Review: Europa Report (2013, Sebastian Cordero)

Humankind goes on a mission to explore Jupiter moon "Europa". What will we find? And how will we get back home?

Science-fiction documentary/found-footage style movie "Europa Report" is a comparably small production, but it opens an entire book of philosophy. It kind of works as a pure thriller, albeit maybe a slightly sober one. But especially if you're the thinking kind of viewer, this movie will keep you occupied for a long time.

In an extended news report, we follow our fictional crew on their journey to moon "Europa". Various challenges and problems lead to setbacks, and tragedy. Still, the team persists. The movie is an exercise in exposing existential questions of humankind. The on-screen action is limited (to some degree probably by the budget), but it's motivated and held together by the writing, and cool, serious, atmospheric mise-en-scene. This perfectly fits the setting, it adds to the survival-suspense, our crew is made of serious scientists. The characters feel a little two-dimensional here and there, and there's the occasional move that feels forced, but, in a sense, that just emphasizes what the movie is all about. It's an exciting space thriller, but "Europa Report" has much bigger ideas.

At some point it just hits you, either while you're watching it, or after. Questions. Many questions. Who are these people? Why does someone choose to go an such a journey? Is that an accurate depiction of how a person behaves under such circumstances? Is that a scientist's mindset? Does science justify such a mission? What place, and purpose, does science have in humankind? What place has one life in evolution? Are we alone? The list goes on. This film is genuinely profound. It creates a string of situations that are thrilling, sometimes scary and sad, to watch, but at the same time point to fundamental, universal questions of life and humanity. Which means: to us, the viewers.

"Europa Report" is fascinating, captivating, and highly thought-provoking. What it lacks in budget, it easily makes up for in clever premise, epic implications, and coherent execution. This is one of the films after watching which you're going to want to have someone to talk with.

Verdict: Clear, existential, moving. Outstanding sci-fi. 9/10



Trailer video:


 * * *

Want to read another movie review? Click here to see all. 


Review: Tras el cristal ("In a glass cage", 1986, Agusti Villaronga)

A Nazi criminal tries to escape his dark past and his demons by attempting suicide. But he fails, and ends up in an iron lung, requiring constant attention and care. A young male nurse is assigned to the job, and appears to have an unexpectedly deep relation to the patient...

If there's any aspect of humanity that deserves to be characterized as "innocent", it has to be the children. The loss of that innocence is a tragedy, and oftentimes becomes the root of more tragedy to come.

"Tras el cristal" is a Spanish horror thriller that deals with childhood trauma, and, in a wider sense, with war, but in strong contrast to e.g. "Quien puede matar un nino?" goes deep into psychology, exposing the individual experience of pain.

Given the horrific premise of the story, and the meticulous execution of the film, "Tras el cristal" is genuinely hard to watch. On the surface it's a depressingly dark tale of revenge, a sinister psycho thriller that plays out to grotesque levels. But at its core is a sad, sobering truth: The trauma will be passed on. Life does not choose - it just adapts.

Visually, it's dark, and surreal. We're undoubtedly in real horror territory. This is not a crime movie - this is about the human soul. Throughout the movie we're seeing traumatized characters. Which are portrayed by the actors, young and old, with gut-wrenching accuracy. The mere sight of a person in an iron lung might be hard to stomach for some, but "Tras el cristal" goes much, much further in its descriptions and depictions. Actually not too much is shown on screen, but enough to make you gasp, and your mind will fill in the gaps.

Is it an exploitation movie? Well, yes, it kind-of is. It's a horror movie after all, which implies simplification and provocation, to make it accessible for the intended audience. And it's an effective one. In fact it's so effective, and scenes involving children are always a particularly sensitive issue, it's really not for everyone. But "Tras el cristal" is also a well-rounded, captivating production, adequate to the difficult subject in its serious tone, and undeniably carries an important message that must be universally heard and understood: Don't hurt a child.

Verdict: Dark. Very, very dark. 7/10 



Trailer video:


* * *

Want to read another movie review? Click here to see all.


Review: Quien puede matar un nino? ("Who can kill a child?", 1976, Narciso Ibanez Serrador)

A man and his pregnant wife seek ease and reclusion on an island. What they find is the island to be seemingly devoid of people - except for the children. Slowly, the couple begins to uncover the true extent of what is going on...

