The Blood Beast Terror

The Blood Beast Terror

aka The Vampire-Beast Craves Blood

Written by Peter Bryan
Directed by Vernon Sewell

Blood Beast Terror
Who you calling a bird brain???

It’s Commander USA! Legion of Decency, retired. Yes, we’re gonna have us a horror host for The Blood Beast Terror, which we desperately need because this film plods along so slowly like so much British cinema and so much American film in the 1970s. There is no way anything like this could be made now, because the audience would be asleep by reel two. Heck, I was almost asleep by reel 2, luckily Commander USA and the retro 80’s commercials also on this tape kept me awake enough to finish the review. You would think a movie where there is a female were-moth that drinks blood would be more exciting. Then you would be wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong. As usual, the Commander USA’s Groovie Movies sections will be in blue, so you can easily skip them if you aren’t into awesome things. Amazingly, I have this flick on DVD, so enjoy the higher quality film screencaps mixed in with the retro VHS rip screencaps. It’s called inconsistency, baby!

Blood Beast Terror
Won’t it look weird when one hand is more tan than the other…?

Tigon British Film Productions was a smaller production company that mainly put out low budget horror films to compete with Hammer Studios. They were formed in 1966 and didn’t last much past the late 1970s. Their legacy is classic horror like Witchfinder General, The Creeping Flesh, The Sorcerers, and this masterpiece of were-moth entertainment. And, no, Mothman came to Earth to harass Americans before this film was made. And Mothman is totally real…like Owlman

Blood Beast Terror
Oil can! He said Oil can!

So what we got here is Peter Cushing fighting another monster that drinks blood, but this time it’s a were-moth. What we also have is a villain so identifiably evil it’s weird that he wasn’t arrested the second we were introduced to him. Instead, we’re supposed to believe Dr. Carl Mallinger is a pillar of the community. Maybe that community was hurting for pillars?

Blood Beast Terror
Every time I leave the door open, interpretive dancers burst in and start busting moves…

Now I bet you are wondering if female moths drink blood. The answer is no! But the Death’s Head moths (Acherontia spp.) do have a pattern on their backs that looks similar to a skull, thus the species have become associated with death and the macabre. Oddly enough, these moths attack beehives to get honey! So they’re more like honey badgers in that they don’t care, instead of vampires in that they drink blood. So suck on that, superstitions!

Clare Mallinger does drink blood. The blood of young men, young men that she often seduces, but not to the point of sexual intercourse. Instead, the men are lured off alone, or even just attacked while in a vulnerable location. The Blood Beast Terror is also a period piece, set in the not so distant past. Just set at the right time to do some Frankenstein allegories, up to and including a Frankenstein like play in the actual movie. It also helps quantify the pseudo-puritanical subtext of the Jezebel woman running around seducing all these nice young men who totally wouldn’t want to have the sex…with a girl…unless they were seduced by this temptress! The only thing missing was a giant letter A branded on the were-moth’s chest. Temptation and sin is probably why her demise is the way it is, spoiled below the fold in the recap portion. The setting in the older days help magnifies the sexual undertones.

Blood Beast Terror
Jolly good fish, sir! Right-o!

When The Blood Beast Terror was released in the US, it was retitled The Vampire-Beast Craves Blood and paired with Slaughter of the Vampires. Which I hear may involve vampires being slaughtered. But maybe not.

Inspector Quennell (Peter Cushing) – Famous and proper British police inspector who can solve any case, even bug-infested ones! His daughter is Meg Quennell
Dr. Carl Mallinger (Robert Flemyng) – Notable village eccentric, which means he has enough money that his weirdo obsessions are passed off as charming instead of creepy. Is the local scientist who lectures young lads on proper moth identification.
Clare Mallinger (Wanda Ventham) – Dr. Mallinger’s daughter, who totally isn’t secretly an evil were-moth who lures men to their doom. DOOM!!!!
Sgt. Allan (Glynn Edwards) – Quennell’s facial haired partner in crime who helps him bust crimes.
Were-moth (Herself) – Got blood?
Blood Beast Terror
Commander USA’s Groovie Movies forever!

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Santo y Blue Demon vs Drácula y el Hombre Lobo

Santo y Blue Demon vs Drácula y el Hombre Lobo

aka Santo and Blue Demon vs. Dracula and the Wolfman

Written by Alfredo Salazar
Directed by Miguel M. Delgado

Santo Blue Demon Dracula Wolfman
We slept so long our clothes are in style again!

