Thirty-One Days O’Horror: The Abominable Snowman (1957)

“There is no Yeti.”

While Hammer is known primarily for their classic Universal Monster adaptations and their later “blood and bosom” horror, every once in awhile they would release a film that was completely different. Much like Scream of Fear, 1957’s The Abominable Snowman took horror in a completely different and unexpected direction. To be quite honest it is a refreshing break from the standard Hammer films that we all know and love.

In the film, Peter Cushing stars as Dr. John Rollason, a botanist doing a study with his wife, Helen (Maureen Connell), and his friend and colleague, Peter Fox (Richard Wattis). They are studying in the Himalayas as guests of a local monastery headed up by a friendly Lama (Arnold Marle). Another group arrives that is in search of the legendary Yeti. Rollason agrees to go with the small expedition made up of Dr. Tom Friend (Forrest Tucker), Ed Shelley (Robert Brown), Andrew McNee (Michael Brill), and their guide, Kusang (Wolfe Morris), despite the protestations of Helen, Peter, and the Lama. As the group ascends the mountain they face off against another expedition of locals trying to stop them from reaching their destination. They manage to set up camp and things go south quickly. McNee is injured and there’s a visit from an unexpected creature. Then the members of the party begin to experience paranoia and hear strange sounds. Ultimately the viewer has to decide what is real and what is only a figment of the group’s imaginations. Will the expedition succeed in finding the elusive Yeti or will they all suffer a brutal fate? Watch The Abominable Snowman to find out!

The film is very different from other Hammer films. There’s no gore, very little violence, and almost all of the horror comes as a result of the internal struggles of the expedition. This is a very character driven film and it relies on the performances of Cushing, Tucker, and the rest of the cast to put fear and doubt into the viewer’s heart. We only get brief glimpses of the Yeti creatures and the actual payoff shot of the creature triggers an almost sympathetic emotion instead of terror. It’s done that way intentionally and it works in the film.

This was a very good Hammer production. It allows the actors to flex their chops and while it may not have any jump scares, gore, or an insane amount of violence, it works well for what it is, a film about whether or not man is the true villain. I’m a huge fan of Bigfoot and Yeti films, but almost all of them feature the beast as a man-eating monster. This film points the finger at man, not the beast.

Give The Abominable Snowman a shot. It’s a different type of Hammer film and it’s worth watching. Oh, and I thought long and hard about posting a photo of the creatures from the film, but would much rather you see them for yourself in the movie. Thanks for reading my post. See you tomorrow!

Thirty-One Days O’Horror: The Vampire Lovers (1970)

“You must die!”

Ingrid Pitt portrays a bloodthirsty lesbian vampire in The Vampire Lovers. The 1970 film was just one more attempt by Hammer to use sexuality to draw in a crowd. The film would be followed by two sequels, Lust For A Vampire and Twins of Evil, both released in 1971. Collectively the films are known as the Karnstein Trilogy and all three are loosely based on the 1872 novela Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu. While many people seem to focus on the portrayal of lesbians and the nudity in the film, it actually has a very good story line.

The film opens with Baron Hartog planning out his scheme to kill a vampire. After a successful hunt, the film jumps ahead a few years and we are introduced to General Spielsdorf, his beautiful niece, Laura, her suitor, Carl, and the mysterious Countess and her daughter, the captivating Marcilla, at a party at the general’s home. After receiving news of the death of a friend, the countess leaves for her home but asks the general if Marcilla can stay with him until she returns. The general agrees and not long after that, Laura begins having severe nightmares and calls out for Marcilla at night. Laura falls mysteriously ill and soon dies. Marcilla leaves but she and the countess find themselves in the helping hands of Roger Morton. Once again, the countess leaves her daughter, now going by the name Carmilla, and who becomes fast friends with Morton’s daughter, Emma. She seduces both Emma and Emma’s governess, Mademoiselle Perrodot. Other women in the area begin to die mysteriously and Emma becomes sick like Laura.

