Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Main Entry: exclusion
Definition: expulsion; forbiddance
Synonyms: ban, bar, blackball, blockade, boycott, cut, debarment, debarring, discharge, dismissal, ejection, elimination, embargo, eviction, exception, excommunication, interdict, interdicting, interdiction, keeping out, lockout, nonadmission, occlusion, omission, ostracism, ousting, preclusion, prevention, prohibition, proscription, refusal, rejection, relegation, removal, repudiation, segregation, separation, suspension, veto
Antonyms: acceptance, addition, admittance, allowance, inclusion, incorporation, welcome
send to Coventry, to refuse to associate with; openly and pointedly ignore: His friends sent him to Coventry after he was court-martialed.
People from the music industry that I respect, idolize or just simply appreciate: Ennio Morricone, Amy McDonald, Daan, David Bowie, Therion, Pink Floyd, Leonard Cohen, Alice Cooper, Neil Diamond, Joy Division, Bobby Darin, the Everly Brothers, Bobby Vinton, Gene Pitney, Herman's Hermits, The Hollies, The Animals, The Byrds, Donovan, Vargoth, Drudkh, Behemoth, Triggerfinger, Falkenbach, Finntroll, Einherjer, The Smiths, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, BB King, Ministry, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rufus Wainwright, The Allman Brothers Band, Johnny Cash, Paul Simon, Raymond Lefèvre, Children of Bodom, Volbeat, Elvis Presley, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits, Anathema, Velvet Underground, Norah Jones, Fatboy Slim, Moloko, Angelo Badalmenti, Sarah Brightman, Lady Antebellum, Enigma, Muse, Army of Lovers, Chris Isaak, Lesley Gore, Kasabian, Pearl Jam, dEUS, Mumford & Sons, The Subs, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Cuff the Duke, Pulp, Oscar and the Wolf,
People from the movie industry that I respect, idolize or just simply appreciate: John Saxon, Mario Bava, Joe D'Amato, George Eastman, Darren Lynn Bousman, Boris Karloff, Enzo G. Castellari, Bo Svenson, Fred Williamson, Antonio Margheriti, Klaus Kinski, Lloyd Kaufman, James Gunn, Rob Zombie, Sid Haig, Matthew McGrory, Karen Black, Dennis Fimple, Irwin Keyes, Tom Towles, Bill Moseley, Wolfgang Petersen, Nicol Williamson, Fairuza Balk, Piper Laurie, Philippe Mora, Tom Holland, Ronny Cox, Lucio Fulci, Christopher George, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Catriona MacColl, Fabio Frizzi, Nicolas Cage, Todd Farmer, Tom Atkins, Paul Verhoeven, Kurtwood Smith, Miguel Ferrer, Ray Wise, Stuart Gordon, H.P. Lovecraft, Jeffrey Combs, David Gale, Barbara Crampton, Fernando Di Leo, Joe Dallesandro, Terence Fisher, Anton Diffring, Hazel Court, Christopher Lee, Robert Stevenson, William Girdler, Rebecca De Mornay, Mako, Ti West, Tom Noonan, Mary Woronov, Paul Bartel, David Carradine, Roger Corman, Adrian Hoven, Monte Hellman, Warren Oates, Harry Dean Stanton, Steve Railsback, Ed Begley Jr., Peter Fonda, Nathan Juran, Lionel Jeffries, James Glickenhaus, Ken Wahl, Joaquim de Almeida, Sam Peckinpah, William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Ben Johnson, Edmond O'Brien, Kurt Raab, Helene Cattet & Bruno Forzani, Karl Freund, Peter Lorre, Colin Clive, William Lustig, Joe Spinell, Caroline Munro, Tom Savini, Charles B. Pierce, Robert Wise, Fred Dekker, Fritz Lang, David Hemmings, Michael Ironside, Jan-Michael Vincent, Bette Davis, Joseph Cotten, Agnes Moorehead, Victor Buono, George