Monday, 30 July 2012


Patrick Wayne (Sinbad), Jane Seymour (Princess Farah), Taryn Power (Dione), Patrick Troughton (Melanthius), Margaret Whiting (Zenobia), Kurt Christian (Rafi), Nadim Sawalha (Hassan), Damien Thomas (Kassim)

Director – Sam Wanamaker, Screenplay – Beverly Cross, Story – Beverly Cross  Ray Harryhausen, Producers – Ray Harryhausen Charles H. Schneer, Photography – Ted Moore, Music – Roy Budd, Stop Motion Animation – Ray Harryhausen, Models – Les Bowie, Special Effects – Wally Veevers Colin Chilvers, Production Design – Geoffrey Drake. Production Company – Andor/Columbia.

Sinbad is implored by his beloved, the Princess Farah, to help her brother Kassim, who has been transformed into a baboon by the black arts just as he was about to be crowned Caliph. Behind this is Farah’s stepmother, the witch Zenobia, who desires the crown for her son. Sinbad and Farah seek the help of the wise man Melanthius. Under Melanthius’s guidance, they set sail for the lost land of Hyperborea, a fertile valley amid the icy wastes at the North Pole, in the hope of uncovering the matter transformation secrets of a vanished people. All the while, Zenobia pursues, determined to stop them.

Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger was the third of cult stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen’s Sinbad films – following The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) and The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973). Both The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and The Golden Voyage of Sinbad are superb fantasy films and show Ray Harryhausen’s effects at the very peak of their form. However, Harryhausen seemed to lose the plot by the time it came to Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger.

Ray Harryhausen’s films always seem to belong to the 1950s and the era of the Cinemascope historical spectacle – the era that produced the likes of The Ten Commandments (1956) and Ben Hur (1959). All Harryhausen’s films have the same wooden leads, pedestrian melodramatics and the emphasis placed on spectacle and effects, just as the Biblical spectaculars did. By contrast, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger came out the same year as Star Wars (1977) – and up against Star Wars, Ray Harryhausen’s more traditional type of fantasy film looked decidedly shabby. While Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger was a reasonable success in theatres, the effects revolution created by Star Wars showed that Ray Harryhausen’s type of films were increasingly relics of a bygone era.

Harryhausen would only make one other film after this, Clash of the Titans (1981), before announcing his retirement. Both Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger and Clash of the Titans, made in the 1950s style of filmmaking with glaringly grainy process photography and wooden 50s-styled action, look flat against the modern fantasy and effects revolution, and moreover are weaker Harryhausen films.

In a Ray Harryhausen film, the screen dramatics are wooden but this is unimportant as the film is usually carried by the spectacular stop-motion animated set-pieces. In Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, there is not even that – it feels like a film composed of leftover ideas that were not good enough for the other Sinbad films. The film even rehashes set-pieces from other Harryhausen films – the skeleton duels from The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, the giant insects from Mysterious Island (1961). Crucially, what it lacks is any big spectacular stop motion set-piece. The ones we do have are lacklustre. The sabre-tooth tiger, which presumably provides the eye of the title that is cryptically unconnected to anything else in the film (or even mentioned anywhere throughout), looks like a stuffed hamster, and only the Trog and baboon have any character. There is never a standout scene that dazzles with the pure wondrousness of Harryhausen’s art like the encounter with the Cyclops in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, the skeleton fight in Jason and the Argonauts (1963) or the Kali duel in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad.

Moreover, the story is often contrived, having to sidetrack out of its way to throw in the various encounters with Harryhausen’s creatures – the visit to a tent where they are attacked by skeletons, the walrus encounter at the North Pole, the giant wasp, the reanimated sabre-tooth. If the plot kept to strictly linear telling of the story and eliminated all side-episodes, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger would lose much in the way of fantasy content.

Actor Sam Wanamaker took the director’s chair and was reportedly not happy making the film, having little interest in the fantasy content and finding the laborious and painstaking necessity of Harryhausen’s special effects frustrating. It certainly shows on screen. John Wayne’s son Patrick makes a wooden Sinbad, while Margaret Leighton camps it up badly as Zenobia. Patrick Troughton, the second incarnation of Doctor Who (1963-89), playing a tetchy guru is the only fun the film offers. Jane Seymour offers a touch of class as the love interest, although remains underused.

Ray Harryhausen’s other films are: The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953), the granddaddy of all atomic monster films; the giant atomic octopus film It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955); the alien invader film Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers (1956); the alien monster film 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957); The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958); The 3 Worlds of Gulliver (1960); the Jules Verne adaptation Mysterious Island (1961); the Greek myth adventure Jason and the Argonauts (1963); the H.G. Wells adaptation The First Men in the Moon (1964); the caveman vs dinosaurs epic One Million Years B.C. (1966); the dinosaur film The Valley of Gwangi (1969); The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973); and the Greek myth adventure Clash of the Titans (1981).