Vampires and victims from The Vampire Lovers. L to R: Kirsten Lindholm (Hartog’s vampire), Pippa Steel (Laura), Kate O’Mara (Mademoiselle Perrodot), Madeline Smith (Emma Morton), and Ingrid Pitt (Marcilla/Carmilla)

In the meantime, Carl begins to piece together that Emma’s sickness is similar to Laura’s and both of them became ill after the arrival of strange young woman. The general arrives in town with Baron Hartog with him. Convinced that his niece was seduced and murdered by a vampire, the general actively sought out Hartog in order to hunt down the vampire and end its reign of terror. Spielsdorf, Hartog, and Carl, along with other supporters, seek out the vampire. The Morton’s butler and family doctor become suspicious of Carmilla and take measures to keep Emma safe. You’ll have to watch the film in order to find out what happens next.

While The Vampire Lovers received a lot of attention for its lesbianism it is neither the first film to feature lesbian vampires (usually considered to be Universal’s Dracula’s Daughter from 1936) nor was it the first film to be based upon Le Fanu’s novella (Blood And Roses, 1960, although other films used elements of the story prior to it). The film features a considerable amount of nudity including a full frontal nude scene from Pitt. In fact, all of the primary female cast members (excepting Kate O’Mara) appear in some state of undress. There’s also a considerable amount of cleavage and numerous scenes featuring actresses in see-through gowns. Why am I mentioning all of this? To show my readers just how far Hammer went to draw in larger box office numbers. In all honesty the film could have been shot without the nudity and it would have worked just as well on story alone.

The film’s cast is superb for the most part. Pitt portrays the seductive Marcilla with full confidence. Kate O’Mara shines as Perrodot, who goes from a protective governess to a woman desperate for the attention of Marcilla. Pippa Steel has a brief role as Laura but she is wonderful. The men in the film, primarily Peter Cushing as the general, Douglas Wilmer as Hartog, and Jon Finch as Carl, all give a wonderful performance despite taking quite a few steps back to allow the women to shine in the film. Harvey Hall and Janet Key are great in supporting roles as Renton and Gretchin. The only somewhat weak link is Madeline Smith as Emma. Smith spends most of the film wandering around her home or laying in bed with big doe eyes. I understand that she is supposed to be completely captivated by Marcilla, but she comes across as a bit too dumbfounded.

The film’s special effects were great. The blood was the signature Hammer red. While there weren’t as many scenes involving splattering blood, the few that do occur should be quite enough to satisfy gorehounds. Roy Ward Baker’s direction kept the pacing acceptable and there was some brilliant cinematography from Moray Grant.

I really liked this film. I hope to watch the other films in this trilogy and if I have time I’ll review them for Thirty-One Days O’Horror. I definitely recommend this film. If you’re interested in lesbianism in vampire films or in cinema in general, I suggest checking out Dracula’s Daughter. This film is also perfect for Doctor Who fans, as Pitt, O’Mara, and Cushing all featured prominently in Doctor Who stories.

Thanks for checking out my review. See you tomorrow! I’ll take a break from the vampires for a few days. What could I be reviewing next?

Thirty-One Days O’Horror: Taste The Blood Of Dracula (1970)

“They will be destroyed….”

Of all of the Hammer Horror films that I’ve watched so far, 1970’s Taste The Blood Of Dracula is possibly the most straightforward one of the bunch. The film has a rather simple plot that takes place immediately after the events of Dracula Has Risen From The Grave. It wastes little time in setting up the plot and all of the key players and it heads right into the horror. In the film, three thrill-seeking old men find themselves bored with the local brothel. Despite having plenty of beautiful ladies flirting and playing with them and one lady dancing with a snake, the three men want something more exciting. Luckily for them a rich nobleman who has been ostracized by his family arrives and he offers them the thrill of a lifetime: using the blood, cloak, and brooch of Count Dracula to perform an evil ceremony. The nobleman refuses to fully let the men know his intentions, but when he tells them to drink the blood of Dracula and they refuse, he drinks it himself, only to fall into a terrible fit of pain. The three men, in desperation and anger, beat and kick the man to death. They then run back to their respective homes hoping that the death of the man will somehow not be discovered. Instead, their evil deed resurrects Count Dracula and he seeks revenge on the men for the rest of the movie. He uses their own children to battle them, and only one young man rises to the occasion in order to defeat the count. Who wins? Who dies? Watch Taste the Blood of Dracula to find out!

