October Mini-Reviews – Tomb of Torture to Black Sabbath

Halloween Month!  Also, month of craziness as I was teaching a class (on classic horror films) and both our moms were/are having serious health issues — so our lives are in the middle of changing.

But, despite that, if my math is right, I watched 59 movies in October, for an end of month total of 407 films this year.  The final Halloween Push was hindered slightly by trick-or-treaters, but bumped mightily by Monster Kid Radio’s online viewing party, which proved that I can watch two movies at once — if I’m familiar with at least one of them.  🙂  TCM’s great end-of month marathon was a huge help, too.  I also managed to get through all the Hammer Frankenstein films, and all but one of their Mummy films (and that one I watched first in November).  Overall: Good Halloween Month!

So, all that said, here’s the list…

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.

Tomb of Torture ** Disfigured torturer in a hidden dungeon sets his sights on woman who may be reincarnated former castle owner.
Dungeon of Harrow ** Shipwreck survivors run afowl of strange family on isolated island. Torture ensues & several love interests, too.
Bloody Pit of Horror ** The Crimson Executioner is back from the dead & setting his torture devices against a castle full of models.
Telltale Heart, The (1960) ** Only the heartbeat has to do with Poe. Mostly a story about a timid man who kills his best friend over lost love.
Curse of Frankenstein ***** Hammer’s 1st Frankenstein film remains the best, with Cushing as the Dr. and Lee as the monster. Classic.
Revenge of Frankenstein **** Cushing is great in his return, and though the monster is not so monstrous, the story is strong in this sequel.
Evil of Frankenstein *** New take on the monster doesn’t fit in with the original, though this is treated like a squel. Still, Cushing good fun.
Frankenstein Created Woman **** A personal favorite in the series, where a more sympathetic doctor transplants vengeful man’s soul into woman.
Thing from Another World, The ***** A classic and one of the great SF/Horror films, packed with great dialog & characters. (Not true to original story.)
Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed *** Cushing’s Frankenstein is back to his brain translpant tricks, but again no monster. Unnecessary rape scene, Ugh!
Where to Invade Next ***** Michael Moore “conquers” the world (mostly Europoe) for better ideas to bring to the US. Inspiring & uplifting.
Vampire, The (1957) *** Scientist accidentally takes pills that turn him into a bloodthirsty scientific fiend. (Not a real vampire.) Fun 50s.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs ***** Disney’s classic deserves its rep for amazing animation & a tuneful score. Old-fashioned sex roles barely hurt.
Hanna-Barbera’s Alice in Wonderland *** Trippy 60s-70s kids’ story, Great voice cast, memorable musical numbers, & Sammy Davis Cheshire Cat.
Horror of Frankenstein **** Black comedy makes this “reboot” of Hammer’s Frankenstein fun & Bates is really good as the title character.
Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell *** Fairly creaky ending to Hammer Frankenstein series. Cushing still good, but monster is mishmash. Open ending.
Mummy, The (1959) ***** Lee towers as vigorous Mummy & Cushing is usual greatness as archeologist in pseudo-remake of Universal set.
Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb **** Mummy makeup isn’t as strong, but production values are high & cast is great, plus some wierd twists. Worth it.
Mummy’s Shroud, The *** Mummy makeup deteriorates more & some characters unlikable, but still fun in this. Great final end for mummy
Faust (1926) ***** Murnau’s Faust is filled with amazing visuals, SFX, & camera work that brings the eerie tale of soul selling to life.
Black Hole, The ** Great production design can’t save a poor script & juvenile (& unconvincing) robot work plus metaphysical end.
Cat from Outer Space, The ** Alien cat gets stranded on Earth, is helped by Ken Berry & McLean Stevenson. Spend $ on ending sequence.
Isle of the Dead **** Karloff is creepy as hell in a Lewton film filled with shadows & paranoia caused by either plague or vampires.
Bedlam **** Karloff is great as the cruel master of the asylum, using the mad inmates to his own ends vs. crusading woman.
Salome ** Beautiful production & lovely Rita Hayworth shine in fairly standard Biblical potboiler. Worth seeing for dance.
Last Flight of Noah’s Ark ** Pilot’s plane of animals & relief worker (& kids) becomes sea ark after crash on island with lost WWII Japanese.
Pharaoh’s Curse, The ** Army guys search for archaeologists searching for lost tomb, find it, run afoul of ghoulish tomb guardian. Tepid.
Mysterious Doctor, The *** Headless ghost haunts a tin mine needed for the British war effort. Mystery & mayhem ensue. Tight little thriller.
Dark Eyes of London (The) – a.k.a. Human Monster *** Lugosi gets to do some fine acting in this flick about insurance scam where people are killed to benefit “charity.”