Unlike the prior Santo and Blue Demon vs. The Monsters, Santo y Blue Demon vs Drácula y el Hombre Lobo is a slower paced and more methodological monster film. Instead of celebrating B movie creatures and having monsters inspired by Universal classics, Dracula and the Wolf Man here are more patterned after the Hammer horror films. The creatures are still deadly, there is still a huge body count, and even major side characters die! Things just go real.

Santo Blue Demon Dracula Wolfman
Rounders: The Lucha Years

The lower budget causes more sets to be noticeably sets and not real locations. Santo y Blue Demon vs Drácula y el Hombre Lobo tries to offset this by having more things take place indoors or inside of caves. The few brief outside at night shots feature lighting of an unnatural blue, which eerily mimics to bright blue and red colors of the stadium backgrounds during the wrestling matches (which are also obviously on a stage and not in a real stadium!) The use of bright colors even extends to the opening credits, where bright red is the tone of choice. The atmospheric score is largely piano with some organ parts. The bright colors contrast with the black and white Santo films that gave off a more Gothic horror feel. The bright color but serious tones doesn’t match the campy drive-in approach of Santo and Blue Demon vs. The Monsters, moving vs Drácula y el Hombre Lobo in between the camp and the attempts at serious horror. The dichotomy gives an interesting feel to the film, making it just playful enough that you fall into a lull of disarmament, making the deaths of major characters more shocking.

Does Santo y Blue Demon vs Drácula y el Hombre Lobo fulfill the required Santo obligations? We have Santo and Blue Demon both wrestling opponents in matches that the movie shows in full. Instead of a mad scientist, we got a mad Satanist (some would argue that’s the same thing, but fuck those people!) Monsters? Check! Santo dating someone whose family is intertwined with the monsters in a complicated revenge plot? Check! Blue Demon knocked unconscious? Check! References to past heroic deeds of Santo and/or Blue Demon that aren’t from any film? Check! Blue Demon captured by the enemy and rescued by Santo? Check!

Santo Blue Demon Dracula Wolfman
When Satanists do the wave…

One thing Santo y Blue Demon vs Drácula y el Hombre Lobo does different is the police don’t believe Santo’s crazy story. In any other film, Santo would be called in to deal with the monsters and the police would give him leeway to do whatever he or Blue Demon want. Here, the police laugh at their outlandish tales of Dracula and the Wolfman. Haven’t they paid attention for the last 20 Santo films???

Santo Blue Demon Dracula Wolfman
When will Blue Demon find…his endless love???

Santo (Santo) – Santo is friend to all…wait, that’s not right. Santo is that famous wrestler you may have heard of. Perhaps. He’s once again dating a girl whose family is cursed with monsters seeking revenge. Heck, one time Santo dated the Swiss Miss girl and had to kill Count Chocula, Frankenberry, Boo Berry, and even Yummy Mummy.
Blue Demon (Blue Demon) – Blue Demon is friend to all Santo. He’s another famous wrestler you may have heard of. Blue Demon once again plays second fiddle to Santo, despite being in the title. Poor Blue Demon…
Drácula (Aldo Monti) – Dracula is in Mexico because that’s what he does and he’s been dead dead for 200 years, but is brought back to life by the power of Satan. And revenge. Now, he’s got the evil eye for Santo and Blue Demon, and anyone who makes fun of his cape!
El Hombre Lobo/Wolfman (Agustín Martínez Solares) – You can’t have Dracula without the Wolfman, so here he is, ready to join his life partner in evil doings.
Rufus Rex (Agustín Martínez Solares) – This wolfman’s got nards, and swagger, as he runs around in human form as Rufus Rex and seduces Laura Cristaldi to her peril.
Lina (Nubia Martí) – Santo’s girlfriend. Professor Luis Cristaldi is her uncle, Laura Cristaldi is her cousin, and Rosita is Laura’s daughter. All are cursed. CURSED!!!
Eric (Alfredo Wally Barrón) – Just your average Satanist who brings Dracula and Wolfman back to life to steal their gold or something.
Santo Blue Demon Dracula Wolfman
All these boxes are filled with more Santo sequels!