The three “gentlemen” in the film, Hargood, Paxton, and Secker, are not what they seem. Hargood is presented as an upstanding Christian man who is overbearing and strict with his daughter. As the story unfolds we discover that he is far from a good Christian and that he’s done very harmful and sinister things to his daughter. Paxton and Secker, while not given as much development as Hargood, are just as unlikable, although I do believe that Paxton joined the trio just in order to belong. He gives in to a lot of peer pressure throughout the film and ultimately becomes a bit unhinged as a result. The children of these men, Alice Hargood, Paul and Lucy Paxton, and Jeremy Secker, are all generally good people, but Count Dracula manipulates most of them one by one in order to get his revenge for the loss of his would-be servant, Lord Courtley.

I really enjoyed watching Count Dracula systematically take out his adversaries. Many critics panned the film for its lack of vampire attacks despite there being a few of them, but Dracula’s manipulation of the children played out as a better story in my opinion. In the case of Alice, Dracula honestly didn’t need to convince her that much to attack her father. She already had plenty of reasons to do so, but hearing it from Dracula seemed to make it easier and right for her in my opinion.

The cast was very good. Lee pretty much did whatever the heck he wanted to do as Dracula, and he turned in a fine performance. Linda Hayden gave an excellent performance as the mentally, emotionally, physically, and sexually abused daughter of Mr. Hargood, Alice. Geoffrey Keen was extremely unlikable as Hargood which means he did a great job in the role. Paxton and Secker were portrayed by Peter Sallis and John Carson, respectively, and despite being bad guys, I had a little bit of sympathy for them. Isla Blair was great as Lucy Paxton and Anthony Corlan carried much of the film on his shoulders as her loving brother, Paul. Martin Jarvis had a small but crucial role as Jeremy Secker and he did a brilliant job with his limited screen time. Other notable performances included Gwen Watford as Hargood’s abused wife, Martha, Roy Kinnear as Waller, the man who finds the blood, cloak, and brooch of Dracula, Ralph Bates as Courtley, and the ever-reliable Michael Ripper as Inspector Cobb.

The gore in the film was exaggerated just as much as it is in most Hammer films. The blood was bright red and Lee often wore red contacts during scenes. One of the coolest effects in the film is when Courtley pours the dried, powdery blood of Dracula into goblets held by the three old men and then squeezes drops of his own blood on top of it causing a reaction that fills the cups with blood. The music was also very good.

Yes, Taste the Blood of Dracula can be described as a by-the-numbers thriller, but the combination of a great cast, decent plot, and excellent direction all make for a pretty good film. Thanks for reading my post. I hope that you’ve been enjoying Thirty-One Days O’Horror. Leave a comment about your favorite post so far, your favorite Hammer film, or any gripes that you might have.

Thirty-One Days O’Horror: The Reptile (1966)

“I love animals….”

Hammer slithers into scaly terror with 1966’s The Reptile. This film wastes no time introducing the horror as the first person that we see on screen, Charles Spalding (David Baron), is killed by an unseen villain. Other villagers have died as well and the locals believe that they are being infected by a sickness that they’ve dubbed the “Black Death.” Charles’ brother, Harry, inherits his deceased brother’s home. Harry and his wife, Valerie, move into the home and are met with resistance by their new neighbors. From having their home ransacked to getting the cold shoulder at the local pub, the Spaldings aren’t welcomed in the village but refuse to leave. Harry does manage to befriend the pub owner, Tom, and also runs into Mad Peter, a local man that’s slightly off his rocker who warns Harry and Valerie that they should leave for their own safety. Harry and Valerie also meet their closest neighbor, the standoffish Dr. Franklyn and his ill-treated daughter, the lovely and friendly Anna, who is severely punished by her father. Along with the Franklyns is the doctor’s servant, known only as the Malay.

