Saturday, November 26, 2011

Saturday Scream Queen: Amy Smart

Cute and blonde, California native Amy Smart has been busy playing everything from bit-parts to leading lady since her acting debut in 1996, appearing in over 50 films and television series. Best knwon for appearing in "Varsity Blues", "Outside Providence", and the two gonzo action films in the "Crank" series, her resume has been dotted with horror films since the earliest points of her career.

Smart appeared both im the anthology film "Campfire Tales" in 1997, and followed up the next year with the the internet stalker horror film "Strangeland". Ten years later, she made it a double-bill when she starred in two horror films that year--"Mirrors" and "Seventh Moon."

We won't have to wait ten years for Smart's next horror film, however. She is currently filming "7500", a movie about supernatural happenings during a flight across the Pacific. It's being directed by the "Grudge" series that is slated for release in late 2012.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Day of the Turkey Review: The Witches' Mountain

The Witches' Mountain (1971)
Starring: John Gaffari, Patty Shepard, and Monica Randall
Director: Raul Artigot
Rating: Four of Ten Stars

A commerical photographer (Caffari) takes a random girl (Shepard)--it WAS the Seventies!--with him on a trip to shoot a photo-essay on isolated Witches' Mountain. Random weirdnesses, and eventually witches, haunt them every step of the way.

"The Witches' Mountain" is a film with a muddled story and a twist ending that guarentees nothing in it makes sense.

How does the prologue with the evil little bitch girl fit with the climax? Was Shepard put in Gaffari's path through magic? What was the deal with the deserted village? Why do witches look like a modern ballet company during rehersal when doing "black magic"? Why do witches like to steal our hero's car and break into his house? These are just some of the questions you will be left with when the final frame of film freezes on your DVD player.

The best actor in this film is Shepard, who has shockingly blue eyes and has an odd sort of beauty about her--very much like the more well-known Barbara Steele--but no one is exactly bad... except perhaps that god-awful creepy innkeeper/comic relief character. But that might just have been the voice actor who did the dubbing.

Shepard's beauty aside, the only other thing this film has to offer is some great moments of unintentional hilarity to brighten any Bad Movie Night. Otherwise, this is just a mediocre horror film that's scare free and, like its protaganists, ultimately ends up nowhere.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Saturday Scream Queen: Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn, one of the most beautiful and talented actresses to ever grace us with her presence in films, only appeared in one film that can be considered a horror movie during her career. In "Wait Until Dark," she played a blind woman whose home is invaded by three thugs who will stop at nothing to retrieve a doll stuff with illegal drugs. It is a thriller so intense that it is more frightening than most films that get passed off as horror movies.

And Audrey Hepburn is as great in it as she was in anything else she appeared in.

Audrey Hepburn passed away in 1993.

(I know Audrey Hepburn doesn't really qualify as a Scream Queen, even if she did do her fair share of it in the thrillers she appeared in, but since I started this blog, this series has not missed a single Saturday. With my current eye troubles, I am not able to stare at the screen long enough to select photos and type p a bio, so I am cheating to keep up the streak... sort of. The fact that Hepburn plays a blind woman in "Wait Until Dark" seemed like a good enough excuse to post a picture of her.)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Saturday Scream Queen: Shirley Anne Field

Raised in an orphanage after she and her brother were abandoned by their impoverished mother, British actress Shirley Anne Field first entered show-business as a pin-up model in the early 1950s. By the middle of that decade, she'd moved onto movies, first in bit parts where she was cast for her curvacious good looks, but her gifts for acting soon saw her moving up to real roles.

Among her earliest parts with a little meat to them were an appearance in the obscure chiller "Horror of the Black Museum" (1957) and the imfamous proto-slasher flick "Peeping Tom" (1960). In 1963, Field starred in one of Hammer Films' most unusual releases, the sci-fi horror flick "These Are the Damned", and she gave a good accounting of herself. However, she would not appear in another horror film until the very disappointing "House of the Living Dead" ten years later. Field is great--and even sexy and youthful-enough in appearance to be playing a character who is 25 as opposed to her actual age of 35 at the time--but almost everything else in this slow-moving gothic horror story is dull and drab.

"House of the Living Dead" is Field's final horror movie to date, but she has appeared in numerous thrillers, in both supporting and leading roles.

Now 71, Field still possesses good looks and remains a busy working actress. She appeared in three different productions in 2010, and has been reported to have a role in "Tranfer at Aachen", a crime drama that seems to be all over the internet but which likewise does not seem to have received an official release.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Saturday Scream Queen: Katee Sackhoff

Born in 1980, actress Katee Sackhoff was a rising television actress with a handful of roles to her name when she shot to sci-fi stardom as the cigar-chomping fighter pilot Starbuck in the remake of "Battlestar Galactica" on the Sci-Fi/Syfy Channel. She played Starbuck for four seasons.

However, her first major role in a television series was in the short-lived horror anthology series "The Fearing Mind". Along the way, Sackhoff has also appeared in a number of horror movies, including the misbegotten "Halloween: Resurrection" and "White Noise 2: The Light".

Sackhoff is currently filming a western series for television, as well as working on three movies in varying stages of production, two of which are horror films: "The Haunting in Georgia" (for which a sequel is already in the works, even before the first one is through post-production) and "Growl", with both tentatively slated for release in 2012.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

'Open Graves' is not worth your time

Open Graves (2009)
Starring: Mike Vogel, Eliza Dushku, Ethan Rains, Lindsay Caroline Robba, Naike Rivelli, and Gary Piquer
Director: Álvaro de Armiñán
Rating: Four of Ten Stars

A group of 20-somethings (Dushku, Rains, Rivelli, Robba, and Vogel) working and surfing in Spain fall victim to a powerful and deadly curse after they play a board game made from the bones of a witch.

If you've seen the classic movie "Jumanji", you know the basic premise of this film. You've also seen that premise used far more effectively. Heck, you've even seen more intense and frightening scenes than what you'll get in this horror movie.

"Open Graves" features a script so weak and predictable that I wonder why it was made as an R-rated film. Anyone who has seen even one other film featuring a cursed object will be able to guess where the film is going, up to and including the ending, so the only audience who would have enjoyed this picture would have been young kids. Everyone else will grow increasingly bored as this movie unfolds and brings nothing new. (There is a creepy little twist involving Eliza Dushku's character toward the end of the film, but it's so minor so as to be a reach for me to even mention it as a positive aspect of the film. I suppose the subplot involving a police detective with a dark agenda is also unpredictable... but only because it ends without any particular resolution. Not a Good Thing.)

Of course, it doesn't help the overall weakness of the material that the actors appear to have been cast mostly for their good looks than their talent. They add more attractiveness to this already beautiful-looking film, but they ultimately also help emphasize the emptiness and unoriginality of the script, because there is little or no life to their characters. The exception to that general statement are Dushku and Vogel, who bring enough charisma to their characters that we care a little about what will happen to them... but for all but the most entertainment-starved captive audience that's not enough to make it feel like watching this film was time well spent.