Spain has produced a round of outstanding horror movies - one of which certainly is this one. It's genuinely scary, and can be pretty tough to sit through, especially if you're a parent. 

Two obvious themes come to mind when trying to analyze this film: a couple facing birth of their child, and rebellion of children. A third one is hidden in plain sight: Could you actually kill a child? Under what circumstances could this even become an option? These questions alone are almost too uncomfortable to even think about, let alone seeing them applied in a movie.

That's a lot of heavy subject matter. But do not despair. "Quien puede matar un nino?" takes the easy way out. It doesn't go into the actual psychological causes and implications of the above, or, just to a very limited degree. If it really would, it would also be a very, very long movie, and, being in the horror genre, probably just downright devastating.

What remains is an intense shocker, that decides not to answer the (partly serious) questions it asks. In that sense, it's a bit on the naive side, but in every other sense it goes all the way, and doesn't flinch away from the consequences. Technically, the acting is good to outstanding, there are a couple of epic scenes of creeping terror, the script, together with some nice editing, provides twists and reveals, music is used sparsely, but effectively, and everything is put together with a good pace, resulting in a constantly growing feeling of suspense and scare. "Quien puede matar un nino?" is a terrifying experience, that might be a little too much for some, but at its heart is inspired by the love for children, and - thankfully - is "just" a great horror film.

Verdict: Hellish. Grotesque. Brilliant. 8/10



Trailer video:

* * *

Want to read another movie review? Click here to see all.



Review: Spoorloos ("The Vanishing", 1988, George Sluizer)

A couple in love is on a vacation trip. When they stop and have a break from driving at some petrol station, the woman is kidnapped. Three years later, her boyfriend is receiving letters from the kidnapper, and goes on a frantic search for the truth...

Oh. My. God. "Spoorloos" aka "The Vanishing" is masterpiece of writing, and suspense.

It begins with some personal moments of a loving relationship, but there are some undertones - and soon the woman, Saskia, goes missing. What follows is a fascinating look at the psyche of her boyfriend, Rex, as he gets lost in search of inner peace, and the kidnapper, who proceeds with half naive, half devilish insanity. It all heads towards an unavoidable conclusion, but "Spoorloos" takes its time. Technically, it's a very simple production, but it drags you in with its intricate writing, editing, and camera work, the beautiful, mostly calm settings, and unobtrusive acting. While, slowly, the horror starts creeping in, as you begin to guess what might have happened, and what is yet to come...

As all the pieces of the puzzle begin to fall together, you realize the true quality of what you're seeing. "Spoorloos" is bright, precise, and just beautiful from the first scene, but when the end credits roll, it has become a brilliant, scary monster. There are mere seconds of physical violence in this film, there's no gore, no vampires, no undead, and nothing that really qualifies as special effect. But there's also no comic relief in it, and its self-awareness doesn't pour into the story. It's lighthearted when required, but nonetheless serious throughout, creating a mesmerizing, uneasy mood that only grows. Real horror is all in the mind.

"Spoorloos" is a very sad, very not-dumb, highly thought-provoking, and hair-raisingly scary low-budget movie, beautifully filmed and acted, that combines some Hitchcock-ian suspense with a dramatic build-up a la "Smilla's Sense of Snow" and the simplicity of "Man bites Dog" into an effective, shockingly realistic psycho thriller. 

Probably very disturbing for the average viewer, an absolute must-watch for fans of the genre, and a potential hidden gem for "true" horror geeks.

Verdict: Super scary... 9/10



Trailer video:

* * *


Review: Too Late the Hero (1970, Robert Aldrich)

It's World War II. A British army base on a Japanese island is the starting point for a special mission to capture and destroy a Japanese radio transmitter. Tensions and reconsiderations among the squad threaten the mission's success...

In this war action film production featuring Michael Caine and Cliff Robertson, we witness a half united, half torn apart group of characters entering combat with the enemy, the jungle, and themselves. As with many of these older war movies, the depiction might be a bit wooden or maybe naive in some regards, but overall "Too Late a Hero" is miles away from being dumb or flat. Quite the contrary. It's full of little and not so little sub-plots going on between the men, there's some wild action, it's gritty and gory at times, and touches on psychological horror. Henry Fonda makes a great appearance at the beginning of the movie, Caine and Robertson both play their roles with routine perfection, and all other performances are solid, too.