Kennedy, Charles Bronson, Richard Fleischer, Elmore Leonard, Paul Koslo, Michael Winner, Brian Garfield, Lee Marvin, J. Lee Thompson, Riz Ortolani, Yul Brunner, Eli Wallach, Robert Vaughn, James Coburn, Steve McQueen, Michael Crichton, James Brolin, Mel Brooks, arry Cohen, Michael Moriarty, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Robin Hardy, Edward Woodward, Britt Ekland, Ingrid Pitt, Peter Cushing, Michael Gough, Herbert Lom, Udo Kier, Michael Reeves, Vincent Price, Ian Ogilvy, Dick Maas, Henri-Georges Clouzot, Paul Naschy, Paul Morrissey, Truman Capote, Peter Falk, Alec Guinness, David Niven, Elsa Lanchester, Peter Sellers, Gene Wilder, Patrick McGoohan, Herb Freed, Richard Kiel, John Landis, Tim Curry, Simon Pegg, Jenny Agutter, Frank Oz, Dario Argento, Quentin Tarantino, Everett De Roche, Stacy Keach, Russell Mulcahy, Brian Trenchard-Smith, Donald Pleasence, George Peppard, Simon Wincer, Narciso Ibáñez Serrador, Gary Sherman, Faith Domergue, Alexandre Aja, Ving Rhames, Christopher Lloyd, Eli Roth, Ishirô Honda, Greydon Clark, Cybill Shepherd, Neville Brand, Vincent Schiavelli, Martin Landau, Jack Palance, Alan Rudolph, Jonathan Demme, Pam Grier, Mark L. Lester, Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Kilpatrick, Don Dohler, Everett McGill, Corey Haim, Gary Busey, Jake Busey, Charlton Heston, Lorne Greene, Walter Matthau, Peter Bogdanovich, Woody Allen, John Milius, Franco Nero, Crispin Glover, Dennis Hopper, Dick Miller, Barbara Steele, Armando Crispino, Sergio Grieco, Helmut Berger, Lee Van Cleef, Robert Forster, John Huston, Melvyn Douglas, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., George Miller, Mel Gibson, Robert Rodriguez, George Hilton, Kane Hodder, Michael Madsen, Tony Todd, Nicolas Winding Refn, William Grefe, Cirio H. Santiago , Joe Dante, Don Coscarelli, Angus Schrimm, Tobe Hooper, Tiffany Shepis, Brad Dourif, George P. Cosmatos, John Boorman, Stephen Boyd, Tommy Lee Jones, Rod Steiger, Brian DePalma, Gunnar Hansen, George A. Romero, Simon Boyes, Adam Mason, Jack Arnold, M. Emmet Walsh, James Stewart, Darren McGavin, Kathleen Quinlan, Jack Lemmon, Robert Foxworth, Olivia De Havilland, Michael Pataki, Jerry Stiller, John Carradine, Julian Sands, Freddie Francis, Don Sharp, William Castle, Bill Rebane, John De Bello, Terry O'Quinn, Peter Sykes, Wes Craven, Michael Sarrazin, Lewis Teague, Yaphet Kotto, Sergio Stivaletti, John Phillip Law, Michele Soavi, Umberto Lenzi, Anna Falchi, Lon Chaney, Sergio Martino, Edwige Fenech, Ursula Andress, Michael Sopkiw, Edmund Purdom, Hal Yamanouchi, Barbara Bach, Cameron, Mitchell, Alberto De Martino, Ernesto Gastaldi, Maurizio Merli, John Steiner, Mel Ferrer, Barbara Bouchet, Marty Feldman, Tomas Milian, Bruno Mattei, Lamberto Bava, Luc Merenda, Anita Strindberg, Luigi Pistilli, Ivan Rassimov, Sergio Corbucci, Tito Carpi, David Warbeck, Luciano Pigozzi, Gianfranco Giagni, Florinda Balkan, Rosalba Neri, Mel Welles, Dagmar Lassander, Neil Jordan, Walter Huston, Ray Bradbury, Gregory Peck, Orson Welles, Bert I. Gordon, H.G. Wells, Ida Lupino, Kirk Douglas, David Lynch, Eddie Romero, Bela Lugosi, Al Adamson, Tor Johnson, Edward D. Wood Jr, David Cronenberg, Christopher Walken, Tom Skeritt, Martin Sheen, Dino De Laurentiis, James Wan, Anthonhy Perkins, Curtis Harrington, Julie Harris, Ornella Muti, Ray Lovelock
The Terminal Man (1974)
Violent seizures and slow pacing don't mix very well
