Another Son of Sam (1977)

Directed by Dave Adams [Other horror films: N/A]

What a poor, poor film. Sometimes called a proto-slasher, I was expecting quite a bit more from this, but I got oh so little.

The cinematography here is whack, and I mean whack. Some freeze-frames with dialogue of a different scene running (seemed to be a delay, or something), some slow-motion, rather inept editing that makes a few scenes difficult to really get a handle on. Pretty much everything about Another Son of Sam screams amateurish.

It’s also dull, which is in large part due to the procedural route this movie went past a certain point. The last forty minutes or so are spent in a dormitory (that looks nothing at all like a dormitory), and nothing very interesting happens. Nothing interested happened before, so it wasn’t a big loss, but even so, it’s just disappointing that a psychopathic serial killer can take down half a SWAT team and it’s still boring.

I’ll give a little props for a few cute girls (didn’t catch their names, but one might be Bonnie Schrier) and one solid scene of the killer’s hand coming up from beneath the bed of an unsuspecting victim. It was almost creepy, which is more than what I can say about anything else in the film.

Easily, I could see this movie, rough as it is, making it’s rounds in drive-in theaters toward the end of the 1970’s, and it may have even entertained some people. It does possess proto-slasher elements, and though very little is executed well, there’s a little here. It doesn’t matter, though, because Another Son of Sam has very little going for it. It’s not even a particularly gritty or gory film – it’s just dull, and certainly not worth another watch. It was barely worth the first watch, and I can’t, in good conscience, recommend it.

3/10

Hausu (1977)

Directed by Nobuhiko Ôbayashi [Other horror films: Kawaii Akuma (1982), Reibyo densetsu (1983)]

This has got to be one of the craziest horror/comedies out there, and I’m not saying that simply because it’s Asian or slapstick. Hausu (or simply House) is a wild ride from beginning to end in so many different ways (filming techniques, animations, camera angles, music, etc.) that I don’t have the vocabulary to do the movie justice.

I won’t take too long on this, because I truly feel that this film is one that you have to see to experience. Even the best writers out there (of which I’m nowhere close to joining the ranks of) cannot properly explain what watching this movie feels like. It’s certainly a trippy flick, and occasionally silly, but it never once lets up on entertainment value.

Who doesn’t love the seven girls here? You have Gorgeous (Kimiko Ikegami), Kung Fu (Miki Jinbo), Fantasy (Kumiko Ohba), Prof (Ai Matsubara), Mac (Mieko Satô), Melody (Eriko Tanaka), and Sweet (Masayo Miyako), some of whom are forgettable, but as a package, they’re a lot of fun. Perhaps my favorite character was Prof (who actually had the most nudity in the film, which isn’t saying much, but came as a pleasant surprise), but I loved Kung Fu also (partially because she wore what looked like bikini bottoms for most of the movie). Fantasy was fun too, and Mac was always amusing.

It’s not really enough to call this an artsy film, because the style Hausu holds within goes beyond that. Again, it’s something I can’t personally put into words, but this whole movie, from beginning to the somewhat surprisingly somber end, was an experience in a way that few movies really are.

Of course, I’m not going to say the film is without flaws. It did get a bit too goofy for me a few times, such as the random banana scene, or perhaps the floating head. But at the same time, there were also some genuinely creepy scenes here, such as the moment when a woman walks into a refrigerator, or a scene too goofy to ever be condemned (the piano sequence, a true legend of cinema).

For some, perhaps this movie might be too zany and off-beat to leave a positive impression. I can certainly understand if some people walk away from Hausu with the belief that this tried too hard to be different. Personally, though, despite not being a fan of too much silliness, this movie has a perfect blend for my taste, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Hausu each time I’ve seen it.

8.5/10

This was covered on Fight Evil’s podcast. If interested, listen to Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this one.

Suspiria (1977)

Suspiria

Directed by Dario Argento [Other horror films: L’uccello dalle piume di cristallo (1970), Il gatto a nove code (1971), 4 mosche di velluto grigio (1971), Profondo rosso (1975), Inferno (1980), Tenebre (1982), Phenomena (1985), Opera (1987), Due occhi diabolici (1990, segment ‘The Black Cat’), Trauma (1993), La sindrome di Stendhal (1996), Il fantasma dell’opera (1998), Non ho sonno (2001), Il cartaio (2004), Ti piace Hitchcock? (2005), La terza madre (2007), Giallo (2009), Dracula 3D (2012)]

This stylistic flick is a lot of fun, and while it doesn’t live up to Argento’s previous Deep Red, Suspiria is a solidly atmospheric flick.

Witches aren’t something that are dealt with too commonly in horror, so Argento going that route proved a wise move, especially as he was able to craft a movie of this atmosphere, with both moody tension and good gore (when the film deigned to go that direction). The gore is quite good, mostly in the first murder sequence, but the razor-wire room is fun also.