As bodies begin to pile up, Harry and Tom decide to investigate the most recent deaths, one of which is Charles Spalding. They discover that all of the victims have two fang marks on their necks, darkened skin, and experience foaming at the mouth. Harry and Tom, both of whom are well traveled men, believe that the bites and the associated symptoms are similar to those of a type of cobra that isn’t native to England. As they continue to investigate, Harry is attacked, but manages to survive. Valerie attempts to befriend Anna but finds Dr. Franklyn trying to keep them apart. Things come to a head when Anna is revealed to be a cursed woman who transforms into a reptilian monster. Dr. Franklyn is trying to protect her and her potential victims. As more truths begin to surface, who turns out to be the true villain? Can Harry and Tom stop the venomous Anna? Check out The Reptile to find out!

This was a pretty fun film to watch. Director John Gilling hides nothing from the audience, making it pretty obvious early in the film that the Franklyns have a dark secret. The film’s cast does a fine job, especially Jennifer Daniel as Valerie Spalding and Jacqueline Pearce as the stunningly gorgeous Anna. Full disclosure, I’ve had a mad crush on Pearce ever since I saw her as Servalan in the British sci-fi drama Blake’s 7. Ray Barrett does a nice job as Harry Spalding and he has great chemistry with Michael Ripper as Tom Bailey. Noel Willman’s Dr. Franklyn is brutal. He’s a trapped man being forced to do things against his will. Marne Maitland is sinister as the Malay as well.

The film is ultimately nothing more than a traditional creature feature, but it’s still a blast to view. It’s got plenty of suspense and just enough gore to appease hardcore Hammer fans. The creature effects work extremely well and the reptile monster looks pretty cool. Pearce is under all of that makeup and manages to be quite terrorizing.

For a good old monster flick, check out The Reptile. I’ll be continuing my Thirty-One Days O’Horror tomorrow, so be sure to return to my page each and every day this month. Thanks for stopping by and reading my post!

Thirty-One Days O’Horror: Dracula Has Risen From The Grave (1968)

“Who did this?!?!?!?”

When a mute altar boy discovers the body of a young woman in the bell of the local church, the locals begin fearing for their lives and the priest goes rogue in Dracula Has Risen From The Grave. While traveling through the area, Monsignor Mueller learns of the failings of the local priest and decides to help him. The priest tells the monsignor that Dracula has returned and people are too afraid to attend Mass. The Monsignor decides to exorcise and bless Castle Dracula to stop the vampire’s reign of terror. The rogue priest agrees to go with the monsignor to Dracula’s castle but will not follow him all of the way up the mountain. When Msgr. Mueller blesses the castle, placing a large cross upon the doors, a storm brews up and knocks the rogue priest down, causing his head to bleed. Unfortunately for everyone, the monsignor believes that his work is done. Little does he know that the rogue priest’s blood has awakened Dracula and now the count is out for revenge!

Dracula takes the rogue priest as his slave and forces him to lead him to the monsignor in order to get revenge. Unable to access his castle, Dracula takes up residence in the basement of a tavern while the priest gets a room upstairs. The count begins using and manipulating the lovely barmaid, Zena, to draw in the monsignor’s niece, Maria, so that he can take her as his bride in revenge for blocking off his castle. Standing in the count’s way is the monsignor and Maria’s boyfriend, Paul. The duo are quite the odd couple as Paul is an atheist and the monsignor is, well, a Catholic priest. They form an uneasy bond to take on the count. Who wins? Watch 1968’s Dracula Has Risen From The Grave to find out!

This film is considered to be one of the weakest entries in the Christopher Lee Dracula films. Personally I believe that it is very well done and deserves more attention than it receives. For starters, director Freddie Francis does a great job of shocking viewers with epic little moments throughout the film. One of the best, at least in my opinion, is the build up to and ultimate revelation of the dead girl inside the bell of the church. I also loved many of the wide shots that featured Count Dracula standing and peering out at his enemies and/or his slaves. Christopher Lee cuts quite the imposing figure in all of these shots and I thought that they were amazing.

