November 2020 Mini-Reviews – House of Dark Shadows to My Favorite Spy

It seems like just yesterday that I was posting October’s reviews.  Well, it almost was, because I’m writing this right after those reviews, in an attempt to catch up.  So, here’s the mini-reviews from November, 2020.

Is it possible that I watched 58 films-shows-series this month?  Apparently it is, unless my math is wrong.  Check the bottom of the post for the year-to-date totals.

I did a lot of Scooby-Doo viewing in the month, carrying over from a Scooby trend in October — so much that I actually ran through all 3 seasons of What’s New Scooby-Doo? before I knew it.  I only realized that’s what happened when Netflix suddenly shunted me into a completely different program.  “What the heck?!” I blurted.  And, backtracking, found that I’d run out of the entire series.  Either “Whoops” or “Yay” or both, depending on how you look at it.

I’m still saving and savoring a couple of episodes of Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated, though — which is my favorite (so far) of the Scooby sequels.  (Though I’ve enjoyed What’s New and Guess Who, too.)

But, there was plenty more in November, too — and only a few turkeys.  Check them all out below.

Ratings are out of five stars. Here’s what those stars mean to me…

* – This film is not good. Avoid it unless you tolerate dreck well.
** – A flawed film. You may enjoy it if you like this genre or the folks in it.
*** – A good solid film. If you like this genre, you’ll probably like this film.
**** – A superior film within its genre. Thoroughly enjoyable.
***** – An outstanding film on many levels. A great example of its genre.