REVIEW: Richard Scheib
IMAGES: Marcus Brooks





Saturday, 28 July 2012


Vincent Price (Charles Dexter Ward/Joseph Curwen), Debra Paget (Ann Ward), Frank Maxwell (Dr Willett), Lon Chaney Jr (Simon Orme), Leo Gordon (Ezra Weeden/Edgar Weeden), Elisha Cook Jr (Michas Smith/Gideon Smith)

Director/Producer – Roger Corman, Screenplay – Charles Beaumont, Based on the Novel The Case of Charles Dexter Ward by H.P. Lovecraft, Title Based on the Poem by Edgar Allan Poe, Photography – Floyd Crosby, Music – Ronald Stein, Makeup – Ted Coodley, Production Design – Daniel Haller. Production Company – AIP/Alta Vista.

In the small New England town of Arkham, the townspeople discover Joseph Curwen has taken a local girl and is preparing to use her in blasphemous rituals to interbreed humans with the Elder Gods, something that will allow the Gods to have dominion over the Earth again. Curwen is dragged out and burnt at the stake. He dies cursing the locals, saying that he will return to haunt their children’s children. 110 years later and Curwen’s descendant Charles Dexter Ward and his wife Ann arrive in Arkham to inherit the Curwen mansion but are afforded a frosty welcome by the locals. In the mansion, the weak Ward’s mind is taken over by the spirit of Curwen, emanating from a portrait over the mantle. Using Ward, Curwen again sets about his blasphemous mission again, while taking revenge on the descendants of those that burned him.

The Haunted Palace is often taken as one of the series of Edgar Allan Poe adaptations that Roger Corman made during the 1960s. (See below for Roger Corman’s other Edgar Allan Poe films). While the film was billed as ‘Edgar Allan Poe’s The Haunted Palace’ and has most of the production personnel behind all of Roger Corman’s other Poe films, it is in fact based upon a novella by H.P. Lovecraft.

H.P. Lovecraft is a cult horror writer. Writing between 1922 and his death in 1937, Lovecraft created an extraordinary body of work, centred around cosmic nightmares – of ancient gods waiting beyond the abyss of time to return and wreak havoc, of blasphemous rites, abominable experiments in miscegenation and people driven insane by contact with the elder forces. Roger Corman and his team originally started out making a straight adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s novella The Case of Charles Dexter Ward (published posthumously in 1941) but then had the Edgar Allan Poe title forced on them by AIP who were seeking to exploit a connection with Corman’s Poe films. The Edgar Allan Poe connection is tenuous to say the least – there is no palace in the film, nor any haunting or anything to do Poe’s 1839 mood poem, although Vincent Price gets to quote a couple of lines from it to justify the connection. What the film does trade on is the redolent, oppressive atmosphere of Roger Corman’s Poe films. As it transpires, H.P. Lovecraft and (at least the filmic) Edgar Allan Poe make strangely congruous bedfellows.

The Roger Corman production team are on good form. There is a fine brooding Ronald Stein score. Cinematographer Floyd Crosby and production designer Daniel Haller make particularly good usage of drowned-out colour contrasts – the house in muted browns, the town in greys, being strikingly lit up by the occasional flash of a red gown. The sets that Daniel Haller builds – so that Floyd Crosby can with raw effect crank the camera right up to the ceiling over the sacrificial altar, or breathtakingly pan through the cavernous hallway of the house – are excellent. There is a classical elegance to Roger Corman’s direction – like the strangely ritualistic scene in the streets where the mutants surround Vincent Price and Debra Paget and move off at the tolling of a bell; or a sadistically nasty scene where Vincent Price douses Elisha Cook in fuel and then coldly tosses a match at him. Vincent Price overdoes his familiar craven, cringing thing as Ward but the sinister smile as Curwen takes over has a potency. What The Haunted Palace principally lacks though is something to do once it has gotten its warlock back to life, thereafter only circling around cliche warlock’s revenge and sacrificial virgin plots.

Roger Corman’s other Edgar Allan Poe films are:- The House of Usher/The Fall of the House of Usher (1960), Pit and the Pendulum (1961), Premature Burial (1962), Tales of Terror (1962), The Raven (1963), The Masque of the Red Death (1964) and The Tomb of Ligeia (1964). The Case of Charles Dexter Ward was later remade by Dan O’Bannon as the also worthwhile The Resurrected (1992). This film’s production designer Daniel Haller would also go onto direct two further H.P. Lovecraft adaptations in the same style as Roger Corman’s Poe films with Die, Monster, Die/Monster of Terror (1965) and The Dunwich Horror (1969).