Jessica Harper wasn’t a big name before this film, and really didn’t become that big of a name after it, which is a bit of a shame, as I thought she did really well here. Unfortunately, while it’s not that big a deterrent, none of the other actors/actresses involved were that memorable, but it doesn’t leave that much a negative impact.

The artistic style this movie has can’t really be matched, what with amazing color schemes and music composed by Goblin. Really, just for these aspects alone, disregarding the story, the movie would probably be a must see (and I generally see a lot more compliments about the style of the film over the content, to be sure). All-around great use of camera, lighting, and music to bring a creepy vibe to this one.

While certainly not my favorite horror film of the 1970’s (I don’t know if it’d even make my top 25), Suspiria has a lot of character, and certainly, if you can find an uncut version, even if it is dubbed, to watch, I think that you’ll probably have a good time. Even after three, maybe four viewings myself, I still find the film quite fun, and I only wish the ending was a bit more conclusive.

8/10

Dark Echo (1977)

Dark Echo

Directed by George Robotham [Other horror films: N/A]

This obscure production (filmed partly in Austria) is, in many ways, partially a precursor to The Fog.

In a small lakeside village in Austria, individuals are being killed in mysterious ways. Though the townsfolk themselves are naturally superstitious, the evidence begins to point to the spirit of a captain blamed for a shipwreck causing the deaths of eighty people 100 years ago, those being killed in the present descendants of those who accused Captain Gohr. It’s a fun plot, and while it doesn’t have the atmosphere of The Fog, one can see how such comparisons can be made.

This movie boasts a decent cast, those standing out including Joel Fabiani (playing the main character), Karin Dor (who looked a lot like a young Allison Janney), and Wolfgang Brook (this is, in fact, his only movie). Fabiani played his character, a care-free, martini-drinking psychic, beautifully, and had some good lines throughout. Wolfgang Brook, despite this being his only film (at least according to IMDb) did well as an Inspector in a bad situation, getting worse by the day.

While the gore wasn’t the standout feature of this film (for the first hour and ten minutes, thereabouts, it had a television movie feel to it), there was a good stabbing about an hour and ten minutes in, along with a surprisingly violent scene in which a woman got the top of her skull chopped off, blood spewing and her brain falling out onto a table. Special effects in those scenes were done well, and the spirit/zombie of Gohr looked pretty good also.

The movie did lose a bit of steam, ironically enough, toward the end, and the final twenty minutes were a bit more unsteady than I’d have preferred, but overall, I thought the movie did well for itself. It’s certainly a slower flick, and it wouldn’t appeal to everyone, but the cast and the story did the movie justice. Quick note: some claim that the movie’s from 1986 (as does the copyright state at the end of the film), but it felt more like a 70’s movie to me, and as IMDb lists it as 1977, that year it will stay. Solid movie, and while not amazing, a good flick to watch on a rainy day.

7/10

Cathy’s Curse (1977)

Cathy's Curse

Directed by Eddy Matalon [Other horror films: N/A]

First thing’s first – this is a very low-quality transfer that I watched. I’ve heard better quality versions of this film exists, though they’re in French without subtitles. *Shrugs*. So this is a pretty bad print, and if you’ve seen the most common version of Cathy’s Curse out there (one released on Mill Creek Entertainment’s Creepy Classics), I’m sure you’d agree.

In a way, though, I think it brings the movie additional charm. I’ve never been to a drive-in, but I can imagine this is the exact type of movie that would be great to watch at one, and while the quality has faltered, it’s a pretty fun romp.

Cathy’s Curse is one-part The Bad Seed, one-part Burnt Offerings, and one-part The Omen – in it, a little girl is possessed by her father’s deceased sister, and one by one, people around her start dying or going mad. All things considered, it’s a pretty simple film.

Three things about it stand out, though: Firstly, the music has a charming quality to it. Sometimes eerie, sometimes not, the music stood out and enhanced some of the scenes. The acting too was noticeable. It wasn’t always great – Beverly Murray sometimes went a bit overboard portraying the panic-stricken mother. But both Alan Scarfe and Roy Witham did pretty decent jobs (despite Witham only having been in three other films). And lastly, you had some occasionally creepy scenes (along with, of course, some rather ridiculous scenes, but that’s half the fun).

Some of the quotes are pretty classy too – at the beginning, a father tells her daughter “Your mother’s a bitch – she’ll pay for what she did to you.” About halfway through the film, a drunk Roy Witham (playing the groundskeeper as a kindly older man) and gleeful Cathy scare a medium away from the house, shouting, “Get out you old bitch,” and calling her a “fat dried-up whore.” The delivery of these lines were excellent, in my ever-humble opinion.

Cathy’s Curse can at times be a bit of a mess, that much I can say. But I did enjoy it more this time around as opposed to the first time I saw the film, and really, it’s not all that terrible. It doesn’t really drag on, it’s amusing, and is undeniably a product of the 70’s – what more could you want?

7/10