It is a thrilling action movie, and it does tackle some important subjects - like integrity versus responsibility, resilience and belief under pressure, nihilism of war - but we kind of don't really know what we're seeing here. Is it really an action movie, or more of an epic? Is it a psychological treatment? Or was it ultimately just about personal overcoming and heroism?

"Too Late the Hero" is a bit of a mixed bag - but it's entertaining, thrilling, and thought provoking, nonetheless. And, yeah, it's really gritty at times.

Verdict: Somehow unfocused, but still very well worth a watch. 6/10



Trailer video:


 * * *

Want to read another movie review? Click here to see all.



Streaming Kino: The Satanic Rites Of Dracula (1973) - Lee, Cushing, Coles

A secret service agent narrowly escapes the deadly rituals of worshiping the devil, and based on the evidence so far, Scotland Yard decides to consult occult expert Van Helsing...

"The Satanic Rites Of Dracula" is a later entry in the Hammer/Lee/Cushing series of Dracula films, and it might not come across as an overly "typical" episode, but it still looks absolutely Hammer, only with motorcycles and tape reels. Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing are in it, a couple of other familiar faces, and as all Hammer Draculas, it's a solid production in all regards. Chilling and entertaining, "The Satanic Rites..." can easily be recommended to all horror movie fans, and of course is a must see for everyone who likes vampires and the Hammer Dracula series. 


video source:

* * *

Click here for all "Streaming-Kino" films/articles.


Review: Dracula has risen from the Grave (1968, Freddie Francis)

The evil of Dracula has been destroyed. Or has it? With the help of a few drops of fresh blood, and a priest who has lost his faith, the prince of darkness returns...

Certainly one of the most spectacular adaptations of the material is "Dracula has risen from the Grave". It does some twists and turns to finally tie in with the universe created by the previous Hammer/Dracula/Lee productions, but it succeeds, and from there on it goes ever more boldly, and effectively, into an intricate story about Christian belief, atheism, and family. Of course it's a horror movie featuring Dracula, so the viewer can expect some adequate visual and aural stimulants - and this one doesn't hold back at all.

"Dracula has risen..." is loaded with erotic innuendo and not-so-innuendo, putting the underlying complex of sin-vs.-purity/family-vs.-rebellion/etc., that is present in all Dracula material, on full display, while being generous with the gore, creative and just as generous with psychedelic colors the likes of Mario Bava would be proud of, wasting zero time on fillers, and still devoting enough attention to some great dialogue that provides background and motivation to the characters. That's a lot of good stuff, and indeed the movie flows along nicely, without creating nostalgic "all-star", "all-Dracula" moments, but instead focusing on the action and the consequences.

Christopher Lee has comparably little screen time in the movie, and Peter Cushing is absent from the cast - creating a slightly unusual, unfamiliar mood. Some of the editing is razor sharp, Lee gives an exceptionally raw and wild performance, and the camera work is flawless to masterful. All of which makes the appearances of the lord of vampires even more menacing than they had already been previously. The producers of "Dracula has risen..." obviously had a vision of the pace, the visual quality, and the impact the movie should have, and they did not fail.

Verdict: Charming, sexy, fast, and genuinely scary! 8/10



Trailer video:


You can watch the movie at archive.org:


 * * *

Want to read another movie review? Click here to see all. 



Twilight of the Dead - a new George A. Romero zombie movie?

There might be a seventh George A. Romero "...of the Dead" movie!

Looking back at 2021, when Romero's previously almost unknown, near lost "The Amusement Park" got restored and released, it stirred up some talk about the director's legacy, and brought into light some of his unfinished ideas and plans:

'Now Suzanne Romero, widow of the filmmaker, is opening up about Twilight of the Dead and sharing her plans to take it to the screen. She has been developing the script with three screenwriters for the past few years and is ready to meet with directors on the project, which has this tantalizing logline: “The story is set in a decimated world. Life has all but disappeared. But there still may be hope for humanity.” [...] George A. Romero wrote a treatment for Twilight of the Dead with Paolo Zelati. After the director’s death, Zelati asked Suzanne Romero for permission to continue with the script. He brought on screenwriters Joe Knetter and Robert L. Lucas to help. [...] “It is no secret that Diary and Survival were not the way he envisioned the series ending, and George knew it very well,” notes Zelati. “Twilight of the Dead was his goodbye to the genre he created and wanted to go out with a powerful film.” [...] Suzanne Romero is now ready for meetings to find the right director to complete George A. Romero’s zombie saga. “This is the film he wanted to make. And while someone else will carry the torch as the director, it is very much a George A. Romero film,” says Suzanne Romero.'