Roger Corman’s other genre films as director are:– Day the World Ended (1955), It Conquered the World (1956), Not Of This Earth (1956), War of the Satellites (1956), Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957), The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Journey to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent (1957), The Undead (1957), Teenage Caveman (1958), A Bucket of Blood (1959), The Wasp Woman (1959), Last Woman on Earth (1960), The Little Shop of Horrors (1960), Creature from the Haunted Sea (1961), Tower of London (1962), The Terror (1963), X – The Man with X-Ray Eyes (1963), The Trip (1967), Gas; or It Became Necessary to Destroy the World in Order to Save It (1970) and Frankenstein Unbound (1990). Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel (2011) is a documentary about Corman’s career.

Other films based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft include:- Die, Monster, Die/Monster of Terror (1965), The Shuttered Room (1966) and The Dunwich Horror (1969). The big success in the modern era was Stuart Gordon’s splattery black comedy version of Re-Animator (1985), which popularised Lovecraft on film. This led to a host of B-budget Lovecraft adaptations, including Stuart Gordon’s subsequent From Beyond (1986), The Curse (1987), The Unnameable (1988), The Resurrected (1992), Necronomicon (1993), The Unnamable II: The Statement of Randolph Carter (1993), Lurking Fear (1994), Gordon’s Dagon (2001), and other works such as The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath (2003), Beyond the Wall of Sleep (2006), Cool Air (2006), Chill (2007), Cthulu (2007), The Tomb (2007), Colour from the Dark (2008), The Dunwich Horror (2009), Pickman’s Muse (2010) and The Whisperer in Darkness (2011). 

Also of interest is Cast a Deadly Spell (tv movie, 1991), a tv movie set in an alternate world where magic works and where the central character is a detective named H.P. Lovecraft; Juan Piquer Simon’s cheap and loosely inspired Cthulu Mansion (1992); John Carpenter’s Lovecraft homage In the Mouth of Madness (1995); and the fanboy comedy The Last Lovecraft: Relic of Cthulu (2009). Lovecraft’s key work of demonic lore The Necronomicon also makes appearances in films such as Equinox (1970), The Evil Dead II (1987) and Army of Darkness (1992), and was also borrowed as an alternate retitling for Jesus Franco’s surreal and otherwise unrelated Succubus/Necronomicon (1969) about a BDSM dancer. 

REVIEW: Richard Scheib
IMAGES: Marcus Brooks

Friday, 27 July 2012


If you have a Facebook account, why not visit and join our  UK Peter Cushing Appreciation Society fan page? Founded in 1956! Our aim is to celebrate the life and career of Peter Cushing. OBE. You'll find over 2,500 images and 200 albums, features, interviews and vintage film memorabilia! Just Click:HERE!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012


Tippi Hedren (Melanie Daniels), Rod Taylor (Mitch Brenner), Suzanne Pleshette (Annie Hayworth), Jessica Tandy (Lydia Brenner), Veronica Cartwright (Cathy Brenner)

Director/Producer – Alfred Hitchcock, Screenplay – Evan Hunter, Based on the Short Story by Daphne du Maurier, Photography – Robert Burks, Sound Consultant – Bernard Herrmann, Visual Effects – Albert Whitlock, Special Effects – Lawrence A. Hampton, Production Design – Robert Boyle. Production Company – Universal. USA. 1963.

Carefree socialite Melanie Daniels decides to play a practical joke on lawyer Mitch Brenner in a San Francisco bird shop by pretending to be an assistant. However, he knows who she is and the joke backfires on her. Piqued, she decides on a whim to follow Mitch as he travels up the coast to his Bodega Bay hometown for the weekend. At the same time as Melanie arrives in Bodega Bay, birds suddenly, inexplicably, turn and start attacking people. She, Mitch and Mitch’s mother and sister besiege themselves in the Brenner farmhouse against the terrifying onslaught.

The 1960s were one of cinema’s most interesting decades. They were a decade where directors, particularly in France, were experimenting with and breaking down classical expectations of generic forms. Objective depiction – film attempting the simulation of reality – became replaced by a wholly subjective one. Alain Resnais’s influential Last Year in Marienbad (1961) started a cult of sorts with its eschewal of linear narrative and temporal structure and was much imitated; Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow Up (1966) was a classical mystery story that refused to provide an answer to the mystery. And nothing was deconstructed more, it seemed, than the horror genre – with the likes of Night of the Living Dead (1968) and later The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) and Spielberg’s Duel (1971) – standard horror stories that were re-presented without classical moral/psychological definitions – without happy endings, explanations and solutions or regard to victims. In the 1930s, 40s and 50s these films would have had strident moral messages about monsters of science unleashed or about the atomic bomb looming over everybody. Far more frighteningly in the 1960s you never knew why monsters were attacking humanity – they came and went out of the blue, they were a sourceless and faceless aggregate of naked anxiety. And, as Night of the Living Dead demonstrated, characters could no longer be guaranteed survival just because they were designated the hero.