The film’s cinematography, provided by Arthur Grant, is breathtaking at moments. The colors pop when they need to and are refrained at just the right moment. Also, take note of the framing of each shot whenever Dracula is involved in a scene. There’s a nice filtering touch that you’ll find in these moments. The music by James Bernard is great as well. You could hear a theme building around Dracula before, during, and after his appearance in a scene.

Then there is the cast, who all do wonderful jobs. Rupert Davies’ performance as Monsignor Mueller is full of anger, a bit of arrogance, and wisdom. He’s the perfect foil to the very likable and charming Barry Andrews as Paul. He’s one of my favorite characters in all of the Hammer films that I’ve watched so far. Lee does an amazing job as the count as expected and Ewan Hooper is great as the local priest who struggles between forced service to Dracula and his love for the Lord. Veronica Carlson is both sweet and seductive as Maria and, gosh, I can’t say enough about the wonderful Barbara Ewing as Zena, the ill-fated barmaid who has a crush on Paul and is used as a weapon against Maria. Ewing was so striking in this film that I ended up crushing on her a bit myself. Also, I want to give a nod to Carrie Baker. She portrays Gisela Heinz, the young lady who hangs from the bells of the church and whose coffin is stolen by the priest for the count to stay in during the daytime.

I also loved the promotional posters for this film, especially the American release poster pictured at the beginning of this post. It’s simple, revealing Veronica Carlson’s neck with two bandages strategically placed over her vampire bite wound. It’s a cool poster and I need to find a copy of it for my wall. I also loved the many lobby cards, promotional photos, and other posters for this film.

I really did enjoy this film. I don’t understand why so many people dislike it. It’s fun, has plenty of action, and includes some of the best acting performances that I’ve seen in a Hammer production. Sink your teeth into this film. You just might like it!

I hope that you enjoyed this post. We’re more than half of the way through Thirty-One Days O’Horror, and Halloween is just around the corner. Keep your eyes peeled for even more Hammer goodness this month!

Thirty-One Days O’Horror: Horror Of Dracula (1958)

“He must be found…and destroyed!”

Christopher Lee’s iconic Count Dracula and Peter Cushing’s relentless Doctor Van Helsing square off for the first time in Horror of Dracula. Released simply as Dracula in the United Kingdom, the 1958 film is considered by many to be one of the best adaptations of Bram Stoker’s epic tale. Although it doesn’t follow the book much, it is a very well done story. It takes many of the characters from the classic novel and puts them in different roles. One who as read the book might be a little agitated with the way that the story is changed, but it plays out quite nicely as is.

The film opens with Jonathan Harker arriving at Castle Dracula to take a post as the librarian for the count. It is soon revealed that he’s actually there in order to kill the Dracula. The count discovers Harker’s true intentions and turns him into a vampire. Eventually Doctor Van Helsing arrives in town looking for Jonathan. When he discovers that Jonathan has been turned, he stakes him through the heart. The count has gone missing and Van Helsing sets out to find him and finish his reign of blood.

Van Helsing visits Jonathan’s would-be in-laws, Arthur and Mina Holmwood, and Arthur’s sister, Lucy, who was to marry Jonathan upon his return to town. Van Helsing tells the Holmwoods of Jonathan’s demise but leaves out the fact that he was turned into a vampire. As the days pass, Lucy becomes ills and gets sicker by the day. Van Helsing surmises that Lucy must be under the spell of Count Dracula, who has come to avenge the death of his own bride at the hands of Jonathan Harker.

Dracula succeeds in turning Lucy. Van Helsing tells Arthur what really happened to Jonathan and until he witnesses his undead sister attempt to draw in a young girl, Arthur doesn’t believe him. Arthur then becomes a vampire hunter alongside Van Helsing and the two set out to destroy the vampire before he can attack again. Do they succeed? You’ll have to watch Horror Of Dracula to find out!