Devil Bat, The *** Cheapie has a fine performance by Lugosi & is generally a lot of fun. Short runtime, but worth buying a blu-ray.
Corpse Vanishes, The ** Lugosi murders brides on their wedding day to restore his wife to youth & beauty. Cheap but Lugosi shines.
Spooks Run Wild ** East Side kids (Bowery Boys) end up in spooky house occupied by Lugosi & sinister midget. Some twists, too.
Bowery at Midnight ** Lugosi’s two-faced professor runs a soup kitchen as a front for murder & criminal activities – zombies lurk below.
Snow White & the Huntsman *** Solid dark-fantasy retelling of the classic tale with plenty of action & good SFX. Great cast inc. Charlize Theron.
Dinosaur Valley Girls ** Modern man transported back in time to lost world with topless babes & not quite enough stop-motion dinosaurs.
House of Dark Shadows **** Curtis’ jam-packed story of TV’s vampire Barnabas with strong production, acting, a bit of sex, & high body count.
Night of Dark Shadows *** Story of witches, ghosts, & reincarnation diverges from TV show but is fun, despite studio interference in final cut.
Island of Lost Souls ***** Classic disturbing tale of mad doctor turning animals into “humans” on lost island. Great Wally Westmore makeup.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931) ***** March is superb as J&H, Wally Westmore’s makeup sends shivers, & fab camerawork in best J&H adaptation.
Mad Love (rewatch) **** Lorre is creepy but pitiable. Clive totters on the edge of madness. The manequin looks real at times. Love the end.
Fly, The (1958) **** Sci-Fi horror that starts as suspense mystery with Vincent Price, great color, performances, & memorable shocks.
Doctor X (rewatch – again) **** Weird science mixed with weird horror mixed with weird 2-strip technicolor, but Atwill & Wray worth the slow bits.
Return of Doctor X, The *** Fairly standard mix of reporter comedy & horror with Bogart as resurrected mad-scientist who needs blood to live.
King Kong (1933 – rewatch) ***** The perfect adventure/monster film never gets old. Dinosaurs, a brave blonde, a daring filmmaker, & Kong, too!
Ghost Chasers *** Bowery Boys get mixed up with gangsters in a fake medium racket & a real ghost. Higher production than usual.
Bowery Boys Meet the Monsters, The *** The Boys get mixed up with a family with mad scientist, vampire, man-eating, plant, robit, gorrila & more. Silly.
Spook Busters *** Bowery Boys become exterminators & only job they get is to exterminate ghosts from mad-doctor’s mansion.
Spook Chasers ** Bowery Boys get stuck with a run-down house that contains a lost fortune in money & crooks playing ghost.
Master Minds ** Bowery Boys to the rescue when psychic Satch is kidnapped to use his brain in Glenn Strange’s savage monster.
Spirits of the Dead *** French portmanteau of Poe-inspired tales with Jane & Peter Fonda, Alain Delon, Terence Stamp. Stylish, uneven.
Frozen Dead, The *** Creep factor is high as Dana Andrews has frozen Nazis & psychic disembodied head in his basement lab.
House of Wax **** The 3D is awesome, if you can get it & Price & cast are wonderful in classic high-production Wax Museum tale.
Face of the Screaming Werewolf ** Most of the footage is from Aztec Mummy movies, but some Lon Chaney Jr. in Werewolf makeup. Disjointed.
Mill at Calder’s End **** Atmospheric Poe-Lovecraft-style short film done entirely with hyper-realistic puppets. Don’t dig up coffins!
Pit and the Pendulum, The *** Corman & Price team for a tale of a madman taking revenge with title gizmo for a wife buried alive – or was she?
Twice Told Tales *** Price & co. are good & Hawthorn’s 3 tales interesting, but could probably have been told in far less time.
Masque of the Red Death (rewatch) **** Production values are high & Corman’s direction really solid. Good pacing, too. Definitely one of his Poe best.
Black Cat, The ***** Boris & Bela are at the top of their game, as is Ulmer & his crew in this creepy duel between war vet & satanist.
Furred Man, The *** Fun short film about a camp owner who decides to dress up as a werewolf in order to increase camp business.
Black Sabbath **** Bava’s stylish portmanteau with great classic ghost & vampire tales (Karloff) & okay modern horror tale.

Next Month: Honestly, I don’t know.  My mom is coming to live with us, and that may cut down my monster movies a lot, as she’s never liked the genre, or it could pump up my classic film watching, or it might not have any effect at all.  Stay tuned and find out.

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

About Steve Sullivan 421 Articles
Stephen D. Sullivan is an award-winning author, artist, and editor. Since 1980, he has worked on a wide variety of properties, including well-known licenses and original work. Some of his best know projects include Dungeons & Dragons, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Dragonlance, Iron Man, Legend of the Five Rings, Speed Racer, the Tolkien RPG, Disney Afternoons, Star Wars, The Twilight Empire (Robinson's War), Uncanny Radio, Martian Knights, Tournament of Death, and The Blue Kingdoms (with his friend Jean Rabe).