Hello everyone, this is Balcony Betty, here once again to share my thoughts and insights on a few movies. First, let’s travel down south to the home of voodoo—New Orleans—with, “Skeleton Key”. This is a different role for Kate Hudson, who plays the heroine in this scary flick that is ripe with moments destined to make chills run up and down your spine. In this film, Caroline Ellis, played by Hudson, is a hospice aide who tries to help elderly people by being with them when they die. Disenchanted by the way the deceased are viewed in the nursing home, she responds to an ad asking for a live-in hospice aide. This sets her on a roller-coaster ride into the beliefs and practices of voodoo in the bayou. I did not know where this movie was going until it was almost there, and since I appreciate movies that keep me guessing ‘til the end, I gave “Skeleton Key” three howls of pleasure . Besides, what can beat the freak-out factor of a well made voodoo movie?
For the next movie, I chose to review a movie from 2002, but within the scary movie theme. This movie is from one of the masters of scary movies, Stephen King. The film, “Rose Red,” is a study of a reportedly haunted house named, “Rose Red”. This house, although currently unoccupied, it is said to still be in a state of constant construction. In the beginning of the movie, a paranormal investigator assembles a team of psychically receptive people and brings them into the house in order to study what happens to them and to the house. What results is a thrill-ride of things going bump-in-the-night and other disturbing activity. The fact that this film was originally a television mini-series did not subtract from my enjoyment of the movie and in my opinion did not affect the movie’s thrill factor or special effects in the least. I gave this movie four howls of pleasure . Oh yeah, don’t forget to look closely to see the author himself, Stephen King, making a delivery to the team investigating “Rose Red”.
As my third pick, I am going to review one version of a classic horror story that has been remade numerous times. The most recent of those remakes was released in 2004. I speak of Gaston LeRoux’s, “The Phantom of the Opera,” and I won’t be reviewing Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 2004 version. I will be reviewing the 1989 version starring Robert Englund as the title character. The 1989 “Phantom” is a horror in every since of the word; given the movie was filmed in the late eighties without all of the computer-assisted special effects present today it is amazing the effects are as terrifying as they are. The movie never fails to draw a startled jump from me. This movie’s scare factor is aided by Englund’s skill as a horrifying villain, honed by his role as Freddy Krueger in the, “A Nightmare on Elm Street” movies. Like all of the movie versions of LeRoux’s book, “Phantom” veers from the original storyline. In this version The Phantom, Erik Destler, sells his soul to Satan and gains supernatural powers, allowing him to terrorize Christine Day in two lifetimes—Ripper’s London with American Day singing with the London Opera, and in contemporary New York City, where Day is auditioning for a musical on Broadway. I have given this 1989 version of, “The Phantom of the Opera” three and a half howls of pleasure . After all, the book was better, but then again, in most cases the book is always better. Interesting little bit of useless trivia—there was a planned sequel to this movie, but it was never filmed. The sequel was to be titled, “The Phantom of New York,” no less.
For my fourth and final movie this month, I am reviewing, “The Exorcism of Emily Rose”. This movie, like any number of exorcism movies, has many religious themes and ideas hidden amongst the plot. I won’t bog down this review by listing all of those themes and ideas; they must be addressed on an individual basis using your own beliefs as an anchor. “Emily Rose,” which is inspired by true events, is seen in terrifying flashbacks during a trial of the priest who preformed her exorcism, unsuccessfully, resulting in the death of 19-year-old Emily Rose. The movie, while scary in the appropriate parts, makes the viewer think about their beliefs and causes you to think, ‘What if?’ For reasons that I can not fully explain, I found this to be an excellent movie. I gave this movie five howls of pleasure, both for the movie itself and for the thought provoking manner in which it asked the audience to examine their own beliefs.
Before I leave you, I have a few things to say to some of the other viewers in the theater with me this month. The next time you go to a horror flick, or any movie with a rating above PG, have a bit of respect for other people and leave the little kiddies at home. They kick the back of your seat, they scream at the wrong time and their constant crying drowns out the voices on the screen. So, ‘til next time, this is Balcony Betty saying—get out there and enjoy a scary movie this month, because it is after all the month of All Hallows’ Eve.
Take it way Rick.
Hey, Gang, it's Reaper Rick, wishing you all a 'Happy Halloween' this
I wanted to view some good, 'old' scary flicks this month for my reviews
and picked a favorite, 'old time' actor to watch: Vincent Price. I just
want to share a little background about this great actor with you before
I get in to the actual reviews.
Vincent Leonard Price was born on May 27, 1911, in St. Louis Missouri and
he graduated from Yale in 1933. Aside from starring in some 100 movies
during his career (from 1935 to 1995), he also acted on stage and hosted
a number of Television shows, before his death on October 25, 1993.
While he started his career as a handsome leading man in drama and
mystery movies, some of his more memorable horror flicks were, "The House
of Wax," "The House on Haunted Hill," and "The Fly."
One of my favorite Price movies was, "The Raven." This was made in the
early 1960s, after his association with American International Pictures
was formed. In this movie, he starred with Peter Lorre, Boris Karlof and
a new actor, who was just beginning his career--a young Jack Nicholson.