Christopher Lee is wonderful as the count. Although he hadn’t seen Bela Lugosi’s portrayal of the character prior to filming Horror Of Dracula, he looks a lot like Lugosi with his long cloak and slicked hair. There’s also a hint of eroticism added to the character. Much like Lugosi, Lee’s Dracula was and still is considered a sex symbol. Unlike Lugosi’s count, Lee has fangs, bloodshot eyes, and blood dripping from his mouth after making lunch out of his victims. Cushing is easily my favorite actor in the role of Van Helsing. He’s exceptionally cool, calm, and collected. He’s much smoother than Lee in my opinion and that’s saying a lot. Michael Gough does a very nice job as Arthur Holmwood. Watching him transform from skeptic to vampire hunter was a delight. The rest of the cast was superb as well. Both Melissa Stribling (Mina) and Carol Marsh (Lucy) had very little to do in this film other than to play bait, but they did fine jobs nonetheless.

The climactic battle between Van Helsing and Dracula was done extremely well. There isn’t as much blood in the film as you’d expect from a Hammer production, but the blood that does show up is bright red as expected. The film was directed by Hammer legend Terence Fisher with cinematography by the brilliant Jack Asher. Music was headed up by Hammer regular James Bernard.

Thank you for reading my review of this iconic Hammer film. It has made me a massive fan of Peter Cushing as Van Helsing and puts Christopher Lee high on my Count Dracula list. I’ll have another fang-tastic film review for you tomorrow!

Thirty-One Days O’Horror: Scream Of Fear (1961)

A Twisty Thriller!

Let’s be completely honest. Hammer is primarily known for making gory, bright red blood homages to classic Universal Monsters and horror films that have more than their fair share of T & A. Once in awhile, however, cinemaphiles manage to find a Hammer film that’s not only genuinely suspenseful, but brilliantly directed and full of wonderful cinematography. One of those films is 1961’s Scream of Fear.

Released and known as Taste of Fear in the UK, this film is nothing short of wonderful. Directed by Seth Holt with amazing cinematography from Douglas Slocombe, this movie takes the viewer on a tense, suspenseful quest to find out what really happened to Penny Appleby’s dad and who may or may not have murdered him.

In the film, Penny arrives at her estranged father’s estate having not been in his life for the last ten years. She’s picked up by a handsome driver named Robert who brings her to meet her stepmother, Jane, for the first time. Penny forms an uneasy bond with Jane, a woman that appears nice enough on the surface, but as things happen during her stay at the estate, Penny begins to believe that Jane….or someone else, might have murdered her father. She confides in Robert and he agrees to help her get to the bottom of the issue….or does he? Thrown in for good measure is the mysterious family doctor, Gerrard, whose presence only adds to poor Penny’s confusion. I honestly can’t say much more about the meatier aspects of the plot or I risk spoiling this film. It’s definitely not a film that you want spoiled prior to viewing.

Full of long moments of silence, amazing wide shots both inside the home and around the French Riviera, and intense closeups of eyes, dead bodies, and more, this film is simply beautiful to watch. The suspense is built to dizzying heights and then quickly released only to have more suspenseful moments arise. Seth Holt and Douglas Slocombe absolutely outdid themselves with this film!

The cast is amazing as well. Susan Strasberg is the essence of cool and the center of insanity throughout the film as Penny. Ann Todd’s sinisterly sweet portrayal of Jane is also great. Ronald Lewis is amazing as the dashingly handsome and loyal driver, Robert, who works every angle that he can in order to find out the truth about the death of Penny’s father. Christopher Lee might have a small role as Dr. Gerrard, but his brief moments on the screen are played to perfection.

For a real shocker that keeps you guessing and cinematography and direction that will amaze you, give Scream of Fear a look. I’ll have another review for you tomorrow. Be sure to stop by, read my post, and let me know what you think in the comments. Thanks for checking out my post.

Thirty-One Days O’Horror: The Curse Of The Mummy’s Tomb (1964)

Not The Goosebumps Version….

No, I’m not talking about the beloved Goosebumps novel of the same name, I’m talking about 1964’s brilliantly Technicolored The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb. Of all of the Hammer Horror films that I’ve watched so far during Thirty-One Days O’Horror, this film feels the most like a Universal Monsters classic. It features a plodding mummy that is being manipulated to do its master’s bidding much like Kharis the Mummy was forced to do in all of the sequels to the classic The Mummy from 1932. With that in mind, you’ll probably pick up on the fact that I’m a bit sympathetic to the mummy in this film.