I'm a big admirer of the writer Michael Crichton. Perhaps I'm a bigger admirer of his work than I am a fan of it, if that makes sense. I admire and tremendously respect Crichton because he was one of the sole Sci-Fi writers in history able to create an almost entirely new sub genre and yet remain creative and versatile within that sub genre. Even though his finest stories like "The Andromeda Strain", "Westworld", "The Terminal Man" and even "Jurassic Park" are seemingly very differing tales, they basically do share the same basic concept, namely artificial technology and/or science that develops and turns into a giant menace to the same human that created it. I'm also a big admirer of Michael Crichton because he was a very intelligent person probably one of the only Sci- Fi/thriller novelists with a Harvard Medical School degree and thus knew very well what he was writing about. The films he directed, as well as the ones adapted from his novels, are often extremely complex, talkative and stuffed with professional jargon. That's not because he was pretentious, but because he was an expert. Crichton referred to "The Terminal Man" as the worst adaptation of his work, but maybe that has to do with personal resentment because he was initially set to adapt his own novel and direct, but got fired by the directors.
"The Terminal Man" is everything but a bad film, although it's fairly easy to see why many people dislike it. The brief plot description promises an exciting concept of a man suffering from psychosis who agrees to participate in a scientific/medical experiment in which a tiny computer is implanted in his brain that will keep his violent impulses under control. Although seemingly successful at first, the man's brain somehow becomes addicted to the little shocks that the electrodes are sending out, resulting in the triggering of even more violent impulses. If you read it like this, "The Terminal Man" sounds like a tense, exciting and action-packed thriller, but instead it's actually a slow-brooding, atmospheric and integer drama. It all is a bit misleading perhaps
The premise speaks of "A man suffering from a mental condition that often causes him to become homicidal", but we are only introduced to Harry Benson when he obediently awaits the operation and remains very calm and docile at all times. There are only a few photographs to indicate his violent nature. Then the operation itself is almost shown integrally, which raises the impression to last forever. Then, finally, the plot describes how Benson and I quote "escapes from the hospital and goes on a spree of violence and murder". Well, first of all, there's a long period of time between the operation and the escape in which barely anything happens. The so-called spree of violence and murder is somewhat exaggerated as well, since Benson only commits one murder (although admittedly a very savage one). However, to compensate for the lack of action, we do receive next to the intelligent and tense script a continuous series of extraordinary beautiful camera angles, compositions and set-pieces. Director Mike Hodges ("Get Carter", "Pulp") literally turns the film into a work of art, with stunning cinematography and exquisite use of classical music. I honestly wished for "The Terminal Man" to benefice from a faster pacing, a bit more background to Harry Benson's character, a bit less medical mambo-jumbo and a few more brutish murders.