Source: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/movies/movie-news/twilight-of-the-dead-george-a-romeros-final-zombie-movie-in-the-works-4175965/ (as of 2023-09-15)

It has been quiet for some time, but these days we're receiving (quite exciting) news that there's actual progress.

According to the news, Brad Anderson will direct the new movie, claiming it to be "...about social transformation, one that asks the question: What is it to be human?" 

That sounds a bit blunt, but it fits well into the Romero-ian film universe, exploring social interaction and what drives an individual, or holds one back.

"Twilight of the Dead" is said to be produced and financed by Roundtable Entertainment, and filming is planned to start this year.

Source: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/movies/movie-news/brad-anderson-direct-george-a-romero-twilight-of-the-dead-1235585266/ (as of 2023-09-15)

Wow, that's really good news - "Twilight of the Dead" is NOT vaporware!

Interestingly, the Internet Movie Database lists "Twilight of the Dead" among "Land of the Dead" (2005) working titles. This now makes obvious sense, but we can only speculate about the ideas George A. Romero originally had in mind for "Land of the Dead", and if he was able - or unable - to implement them.


Also note that "Paura nella citta dei morti viventi" (1980, Lucio Fulci, "City of the Living Dead", "The Gates of Hell") has a US pre-release title "Twilight of the Dead". Pictures of the movie poster can be found on the internet, but this movie is clearly unrelated to George A. Romero's "Twilight of the Dead".


Additional sources:





Review: Hercules in the Center of the Earth (1961, Mario Bava)

In order to cure his lover's insanity, Hercules goes on a mission into the underworld. There he must retrieve a magic stone, and face King Lico, who has teamed up with the dark forces...

"Hercules in the Center of the Earth" (or "...in the Haunted World") is fantasy horror movie with a lot of swords and sandals, and some comic relief. It's a bit of a mash up of Greek mythology, default fantasy material, and vampire horror. There are no actual vampires here, but some obvious references to that kind of movie culture, and with Christopher Lee as the main antagonist it has an extra bit of Hammer horror feel. There's not much character study to be found here. "Hercules in the..." is a low budget production depicting mythology - the dialog is a bit harsh, the humor is a bit wooden, as is the acting, the sets are cheap, and the muscles are shiny. 

To some, this may sound like "Hercules..." is a boring film, but unless you expect something very different, that is certainly not the case. With tons of styrofoam (or papier mache), paint, a handful of practical and camera effects, and loads of colored light, Mario Bava creates quite a spectacular picture of the underworld. His use of light is one of his trademarks - it's Technicolor on steroids, near-psychedelic, moody, and beautiful.

There are some bold shots of the scenery and architecture, Hercules meets some impressive adversaries, the women are (almost literally) goddesses - overall, "Hercules in the Center of the Earth" is very much a fantasy comic strip come alive, with a little bit of Dracula thrown in. It's cheap, but very bold, and for what it is, it works quite well. The story is of epic proportions, it moves forward steadily, has lots of action, some reasonably spooky horror elements, and great settings. What certainly stands out is the art direction: Decors, costumes, and most of all the fantastic use of light and color, together with some great cinematography, create a truckload of thick, dreamy atmosphere, the kind that can only be found in a Mario Bava movie. That's a lot of stuff to keep you captivated.

Verdict: Not too much substance, but highly watchable. 6/10


Trailer video:

 * * *

Want to read another movie review? Click here to see all. 



Review: Threads (1984, Mick Jackson)

"Threads", "The Day After", "The War Game"- these movies weren't some remote idea, or (just) a business decision. The Cold War had been on for decades, Russia and the USA had been racing to space, and competing for the biggest bomb ever, there was the Cuba crisis, SDI was a thing, Gorbachov, perestroika, and glasnost hadn't happened yet. Berlin was an island inside Russian territory. When "The Day After" was about to be shown in Germany some boulevard papers made it a frontpage headline. Chernobyl happened in 1986, and made people around the world remember the words Strontium, Caesium and Cadmium to their last day. That was the reality of the time. 

