Friday, October 26, 2012

Jay's Movie of the Week #43: The Blood Beast Terror

Originally reviewed for dvdsnapshot, this is some old-fashioned fun for the Halloween holiday!

Our Take:

While not a Hammer or Amicus production, The Blood Beast Terror is a close-enough replica. With a vaguely 1890s setting, character types, and Peter Cushing as the star, this is a fun double-bill B-movie night monster mystery. Its just missing the touch those studios had for making successful pictures.

Cushing's detective, a vaguely annoyed man more concerned with his tea than his suspects is investigating a series of unusual murders which lead him to Robert Flemyng's stuffy, suspicious mad scientist. There are a few nice touches. The story makes for a nice detective procedural for Cushing and the victims are, for a change, a string of hapless men. Some comic relief and a cheesy grand guignol theater break also add life. They can't overcome the supposedly-dashing adventurer who's every expression is a sneer, nor the pair of ingénue daughters, including one who devours every man she encounters with her eyes during fits of overacting.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Jay's Movie of the Week #42: Ghost Ship (2002)

A triumph of good set design and applying gore with a ladle, Ghost Ship is a fun little number I dismissed after seeing in the theater and thought worth revisiting a decade later. Following the remakes of House on Haunted Hill and Thirteen Ghosts, this was the first original movie produced under the Dark Castle brand.

An ocean salvage crew, each saddled with a horribly blunt handles like Murphy, Epps, Santos, and Dodge are offered the gold-mine of a lifetime,brought in by Ferriman to claim the derelict Antonia Graza. Exploring the ship to salvage what they can, they wind up finding crates filled with beautiful bars of gold. Unfortunately, the ship has an agenda of its own. They also wind up meeting ghosts and their own bloody, painful demises while slowly piecing together the tragic mystery of what befell the passengers and crew on the final outing of the Garza.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Jay's Movie of the Week #41 American Experience: Death and the Civil War

An "American Experience" produciton from PBS, originally reviewed for dvdsnapshot.

Our Take

Photographs of dead soldiers on the battlefield, even when archival, are jarring to America's younger generations, unaccustomed to seeing what war costs. In a world filled with wall-to-wall, immediately available news, many remain unaware and unexposed to the realities. My own cosseted existence may be why I found the American Experience documentary Death and the Civil War so compelling. Through interviews, thoughtfully read letters from the battlefield, and a rich supply of wartime photos you may never have seen before, this is an exhaustive exploration of the cultural changes surrounding America's relationship with death during the 1860s.

A country familiar to the “Good Death” at home and surrounded by loved ones was in no way prepared for the toll of over 750,000 taken by the Civil War in just a few years (this was 2.5% of the population, which would be 7 million people today), sometimes more than 20,000 in a day. “Improvements” in weaponry made killing easier and more efficient, while the now-primitive medical techniques of the day did the rest. Everyone in the nation lost someone they knew, and explored here are the records of how they grappled with this seismic shift in the world.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Jay's Movie of the Week #40: Burke & Hare (1972)

Welcome to October. No 31 reviews for the month this year, but at least one horror movie a week! This first one though has real horror in the watching, not the story. Originally reviewed for

Burke & Hare (1972)

Our Take:

The worry of what might be done to your body after you die is a fairly universal fear, which may explain the popularity of the legendary grave robbers, Burke & Hare. Their story has been told many times on film, and frequently in both fiction and non-fiction books, and they've held a steady place in the public imagination since their 1828 arrest. This uneven 1972 film is not the best telling of their tale.

While aspiring to the high gloss of Hammer's horror heyday, the aesthetic of here is pretty much “Sixties television show.” The costumes and sets always blare their artificiality. From the awful, catchy theme song (which will be in your head for hours afterwards) to the forced broad comedy, this film's tone is always off. It's like a period horror remake of Porky's.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Where Would You Hang This Sign?

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I love this great, old fashioned sign. It's perfect for customer service - but I could see it at home in the Kitchen or Guest Room as well (but would you hang it in a bedroom?)