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Santo el Enmascarado de Plata y Blue Demon Contra los Monstruos (Review)

Santo el Enmascarado de Plata y Blue Demon Contra los Monstruos

aka Santo and Blue Demon Against the Monsters

Story by Jesús Sotomayor Martínez and Rafael García Travesi
Screenplay by Rafael García Travesi
Directed by Gilberto Martínez Solares

The most popular hair salon in Transylvania…

When it’s night time and fright time, and things are going bump in the night, the monsters come out to play. A whole football team full of monsters! Luckily, the world has Santo and Blue Demon to do what they do best: Kicking monster butt!

Santo films started out like Cerebro Del Mal where they were more low key and just science fiction influenced capers. Santo played more of a supporting role at first. Many of the Santo films that followed would feature influences from horror flicks of the drive in, as Santo battled female vampires, zombies, a spooky wax museum, and stranglers. But by the time Santo fought the Martians, the Santo films were emulating the 1950s and 60s American B movie pictures that were lighting up the night skies at drive ins across North America. Santo would become more science fiction, engaging in spy episodes, running around with famous comedians, and even battling a famous movie monster or two. Influences would continue, and Santo el Enmascarado de Plata y Blue Demon Contra los Monstruos is no exception, the large amount of classic movie monsters present shows a clear influence from the Universal Monster movies.

It’s hard for a super-intelligent brain alien like me to find a girl, what with being an abomination against nature and all…

Even though there are influences, there are differences and odd themes. Wolfman, Vampire, and Cyclops all have big ears for some odd reason. And the Cyclops acts like the Creature from the Black Lagoon, acting as a surrogate for that missing member. Mummy barely appears in the film, wandering around and acting lazy. He also needs to eat a sandwich. Frankenstein looks like he’s tripping on mushrooms, which I think might have been how the film’s concept was dreamed up. The mad scientist Dr. Halder also has some green thugs that are called zombies but some sources, though I just dubbed them Frankenthugs. The large amount of monsters adds energy and a fast pace to the film, as it rushes to try to give everyone enough screentime, and the pace is rather quick for a Santo film.

According to Jim….lives again?!?!?!

Unfortunately there is a lot of cost cutting in this flick, it’s obvious what little budget there was went towards setting up the monster lineup. Most of the sets are sparse, and there is only one real scene that feels like it takes place at an actual place. There is even an extended sequence at that location that is obviously a stage play filmed for some other reason, and added here for padding and flavor. Santo and Blue Demon Against the Monsters features lots of shots that are shot in the daytime but set at night. Normally movies get around that by applying a blue filter to the movie, but that must have cost too much because they didn’t bother to do it all all.

Director Gilberto Martínez Solares was one of the best directors of early Mexican cinema, working often with Tin Tán, but his star began to fade and he soon was directing schlock like this and even worse things after. Though I think the Santo films and Santo el Enmascarado de Plata y Blue Demon Contra los Monstruos in particular are important features on the Mexican cinema landscape, they aren’t considered quality work, and Solares must have been phoning it in as his trajectory waned.

The Vampire is too cheap to turn the AC on during July!

Despite the budget woes and quality issues, Santo and Blue Demon vs the Monsters still ends up being a fun flick, and is among the Santo films you should see first just to get your toes wet. If you can handle Santo and Blue Demon punching their way through a castle filled with people in bad masks, you are ready to expand your journey. This is one of the easier titles to get, and is visual enough that even if your copy is minus subtitles, it won’t be a big loss.

No, keep your eye on the BALL, not the bat! Ball, BALL!!