"Threads" is an educational movie, and it's made for exactly this purpose. In contrast to most other nuclear disaster movies, "Threads" puts its emphasis less on the short-term impact, but more on the personal catastrophe affecting every single one in the long term. Choosing a near-documentary style to do so, it quite soberly depicts the harrowing effects on human life as we know it. It could be me, you, anyone, it hits everywhere, and it will be passed on.

"Threads" is potentially the saddest and scariest film ever made. It's a British film, which means you'll be spared little. It goes a tad further and deeper than you might expect even from a film of that kind. "The Day After" ultimately tells a story, "The War Game" is a news report, "When The Wind Blows" speaks of love - "Threads" is most of all just brutally honest, as it puts pretty much nothing between you and the bitter, unrelenting truth. 

Overall, it's a very well made, extremely effective movie. The writing is intelligent and adequate to the subject matter, the editing and camera work is outstanding, the visuals range from accurate to genuinely shocking - it creates a scarily realistic picture of the unthinkable, and, much more than other such movies, its aftermath.

It is certainly no coincidence that around the time of "Threads" and "The Day After" worldwide anti-nuclear-weaponry demonstrations became massive (attendance up to 1 million), and nuclear disarmament started happening. People were really scared. The threat was all too real, and the insanity became undeniable.

Verdict: Watching "Threads" makes you a better human being. 10/10

Threads (1984)
Directed by Mick Jackson

Trailer video:


The War Game (1966)

World War III (1982) (NBC miniseries)

Testament (1983)

The Day After (1983)

On the 8th Day (1984)

Countdown To Looking Glass (1984)

When The Wind Blows (1986)

The Miracle Mile (1988)

Der Dritte Weltkrieg (1998)

* * *

Want to read another movie review? Click here to see all. 



Review: Häxan (1922), "Witchcraft through the ages"

Swedish masterpiece "Häxan" takes you back to the age of witchcraft like no other movie does.

If there were a film documentary of the actual appearance of the devil, and what live witchcraft is, this is what it would look like. "Häxan" is Swedish for "witch". But no, this is not like "The Witch", "The Nun", or whatever "The..."-mainstream-movie US cinema has produced. "Häxan" is very different: it's a visual history and examination of witchcraft, superstition, and the devil, in European folklore. At the time of its first release "Häxan" was the most expensive Swedish film ever, and it shows. These are images you don't forget. There is zero shock or screamers here, no fancy sound effects, no frantic action sequences, but moody music and an endless amount of atmosphere. Watching an almost 100-year old movie can be a bit creepy in itself, but watching an almost 100-year old movie about witchcraft and the devil can be downright frightening if you're in the right mood.

Of course it's impossible to rate such an old movie adequately in context of its time. Seen from a modern perspective, it is surprisingly well-rounded in terms of scientific message - albeit there's not an overwhelming amount of it - and visually genuinely stunning. It seems like a peek into the forgotten roots of pretty much all horror literature (including films). It draws from the same pool as "Suspiria", "Insidious", "The Exorcist", and all the others, but is much closer to the source. And in contrast to the aforementioned it is absolutely not shy about putting witches, demons, and... well... the actual devil in full view.

Verdict: Must-see for the enthusiast. Spooky for everyone else. 8/10


Sweden, directed by Benjamin Christensen

Trailer video (non official, see link below):



Review: Blue Monkey aka Insect (1987, William Fruet)

A rare plant from somewhere near Micronesia is carrying a nasty kind of bug. Its bite causes serious infection, and as it turns out makes the victim become host to an unknown larva, which, a few mishaps later, grows quickly and wants to reproduce...

So this is a monster movie from the 80s. That in itself tells us a lot: It's got poodle haircuts with perms, too many colors, Korg M1 synth music, and the monster leaves a lot of slime behind. In "Blue Monkey" we also have the cop guy, the buddy cop guy, the hot blonde, the stoner guy that causes trouble, the old lady that has a quirky best friend old lady, not one, but two female doctors, the nerd guy, the kids with leukaemia, the... wait a minute.

Indeed, what starts as a pretty default, sometimes silly, 80s monster movie that moves forward a little too quickly and too bluntly, soon shows a couple of unexpected features. It has all the standard ingredients of such a type of movie, but there's a little more depth to it than usual. Yes, right from the beginning you pretty much know where this will go, and it does have some cheap and laughable moments. But it's a little less predictable and over the top than you might think. There's some beautiful, nuanced acting in some of the scenes, as are there moments of genuine inspiration and seriousness. The hospital setting with its panopticon of characters, each of which has some backstory, hints at a subtext that might be worth analysing. "Blue Monkey" also has a good amount of "Terminator" and "Alien" influence - and it's actually pretty thrilling.

