October 2019 MIni-Reviews – Scooby Doo to Haunted Palace

Well, I thought I’d have this set of mini-reviews out sooner — until Fate (and the billing cycle) impelled me to upgrade my website theme… and thus, the entire site and hosting plan.  (And then, the auto-post failed for November 30!  I’m still figuring out why, so that doesn’t happen again.)

So, rather than coming out in the middle of November, this set of mini-reviews is coming at the very start of December.  With luck, November’s will be back toward the middle of December.  But we’ll see.  Life has a way of throwing plans out the window.

One thing of note is that Halloweentime (season?) did afford me the chance to watch a LOT more movies than I had been — almost like I”m getting back in form.  😉  But, even though I’m now counting TV series (of note) when I finish them, there’s definitely more better TV now than ever — and that can interfere with movie watching, for sure.  Though, happily, my wife Kiff and I have had more time for theater movies lately, too.  And we’re seeing at least 2 more this weekend.

Check the end of the post for this month’s and my yearly total so far.

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.

Scooby Doo Where Are You? (Season 1) ***** Sure, the animation is limited & the stories follow a formula, but more Scooby is still being made 50 years later!
Scooby Doo Where Are You? (Season 2) ***** There are sadly fewer of these episodes, but they change the formula a bit, add songs, & animation is a bit better.
Deathmaster *** Robert Quarry is vampire leader of hippy cult with eerie Manson overtones. Well made with some good shocks.
Gojira ***** Darker in tone, concept, & execution than any of its successors, giant monster fantasy is about H-bomb horrors.
Godzilla King of the Monsters (1956) **** Clever US re-edits & inserts with Ramond Burr dull no-nukes message of Gojira, but make a perfect daikaiju intro.
Godzilla Raids Again (Japanese version) **** Touching human story is played up in the Japanese version & it all works better than US dub. Intro Anguiras v. G.
Mothra vs. Godzilla (Japanese version) ***** One of the best all-time monster vs. monster match ups with involiving human characters as G. fights giant moth.
Son of Dr. Jekyll (Svengoolie) *** Sincere attempt at sequel to the novel is well made & acted, but ends up with more Scooby Doo than I prefer.
Nocturne *** George Raft’s cop chases through a bevy of beautiful dames to solve a cad composer’s apparent suicide. Rote.
Thing that Wouldn’t Die, The (MST3K) **** Mike & the bots get into the swing at the start of their run & coin the memorable nickname “Jan in the pan.”
Big Clock, The **** Ray Milland is tasked by murderer-news magnate Charles Laughton to track down suspect, Milland himself. Fab.
Kiss My Analyst ** Alice Friedlander (Ed Wood’s “Young Marrieds”) & friends pretend to get it on in this nudie, as told to said Analyst.
Woman on the Beach, The *** Renoir’s noir about blind painter & tramp wife (Joan Bennet) in triangle with torpedo-shocked sailor (Robert Ryan).
She *** More love story than adventure about 2000-year-old queen waiting for her reincarnated love, with Cushing & Lee.
Return of She, The ** Mostly a reverse re-run of SHE, but without Hammer’s big stars. Roger Delgado adds fun, but pretty anemic.
Viking Queen, The *** Roman falls for Viking Queen, then forces conspire to set their people at war. Big action finale. Hammer peplum.
Black Cat, The (Karloff-Lugosi) ***** Karloff & Lugosi are at their sinister finest, pitted against each other for lives of couple stranded after bus crash.
Curse of the Demon (US) **** Dana Andrews comes to believe that magician Karswell has sent a demon to kill him. US version missing 10 mins.
Seventh Victim, The *** Moody suspense thriller about a missing sister involved with devil worshipers. Great direction, downbeat ending.
Blood on Satan’s Claw **** Medieval town is beset with “plague” of Satan worship after discovery of skull in field. Setting is eerie & realistic.
Dracula AD 1972 **** Great Van Helsing-Dracula battles bookend this tale fo Drac reviving in the middle of Mod London. Groovy cast.
Mummy, The (Karloff – Svengoolie)  ***** Sure, the plot resembles Universal’s Dracula, but the original mummy vehicle with Karloff is superior filmmaking.
Son of Godzilla (Japanese) *** Even the lesser Godzilla film stories, like climate-change scientists creating giant mantises, are better in Japanese.
Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (Japanese) ***** One of the best G-flicks of all time has strong human plot about an amnesiac princess believing she’s from Venus, an intrepid woman reporter, & her brother a cop. And, of course, a 3-headed space monster that Godzilla, Rodan, & Mothra must team up to defeat.  This is a pretty great film to introduce people to kaiju. Japanese version has original music, as oppsed to the strange music that the otherwise-great US dub has. Inspired Daikaiju Attack.