Santo (Santo) – Santo the great hero braves all the evils that threaten the good people of Mexico. And also threaten relatives of his girlfriend, which happens far too often to be a coincidence. Santo must be seeking these girls out just so he can beat up monsters! What a freak…
Blue Demon (Blue Demon) – Santo’s best buddy in fiction if not reality, Blue Demon is captured early on in Santo el Enmascarado de Plata y Blue Demon Contra los Monstruos and replaced by an evil double.
Otto Halder and Gloria Halder (Jorge Rado and Hedi Blue) – The brother of the evil Dr. Bruno Halder and his daughter, Gloria, who Santo is dating.
Dr. Bruno Halder (Carlos Ancira) – A mad scientist who has gone crazy with rage and unleashes monsters upon the world, because he’s a jerk or something. He doesn’t really have any motivation besides being evil. But isn’t that motivation enough?
Waldo (Santanón) – Loyal servant of Dr. Halder and also a hunchbacked little fellow, like every film needs. Famed actor Santanón is best known for being Stinky the Skunk in another Monstruos flick. Maybe not really best known, but I declare it so now.
The Mummy/La Momia (Fernando Rosales) – A very lazy mummy who is just there for most of the flick.
The Cyclops/El Ciclope (Gerardo Zepeda) – Cyclops acts like a Gillman, but with big ears! This suit is left over from La Nave de los Monstruos (Ship of Monsters). Gerardo Zepeda also played one of the three zombies/Frankenthugs. He played goons and thugs in dozens of movies, including Wrestling Women vs. the Aztec Mummy
Frankenstein/Franquestain (Manuel Leal) – Even Frankenstein (or Frankenstein’s Monster for you purists!) joins the fun of getting punched by Santo and Blue Demon! Manuel Leal played the lead evil zombie Satan in The Mummies of Guanajuato
The Wolfman/El Hombre Lobo (Vicente Lara) – The Wolfman took time off from begging for change at a highway offramp to menace Santo and Blue Demon.
El Vampiro (David Alvizu) – Even vampires are trying to get into the fun, especially vampires with big Spock ears like someone “borrowed” just that element from Nosferatu.
Sonia the Vampire Woman/La Mujer Vampiro (Elsa María Tako) – The Vampire spends his time making vampire babes like Sonia here, who always walks around in her bra and panties and also tries to seduce Santo. There is another briefly seen vampire lady named Fabiola (Yolanda Ponce) but she does nothing important.
Evil Blue Demon (Alejandro Cruz/Black Shadow) – Blue Demon is captured and replaced by an evil duplicate who does evil stuff that is evil. Until Santo kills him! Spoiler… Though the credits are a bit hazy, it is believed that Alejandro Cruz/Black Shadow played the Evil Blue Demon duplicate.
Ship of Monsters Saucer Man (???) – This Invasion of the Saucer Men-style brain alien is another refuge from from Ship of Monsters, though all he does in this film is stand around in Dr. Halder’s lab and look weird. An important job!
Will Santo and Blue Demon defeat the monsters? I’m on the edge of my seat!!!

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Thor: Hammer of the Gods (Review)

Thor: Hammer of the Gods

Directed by Todor Chapkanov
Written by Steve Bevilacqua and Rafael Jordan

What could have been a cool concept is instead bogged down into a mediocre entry into the SciFi Channel original movie canon. The premise seems simple: Vikings vs. werewolves, and Thor shows up! The execution is problematic. The main problem is the pacing. There is lots of padding with Viking ceremonies and birthright nonsense. That’s great that the screenwriters are some of those people that know a disturbing amount of Nordic culture, but it doesn’t always make compelling viewing. The Vikings spend a lot of time running back and forth on the island as their comrades get picked off, while the werewolves start out as invincible supermonsters and quickly become incredibly easy to kill. Look, I don’t care if the Vikings are wearing the wrong color clothes, have horns or no horns on their helmets, or even if their sword stances are wrong. I just care if the movie is fun. Because, a movie about Vikings vs. werewolves is supposed to be fun. That’s the whole point!

Thor Hammer of the Gods does have good moments. The battles in the last half are pretty good, and it does pick up the pace some. Everyone speaks with exaggerated Shakespeare accents, which at first I found goofy, but it added to some of the camp value that should have been in the rest of the film. It is obvious the film had a very small budget, and it seemed to do well with what it had, I only wished they had spend more on action and less on the Viking stuff, especially since it seemed to not add much of anything to the characters. We learned little about Thor except he was brave and needed to learn more about leadership. That gave us no real emotional connection.

The actors I found little fault with. The biggest fun was Zachary Ty Brian (who has dropped the Ty) as Thor. When I first head this cast announcement, I laughed. I expected this to be terrible. But Zachary Bryan pulled it off, partially because he wasn’t Thor God of Thunder, but just a guy named Thor. As Zachary Bryan has been spending his post-Home Improvement career playing jerks of various degrees on movies and TV, it was nice seeing him do a different role. He might even have a career doing SciFi Channel films to supplement income from the latest Hollywood movie that needs a jerk. Most of the other cast is unknown, but Daz Crawford was pretty entertaining and makes a good jerk character. George Zlatarev appears near the end of the film and does a good job with what little he was given. He was also in Manticore and Grendel along with dozens of other SciFi Channel films.