The Executioner (1970)
The Spy Who Bored Me
Severe and merciless penalties should be given to people who dare to write a screenplay that is titled "The Executioner" and then subsequently deliver a film that is indescribably boring and almost doesn't contain any action whatsoever; let alone executions! I read in a few reviews that this is the more intelligent espionage thriller
You know, the type of film that gives realistic insights in the true world of secret agents rather than the contemporary James Bond movies that were all about stunts, flamboyance and gadgetry. Well, it may or may not be true that "The Executioner" is realistic but it's certainly NOT entertaining and certainly NOT the least bit memorable, unlike the vast majority of James Bond episodes. To make things even worse: the movie starts out extremely promising, with Peppard strolling around in the garden of a luxurious villa where just a bloody massacre took place. There are bloodied corpses left, right and at the bottom of the pool. Unfortunately, the boring 100 minutes that follow are a giant flashback clarifying the building up towards this massacre. American actor George Peppard depicts British secret agent John Shay. He explains at least a dozen times that his Yankee accent comes from the fact that he was raised in America. Shay suspects that his colleague Adam Booth is a double- agent who betrays the Queen by passing secret information to the Russians. Shay's superiors don't believe him, or perhaps they are protecting Booth, and he even gets suspended. Shay remains certain that he's right and seeks for further evidence in Greece, although it may also just be that he's jealous, because Booth is married to the beautiful Sarah with whom Shay once had an affair. "The Executioner" is a long seemingly endless, in fact and dreadfully tedious series of pointless dialogues and newly introduced characters of which you don't know who they are and why they are relevant to the plot. There isn't any suspense or mystery, and you don't feel the least bit connected with any of the lead characters, especially John Shay because he behaves like an arrogant and stubborn little boy. I was never a big fan of George Peppard, apart from his roles in the movies "Damnation Alley" and "Race for the Yankee Zephyr". His performance here is one of the most monotonous and indifferent I've ever seen. I can't write anything positive about "The Executioner", except that Judy Geeson is cute and that it's always a pleasure to watch Charles Gray (although his role is immensely dull as well)
Los violadores (1981)
"Mad Foxes" is what happens if someone grants a bunch of drunken loonies access to a camera and simultaneously offers them $20 to make their very own movie. This whole thing probably started as a bad joke among friends in a sinister bar and after having too much to drink already? They all wanted to make a movie, none of them had any talent or even any clue how to begin filming and since they couldn't decide what to focus on, they simply processed every imaginable exploitation theme into the film. Oh yes, you name it and "Mad Foxes" has got it! There's Nazi bikers, flamboyant race cars, kick-boxing, castration, the rape of virgins, disembowelment, sailors dancing, scenes from a guy in the crapper, public sex, an Oedipus complex, an S&M Dominatrix, hideously inappropriate metal music by a band named "Krokus", skinny-dipping, sluts with big breasts, sluts with small breasts, grenades, males that wear girlish panties over their own pants, randomly crashing cars, exploding bikes, suicide bombing, wheelchair catapulting, exaggerated fake laughter, demented dialogues, stabbing, death by hedge clippers, bathtub sex, no coppers, massive loads of pubic hair and the inevitable greatest dubbing job in the history of cinema! Every new sequence in "Mad Foxes" is literally a new & adventurous journey into a universe of grotesqueness and disbelief. At several times whilst watching this piece of exploitation- extravaganza, you're guaranteed to rub your eyes and wonder: "Is this real?" Am I really watching this? Did somebody actually make this film??". Not a drug in this world can offer you such a dangerously intoxicating and flamboyant trip as Paul Grau's "Mad Foxes". Now that I've seen this gloriously retarded highlight of euro-trash cinema, I can die a happy man!
There is a house in Massachusetts they call the Seven Gables.
"The House of Seven Gables" had been standing on my personal must- see list for more than 10 years now; ever since I saw a heavily shortened and altered version of the same tale in the sixties' horror omnibus "Twice-Told Tales". During this decade of abstinence, my admiration for the fantastic Vincent Price only increased and likewise also my passion for macabre stories about cursed mansions and family feuds. Needless to say I highly anticipated my viewing of "The House of Seven Gables" (and thus I'm probably biased and unreliably partial), and it promptly became one of the finest film experiences of the year. What a wonderful movie!