If this movie had a little more character development, and maybe a little more time and money put into special effects, it would be a real smasher. As it is, it's a very watchable, sometimes genuinely gripping, above average creature shocker.

Verdict: Quite nice. Recommended. 6.5/10


Trailer video:

* * *


Review: Messiah of Evil (1973)

A disorienting and unsettling tale of the unfathomable coming to town...

Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz created a surreal, stylish vision that'll give you the creeps. US American independent horror cinema at its best.

A coastal town slipping into madness. This outstanding little movie deserves far more attention than it ever got. Every once in a while, a team of filmmakers comes along, and creates something extraordinary. G. A. Romero's "Night of the Living Dead", the British Hammer Studios' films, Roger Corman's E. A. Poe film adaptations, John Carpenter's "Halloween", Sam Raimi's "Evil Dead", and so on - all of these have become milestones, sub-genre icons in their own right. "Messiah of Evil" easily had the stuff to do so, too. It's surreal, scary, artful, and atmospheric. It merges European gothic cinema and modern American cinema into it's own unique, coherent blend. Why this one remained relatively unknown can to some degree be attributed to it's confusing distribution, and legal problems: it was released as "Return of the Living Dead", "Revenge of the Screaming Dead", and "The Second Coming", before finally settling with "Dead People" and "Messiah of Evil". But upon viewing it immediately becomes obvious there's something going on here, an approach that - at the time - hadn't been seen on such a scale before. Where "Night of the Living Dead" had expressionist imagery in some scenes, "Rosemary's Baby" had a short dream sequence, and "Carnival of Souls" used its premise as a framing for a comparably simple story, "Messiah of Evil" went all out subconscious - the disjointed world on the borders of reality, somewhere between grotesque and dead serious, art, madness, and reality. Your mind is the movie.

If one director comes to mind that has created similar films, it has to be David Lynch, especially with "Lost Highway". But still, "Messiah of Evil" is different. In addition to the unsettling style, it tells a story of some unknown, invisible evil force, creating an experience of cosmic horror a la H. P. Lovecraft. If "Messiah of Evil" had had more success when it was first released, maybe today it would be called the mother and father of films like "Phantasm", "A Nightmare on Elm Street", and "In the Mouth of Madness".

In any case, it's a must-see. All hail the Messiah. 

Verdict: Totally out there. True art. 10/10


Trailer video: 


 * * *

Want to read another movie review? Click here to see all.


Review: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974, Tobe Hooper)

A couple of kids on a trip pick up a creepy hitchhiker, and get stranded at some remote farmhouse. Soon, one of the group is missing, and bit by bit the others get to know the inhabitants of the house... will they make it out?

All-time classic "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" by Tobe Hooper is one of those 70es horror films that shaped the genre and are frequently listed among the best of their kind.

The story sounds like a pretty default low-budget slasher scheme, but the movie is an exceptionally raw, not funny, but genuinely grotesque, and coherent statement. 

It paints a picture of a society in decay, the forgotten leftovers beyond the edges of progress and TV. It has a lot of similarities to e.g. "The Hills Have Eyes" (1977), "Mothers Day" (1980), and "The Devils Rejects" (2005), but very much unlike these, there's an obvious artistic vision here that goes beyond the usual shock-and-awe tactics. 

In fact there's not much gore in "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre". Creepy, foreboding images, quick hard cuts that leave the worst to your imagination, a family devoid of any future, images and sounds of pure terror - it works in your head, long after it's over. Modern civilization has created its own downfall, and as the sun sets, the apocalypse is lurking just beyond the horizon...

Verdict: Raw, brutal, and visionary. 10/10


Trailer video:


* * *

Want to read another movie review? Click here to see all.

Another Top 10 horror films you've never heard about (2/2)

There's always some more.

France, Italy, Japan, Spain, China, Germany, India, Russia, of course the USA and Britain, ... - every nation has a film industry, and in every part of the world hidden gems of horror film are produced, and sometimes forgotten.