Like many of the other Hammer films released during the 1960’s, The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb features a wonderful cast, lovely cinematography, and a somewhat contrived plot with a less than stellar ending. I liked watching this film but it didn’t bring anything new to the table as far as Egyptian mummy horror films go.

In the film, a group of British and French archaeologists who specialize in Egyptology unearth the tomb of Ra-Antef, one of two of Ramesses VIII sons. The other son, Bey, was an ostracized member of the family who has Ra-Antef murdered. Bey plays a key role in the curse of the mummy and of an amulet that is also discovered and given to Annette Dubois, the daughter of the French archaelogist who loses his life at the beginning of the film.

Despite the protestations of Hashmi Bey, an Egyptian government official who wishes to see the mummy and the treasure from its tomb placed into a museum, and of the Egyptologists, American backer Alexander King decides to put all of the artifacts into a traveling roadshow in order to make money off of the discovery. On the way to London, two of the archaeologists, Sir Giles and Ronald Bray, are attacked by a mysterious man who is stopped by Adam Beauchamp, a wealthy “friend of the arts” who decides to aid the group once they arrive in London. In London, members of the excavation party begin to die one by one. It is soon discovered that the mummy of Ra-Antef is the culprit, but who is controlling the mummy? All of that is revealed in the film and I won’t spoil it for you. Watch The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb to find out what happens.

I’ve already mentioned how excellent the cast was in this film but I’d like to point out a few standout performances. First off is Fred Clark as the American promoter named Alexander King. Best known for his tough guy roles, Clark gives a humorous performance in Tomb. Jack Gwillim, who sharp-eyed viewers will recognize as Poseidon from The Clash of the Titans (1981) and multiple characters from other films, delivers a strong performance as the alcoholic Sir Giles. Ronald Howard turned in a great performance as John Bray, a brilliant Egyptologist who falls for Annette and can do nothing as she gives in to the charms of Adam Beauchamp. Speaking of Annette and Adam, Jeanne Roland and Terence Morgan do pretty good jobs in their respective roles.

This film definitely has its moments but it ultimately proves to be rather formulaic and highly predictable. I enjoyed it for what it was but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it is a must-see film. The cast, sets, and cinematography are amazing but only hardcore horror fans like myself will want to see it more than once.

Thanks for reading my post! See you tomorrow!

Thirty-One Days O’Horror: The Two Faces Of Dr. Jekyll (1960)

“Believe me. Your husband is here.”

The tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a well known one. Written by Robert Louis Stevenson, it’s the story of a man who struggles with his own internal demons which are let out when the evil Mr. Hyde surfaces. With no worries about consequences, Hyde lives a life of debauchery. Ultimately Dr. Jekyll has to decide on whether or not to stop the savage side of his personality. Much of the same holds true for this story, 1960’s The Two Faces Of Dr. Jekyll, where we find Dr. Jekyll, a meek and gentle man, longing to be with his cheating wife, Kitty. When he drinks the formula that turns him into Mr. Hyde, all of his inhibitions are erased and he goes to extremes to quench his thirst for excess.

Hyde’s primary adversary is a man who lives much the same life that he does, only with more reservations. That man, Paul Allen, is Dr. Jekyll’s best friend and Kitty’s secret lover. Paul constantly borrows money from Jekyll to cover his many debts that he has accrued through binge drinking, buying prostitutes, and gambling. He becomes fast friends with Mr. Hyde, but the two men eventually square off for the affections of Kitty. Also in the picture is Maria, a seductive dancer and high end prostitute whom Hyde is attracted to and pursues. Without giving away too much, Hyde refuses to allow Jekyll to take full control and the result is murder, scandal, and debauchery.

It’s been so long since I’ve read The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde that I don’t really know how much of this film follows the book. If I’m remembering correctly, there are very few similarities between the two tales. The biggest difference is that Hyde is presented as a dashing, handsome young man instead of a violent and beastly character. The film tanked at the box office but I really enjoyed watching this film.