House of Dark Shadows **** Compressed version of the Barnabas the vampire story has high body count & great performances by TV show actors.
Lego Scooby-Doo – Haunted Hollywood *** The gang face a headless horseman in a horror studio. Scooby fun, but not sure the crew is suited for the Lego look.
Seven Chances ***** Buster Keaton will inherit 7 million if he can get a gal to marry him by 7pm. Hilarious end chase scene 1 of the best ever.
Silver Needle in the Sky – Rocky Jones *** Rocky & crew must thwart evil Empress’ plans to kidnap Peace Conference delegats. Slight but some fun moments.
Eyes Behind the Stars * Aliens kidnap photographer & model. Press & cops look for them & MIB cover it up. Slow with brutal downer ending.
Two O’Clock Courage *** Tom Conway loses his memory & lady cabby helps him solve the mystery of his ID & whether he’s a wanted killer.
Devil’s Possessed, The *** Naschy is a Satan-worshiping lord & original title’s “Marshall of Hell” in this tale that’s more Robin Hood plus Leer. Good.
Erlking, The (1931) **** French telling of the creepy Goethe poem about a boy pursued by death & fahter who doesn’t believe. Cool fairie stuff.
Cat People ***** Remake is fun, but the original can’t be beat for atmosphere & creeps in fascinating tale. Bride fears she’s a were-cat.
History of Horror, A Part 3 The American Scream **** Mark Gatiss turns his love of horror to the American films of the 70s & early 80s, where creativity ran high, before cheap remakes & ripoffs (& blockbusters) dominated the screen. A fine finish to his appreciation.
Killer Shrews, The **** Well made low-budget thriller about people stranded on an island with hungry, huge mutant shrews. A personal fave.
Haunted Castle, The *** Murnau’s film has no supernatural elements, just people thrust together in an old dark house with possible murderer. OK.
Creeping Terror, The ** Famously cheap low-budget film with narration in place of actual dialogue. Looks better with a good print, but… Bad.
Witches’ Brew *** Based on Leiber’s “Conjure Wife,” Benjamin & Garr in script that can’t decide if it’s funny or serious. Kathryn Leigh Scott.
Crypt of the Living Dead ** AKA Hanna Queen of the Vampires. Vampire Queen is dug up & turns locals against each other. Slow & story problems.
Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island *** Scoob & the gang dump fake monsters in this movie with real voodoo, zombies, & cat-women. Doesn’t quite work for me.
Cat Women on the Moon ** Astronauts are fly to the moon & discover telepathic “cat” women with designs on Earth. Rough script & sudden end.
Flight that Disappeared, The ** Flight with atomic scientist aboard suddenly soars up into the sky to face 4th dimensional god-like-alien judgement. Meh.
Exorcism (Exorcismo) **** Naschy is a priest in this giallo-like saga that veers from crime into supernatural at the end. Unexpected twists & turns.
It Conquered Hollywood **** Story of American International Pictures makes a fascinating documentary. Lots of good interviews with folks involved.
Beast of Yucca Flats, The * Tor Johnson is the title character, a scientist turned into a scarred monster (looks like Tor) by atomic blast. One of the worst.
Condemned to Live ** Upstanding son of mother bitten by bat becomes a fiend during darkness. Odd slow mix of romance, melodrama, vampirism.
Snow Creature, The ** Lots of walking in the snow & a pretty crappy monster suit overshadow some good camerawork in this slow yeti film.
Beauty and the Beast ***** Cocteau’s fairy tale is a masterpiece in all ways, especially in design, setting, & camerawork. Perfect film for the ages.
Spiral Staircase, The **** Rewatch. Mute girl working in manor while village menaced by killer who preys on handicapped women. Suspenseful.
Rocketship *** The original Flash Gordon serial was cut down into this action packed movie. Frantic pace loses some of the serial fun.
Message from Mars, A ** Silent film of Martians coming to earth to make man have sympathy & save his engagement. Very Scrooge-like. Slow.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street **** Tod Slaughter is a hoot in this adaptation of the tale of the barber who cut throats & fleeced vicitims. Some action, too.
Tormented! *** Jazz musician is tormented by ghost of dead lover as his wedding approaches. A Bert I. Gordon fave with fun FX, suspense.
Fleshpot on 42nd Street *** Low-budget but engaging film about a woman hustling the streets of NYC in the 70s. Engaging, though print could be better.
Guru, The Mad Monk *** Crazed low-budget film about corrupt priest & his dealings with followers & church officials. A bit of Hunchback of ND, too.
Slumber Party Massacre *** Corman film with young lovelies being menaced by Driller Killer. Predicatable, but still quite entertaining.
Near Dark *** A band of vampires roams the American west in cars/vans & young cowboy falls in with them. Interesting with good cast.
Hammer: The Studio that Dripped Blood ***** Charles Gray narrates this overview of Hammer films with excellent interviews by those involved, including Cushing & Lee.
Ape Man, The *** Poverty Row mad scientist Bela Lugosi screws up an experiment, becomes Ape Man, kills to regain humanity. Slow fun.
Crimes at the Dark House **** Rewatch. Tod Slaughter chews up the scenery & his many opponents in melodramatic “Woman in White” adpatation. Fab!
She Beast, The ** Wife replaced by witch bent on revenge on decendants of her killers. Okay. More stars if Barbara Steele were in it more.
Moon of the Wolf *** Solid TV movie with David Jansen as sheriff trying to track down mystery killer, who (at the end) turns out to be a werewolf.
Nightfall **** Noir thriller of man hunted by cops & gangsters in connection with stolen money & death of his friend. Snowy setting.
Man Who Changed His Mind *** Rewatch: Karloff is scientist who invents machine to switch minds between bodies & uses it to avenge “wrongs” done to him.
Curse of the Crimson Altar *** Cult of ancient witch haunts the dreams of young man as he searches for his missing brother. Cast inc. Karloff, Lee. Steele.
Bride of Frankenstein, The ***** James Whale’s monsterpiece as the monster returns & mad scientists make him a bride. Brilliant, satiric. Karloff is great.
Turkish Flash Gordon ** Wacky Turkish film has elements of Flash (serials), but looks like low-budget Doctor Who. Still amusing at times.
Prehistoric Women ** Tribe of women break from men, go on their own, battle men, then eventually reunite. Could use better print. Sexist ideas.
Thunderball ***** Great Sean Connery Bond film about stolen nuclear weapons ends with spectacular underwater sequence. One of the best.
Monster Madness – The Golden Age of Horror Film **** Strong overview doc of early & Golden Age monster movies with good clips & interviews with surviving stars & fans.
Greed of William Hart, The *** Tod Slaughter is much more sedate in this Burke & Hare story in which British censors required re-dubbing of those names.
Circus of Fear *** Christopher Lee is a masked lion tamer as criminals & police seek stolen money & a murderer hidden in a circus.
Fear Chamber *** Scientists discover creature from Earth’s core feads on fear & feed it. Disjointed, but late role Karloff is worth a bonus star.
Track of the Moon Beast ** Man struck by meteorite becomes reptilan creature under influence of moon. Werewolf-style tale with low-budget issues.
Bloody Brood, The ** Peter Falk leads gang of thugs who thrill-poison a man. Tjhey are then tracked by the mans brother. Not really horror.
Flesh & Blood (Full Season) **** Strong cast, good writing, red-herrings, & suspense carry this story of family suspicious of man courting their mother.
What’s New Scooby-Doo? (S1) *** 14 fun, spooky mystery stories in the tradition of the original series – so… A good update with fun episodes. Nicely retro.
What’s New Scooby-Doo? (S2) *** A fun 14 episode 2nd season includes Shaggy getting turned into a giant monster & an ice monster. Another good season.
What’s New Scooby-Doo? (S3) *** A dragon, a giant crab, & a mystery in which the gang themselves are culprits highlight the 3rd & final retro season.
Smiling Ghost, The *** Reporter agrees to marry heiress to investigate mysterious disappearances in her old dark house. Predictable fun.
My Favorite Spy *** After an army recruiting mistake, Kay Kyser reluctantly joins a spy corps on his wedding night. Hijinks ensue. Not enough band stuff.

So, that’s it for November.  The total at the end of the month is 648 films for the year 2020.  Not only did I surpass the 600 mark, but I totally blew through it.  I’m not sure if I’ll hit 700 for the year, but I may come damn close.

And just imagine if I’d counted all those Scooby-Doo episodes separately!  Ha ha.

Next Month: A New Year!  (And don’t we need it!)  And, of course, the December reviews, finishing off a record year of film and show watching that I hope will stand for a long time.  (Because I hope we’ll all be able to leave the house again in 2021.)  Stay tuned and see where we end up.

And, of course, stay safe & well!

Remember, you can support this and all my other writing work, including Frost Harrow, Dr. Cushing’s Chamber of Horrors, and more, by joining my Patreon for a buck or two a month.  Thanks!

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