Monday, February 8, 2010

50 Pack Disk 1/ Side B

Creature From The Haunted Sea (1961) Dir. By Roger Corman

American crook Renzo Capetto sees a chance to make a bundle when a Caribbean island has a revolution. He plans to help loyalists (and the national treasury) escape on his boat, then kill the men and blame their deaths on a mythical sea monster. Trouble ensues when the _real_ monster shows up! Written by Paul White {}

Before I start, I want to take a paragraph to confess my love for Roger Corman. Not only is he an amazing director, but he is probably the best producer to ever take on the movie business. He has produced 388 of the finest crappy movies of all time. This guy deserves a medal, and might get one rightfully so, but not until after he dies. Yes, he is still living. The man is 86 years old and still pumping out movies like Dinoshark, coming out this year. Just to name a few, he is behind: The Monster from the Ocean Floor (1954), Beast with a Million Eyes (1955), Day the World Ended (1955), Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957), Night of the Blood Beast (1958), The Brain Eaters (1958), Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959), Little Shop of Horrors (1960), EAP’s The Pit and the Pendulum (1961), EAP’s Tales of Terror (1962), EAP’s The Raven (1963), The Terror (1963), Both Death Race movies, and sweet jesus, just look at his profile. 388 amazing frickin movies! He has to have reached Godlike status in my book. This guy is a legend! Ok, rant over now. Moving on.

This movie Roger Corman teams up again with writer Charles B. Griffith who he has worked with many times in his career, and many times before this movie was made. Starting this movie off, they dive right into the mob theme, by killing a shoeshiner. The thing I don’t get is why are they trying to give beards such a bad rap. The bad guys all have huge beards. A nice chase scene on foot ensues. No dialogue so far, but not necessarily a bad thing. The pace is fast, and I like that. The main character Agent XK150, puts on sunglasses and a fake mustache to hide his real identity as Sparks Moran, and heads to the spot to meet with another agent. Some casual flirting follows and then he exits.

The backstory/history is illustrated as cheesy cartoons, then continues back to live action. On a Carribean Island, dark shadows hide Renzo Capetto (Antony Carbone). They are planning something big, amidst a revolutionary war. Between gunfights and car chases, Sparks Moran manages to work his way into the gang. The comedy is mild, but affective. At times, it almost seems like a satire of gangster movies. Renzo looks like a Magnum P.I. decades before Magnum P.I. It is wonderful. He plans to kill the men and blame it on a sea monster. Its really not a complex story, but the movie is only 70 min long, so there isn’t a lot of time. The movie stays moving, and never slows down. I find myself thoroughly enjoying it. It feels like Mary-Belle Monahan ( Betsy Jones-Moreland) doesn’t actually serve a purpose in this movie. She is supposed to be Renzo’s lover/right hand girl, but she just seems like eye candy. Without her it’s a sausagefest. Perfectly written, and perfectly executed. The actual monster shows up, and all hell breaks loose. Renzo thinks his plan is working perfectly, but he doesn’t realize there is a real monster. Ok, its actually way more comedy than I had expected, but I still love it. The out of place musical number could have been left out, but it served a small purpose to the storyline. I don’t know if I would consider this a horror movie. Forty minutes into a seventy minute movie, and I have only seen the creature once. The monster is back, and it kind of looks like a cross between a couple of Yo Gabba Gabba characters, Munno and Brobee maybe. A hilarious moment of animal sound making just happened! I’m not going to say anything, it just has to be watched on your own. Renzo’s plan continues to go all wrong, but still barely any monster. Things get a little more interesting when the guys have to get into the water to search for a box that had sunk to the bottom. The lack of monster is filled with small little side plots, that actually don’t seem to take away from the story itself. The ending wasn’t exactly climactic, but it got the job done. There was nothing spectacular about this film, and I would hardly call it a horror. I had a lot of fun watching it, but I think it would do better on a Action/Comedy list rather than a horror classics collection.

Entertainment Value: 9 Bug-Eyes out of 10
Cinematic Value: 3 Bug-Eyes out of 10

Nightmare Castle (Amanti d'oltretomba) (1965) Dir. By Mario Caiano ( as Allen Grunewald)

A sadistic count tortures and murders his unfaithful wife and her lover, then removes their hearts from their bodies. Years later, the count remarries and the new wife experiences nightmares and hauntings. The ghosts of the slain return to exact their bloody revenge, until their hearts are destroyed. Written by io

Erie organ music! Yay! A good start. Dr. Stephen Arrowsmith ( Paul Muller, Paul Miller in this movie) is an evil scientist, and married to Muriel Arrowsmith (Barbara Steele, also in a double role as Jenny Arrowsmith). Barbara Steele also played Dr. Mengers in Piranha. Muriel is caught with her lover David (Rick Battaglia), and the two are tortured by Stephen. An excellent score from Ennio Morricone really highlights this gothic torture flick. Extremely creative torture, I might add. The movie plays out a lot like an afternoon soap opera. People dying, people coming back, people marrying their former wife’s sister, because she looks just like his first wife did. A little confusing at first, but It definitely keeps the first twenty minutes of the movie moving strong. The beautiful Barbara Steele is outstanding in her dual role as the sisters. Amazing camera work, and strong lighting litter the movie. Dr. Arrowsmith with the help of Solange (Helga Line), plot to kill Jenny and Dr. Dereck Joyce ( Laurance Clift) before they find out the secret. The story is well written and plays out as a great ghost story/revenge/possession movie. The build to climax is extremely gradual and it makes the movie extremely slow in the middle. With all things aside, I viewed the slightly dull middle as a build up of characters, and it helped me view them as people. I actually felt for them. There seemed to be many subplots in there, but they didn’t take away from the story itself, just added to it. The last ten minutes are intense, as all parts of the story start to come together, and everything is revealed. In the end, I thoroughly enjoyed Nightmare Castle.

Entertainment Value: 8 Non-beating Hearts out of 10
Cinematic Value: 7 Non-beating Hearts out of 10

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