I haven't read Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel on which the movie is based, so I'll restrain from making references towards that, but it's fairly obvious (and confirmed in reviews by people around here who have read the book) that the script is a lot less detailed than the book. Even though its running time is slightly under an hour and a half, "The House of Seven Gables" often still resembles more of a soap-opera rather than a feature film, what with the many supportive characters that are introduced in the middle of the story, convoluted structure and several sub plots that largely remain undeveloped. The story takes place near Salem, Massachusetts (where novelist Hawthorne originates from) but for once there isn't a direct link with the infamous 1692 witch trials. In 1828, Jaffrey Pyncheon is summoned to his family estate and the legendary parental house of seven gables. The Pyncheon family is in deep debt and the younger brother Clifford insists on selling the house, much against the will of his older brother Jaffrey because he's secretly convinced there's an enormous fortune hidden somewhere in the house, as according to an old legend. When their father Gerald suffers from a stroke and dies during a heated discussion with Clifford, Jaffrey sees the opportunity to cowardly accuse his brother of murder and thus become the sole heir to the house. This doesn't turn out too well for Jaffrey, since in an attempt to protect himself from his debtors, Gerald changed his testament and donated the house and the estate to their cousin Hephzibah and she also happens to be Clifford's devoted lover! For more than 20 long years, Hephzibah waits for her man to get released from prison, and only towards the end of this period she decides to flourish up the decaying house by taking in a lodger and opening a shop together with the newly arrived and beautiful younger cousin Phoebe. All these years, Jaffrey has been repeatedly trying to take ownership of the house at last, but he shouldn't have underestimated his brother, as he has had twenty long years in prison to carefully study the Pyncheon's cursed family history and develop a slick plan to get revenge.
"The House of Seven Gables" has everything I could possibly look for in a classic horror/mystery tale. The film benefices from a totally absorbing and intelligent screenplay, also filled with supremely written dialogues and continuous new dimensions added to the plot. The atmosphere is unsettling and tense throughout, even though the pacing slows down a little bit during the middle-section. Director Joe May ("The Return of the Invisible Man") makes supreme use of the sober decors and set-pieces, and he can also safely rely on his downright fantastic ensemble cast. Vincent Price is my favorite actor of all times, although admittedly this is largely based on the immortal horror roles he played as per the 1950s and onward. Still, in his earlier and more dramatic 40s roles like "Laura", "Dragonwyck" and definitely also this "The House of Seven Gables", Vincent Price certainly proved that he's a magnificent all-round actor! And here he even sings! Price isn't the only one responsible for the stellar performances in "The House of Seven Gables". George Sanders is also amazing as the arrogant and emotionless Jaffrey. He also had a very rich and versatile career, including genre highlights like "The Picture of Dorian Gray" and "Village of the Damned", and he committed suicide in 1967 allegedly because he was bored. Last but certainly not least, Margaret Lindsay truly gives away one of the most remarkable female performances of the classic film era. Her character Hephzibah undergoes a metamorphosis from a cheerful and optimistic young girl into a stoic and frustrated spinster waiting for her lost lover. Without exaggerating, she honestly deserved at least an Oscar for her role.
Fragment of Fear (1970)
Whoever Slew Auntie Lucy?