Jekyll/Hyde is portrayed by Paul Massie. While he plays Jekyll a tad heavy handed, he really seems to enjoy playing Hyde and, to be honest, who wouldn’t prefer to play that character? He smirks and charms his way through most of the situations that he gets into and resorts to brilliantly sadistic violence when things go south. He seemed to love telling a young Oliver Reed to “go to Hell and take that trollop with you.” Hyde was a brilliant character and Massie was great in the role. Another wonderful standout was Christopher Lee as Paul Allen. Lee chewed up the scenery and was delightfully unpleasant. As much of a scoundrel as he was, you wanted to cheer for the guy in the movie.

Massie and Lee’s performances overshadowed the rest of the cast, but Dawn Addams portrayal of Kitty Jekyll and Norma Maria as the seductive Maria should not be overlooked. Both of them were amazing in their roles, especially Addams. When Kitty saw herself dressed as a prostitute, something that Dr. Jekyll viewed her as to a point, her whole image changed. She went from being an unlikable and unloving adulterer to a woman who just realized all that she gave up for nothing. She became a character somewhat deserving of our sympathy.

While the critics and contemporary audiences might not have appreciated this film, I quite enjoyed it. It’s one of my favorite Hammer pictures to date. Take a look at it for yourself. The cast seemed to be enjoying themselves and it comes through in the film.

Thanks for checking out my latest post. See you again real soon!

Thirty-One Days O’Horror: The House That Bled To Death (1980)

“She’ll forget all about it.”

I’m really enjoying the Hammer House of Horror anthology series. I’m picking episodes at random and have to admit that Episode 5: The House That Bled To Death proves that not only does this series play with viewers’ minds, it also doesn’t mind throwing a little shade at other popular horror films, books, and shows of its time.

In this particular episode, we are treated to the poisoning death of an elderly woman at the hands of her husband. Particular attention is given to a pair of curved bladed weapons hanging on the wall. We then flash forward to a young couple and their daughter being approved to move into the very home where the murder occurred. While moving into their new home, they meet one of their neighbors, Jean, who brings over some tea. They eventually meet Jean’s husband, George, who takes a peek at the young couple while they are enjoying some alone time in the bedroom. The couple notices strange events happening in their home, from the brutal death of the family cat, Timmy, to a pair of blades (the same ones from the beginning of the episode) popping up in random places. Eventually the young husband, William, believes that all of the weird occurrences are somehow tied to Jean and he kicks her out of his home. The young wife, Emma, starts to slowly come unhinged. Emma and William’s daughter, poor little Sophie, takes the brunt of most of the paranormal happenings.

The creepy tale comes to a climax at Sophie’s birthday party where the festivities are interrupted by a literal bloodbath thanks to a broken pipe. Blood sprays all of the children and adults way before the first Blade film pulled off a similar stunt. Eventually Emma is hospitalized, Sophie is traumatized, and William can’t seem to do anything about any of it.

After all of these bizarre and bloody events, the episode takes a hard left turn. It gives viewers a twist that was totally unexpected and, to be quite honest, took me a few seconds to catch up to what was actually happening. The episode ends just as brutally as it began, but with a spin that slaps contemporary films and books of that time in a particularly nasty way.

The episode featured a very strong cast. Nicholas Ball (William), Patricia Maynard (Jean), Brian Croucher (George), Emma Ridley (Sophie), and Milton Johns (A.J. Powers) are all exceptional in this episode. Rachel Davies nails her role as Emma. The gore is excessive beyond all measure for a television show but in the most glorious way. I also love how this particular episode takes direct shots at the controversy surrounding the events of The Amityville Horror film and book. Be sure to keep an eye on EVERYONE in this episode, as all will eventually be revealed at the end of the tale but you might be able to figure out beforehand now that I’ve let you know that all is not what it seems.

Thanks for checking out my post. This was a really good episode of a series that is definitely up my alley. It’s currently available to stream for free on Tubi, so if you’re interested in this type of series, give it a go.