even their men can get preggers:

They aren't very active in politics:

But can be ingenius when necessary:

Best of all, they know how to really unwind:


Film #54: Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors (1965)

Does Dr. Terror see a lot of patients?
As horror fans, yeah, we might go see him.
But, we’d have to guess a guy with a name like Dr. Terror draws in as many paying customers as a dentist named Dr. Drillsalot or a contractor named Hugh Crook.
Likely, this is why the namesake of this week's film opened a House of Horrors. Because really, aren’t doctors' offices just as frightening-- with their death's-doorstep old people and greasy magazines?

This week’s horror adventure starts with a smiling Dr. Terror (Peter Cushing) entering a crowded train car. Room for one more honey, the gents exclaim! Like a desperate singleton dropping his doctor credentials in a bar, Dr. Terror accidently spills his beloved tarot cards at the feet of his cab mates. "Ooops! Oh my, how did THAT happen," he slyly proclaims.

What’s up, doc? The boys call. Well, Dr. Terror isn’t of the medicine ilk, but a edumacated gent who specializes in the dark arts of fortune telling.
One by one, Dr. Terror uses the cards to show the men’s future, which all contain some sort of twisted supernatural drama. The vignettes unfold with increasing horror:

Story 1: A man returns to the mansion he grew up in, and was forced out of, to help the current owners install a ballroom. What he finds behind the walls isn’t your standard mouse droppings and depression-era stashed cash, but the body of a nefarious werewolf thought to be legend. Like any home renovation... it doesn’t go well.

Story 2: A man experiences his own personal house of horrors when a mutated vine grows in his backyard, feeding on Fido and any other fleshy morsel that comes in its path. Just another reason to destroy all vegetation, one oil spill at a time. Bless you BP!

Story 3: A swinging trumpeter steals a buggy Voodoo beat during a trip to the West Indies, despite local’s warnings that the tune belongs to their god. Back in Britain, he performs the ditty, and then his head goes splitty. Death metal it t'was.

Story 4: A snooty art critic (Christopher Lee) goes too far to silence a mocking artist, maiming and murdering the Michelangelo. But the paint-slapper gets the last laugh when his body parts return from the grave for revenge. I've heard of giving a critic the finger, but the whole hand?!

Story 5: A charming Donald Sutherland picks up a sizzling French wife and brings her home to the States. Coincidentally, as soon as they arrive small children and old people begin to get feasted on by a vampire. But it couldn’t be the mysterious woman who likes to lick my hurt cuts, could it, old Donald contemplates?

It is five horror tales in one train-wrapped package as the unfortunate cabin-mates of Dr. T try to avoid their fate, in the 1965 titillator Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors.

RDHP Ratings and Review

C-Rating: 3.5
Chris Dimick woo-wooooos:
“Doctor's are full of shit. Oh, they think they are so smart, and so much better than you with their 10-year degree and $250,000 student loans. But they are just monkeys with pants on, just like the rest of us.
And that is really the leverage they have over us, isn't it, their pants. You go into their stinking office festering with disease bags, wait among the rabble for 45 minutes, and then graduate to another smell-filled room only to be ordered to take off your pants.

Then in waltzes the doctor, in full tie and dress pant, acting important and like your master.

What the hell can you say to a doctor's advice, sitting there with your pants off? You are in no position to question his bullshit.

Not only do you look and feel like an idiot half naked, but here is this guy next to you ordering you around and commanding authority.

After giving you meaningless advice and poking your cold flesh, they send you on your way with a nice $1,000,000,000,000,000 bill to show for your wasted afternoon.

You know what Doctor Terror? I don't care what kind of a doctor you are, be it dermatologist or witch, but go f%#k yourself with your stethoscope. You, and all your lab coat wearing band of @$$holes.

Oh, yeah, and I liked this movie. Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Donald Sutherland and a series of horror vignettes. Can't go wrong. Horror fans dream... but not as scary as a doctor's visit.

N-Rating: 2.7
Nick Rich woo-woooos:
"I find investigating what scared people at different times throughout history fascinating. To think about what rattled the human brain during different time periods not only gives you an insight into the times you are studying, but into man himself.

If Dr. Terror's House of Horrors tagline "The Fear of The Year" is to be believed, then in 1965 man was terrified of the following (in the order of the tales):
  • The weight of familial legacy (Weep for the progeny of Astronaut Mike Dexter)
  • Home ownership (Shudder!)
  • Unfamiliar cultures/beliefs (They do what?)
  • Looking foolish (There are oh, so many ways...)
  • Not truly knowing your spouse (You're WHAT?!?)
I'm sure as you reviewed the above list you were able to find at least one thing that horrified you... I know I did. It just goes to show: as much as things change, they stay the same.

While that is all well and good... I didn't find myself falling in love with DTHoH. I found this film interesting to watch as a study in fears throughout the years, but sadly, ill equipped to downright entertain me. The stories were steeped in sheer 60s-ness, which has traditionally entertained me in other decades (usually the 80s, but other decades have stolen my heart in their own special ways), but due to the apparently general boringness of the early 1960s DTHoH fell flat for me.

The stories were predictable, yet somehow felt unique... an odd combination which left me feeling conflicted. Overall I think this flick has stood up nicely over time (much nicer than the print we watched which popped and crackled at us from time to time), but the pacing seemed to drag a bit. Chris didn't seem to notice, but many times during the film I found myself wondering how a movie that runs 1 hour and 37 minutes could feel so long. Add the fact that Tales From The Crypt (which was made 7 years later and, as we discovered, a total rip-off of DTHoH) was much more entertaining (a reflection of the apparently exciting late 60s) and there you have DTHoH's death knell as a 'full-on enjoyable ride'.

As a trailblazer (as far as I know) I was left with a lasting respect good ol' Dr. Terror... but really, how exciting is it when someone says 'I respect you' instead of 'you thrill me'?

The Skinny: Check this flick out if you don't believe how doldrum life could be in the early 60s or if you want to see a flick where Donald Sutherland isn't even mentioned on the movie poster!

Things We Learned From
Dr. Terror's House of Horrors:
-Bands sound better when they got brass.
-Monkeys are always fun, and essential for a 1960s movie.
-The French really suck...blood.
-Christopher Lee got his groove back through murder.
-Severed hands don't burn... so don't even try it.
-"There are lots of things a blind man can do."
-(In Jeff Foxworthy voice) "If your new wife wants to lick your cuts... she might be a vampire."
-Donald Sutherland looked like Donald Sutherland in 1965.
-Fire resistant plants could "mean the end of the world."
-An "unexpected gift" can be a piece of bird crap landing on your head:

Quote of the Viewing:
[A huge killer plant takes root outside a man's home. Scientists debate ways to get rid of it.]

Scientist: "There must be some way to stop this?"
Nick: "Yeah, don't water it. Or expose it to sunlight. Or fire."

RDHP Presents:
Random Tribute to Donald Sutherland

Why do we love D.S. so much? The answer is in his eyes. Yes, his voice doesn't match his strange face. And he is a skinny SOB. But the guy can act, and has done so in more than a few horror pictures. See his illustrious career in horror below. We could have saluted co-stars Peter Cushing or Christopher Lee for their horror exploits... but you'd have seen it coming a mile away.

Puffball: The Devil's Eyeball

An American Haunting



The Puppet Masters

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

The Rosary Murders

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Die! Die! My Darling!

Castle of the Living Dead