Saturday, January 7, 2012

Silent Night, Bloody Night Review - 1974

Silent Night, Bloody Night - 1974
Directed by Theodore Gershuny - MPAA Rating: Restricted
a film review by DAW

[Rating: 4/5]

In the winter of 1950, days before Christmas, the illusive Mr. Wilfred Butler burns to death outside of his house.  After years of the city trying to buy the massive property, Butler's grandson Jeffrey finally decides to sell the place.  A lawyer comes down to seal the deal, but he notices that the mayor and other prominent towns people are acting very strange.  Even though the town’s people object, the lawyer and his wife want to stay in the old house instead of renting a motel.  Soon the lights are low and there is passion in the air. Their romantic night is suddenly disruptedby an AX TO THE CROTCH! 

It is made very clear that there is something strange going on at the old Butler house.  When Jeffery shows up at the house of the mayor's daughter (Diane), it is soon made clear that either he is connected to the murders or their is a maniac on the lose. When they find out that a mental patient has escaped from a local asylum, he might just be the answer they are looking for.  After some strange and eerie phone calls, Diane finds that appearances can be deceiving and that people's histories can come back to haunt them!

This is a great film which is often overlooked by the casual viewer.  It has an older feel to it but a solid story, good amount of gore, and a great twist at the end.  The atmosphere of the film is creepy, and the look of the film stock adds a wonderful little touch of grime, which improves the viewing experience.

The title is obviously a nod to the Christmas song "Silent Night"and the version of the song that is used in this film is veryhaunting.  Sometimes it is in the background, and other times the characters are humming or singing the tune.  This reviewer would put this in with other Christmas slashers, such as Black Christmas and Don't Open 'Till Christmas.  The main difference being that the Christmas holiday is very downplayed in this film.

  written by DAW for and

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

End of the World Review - 1977

End of the World - 1977
Directed by John Hayes - MPAA Rating: Parental Guidance
a film review by DAW

[Rating: 3/5]

Professor Andrew Boran (Kirk Scott), a research scientist, begins receiving strange messages from outer space.  Using a computer, he is able to deceiver one of the messages which reads “LARGE EARTH DISRUPTION”.  Baffled by it’s meaning, he leaves it alone and heads to a party with his wife, Sylvia.  While driving, they hear about a deadly earthquake which occurred after Andrew had received the cryptic message.  After more messages and natural disasters occur, Andrew starts to believe there is a connection.  Andrew and his wife leave their home and drive to various locations to further investigate these signals.  After arriving at a church, they meet Father Pergado (Christopher Lee)  and his nuns.  Before they know it, Andrew and his wife discover that things are not as they seem.  Andrew and Sylvia must survive against a force they barely understand.  As things become more strange and more dangerous, Andrew and Sylvia must fight to stop the end of the world!

End of the World is a film that is often panned by critics.  This reviewer has always enjoyed this film and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys Christopher Lee and somewhat campy 70s/80s style science fiction.  It does not meet the level of camp as found in sci-fi flicks from the 50s and 60s.  It is a bit more serious but contains a similar amount of ridiculousness.

Christopher Lee has a very standard performance.  Since he is dressed in a priest’s clothing, it feels like he is, at times, playing Dracula once again! His haunting voice and intense delivery make his character fun to watch and, although it reminded this reviewer of Dracula, it is refreshing to see Lee in a more fun evil sci-fi villain style role.  This flick is definitely recommended to check out.  Even if parts of it drag, the last scene of the film will make the viewer laugh out loud due it its absolute absurdity.

                     written by DAW for and

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Sadist Review - 1963

The Sadist - 1963
Directed by James Landin - MPAA Rating: Unrated
a film review by DAW
[Rating: 4/5]

“The Sadist” is a horror film staring Arch Hall Jr. as the psychopathic spree killer, Charles A. Tibbs.  Released in 1963, “The Sadist” tells the story of a group of high school teachers who are held captive by a psychopathic killer and his girlfriend.  The teachers set out on a road trip to see a baseball game in a different state but have car trouble along the way and need to stop on the side of the road.  After diagnosing the broken part and finding a near by junk yard, the trio begin to feel that something is not right.  Soon they are confronted by Charles Tibbs, his girlfriend, and his hand gun.  Brash, unpredictable, and overtly violent, Tibbs makes these three people learn that he now controls their lives, and will be the ultimate judge and jury determining whether they live or die.

 “The Sadist” is a fascinating and horrifying experience in thesame vein as films like “Young and Dangerous”, “Compulsion”, and “Natural Born Killers”.  In this reviewer’s opinion, the reason this film is a contender to the above mentioned is because of the 1960s film look, and the lack of modern day special effects and musical score.  Normally this would make a film appear cheap or outdated but the lack of the bells and whistles creates a realistic and disturbing environment.  Whenviewing the film, one can really feel the fear and anxiety of being stuck in a situation similar to the characters on the screen.  It is intriguing to watch and the events stay with you well after the film has ended. 

