Thursday, June 3, 2010

Quick Fix: Recent Viewings and Video Ramblings

CASH ON DEMAND (1961) - I stumbled across this one in a Krytpic Army challenge from Mr. Kitley at Kitley's Krypt (that's a lot of Ks for one sentence) to watch films by May-born horror heroes Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, or Vincent Price. I ended up with two Cushing titles for some reason with the other being the dreadful MYSTERY ON MONSTER ISLAND. This one, however, is a keeper. Mr. Fordyce (Cushing) is an uptight bank manager who makes Ebenezer Scrooge look kind by comparison. He runs a tight ship and is on the verge of firing Pearson (Richard Vernon) over a tiny infraction ("It is a conspiracy!" Fordyce cries). But Fordyce soon gets a taste of his own medicine when he is given a surprise visit by banking security man Hepburn (Andre Morell). To say any more would ruin the surprise of this excellent thriller from Hammer studios. Adapted from a stage play, this is a small film with only one setting but plenty of great scenes. Cushing is fantastic in his role as the banking tyrant and Morell is also superb as his adversary. The rapport on screen is incredible and even more fun knowing that Cushing and Morell were teamed as Sherlock Holmes and Watson respectively just a few years prior. This is available in Columbia's recent ICONS OF SUSPENSE: HAMMER FILMS set and is a real find.

DOCTOR DEATH: SEEKER OF SOULS (1973) - Distraught after the death of his wife Laura, Fred Saunders (Barry Coe) turns to psychics to help deliver on her promise of "I will return to you." All of them are frauds until he runs into Dr. Death (John Considine), who has found a way to transfer a living soul into a dead body for only $50,000. Sure, Fred won't have his wife's soul but he will have her body with a new soul in it. Unfortunately, Laura refuses to allow a soul into her body. Fred says not to bother anymore because he is totally into his new secretary (Cheryl Miller). But Dr. Death will not be detered as he is the most persistent soul transferrer ever. This is an enjoyable early 70s horror flick that plays out like an EC Comics tale. The funniest thing is how Dr. Death is so determined to accomplish his goal. He must be a Scorpio. A great segment has Dr. Death showing the various bodies he has inhabited over the last thousand years. Look for former lead Stooge Moe Howard in a cameo as a Dr. Death audience member. This hit DVD recently via Scorpion Releasing.

PROJECT: METALBEAST (1995) - In 1974 a scientist procures some werewolf blood in Budapest and, for whatever reason, injects it into himself back in DC. He is killed with silver bullets by Miller (Barry Bostwick) and put into cryogenic freeze. Cut to 20 years later and Miller thaws him out to use in a military experiment developing new skin made of flesh and metal. Scientist Anne De Carlo (Kim Delany) has issues using a real corpse. Her problems get significantly worse when she removes the silver bullets from his chest and Metalbeast is born.

If I'm crazy for renting this back when it first hit video and not liking it, what does it make me if I decide to re-watch it 15 years later just to make sure I don't like it? This really feels like two scripts were just thrown up in the air and where they landed is how the filmmakers shot. Director Alessandro De Gaetano does little right as he keeps the monster off screen for nearly an hour. To his credit, some of the murders are gory. Also, the design of Metalbeast by John Buechler's MMI FX house is pretty damn cool and it is played by Kane Hodder.

There is one scene in there that will blow you mind though. It is early on and some folks are playing cards. It gets down to two folks as everyone else folds and this one guy says, "Show your cards." He shows his and has a Full House. Wow. No one can possibly beat that. Then the person he is playing shows theirs and says, "Royal Flush" and everyone goes, "Whooooa!" NO FREAKIN' WAY! Has that ever been done in cinema before? Here's an 11-second video of the beast being blown up to save you 90 minutes:

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