"Fragment of Fear" certainly isn't your average type of whodunit/mystery thriller, and whether or not you like it will entirely depend on your own personal attention span and tolerance towards screenplays that reveal very few clues and depict only a minimum amount of action. Who killed Lucy Dawson, the elderly aunt of recovering drug-addict turned novelist Tim Brett, whilst she was on vacation in Italy and seemingly visiting the ruins nearby Pompeii? More importantly, are we really supposed to care by whom Aunt Lucy got strangled and why, because the script (adapted from John Bingham's novel) remains distant and vague regarding the actual murder and clearly only wants us to worry about the deteriorating mental state of protagonist Tim Brett. Shortly after the murder, and having fallen in love with the witness who first discovered the body, Tim returns to London and decides to investigate the murder himself. Although he discovers almost nothing, he does receive a few unmistakably clear warnings to restrain from looking further. He is repeatedly visited by a peculiar old lady (who turns up dead later), gets threatening letters coming from his own typewriter and someone is laughing mysteriously on his answering machine. The police don't take him very seriously, being a former heroine junkie, and rather than killing him as well, the person (or persons) Tim Brett tries to unmask is merely attempting to bring his persona in further discredit. Yes, I do realize this brief description is rather confusing, but so is the entire film! I'm not even sure if I understood half of it! "Fragment of Fear" is definitely one of the best films ever made in terms of depicting the paranoiac state of its lead character! Throughout the entire film everybody is wondering whether or not everything that is happening is real or not; and even the denouement doesn't provide a conclusive answer. Like Tim Brett mumbles at one point during the film: "Either I am mad and all this isn't happening to me, or else I'm sane and it is
" There you go: "Fragment of Fear" accurately summarized in one single line of text. Paranoid or not, the film does contain a couple of remarkably suspenseful moments, a marvelous illustration of London society during the late 60s/early 70s, a catchy soundtrack and a number of solid acting performances. David Hemmings remains one of the most phenomenal but sadly underrated actors of his generation. He carries the entire film, which must have been quite a heavy burden, without a lot of effort. There are many truly gifted actors and actresses in the supportive cast, like Adolfo Celi, Flora Robson and Yootha Joyce, but their screen time is bizarrely limited.
The Twilight Zone: The Chaser (1960)
Till death or another potion do us part
It never ceases to amaze me how important and influential "The Twilight Zone" TV-series was; and still is for that matter! In every episode I watch, I spot ideas and concepts that were recycled, imitated or even shamelessly copied in numerous of other movies and TV-series that were released much later. This installment, "The Chaser", catapulted me straight back to my childhood years in the early 90s. I wasn't able to watch many movies in my favorite genre, because I was still too young and not allowed to rent horror, but I was addicted to secretly watching "Tales from the Crypt" on late- night television. I must have seen every episode 4 or 5 times, and one of them was called "Loved to Death" and starred Andrew McCarthy, Mariel Hemingway and the utterly cool British actor David Hemmings. It's only now, approximately twenty- five years later, that I've come to realize that "Loved to Death" is an almost identical re-telling of a "Twilight Zone" episode that was made 31 years earlier already. Pathetic and clumsy Roger Shackleforth is desperately in love with the beautiful Leila, but his feelings remain unanswered. He comes into contact with the brilliant Professor Daemon, who sells solutions to every imaginable type of problem in the form of magic potions. For the lousy price of $1, Roger buys a potion guarantying him that Leila becomes hopelessly devoted to him, but the purchase comes with a warning
"The Chaser" is a fairly light-headed and unusual TZ-episode, dealing with puppy love in an overall solemn first season primarily dealing with time traveling, the afterlife and the exploration of space. It's definitely a nice diversion, with refreshing performances and a delightful climax.
It's so tempting to step out ...
I've seen a couple of episodes in the first season of "The Twilight Zone" that were really, really good. Several of them are truly original and mysterious and intense, like my favorite entries thus far: "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street", "Escape Clause" and "The Hitch-Hiker". But in the humble opinion of yours truly, the absolute greatest episode of the first season has got to be hands down the genius "A Stop at Willoughby"! This magnificent short tale fully epitomizes what Rod Serling's brilliant and groundbreaking TV-series is all about, what with its suffocating atmosphere, unpredictable plot developments and perplexing denouement. Still, the biggest reason why I consider "A Stop at Willoughby" the most impacting and memorable TZ episode is because and I do realize this is very personal I recognized a lot of myself in protagonist Gart Williams. In fact, he's a very identifiable character for many people who're under immense pressure at their (business) jobs. People, like myself unfortunately, who know perfectly well that they genuinely hate their jobs but simply cannot quit, whether for personal or financial reasons. Gart Williams suffers tremendously in his job as representative for a giant New York publicity agency. He just lost a $3 million dollar contract due to naivety and his boss is a raging tyrant who keeps yelling at Gart that he has to be more aggressive. Gart desperately seeks support and understanding at home, but his wife Janie says he's weak and demands for him to keep his prestigious job. Gart's sole remaining "happy place" is on the homeward train where he dozes off and repeatedly dreams about a charming little village called Willoughby. The year there is 1888, the middle of a hot July, and the people are smiling and waving at him from the market square. Gart always wakes up before he can get off the train, and when his personal misery keeps increasing, he promises himself to definitely step out next time
In case you're an experienced "Twilight Zone" fan, you can perhaps guess the climax slightly in advance, but even then it still comes as a harsh surprise that hits you like a ten-ton hammer. It's a superb episode, with strong performances from James Daly, Patricia Donahue and Howard Smith, and a flawless direction from Robert Parrish.
