The Night Strangler (1973) – movie review

***Top Television Horror Movies of the 1970’s***

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The Night Strangler (1973)

Written by Richard Mathesontop 1970's TV horror - small
Directed by Dan Curtis

Darren McGavin
Simon Oakland
Jo Ann Pflug
Richard Anderson

Dan Curtis, Richard Matheson, and Darren McGavin return with another TV movie. Hard Boiled reporter, Kolchak, having been escorted by police out of Las Vegas, finds himself in Seattle with his loud and reluctant boss, Vincenzo. This one concerns a killer living in the Seattle underground,the night strangler - poster the city buried beneath the city, and a series of murders taking place every 21 years since the 1800’s. Strangler offers even more mystery than the first film and has some gripping suspense and action. There are enjoyable cameos and guest stars including, John Carradine, Al Lewis (Grandpa Munster), Wally Cox and Margaret Hamilton (the wicked witch of the West).

This film offers more of the action, mystery, and suspense seen in ‘Stalker’ but never feels redundant. ‘Strangler’ is as good as ‘Stalker’ due to Darren McGavin’s immersion into the character and another finely written script. The film’s success prompts ABC to create a series. Like I stated in the Night Stalker review, Curtis and Matheson were not part of the series, but I have reviewed one of my fave episodes and mentioned others in different posts. I will probably review more of my fave episodes in future posts, as I often watch the series around Halloween each year.

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Fun Facts:

A 3rd film in the series was planned titled, The Night Killers. Conflicting story ideas show up for the 3rd film. One has Kolchak visiting NY and finding a vampire lair. The other idea placed him in in Hawaii and involved UFO’s and a government conspiracy/cover-up. The story is reminiscent of the X-Files. The 3rd film was abandoned when ABC decided to instead order the TV series.

The Seattle Underground. In 1889, Old Seattle was devastated by a destructive fire. Instead of rebuilding the area the same, city builders decided to raise the level of the city. This would ensure areas would no longer be flooded and that tides would not back up the toilets in the area. The new street level was anywhere from 12 to 30 feet higher than the old one. In 1965 an underground tour was stated to visit the ruins.

The Night Stalker movie review
The Night Stalker episode review
The History of Zombies in film

The Monster Club (1980) – movie review

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The Monster Club (1980) 

Directed by Roy Ward Baker
Produced by Milton Subotsky
Vincent Price
Donald Pleasence
John Carradine
Stuart Whitman
Britt Ekland
Patrick Magee

This is often considered the last Amicus Film, however Amicus was dismantled shortly before working on this film. This is also the last film that Milton Subotsky worked on in his career. It is based on short stories by British horror author R. Chetwynd-Hayes who is also a main character in the film. Vincent Price plays Eramus, a vampire who attacks the author, R.Chetwynd-Hayes, played by John Carradine. When he realizes he has attacked his favorite author, he offers Chetwynd-Hayes access to a place that will give himthe monster club poster ideas for his next book. He brings him to a club where all the ghouls and creatures of the night gather. At a small table in the corner three stories are revealed. The first story concerns a Shadmock described as a lesser monster who’s only power is his demonic whistle. The Shadmock, Raven, puts out an ad to hire a personal assistant. A young man convinces his girl to take the job just so they can later rob the rich old estate owner blind. At first the young woman is fearful of Raven’s strange, deathly look. But soon it seems the Shadmock and the assistant may be falling in love. As his trust in her grows he reveals the hidden safe showing the riches of the centuries. But will the young woman steal his valuables or stay on as his assistant and let their budding love flourish? Raven puckers his lips but is it for a kiss or to whistle? The second story tells the tale of a young family who lives in a big scary house and the husband/father who ‘works nights’. A few detectives in a van start flowing the young boy and asking him questions. What does your father actually do for a living? Why does he sleep all day in the monster club pic 2the cellar? etc. The detectives finally convince little Jimmy to let them In and lead them to the cellar. They are modern day vampire hunters with wooden stakes and garlic cloves. Can Jimmy’s dad somehow survive a daytime attack? In the final story an impatient movie director, Sam, goes location hunting for his next film and finds a small town inhabited by the Humgoo (ghouls). The ghouls won’t let him leave the town, they want him to stay for dinner. They paw and grab at him like zombies, trying sluggishly to bite him. He takes sanctuary in an abandoned church where they seem reluctant to enter. There he learns the strange history of the tthe monster club pic 11own. All the stories are campy entertainment and there isn’t a moment of anything remotely scary in the whole film. The film is amusing and entertaining, but I wouldn‘t consider it much more than a novelty. Between the story segments there are full 1980’s MTV video style songs played by bands at the club with mixed results. There’s also an interesting stripper dance where the woman takes off more than her clothes. The wrap around story concludes with a social message. The undead creatures make R.Chetwynd-Hayes, an honorary member of the Monster Club, after describing what man does to his fellow man (to a montage of news clips and video) and concluding that man is the biggest monster of all.

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Be sure to view all the Amicus films I have reviewed on Parlor of Horror at this master page: Amicus Films Overview 

Half Human (1958) – movie review

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Half Human (1958)

Toho films

Directed by Ishirō Honda
Special FX by Eiji Tsuburaya

and Tomoyuki Tanaka

This is the second Kaiju monster film by this famous team following their iconic achievement in Godzilla. This film never reached the success of many of their other films for good reason which I will explain later.  An expedition to the Hida Mountains in Japan (which includes Mount Fuji), is hindered by a blizzard. When the group is separated, Gen and Kaji find shelter in a remote cabin. When the group reaches the cabin the next day, Gen is found dead and Kaji is missing. There are very large footprints found near the cabin and a few tufts of hair that the group is not familiar with. They eventually discover a tribe of people living in the mountains that speak of a deity which they praise, a 10 foot tall, Monster Snowman. While searching for their missing comrades they run across a zoologist with a team intent on capturing the beast. When the hunters track it to its cave, they discover a half human pic 3young Snowman. The zoologist captures the juvenile in order to lure the adult into his traps. The adult snowman is caught then escapes, killing all of the men on the team. The zoologist shoots the young snowman and the adult beast goes on a rampage, first killing the zoologist, then heading to the native village and destroying it. He captures a woman, Machiko, and drags her back to his cave.  Does the snowman have intentions to replace his lost child by keeping the woman as a mate? It is not said, but it is suggestive in the context of other scenes in the film. The original expedition members are in pursuit. They chase the snowman further into the cave where he meets his inevitable demise.

The 1958 version that I have is the American version, which has John Carradine and Morris Ankrum as scientists. John Carradine completely narrates the entire film while sitting in a lab, which not only gets annoying, but is extremely inane and off message from what the film is really about. I was able to decipher more about the film half-human pic 5by not listening to him and just watching the Japanese footage. The Japanese story of Half Human portrays the Snow Beast as an empathetic creature and shows the humans to be the real ’monsters’ in the world. This fact is driven home with the tragic scene of the young creature being killed and the emotional reaction of the adult. The narration washes right over this scene and immediately pounces on the beast for killing humans and its ‘monstrous’ behavior. In fact, I had to look up the names of the film’s characters because the American narration only refers to the actors as ‘the girl’ or ‘the boy.’ This is extremely lame and perhaps the worst translation/American-izing of a Toho film I have ever seen.

Unfortunately, the original 1955 Japanese version has been removed from circulation because of its depictions of the native people as deformed and violent due to inbreeding. Toho decided it was an injustice to portray the people of the mountains like that and to insinuate the real tribes that live there are anything like that.

It is hard enough to find this 1958 American version which is out of print, never mind the original Japanese version. I was lucky to track this down after some searching. It is not a great film because the American footage had cut the original into pieces and tried to tell a different story. However, if you can read between the lines, you can feel a good movie was in there, once. For a Toho fan like myself, it was a must have.

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