An interesting fact about this film is that it was inspired by a mass
murderer named Charles Starkweather.  Starkweather was a man who went on a killing spree road trip with his girlfriend which resulted in the deaths of eleven people and his eventual capture and execution by electric chair.  The connections between the movie and the true events make the film even more eerie, as one can feel as if they are getting a glimpse into a scenario from the actual crime spree (even though this specific story is not from the true events).  The film even attempted to make the main antagonist appear similar to the actual killer (see picture).  This film is highly recommended!  Check this out today at the Open Film Den!

                     written by DAW for and

Monday, April 4, 2011

Code Name Zebra (Zebra Force) Review - 1976

Code Name Zebra - 1976
Directed by Joe Tornatore - MPAA Rating: Unrated
a film review by DAW
Rating: 3.5/5

Code Name Zebra” (or “Zebra Force” as it is known outside of the United States) is a very questionable action flick from the mid 1970’s.  In general, the story is not too shabby, and the film does have a pretty nice twist as the story progresses.  The real problem of this film is the cheesy nature of the action and the phoned in performance of many of the actors.  I would not categorize it as "bad" acting, but you will definitely notice a few choice scenes.  After saying that, do not let the comment fool you.  The film is definitely worth viewing, however it is no Expendables (not even the 1988 “Expendables” film).

As the film begins, we are introduced to a Los Angeles underground gambling operation owned by the mob.  Quickly we find out that things are not as fun and glamorous as they appear when a bomb explodes, ending the party.  After the explosion, a group of armed men run in and steal the gangsters’ money.  We are then treated to one of the best parts of the movie, the rockin’ opening credits!  This really sets the mood of the film, with edgy graphics and a catchy action theme song.  After the credits, we are introduced to the men who crashed the party with a flashback to Vietnam.  After an ambush, the Lieutenant is badly injured and, while in the hospital, creates a plan to use his old platoon as an anti crime unit after the war comes to an end.  The Lieutenant (now voiceless and disfigured from the attack in Vietnam) describes his plan to his men.  They decide to use blackface as a disguise and rob one of the biggest mob bosses in the country.  After starting the plan and creatively fooling the mobsters, the Lieutenant and his men soon discover that things are not so easy, especially when people are not who they claim to be!

What can be said about Code Name Zebra?  It is a standard actionsploitation film that seems very common for the mid 1970s.  It has a nod to Vietnam, some racist elements, and it falls in to one of the “violence solves everything” kinds of stories.  The positive aspects of the film are definitely the plot and the action scenes.  There are plenty of explosions and gun battles to keep any action fan satisfied.  Unfortunately, the racist aspects of the plot tarnish some of this reviewer’s ability to enjoy the film.  Specifically, wearing blackface to trick a crime boss to believe the team’s heist is connected to an African American crime group. 

All in all, I would recommend this movie to anybody who is a fan of action films.  The story will keep your attention and the action scenes will fulfill your desire to see things explode!  This film is now in the public domain and available, in full, on this website!  Click the link below to watch the full movie!

written by DAW for and

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

White Zombie Review - 1932

White Zombie - 1932
Directed by Victor Halperin - MPAA Rating: Unrated
"White Zombie" is a 1939, independent, black and white film starring Bela Lagosi (of "Dracula" fame) as an evil voodoo zombie master named Murder Legendre!  Madeleine Short (Madge Bellamy) and Neil Parker (John Harron), an engaged couple, are in Haiti to visit a friend’s plantation with the hope of being married there.  The plantation is owned by Charles Beaumont (Robert Frazer) who has more on his mind than helping out with the wedding!  Beaumont is secretly in love with Madeleine and becomes increasingly desperate since the event is fast approaching.  Beaumont seeks out Murder with the idea to change Madeline into a zombie so he can control her mind and make her love him.  Things do not progress as nicely as Beaumont had hoped however, and he soon regrets the decision.  Unfortunately for him, Murder is now in control of much more than Beaumont had hoped for, and Neil is not about to let his fiancĂ©e go that easily!

This film has always been met with mixed reviews.  Even though it is regarded as a classic, and the first full length Zombie film, it seems to have a “love it” or “hate it” response from its viewers.  There are several aspects of this film that are desirable.  For this reviewer, the sets, music, and general atmosphere create an almost dream like state that makes you excited for the next scene to come.  The wonderful set pieces as well as the painted backgrounds create an odd and enticing feeling.  One of the most breath taking scenes is inside of Murder’s castle.  It is amazing to look at the amount of effort put into creating illusions of depth and distance, especially since we are now in an age where computer generated graphics have lowered our standards with what we think is acceptable in films.  On the negative side, the film’s acting is par to the era it was filmed in, which to many viewers, seems substandard in comparison to modern acting talents.  It is not the worst acting this reviewer has witnessed, not
 even close, however it does have a very dated feel to it.

Overall this is a film that is highly recommended.  Bela Lagosi is 
classic in his role as Murder and gives a compelling and creepy performance similar to that of his more famous film at the time, "Dracula".  The story is romantic, suspenseful, and intriguing.  Make sure to check out this film today!  Another public domain classic featured here on!

written by DAW for and

Monday, March 7, 2011

Deep Red Review - 1975

Deep Red - 1975
Directed by Dario Argento - MPAA Rating: Restricted

Directed by the renowned Dario Argento, 1975’s Deep Red is an enthralling murder mystery/horror film, referred to as a “giallo” in Argento’s native Italy.  Protagonist Marcus Daly, a music teacher, witnesses the murder of a psychic in her apartment and is compelled to find the killer.  The film follows him in his search as the body count rises.  As with much of Argento’s work, creative and at times beautiful imagery can be observed throughout the film.  This often intentionally clashes with the brutal, often drawn out violence and dark nature of the film.  These elements along with an often eerie musical score preformed by Italian progressive rock legend “Goblin “(their first in a series of collaborations with Argento), make for an engaging visual and auditory experience.  Though not for the faint at heart, this critically acclaimed film comes with a strong recommendation, as films of this quality don’t come along very often.

written by RJA for and

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Thank You!

A big thank you to everyone who supported theme month at!  The opening of the site went really well!  In the future, there will be more reviews, more recommendations, and MORE FILMS!

Keep checking!
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