La vendetta di Lady Morgan (1965)
Peculiar but fun Gothic Horror discovery!
In the humble opinion of yours truly, the absolute greatest and most magical subgenre in horror is Italian Gothic. There exists nothing that can equal the sinister atmosphere and macabre set-pieces of these films! The absolute highlights of this wondrous subgenre come from the hands of genuine Italian horror maestros, like Mario Bava ("Black Sunday", "Kill Baby Kill"), Antonio Margheriti ("The Virgin of Nuremberg", "Castle of Blood") and Riccardo Freda ("The Horrible Secret of Dr. Hitchcock", "I Vampire"), and have been released on DVD and Blu-Ray in various fancy and widely available editions. But thanks to the wonders of digital restoration techniques, several obscure and long-considered-lost movies are now coming to the surface again as well! They might not be as superior and overwhelming as the aforementioned titles, but they're definitely must-sees for the fans of the genre. "The Vengeance of Lady Morgan" is a movie I immediately wanted to see as soon as I discovered it existence. The plot sounds like vintage Gothic material, the film poster alone already promises ominous castles and ghostly apparitions and the cast features a couple of familiar and reliable names like Gordon Mitchell, Paul Muller and Erica Blanc. Susan, the lovely young heiress of the wealthy Blackhouse caste, refuses to marry her father's friend - Harold Morgan - because she's madly in love with a French artist named Pierre. But then Pierre mysteriously vanishes at sea, the heart-broken Susan nevertheless agrees to the marriage and moves into the Morgan castle. It soon becomes clear, however, that Harold Morgan is only after the Blackhouse family fortune, and together with his household personnel Lillian (with whom he has a relationship) and Roger, he attempts to drive Susan to insanity. The poor girl eventually commits suicide by herself from the rooftop, but she returns as a vengeful ghost to haunt her assailants. "The Vengeance of Lady Morgan" starts off a little slow and disentangled, but the ambiance is gloomy and uncanny throughout. Pretty much like the charming protagonist herself, the viewer is hypnotized by the Gothic tragedy of the tale and the soberness of the decors and set-pieces. What a contrast to "The Bloody Pit of Horror"; that other Gothic horror film that Massimo Pupillo directed in the same year 1965. That film was flamboyant and graphical, whereas "The Vengeance of Lady Morgan" is integer and suggestive. The second half, as soon as Lady Morgan finally starts extracting her vengeance, is very good and contains quite a few moments of authentic Gothic tension. The screenplay certainly doesn't always make sense (for example, how is it possible that her victims return from the dead as vampires?) and there are some severe gaps in continuity and narrative logic, but at least entertainment is delivered!