Thor (Zachery Ty Bryan) – Thor isn’t the God of Thunder and Son of Odin, he’s just a Viking warrior with a fauxhawk who is the youngest of three brothers (Baldur and Ulfrich are the others.) Thor has much to learn in how to be an effective leader, but gets a quick lesson thanks to some werewolves. Thor is also the reincarnation of Thor, a great warrior who can weld the Hammer of the Gods.
Baldur (Mac Brandt) – The middle brother, but treated as the eldest because he was the first legitimate brother. Leader of the Viking quest to the island, only to be betrayed by his own brother. Sacrifices himself due to too much Indiana Jones. Never reached the gate.
Ulfrich (Daz Crawford) – The bastard older brother of Baldur and Thor, Ulfrich really is a bastard because he goes all werewolf on them over imagined women troubles. That bastard!
Freyja (Melissa Leigh) – Baldur’s wife has “the sight”, which means she has visions and stuff. Her visions don’t help her in combat. Freyja has got to be the most common name for girls in fantasy films. It is the fantasy “Jennifer”!
Sif (Alexis Peters) – Ulfrich’s wife or girlfriend or something. She’s friends with Thor, which makes Ulfrich mad. Besides that, she doesn’t really have much personality, though she is a better fighter than Freyja. Alexis Peters appeared on TarsTarkas.NET before in Grendel.
Evil Werewolf Girl (???) – Evil Werewolf Girl was never given a name, but she does have an accent! She’s evil, and a werewolf, so that’s all you need to know. I don’t know who played her, either.
The Viking Brothers (??? and ???) – I am not sure of their names, but these dudes live to the end where they save the ship from werewolves. One has a bow an arrow, and they seem smarter than your average random guy in a SciFi Channel film.
Werewolves (dudes with CGI heads) – What do you get when you CGI wolves heads on top of some shirtless dudes in loin clothes? Werewolves! Yeah. Teen Wolf, this is not.
Fenrir (CGI) – The evil Wolf God and son of Loki. Talks in that stereotypical demon voice. His CGI is some sort of armored wolf, but it is too dark to get a good view. Not a big fan of MC Hammer.

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Monster Squad

The Monster Squad

Monster Squad
Andre Gower as Sean Crenshaw
Robby Kiger as Patrick
Brent Chalem as Horace
Ryan Lambert as Rudy
Michael Faustino as Eugene
Tom Noonan as Frankenstein
Leonardo Cimino as Scary German Guy
Monster Squad

M-m-m-m-m-monster Squad!
Monster Squad

Before Van Helsing crapped up the idea of bringing all the classic Universal Monsters together in one film, The Monster Squad proved it could be done in an entertaining way. It also turned out to be a cool eighties movie that played off of all the traditions and culture of the time. It spoke to millions of kids who were obsessed with monsters. It also answered the question of whether or not the Wolfman has nards. Put Ghostbusters and The Goonies in a blender, and you get….The Monster Squad!

Monster Squad

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Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (Review)

Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

Peter Sallis as Wallace
Ralph Fiennes as Victor Quartermaine
Helena Bonham Carter as Lady Campanula Tottington
Directed by Steve Box and Nick Park

The year 2005 gave us Son of the Mask, The Honeymooners, Alone in the Dark, XXX 2, Stealth, Elektra, House Of Wax, Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous, The Perfect Man, Kingdom of Heaven, The Cave, Into the Blue, Fantasic Four, War of the Worlds, Alexander, The Island, Bewitched, The Greatest Game Ever Played, Man of the House, and Cry_Wolf. More horrors are undoubtedly on the way, such as Bloodrayne. There were a few bright spots, but out of the darkness comes a beacon so bright it blinds all competition. Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is too good of a movie to have come out of this year. It is a miracle. A beacon of hope. A sign of things to come. Wallace and Gromit are the first in a wave of decent films that are due out, and they are a sight for sore eyes. Hollywood has been complaining all summer about their being in a box office slump, then they release another weekend of garbage. Deservedly, people are staying home and staying away. Sure, Episode III, Sin City, Batman Begins, all decent, but not enough to keep people going to the lesser fare. Smaller productions such as Broken Flowers entertained but didn’t get much exposure, nor would they appeal to the masses as they weren’t designed to. Mot of the best films I saw this year were foreign films from 2004 or earlier, such as Kung Fu Hustle, Kontroll, Oldboy, and The Warrior. W&G is a great film. Everyone will love it, unless you are dead inside.

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