Invasion of Astro Monster (dubbed) ***** Great alien invasion & doomed romance story enliven rematch of Godzilla & Rodan vs. Ghidorah. Classic.
Murder by Television ** Lugosi is interesting, but plot is alternately choppy & plodding, perhaps because of degraded quality of print.
Uninvited, The ***** Brother & sister buy an English mansion that turns out to be haunted by the mother of brother’s new girlfriend.
Fog, The **** Carpenter’s fog-bound chiller of shop of killer ghost has a great cast & story, depsite a slight cobbled-together feel.
Rodan (Japanese) **** Japanese version is more linear, with 3 distinct parts leading to the giant monsters vs. humanity climax. Great.
Destroy All Monsters (Japanese) **** The monster suits were getting old, but ambition & SFX remain fresh in the largest giant monster battle royal.
You’ll Find Out **** Kay Keiser & his band share songs amid spooky goings on in old dark house courtesy Lugosi, Karloff, & Lorre.
Old Dark House, The (Castle) *** Really a horror-comedy send up of the usual old dark house movies, Castle’s cast & production are good & fun.
Confessions of an Opium Eater *** Trippy Vincent Price vehicle loosely based on novel, filled with drug dens, secret passages, & Chinese slave girls.
Jason & the Argonauts ***** Harryhausen’s masterpiece based on the Greek myths has some of his best SFX & monsters. A genuine classic.
Atlantis, The Lost Continent **** Script is stilted & history absurd, but George Pal’s SFX & makeup teams make this fun, especially the fiery end.
Hercules, Sampson, & Ulysses *** Fun mix of Greek & Hebrew myth plus plenty of peplum action make this and amusing romp. Must for peplum fans.
Horror of Dracula ***** One of the best of Hammer’s Draculas brings Christopher Lee in title role & Peter Cushing as Van Helsing.
Gorgon, The **** Village is haunted by the spirit of the Greek monster. Great mix of horror & romance. Makeup is only weak point
Plague of the Zombies **** Mysterious deaths in remote village lead to discovery of zombies controlled by evil men for their own gain. Great.
War of the Gargantuas (International Dub)  ****(*) Yeah, TCM sucked me in to watching the not-as-good international dub again, but it’s still warring Gargantuas!
Undead, The *** Woman is hypnotically regressed into middle ages where she’s on trial as a witch, amid real witches, devil, & imp.
Kuroneko (Black Cat) ***** Eerie tale of 2 raped & killed women who become cat-demon-ghosts for vengeance & 1 samurai who loved them.
Poltergeist (2017) *** Remake is creepier in places & less over the top until the CGI takes over. Then it’s just paint-by-numbers spooks.
Zombieland Double Tap **** Witty 10-years-after plot & good use of characters, satire, & surprises. Plus zombies, gore, almost-Graceland, etc.
Addams Family (2019 animated) **** Character designs closer to the original comics serve to emphasize the macabre comedy with a heart of g… mold.
Mad Love **** Colin Clive is tortured pianist with hand transplant. Peter Lorre is mad doctor who covets Clive’s his wife. Creepy.
Most Dangerous Game, The **** Joel McCrea tries to protect Fay Wray from madman fixated on hunting humans. Shot on the sets of King Kong.
Cat People (1942) ***** Man falls in love with woman who fears she may turn into a cat if she makes love to him. 1st class on all levels.
Mark of the Vampire *** 50 minutes of great Browning-Lugosi vampire chills is completely undercut in the 10 minute-mystery denouement.
From Beyond the Grave **** Peter Cushing’s shop owner sells “cursed” items to customers who try to cheat him in this anthology. Good fun.
Black Sabbath (American Dub) **** Karloff’s announcer frames trio of very creepy Mario Bava tales, including witch, telephone, & vampire stories.
Dracula (Lugosi – Fan Edit) ***** Fan edit livens up Lugosi’s Dracula a bit, especially in the 2nd half. But I wish we could find the lost footage cut!
Weird Woman **** Best of the Inner Sanctum films. Chaney, Ankers & rest of cast are great in tale of wife who may be a witch.
Legend of el Hombre Lobo **** Short film tribute to Naschy’s werewolf & other characters. Good production values & makeup. Bad film aging FX.
Haunted Palace, The ***** Poe title on Lovecraft tale turns out to be one of Corman’s best & great role for Vincent Price. Top-notch creepy.

It’s worth nothing that October 2019 was the 50th (Yow!) anniversary of the first airing of Scooby Doo — which I remember vividly from that time.  So, watching the first 2 (and best) seasons seemed a great way to start the month.

Including those seasons, I watched a fairly staggering 55 films (and series) in November, bringing my total for the year to 310 — pushing me up past 30 a month for 2019.  Finally.

What will the end of November bring?  Tune in next month and find out!

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!