In no particular order, here are five more (=part two) out of another ten horror movies you've probably never heard about:

I Bury The Living (1958)

Director: Albert Band

Working at a cemetery certainly isn't for everyone. "I Bury The Living" is a simple and cheap, but incredibly well made little movie. There's not too much spectacle going on here - but what is going on is surprisingly captivating due to the clever premise, and convincing acting of the main character. There's an underlying sense of inspiration and enthusiasm in "I Bury The Living", somehow similar to "The Evil Dead" (1981), "Assault on Precinct 13" (1976) and other such cult b-movies, only in a kind of minimalist way. This little psycho trip will not traumatize you for decades, but it will drag you in and give you pleasant chills like few other movies of that kind do.


Вий (Viy) (1967)

Directors: Konstantin Yershov, Georgi Kropachyov

Based on the eponymous Nikolai Gogol horror novel from around 1835, this is a fantastic movie from Russia - probably the first Russian horror movie ever. The story is packed with Gogol's imagination, and spooky Russian folklore. "Viy" is a gothic movie, similar to some British Hammer studio productions, but obviously with a different background. Russia has an outstanding culture of the fine arts, and it totally shows in the film. "Viy" looks like an old painting come to life, and takes a couple of clues from drama and ballet dancing. It's partly scary, partly funny, and always perfectly executed, making it an exceptionally entertaining movie to watch.



It's Alive (1974)

Director: Larry Cohen

The tagline says you shouldn't see this film alone. Agreed - but maybe this is not a great movie for a woman expecting a child, so choose your company wisely. "It's Alive" is a dark, nasty, sad, touching, outrageous, slightly gory, and somehow hysterically grotesque low-budget shocker. It was quite a box office success when it came out, got two sequels and a remake, but is rarely seen on current best-of lists. Which is a bit surprising, because the story has actual profoundness, the casting and acting is outstanding, the "monster" couldn't be more iconic, and the way it is put on film is just brilliant. We don't wanna give you too many hints about what to expect from "It's Alive" - it's a damn fine piece of low budget filmmaking, and it's scary as hell.


Les Diaboliques (1955)

Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot

"Les Diaboliques" was and still is highly acclaimed, often said to be the best Hitchcock movie he never made, was a box office success, got remade in 1996 in the US - and a lot of people still have never heard about it. This thriller from France goes boldly into horror territory, and has an ending you won't forget. That sounds a bit like "Psycho", which is 100 percent correct in terms of suspense, and in fact "Psycho" author Robert Bloch was a huge fan of "Les Diaboliques". But it's a very different experience - Simone Signoret's screen time alone is worth watching "Les Diaboliques", the French style and precision of the movie is just beautiful, and it has it's own original story. Briefly, it's one of the best psycho horror thrillers ever.


Porno Holocaust (1980)

Director: Joe D'Amato

To finish up this list, here's the true gem among trash movie gems. There are a lot of enjoyable or maybe not so enjoyable z-movies worth a recommendation, but... well, I guess somebody just had to do it, go there, film it. The title and poster art literally say it all. It's a Joe D'Amato movie, and yes, he totally went there. The undead apparently are making efforts to reproduce. Or: is making efforts to. It's... beyond words. Mr. D'Amato certainly was a capable businessman. This is by no means a good movie, but if you're a true hardcore (no pun intended) (well - pun intended) trash horror movie geek, then you just must not miss this one.


* * *

Thanks for reading!

* * *

* * *


Another Top 10 horror films you've never heard about (1/2)

The rabbit hole is deep...

...and there's tons of movies for you to discover. You can spend years digging through movie reviews, cast interviews, archive and video websites, books, and what not else, and still discover hidden gems unseen by the mainstream.

To speed up the process a little, and to make sure you don't miss out on the good stuff, here's another Top-10 selection of little known horror movie masterpieces and near-masterpieces for those with a not-so-mainstream taste.

In no particular order, here are five (=part one) out of another ten horror movies you've probably never heard about:

Mo (1983)

a.k.a. The Boxer's Omen

Imagine William Friedkin had filmed "The Exorcist" somewhere deep in the jungles of Southeast Asia, and before doing so, had taken large amounts of LSD, as had his entire crew. If you haven't seen "The Boxer's Omen", but do have a rough idea about the effects of LSD, this should give you an approximation to what the movie is about. Seriously, for a western culture trained mind this movie is genuinely difficult to process. (It's probably easier for people of eastern culture.) The onslaught of visual overkill is just staggering. "The Boxer's Omen" is to Buddhism what "The Exorcist" is to Christianity. Plus "The Evil Dead", and maybe "The Thing". Or just... things?