Even though three great 'horror' actors teamed for this movie, it was
actually a comedy, based ever so loosely on Edgar Allan Poe's famous
poem, "The Raven." Price and Karlof are magicians who end up fighting a magical duel, to see who is the better magician, while Lorre is the comic
relief, as a poorly trained magician, who thinks he is better than the
Being made over forty years ago, this movie lacks decent special effects
(as we know them today), but it is still a great movie to watch, if for
nothing else, to see these three amazingly talented actors working
together. Not to mention seeing Nicholson starring in one of his early
flicks. In one scene, when he is driving a coach toward Karlof's castle,
Jack is overcome by a magical spell and we see the demented quality he
will show viewers so magnificently, many years later in, "The Shining."
The photography and lighting wasn't that great (again, it was made over
forty years ago), and even though I give this movie only Two Howls of
pleasure , it is a must see for your Halloween viewing, what with Price,
Karlof, Lorre and Nicholson all putting in appearances. Check it out, if
you can still find it in your local video store.
Next up, I looked at two more Price films, which were, in fact a pair of
movies, both of which were brought to us by American International
Pictures. "The Abominable Dr. Phibes," and "Dr. Phibes Rises Again!"
In the first Phibes movie, filmed in 1971, Price plays a wealthy man
whose wife dies on an operating table, and he vows revenge on the entire
surgical team for 'killing' his beloved Victoria. Since everyone thinks
Phibes himself died in a car accident, as he was racing to the hospital
to be with his stricken wife, the cops (Bobby's, actually, since the
movie takes place in England) have no idea who is killing off the
doctors, in extremely strange ways. Joseph Cotton stars as the main doc,
and Terry Thomas has a cameo role as another of the soon to be deceased
doctors. The London cops provide some comic relief, here, as they
stumble around, always arriving just after someone else is bumped off.
While this flick had potential, I don't think it was taken as far as it
could have been. And, while the killings show ingenuity, they weren't
filmed as well or as completely as they might have been. Price plays his
role well (as always) and his silent partner in crime, the delectable
Vulnavia is a pleasure to watch, but I still have to give this movie only
Two Howls of Pleasure . It lacked real terror, but was a fun flick, even
so, with a fairly good, suspenseful ending.
The second Phibes movie, however, was much better. Filmed a year later,
in 1972, it seemed to have a bigger budget and was filmed in higher
quality. Phibes awakens from a three year slumber (see the first movie
to find out how this was accomplished) and he takes the again, delectable and silent Vulnavia (played by Valli Kemp), and his semi-dead wife to
Egypt, seeking the River of Eternal Life, where both he and his wife will
find (duh!) life eternal.
Naturally, there is someone else who also seeks this miracle. Robert
Quarry himself needs this River of Life to keep himself alive (although,
how or why his life depends on it, is never quite explained). Price and
Quarry both descend on one spot in Egypt, but Quarry's party is
systematically killed off, again in very unusual ways.
Peter Cushing puts in a cameo and Terry Thomas (even though killed off in
the first flick), shows up again, as a different character. The same
London cops also show up in Egypt, once again coming in just a few
moments too late to save anyone from Phibe's kinky killing spree.
All in all, this was a much better movie and I give it Three Howls of
Pleasure . See them together with a big bowl of popcorn, for some good
Okay, before I decided to basically dedicate this month's review to
Vincent Price, I also watched a whole bunch of very, 'very' bad old
horror flicks. Most of them were SO freaking bad, I can't even mention
them, but one was just bad enough to make it into this review.
"Slave of the Cannibal God" starred Stacy Keach and Ursula Andress.
Keach was and is a good actor, but this movie was apparently made after
he was busted for cocaine possession and did some jail time, which ended
his U.S. acting career for a few years. Andress may be remembered, if at
all, for her role in the James Bond film, "Dr. No," when she came out of
the ocean wearing a white bikini and a wide belt. She was never cast for
her acting ability, but apparently for her visual quality. "Cannibal
God" was no exception.
This was a pathetic Italian production and even Stacy Keach's acting
ability could not overcome the poor dialog and missing plot of this
movie. Andress is supposedly seeking her lost husband on a small Voodoo
island in the Caribbean and Keach is hired to lead them on an expedition
to find him. To make up for the poor quality of the movie, they had lots
of really gross, disgusting scenes of animals killing and eating each
other, as well as scenes of the cannibals ripping entrails out of human
bodies and eating raw intestines, among other atrocities.
You had to watch almost the entire movie before there was a scene where
Andress is Undressed and is seen completely naked. While interesting,
this one scene did not make up for the rest of a really terrible movie.
They even had Keach killed off halfway through the movie, so you 'know'it didn't have much going for it. As one of the worst movies I have
'ever' seen, I give, "Slave of the Cannibal God," Three Hangman's Nooses!
All right, so that's it from me. Get out there and see some really
'horrible' Halloween flicks this month, and have some FUN!
See ya next time, dudes!