Wednesday, July 23, 2008

PD Project Horror Part 12

This is the final posting of the PD Project Horror Collection so it's only fitting that it start off with something truly horrific:

Ladies and gentlemen, that is the face of the abyss.

Anyway...

Disc 12

The House on Haunted Hill

Vincent Price plays an eccentric millionaire who throws a party for his wife in a haunted house. Each guest is promised $50,000 if they can make it through the night. Only there seem to be schemes at work beyond what even the ghosts have planned.

I just saw this again on The It's Alive Show. Does it have its cheesy moments? Absolutely, but I remember watching this as a kid. I stumbled across it on TV after waking up in the middle of the night and it honestly scared the life out of me. There's a certain time of night, when you're a certain age, where ghost stories seem like the most reasonable things in the world.

William Castle produced and directed this as well as several other classic Vincent Price horror pics. He was doing midnight movies before there was such a thing. When I look at Horror Host shows like Elvira or The It's Alive Show, I'm struck by how much they owe William Castle. It's not that he produced so many movies that they could then build a career on, it's that he made movies that got you excited enough about ghost stories to make them a part of your life.

I uploaded the MPEG to the Internet Archive. It's a nice letterboxed print. If you haven't seen this movie before, it's well worth watching. Especially late at night when there's a storm outside--thunder or snow, doesn't matter. Get the popcorn, get under a blanket and enjoy.

The Last Man on Earth

Vincent Price plays the Last Man on Earth after a virus has killed everyone else and brought them back as vampire-like monsters.

From the excellent Richard Matheson Novel I Am Legend which had a middling remake last year starring Wil Smith and was also the basis of the film The Omega Man starring Charleton Heston. This movie sticks closer to the novel and I find it, frankly, a little dry, a little dull. It's a lot of Price wandering around while we hear his inner dialogue. While it's true to the novel, it's not edge-of-your-seat film making.

There are disagreements on that point though, especially on The It's Alive Show message board. The film's been featured several times on that show and has some ardent admirers. And there is a lot to recommend it. It's very artfully done and what I consider dull or dry can be construed as a portrayal of the monotony of living where there's nothing else in the world.

It's absolutely a movie worth watching and I'd say that goes double for the book. The novel's ending is a knock-out and so far none of the adaptations I've seen of it have gotten it right. Last Man on Earth gets the closest and watching Vincent Price at work is never a disappointment.

Dementia 13

An old Irish family is haunted by dark secrets around the death of a little girl seven years earlier. Two women, one married into the family and one soon to be, start unraveling the secrets at great risk.

Roger Corman producing a film written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Yes, that Francis Ford Coppola, here credited merely as "Francis Coppola." A generally unremarkable slasher pic, it does at least have some good twists. You think the movie will be about manipulating the mother to change the will and then it becomes about something else entirely. Could have been better, but not bad for a first pic and not bad by Corman standards either.

Phantom From 10,000 Leagues

An undersea radiation experiment produces a monstrous creature, but instead of trying to destroy the creature, people are fighting over keeping it a secret.

Oh, and we end with a non-free film! What bad luck. While the film appears to be PD, the score is not and thus I cannot add it to the Internet Archive. Alas and alack.

And further gnashing of teeth, this one blows--hard. Standard 50's atomic sci-fi featuing a dumpy white hero who does nothing to save the day or affect the plot. Teeth-achingly dull. The monster at least looks neat, but not neat enough to counterbalance the absence of anything else to see in this film.

And that's it. The Horror 50-Pack is tapped out, completely watched and as fully uploaded as can be. There will be a breif hiatus from the PD Project as I gather information on the films in the Chilling Classics 50-Movie Pack and move from one American metropolis to another. In addition to starting a new pack, the format of the project will change as well. Instead of one disc of films being reviewed every Wednesday and Saturday, I'll only post a two-film, double-feature-style review every Saturday at midnight following The It's Alive Show (which broadcasts online. So enjoy that and then surf over here for more movie much to stream online). It'll take a little longer (25 weeks for the whole thing), but it'll be more consistent and give me a chance to work on other projects. So stick around, the dreck will be back soon. As long as Hollywood keeps squeezing 'em out, I'll be around to say it smells.

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