Good vs. evil, epic standoffs, powerful visions, spells, skulls, green slime, other slime, gore, snakes, crocodiles, red shining eyes, bats, bones, all delivered in eye popping colors and forms, at a breathtaking pace - and we're just halfway through the movie. The western audience probably isn't able to decode many of the cultural references in "The Boxer's Omen", but the impact is undeniably there. Compared to Hollywood standards, this is a low-budget movie, but it's still a big Shaw Brothers (Hongkong) production, and it delivers, in spades. You genuinely won't believe your eyes.


Frankenstein's Army (2013)

Director: Richard Raaphorst

Frankestein's Army poster

Out of the ashes of Dutch director Richard Raaphorst's failed, but super awesome film project "Worst Case Scenario", came "Frankenstein's Army". Nazi zombie horror had been around for some time, but this movie takes it to the next level. Insane, obscene creations roaming the factory hallways... medical experiments... now your wildest fantasies about Germany 1945 will even be exceeded. Some of what you see in "Frankenstein's Army" is so dark, sick, and sarcastic, it becomes genuinely grotesque. And, surprisingly, it has a story, a style, and rhythm, creating a coherent arc that leads from the beginning to the end - it has more in common with a sick "Wolfenstein" fan edit than with "Saving Private Ryan", but it's still a very well made movie!


Ecologia del delitto (1971)

a.k.a Reazione a Catena / A Bay of Blood / Twitch of the Death Nerve

Director: Mario Bava

No, it wasn't "Halloween" or "Friday the 13th" that created the slasher genre with its kill'em-one-by-one scheme focused on gruesome, striking killing scenes. It came from Italian gialli, and Mario Bava's "Ecologia del delitto", probably better known as "A Bay of Blood", is the template. Of course there were other influences, but if you had to pick one movie as the prime example of early slashers, it has to be this one. Being the first true slasher movie it's not as refined as e.g. "I corpi presentano..." or "4 Mosche di Velluto Grigio", but being also a Mario Bava movie means it still has atmosphere so thick you can cut it with a knife.


La Chiesa (1989)

a.k.a. The Church

Director: Michele Soavi

"La Chiesa", marketed in Japan as "Demons 3", has very little to do with Lamberto Bava's "Demoni" films, except... demons. A lot of big names were involved in this production, including Bava himself and Dario Argento among the writers, Keith Emerson, Philip Glass, and the band Goblin (of "Dawn of the Dead" fame) as music contributors, and actors Hugh Quarshie, Feodor Chaliapin Jr., and Giovanni Lombardo Radice. Sometimes such big investment doesn't fully pay off, which might be the case with "La Chiesa" - in some parts it feels like a slightly cheesy Italian TV style production that's difficult to categorize. But as you go along it will also send shivers crawling down your spine, with some overwhelmingly beautiful, surreal imagery, and an outstanding soundtrack. This is a Hieronymus Bosch painting come to life, much closer to the universe of Argento's Three Mothers than to the zombie-ish "Demoni".



The Suckling (1990)

a.k.a. Sewage Baby

Director: Francis Teri

Beware. This is one nasty little movie. It touches on a couple of sensitive subjects - respect for unborn life, the process of giving birth, ultimately family values, etc. - and it's far from being sensitive about it. The story is quickly told: A young couple decides on abortion of their baby, it's an ugly affair, some toxic waste is involved, and from there on everything gets completely out of hand, or maybe shall we more appropriately say: grows completely out of proportion. And as if that wasn't enough it adds a stomach-turning little twist at the end. 

"The Suckling" is cheap, and very effective. If you like your b-movies rough, bold, and tasteless, then this one is for you. If you like, you could also write volumes about the social implications of just the first 20 minutes of the movie, or the mere fact that it exists. But, really, don't show "The Suckling" to your pregnant wife.


* * *

Thanks for reading!

* * *

* * *

Evil Dead's new re-something: Evil Dead Rise

"Evil Dead" has a new sequel titled "Evil Dead Rise", and it's getting quite respectable ratings.

This one was directed by Lee Cronin, who also directed the also quite respectable "The Hole in the Ground" (2019).

If you haven't done so yet, here you can watch the trailer for the new "Evil Dead" movie:


You can visit the movie's website for more information:


...and check out these additional sources: