Horror Movie Maven

Lover of all things that slash, gash, bleed, and otherwise terrify.

Category: Watch the Book (page 1 of 8)

Tombs of the Blind Dead (1972)

My take: An interesting zombie film from Spain that has a good balance of scary and cheesy scenes.

Rating: 3 out of 4 stars

1972 seems to have been full of characters displaying wonton acts of hubris. In Baron Blood, a character decides to go and awaken his long dead and devilishly evil ancestor. In Tombs of the Blind Dead, a girl goes and decides it is a good idea to sleep alone in an old, abandoned monastery. Why not? What could happen?

Then, when she winds up dead, her friends decide they should also go to this old monastery. This despite the fact that every local who speaks of that place is absolutely terrified.

Hubris, hubris, and more hubris.

They should have known that the monastery was inhabited by zombie-like, demon worshipping Templars. It is a horror movie, after all. What did they expect?

Tombs of the Blind Dead

Those are some creepy blind, dead Templars in Tombs of the Blind Dead.

And those devil-worshipping zombies are quite terrifying. They elevate the film above the standard horror stories of the era, and paved the way for three sequels to this story.

I would recommend this movie to people who like zombie films and 70s horror.

I got a copy from Netflix on DVD, which had a subtitled and a dubbed version. Here is a trailer on YouTube:

Baron Blood (1972)

My take: This is a standard Italian gothic. Only see this one if you love others from this subgenre.

Rating: 2 out of 4 stars

In Baron Blood, Peter Kleist returns to his family’s ancestral castle. He has found a piece of parchment which claims to hold the key to awakening Peter’s ancestor, Baron Otto von Kleist. The Baron earned the nickname Baron Blood due to his sadistic, murderous ways in the 16th century.

So, Peter finds a cute girl (as always seems to happen in horror films) and they sneak into the castle to awaken Baron Blood.

Hubris. Pure hubris. And it goes about as well as you could expect.

Baron Blood

The poster for Baron Blood is excellent. The movie is just okay.

This movie is a fairly standard Italian gothic tale, and it is a bit more predicable than others I have seen (such as Devil’s Nightmare). It has all of the tropes you expect in an Italian gothic horror (castle, hot chick, torture chamber, etc.), but none of the fun, unexpected elements.

As a result, I would only recommend this to serious fans of gothic horror films. Otherwise, I would recommend that you skip this one in favor of a Hammer film or a Barbara Steele picture.

I found the movie on Netflix’s instant watch. Here’s the trailer on YouTube:

Tales From the Crypt (1972)

My take: This movie is made up of five gruesome tales. So, there’s sure to be at least one you like.

Rating: 3 out of 4 stars

Five strangers are on a tour of a catacombs. They fall behind the tour guide in the tunnels, and find themselves lost. A door opens mysteriously. When they enter the room, a robed man appears, and the door slides shut behind them. This is the cryptkeeper (no, he does not look like that beloved little skeletal corpse from the TV version in the 90s).

He bids them to set, which the group begrudgingly does, while asking why they are there. The cryptkeeper takes each person in turn,  revealing the stories of how they arrived at the catacombs. Each story is filled with its own horrors of course.

Tales From the Crypt

Poster for Tales From the Crypt

Bonus: Peter Cushing stars in what is probably the most morally repugnant tale in the bunch. This tale alone makes the movie worth a watch.

But I liked all of the stories. Multi-story films make it easier to get through bad elements, acting or stories. You simply have to wait a few minutes for the next tale.

I would recommend this to fans of classic horror, 1970s horror and Peter Cushing. Also, if you also liked Tales From the Crypt when it aired on HBO in the 90s, you will likely enjoy this as well. Both this film and the TV show are based on the same comic book series.

I found the movie on YouTube. Here is the trailer:

 

Devil’s Nightmare (1971)

My take: This is a lot of cheesy, Italian-gothic goodness. Tropes abound but there are enough scares to keep it fun and interesting.

Rating: 3 out of 4 stars

Like many of the films I have watched previously, Devil’s Nightmare is chock full of gothic horror tropes:

  • There’s a creepy castle (with bonus torture devices in the attic)
  • The baron in said castle has a bubbling, smoky laboratory (though he does alchemy, not science)
  • There’s a demonic curse on the baron
  • A group of tourists get stranded at said castle with said baron

One thing that sets this movie apart from those before it, however, is the blatant integration of sex into the film. While the group of tourists are settling into their rooms, the two young females decide to share a room. And it is not just because they are scared. The movie seems to suddenly change genres and become a 1970s girl-on-girl porno.

Poster for Devil's Nightmare.

Poster for Devil’s Nightmare.

After that scene, sex serves as an undercurrent to the film. The baron’s family lives under a demonic curse: every first-born female is a succubus and serves at the devil’s whim. As you can guess, a succubus appears to spoil the group’s stay at the castle. She punishes each for their sins in turn, while wearing very revealing clothing.

Even through all this cheesiness, the film is downright fun to watch. As a result, I would recommend this to people who like gothic horror and Italian horror.

I bought a DVD copy of the movie from Amazon. Here is the trailer on YouTube:

Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971)

My take: Was it a ghost? Was it madness? I’m still not sure, and I don’t think that is a good thing.

Rating: 1 out of 4 stars

This movie raised a lot of questions in my mind about the early 1970s:

  • Were there a lot of hippies everywhere?
  • Did people just roam around the country and do nothing?
  • Why was the soundtrack so terrible? Did people listen to that crap?
  • Why is the main character so mindlessly happy at the strangest moments?

The movie is about a couple and their friend. The female in the couple is Jessica (of the movie title), who just got out of a mental facility. Her and her beau are getting a fresh start in a country home.

lets scare jessica to death

Even the poster for Let’s Scare Jessica to Death is bad.

When the trio arrive at the house, they stumble upon a young female squatter. Oddly, they let the girl stay.

At the same time, Jessica starts hearing voices around the house and out in the lake. Voices pushing her to do things.

It’s a film that rides the line between insanity and the supernatural. Unfortunately, the characters are simply not believable or relatable enough to carry the plot.

As you can tell from my barrage of questions above, there were a lot of issues that went unanswered in the film. Perhaps it was a film made for the 70s that does not hold up to today’s standards of suspense and fear.

I would only recommend this movie to people who like supernatural films and also happen to like movies from the 1970s. That person is not me.

I got a copy of the movie from Netflix via disc. Here’s the trailer:

Daughters of Darkness (1971)

My take: This story was a bit too slow for my liking, but it was one of the more interesting Countess Bathory stories I have seen.

Rating: 2 out of 4 stars

Daughters of Darkness (not to be confused with Daughter of Darkness) is a slow-moving horror film from the 1970s with a distinctly European feeling to it. I get the impression while watching it that I am missing something or that I may have liked it better if I was living in Italy in 1971.

The movie follows two young newlyweds on their honeymoon. They stop at a coastal town , where they meet a strange older woman and her young female companion. This woman claims to be the descendant of the infamous Countess Bathory, who murdered hundreds of girls in Hungary from 1585-1610 (according to Wikipedia at least).

Countess Elizabeth Bathory

Countess Elizabeth Bathory in Daughters of Darkness. Lookin’ good after so many years.

Is she the descendant? Or is show the real deal? You will have to watch the movie to find out.

And I do recommend watching it, particularly if you find stories about Elizabeth Bathory interesting. I myself had a bit of an obsession with her story in high school. Hers was the first story I learned that seemed like a real-life basis for vampirism. She was also a famously sadistic serial killer. Little goth 16-year-old me found this fascinating.

I got a copy of the movie via Netflix disc. Here is the trailer on YouTube:

The House That Dripped Blood (1971)

My take: The film has multiple stories, all taking place in the same house. It’s good for those of us with little patience or who tire of a story quickly.

Rating: 3 out of 4 stars

Some horror does not lend itself to a whole film. Stretching the story out can ruin a tight, short horror movie. Case in point: Twilight Zone episodes. I would not want many of them to be longer, and they could not be any scarier.

For these reason, I have a soft spot in my heart for movies like the House That Dripped Blood. There is enough change that I don’t get bored, and I get my fill of succinct scares.

the house that dripped blood

This is a truly excellent poster for the film.

There are four stories in the House That Dripped Blood. They include:

  • A writer who begins to believe the strangler in his book is real
  • A retiree (played by Peter Cushing) who becomes obsessed with a waxwork in town
  • A father (played by Christopher Lee) who is trying to keep control over his young daughter
  • A horror movie actor who finds himself turning into one of his characters

I enjoyed each one, and I would happily recommend the movie to people who like British horror, Christopher Lee/Peter Cushing movies, and supernatural horror.

I got the movie via a disc from Netflix. Here is the trailer on YouTube:

The Brotherhood of Satan (1971)

My take: If you like satanic cult movies, you might like this one from the period where those types of movies were at their height.

Rating: 2 out of 4 stars

In my last post on the Dunwich Horror, I commented on my old belief that all horror films from the 1970s were about satanic cults. Well, here’s another one that reinforces my old stereotype about horror from that era.

The Brotherhood of Satan is about a family who become stranded in a terrified town. People throughout the town have become victims of gruesome and inexplicable deaths. No one in town can determine the cause or the killer, and children keep disappearing from these scenes of violent death.

brotherhood of satan

Those pesky satan worshippers are up to something.

As you can guess from the title of the movie and from the start of my review, there is a satanic cult behind these deaths. If satanic cults scare you, then you might enjoy this film. It’s got some gory death scenes, creepy children, and some decent suspense. However, I don’t find satanic cults to be particularly scary subjects for horror. As a result, I would only recommend this movie as a deep cut for fans of horror.

I rented the movie from Amazon. Here is the trailer on YouTube:

The Dunwich Horror (1970)

My take: This movie is only slightly entertaining if you like H.P. Lovecraft stories and the Evil Dead franchise. Even then, it is just too cheesy.

Rating: 1 out of 4 stars

When I was growing up, I avoided horror films from the 1970s as a general rule. I can even see myself, as I was back then: dressed in all black with dyed hair, black fingernails, and a perpetual sneer at all things popular. I distinctly recall saying, “All horror from the 70s is about satanic cults, and they are utterly boring.”

I was such a little snot. This movie reinforces that old belief of mine, however.

It’s about the last living member of an ancient cult, Wilber Whateley. He is determined to finish what his forefathers started by summoning an ancient race of beings from another dimension to take control of the world (and kill everyone).

dunwich horror

Dean Stockwell plays Wilber Whateley in the Dunwich Horror.

Only H.P. Lovecraft could write a plot like this. And the film is chock full of classic Lovecraft. Unfortunately, it is also full of downright silly psychedelic dream sequences and extended shots of gyrating hips on alters.

My sixteen-year-old self was rolling her eyes throughout the film and demanding to know why we were wasting our time with such drivel. Even though I am well out of my angsty teenage years, I had a hard time disagreeing.

The only thing in this film that held my interest were the random overlapping phrases and words from the Evil Dead franchise. There’s a necronomicon from which you can summon the dead. At one point someone says something about an “army of darkness.” It makes me wonder how heavy an influence this film had on a young Sam Raimi or if he is simply a fan of Lovecraft.

It still wasn’t enough to overcome the inherent cheesy datedness of this film. As a result, I would say this is one you can skip. If you absolutely must watch it, it’s available on Netflix’s streaming service. Here’s the trailer:

The House That Screamed (1969)

My take: It’s got a storyline I was not able to predict. As a result, it’s a solid Spanish horror film.

Rating: 2 out of 4 stars

Called La Residencia in Spain, The House That Screamed is a suspense-driven horror film that I was unable to predict. I’ve noticed this with many foreign horror films. The typical tropes and expectations go out the window. Without the same cultural norms and history, you don’t know where the story will go next. This is how I felt while watching this movie.

The basic plot involves a boarding school for girls. There is a stern headmistress and her lurking son. There’s a sadistic girl who oversees (and punishes) other girls. We follow the new student, Thérèse as she orients herself to these new surroundings. And girls keep running away for some reason…

house that screamed

The lobby card for The House That Screamed.

To tell you more could ruin the fun. While it has a unique plot, I don’t know if I would recommend this film to just anyone. Not only is it difficult to get ahold of, it is also not a stand-out horror film that needs to be watched. As a result, I would recommend this movie to only die-hard fans of horror, including Spanish horror and period pieces.

I got a copy of the movie by ordering a DVD from Amazon. Here is the trailer in Spanish from YouTube:

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