Splish-Splice, I was playing for God
As hinted at via the lead characters' names (inspired by Colin CLIVE and ELSA Lanchester), "Splice" is basically just a 21st century update of the legendary "Frankenstein" tale. It's about scientists playing God and attempting to create new life without thinking about the possible consequences. The difference is of course that science and laboratories have evolved quite tremendously since Mary Shelley invented the immortal premise, and thus Boris Karloff's corpse has been replaced by microscopic bits of DNA and the resurrection process via lighting & thunderstorms has been replaced with a complicated splicing process that I don't even bother to understand. Call me old-fashioned, but this advanced and pseudo-intellectual kind of Sci-Fi is quite unappealing, pretentious and mostly boring. Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley their mediocre performances are undoubtedly still the best thing about the whole film form a brilliant couple of scientists specialized in DNA research. For their employer, a massive pharmaceutical company called N.E.R.D (ha ha!), they are supposed to mix and merge DNA from various animal species and create a brand new organism. They do this quite successfully; with the creation of a pair of blobby critters they name Fred and Ginger, But Elsa wants to go even further. She persuades Clive to continue their experiments and even add human DNA into the cocktail, with as result the "birth" of a humanoid that looks like a rodent with amphibious lungs and a split forehead. Dren, as they name her, rapidly grows into a curious female and it soon becomes very difficult to keep her under control and hidden for the outside world.
In spite of the intellectual and relevant subject matter, "Splice" is a surprisingly dumb and highly implausible film. The first half is still absorbing and eventful, with a disastrous press conference as gory highlight, but then it suddenly turns into a stupid, tedious and inconceivable mess. I fail to believe that a vivid and boisterous creature like Dren can possibly be kept hidden in the basement of a mastodon company without being noticed, and that's just the least annoying thing of everything that doesn't make sense! The script suddenly comes up with a sub plot about Elsa's troubled childhood, but that remains vague and random. The couple also constantly changes their minds and roles. At first Clive is reluctant and wants to destroy Dren while Elsa treats her lovingly like she nurtured it in her own womb. Later on, however, it's Clive who protects Dren from Elsa who wants to kill it with a shovel. Make up your damn minds! If all this isn't laughable enough yet, Clive naturally also copulates with his hamster-faced abomination. Pretty much like Dren herself, "Splice" is quite an abomination and I can't say I'm too surprised because even his more acclaimed movies "Cube" and "Cypher" were terribly overrated.
It Conquered the World (1956)
Lee Van Cleef; Loving the Alien
In spite of the supposedly super-intelligent and ultra-menacing alien monster looking like a laughable and oversized vegetable with an angry face drawn on it, there are still several good reasons to watch this early low-budgeted Sci-Fi gem directed and produced by Roger Corman. For starters, there's the excellent ensemble cast! There are good roles and solid performances for Peter Graves, Beverly Garland, Corman's pal Dick Miller and most of all an exceptionally rare civilized role for Lee Van Cleef! Generally he only starred in raw westerns and exclusively depicted nasty villains, but here he's a respectable and clean shaven scientist. He even has a wife who genuinely loves him and remains faithful no matter what happens! Of course, he still remains Lee Van Cleef, so his character never smiles and nevertheless endangers the life of hundreds of other people. Another reason why this little gem plays in a different league than the vast majority of B-movies of the fifties is because of the clever and dead-serious script. As said, the monster may look silly, but the story behind it is tense, thought-provoking and compelling. Scientist Tom Anderson (Van Cleef) has been mocked for years regarding his theories about intellectual extraterrestrial lifeforms and how they could overtake our planet and save humanity from itself. From within his private home, Anderson has been corresponding with an alien from Venus and now helped it to hijack a NASA satellite and travel to earth. He believes that humanity should get enslaved by this super-intelligent creature and benefit from its wisdom and telekinetic powers, but his best friend Paul Nelson and own wife Claire desperately attempt to convince Tom that people should remain in control of their own emotions. This rather sober subject matter, in combination with a handful of deeply philosophical speeches and a few authentically tragic moments, leads "It Conquered the World" to be a much better Sci-Fi effort that it superficially seems. In the end, people are likely to just remember the goofy Mr. Potato Head alien and the silly bat-creatures, and that's almost a shame. Of course I understand that Roger Corman absolutely wanted to have a monster physically present in his film, in order to lure more people to the cinema, but in case the monster would have remained off-screen and hidden in its cave, the film might have been regarded as highly as contemporary classics like "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" or "The Thing from Another World".