With The Birds, Alfred Hitchcock and screenwriter Evan Hunter (better known as crime writer Ed McBain) remove the film of context – the puzzling Whyness of what is happening is something that stands over the film with far more anxiety and unease than do any of the individual attacks. The film has a scene where everyone offers up an explanation – they considering the Bomb and pollution – but Hitchcock and Evan Hunter sit, neither confirming nor denying anything. The ending is perhaps one of the most famous anticlimaxes in film history and comes with a baffling perplexity – after the intensively sustained onslaught of the previous night, hundreds of birds allow the humans to leave the farmhouse and simply sit and watch as they drive away. Alfred Hitchcock reportedly did film an ending but chose not to leave it in. As a result he has created a film that is not only removed of source and explanation but also of outcome – rather than ending with the birds defeated or triumphant, the film now fades off on an anxiety-inducing state of ambiguity and dis-ease.

The Birds does not quite rank up among the real Alfred Hitchcock classics like Saboteur (1942), Lifeboat (1944), Rear Window (1954) or Psycho (1960) – but is no less a great film for such. The bird attacks are mounted with superb artistry in the same clipped, droll and immaculately staged style we have come to know from Hitchcock. There is a terrifying sequence with Tippi Hedren trapped inside a phone-booth where Hitchcock places the camera inside the booth sharing the claustrophobia of the assault. The climactic siege of the farmhouse (which is the only connection to the slim 1952 Daphne Du Maurier short story that the film is based on) with Rod Taylor trying to barricade the house while fighting off frenzied avian suicide attacks or saving a mobbed Tippi Hedren from the attic contains some seat-edge suspense.

Like Psycho, The Birds has a lengthy preamble, where Hitchcock involves one in the unrelated day-to-day happenings of its characters before disorientatingly switching tracks to the main story. One is drawn into the silly, petty prank that Tippi Hedren plays on Rod Taylor and her sudden desire to follow him to Bodega Bay – another of Hitchcock’s characteristic long pursuit sequences – but, as in Psycho and the long preamble involving Janet Leigh’s theft of the money and flight to the motel, this is only extended prologue to the main story. Hitchcock was playing with audience’s expectation of films and pulling the rug out from under them way before anyone else ever was.

The casting of Tippi Hedren and Rod Taylor is an admirable pairing – both play off each other with a sly, mocking charm. Poor optical work on the bird attacks does lend a certain artificiality to the film – and some modern genre purveyors have downplayed the rest of the film’s excellence as a result. Saul Bass creates the finest of his famed credits sequences for Hitchcock – one with animated black bird shapes frenziedly screeching across a white background while the credits form as piecemeal shapes around them. Despite the listing of Alfred Hitchcock’s regular composer Bernard Herrmann as ‘sound consultant’, the film has no score.

The Birds was highly influential and served as the template for an entire subgenre of Nature’s Revenge films in the 1970s, including the likes of The Hellstrom Chronicle (1971), Frogs (1972), Night of the Lepus (1972), Chosen Survivors (1974), Phase IV (1974), Squirm (1976), The Food of the Gods (1976), Rattlers (1976), Day of the Animals (1977), Empire of the Ants (1977), Kingdom of the Spiders (1977), The Pack (1977), The Bees (1978), Long Weekend (1978), The Swarm (1978), Savage Harvest (1981) and others. In a move that must count as one of the most unnecessary sequels of all time, a sequel, The Birds II: Land’s End (1994) was produced for cable tv. Even director Rick Rosenthal disowned this and had his name substituted by the generic Hollywood pseudonym Alan Smithee. A remake of The Birds has been announced for 2013, purportedly to star Naomi Watts in the Tippi Hedren role.

The film’s Bodega Bay setting has been mentioned for other film settings, most notably in John Carpenter’s The Fog (1980) and Puppetmaster (1989), while homages can be found in other films like Resident Evil: Extinction (2007) and Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2008). The Birds was sent-up in Mel Brooks’ Hitchcock parody High Anxiety (1977), although the funniest Birds homage is the one that comes in Peter Greenaway’s The Falls (1980).

Alfred Hitchcock’s other films of genre interest are:– The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1926), Elstree Calling (1930), Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Rope (1948), Strangers on a Train (1951), Vertigo (1958), Psycho (1960) and Frenzy (1972). 

Review: Richard Scheib
Images: Marcus Brooks



Tuesday, 17 July 2012


This limited Edition Vinyl Disc was released especially for UK RECORD STORE DAY this year, Saturday April 21st, 2012. They were only available in store and limited to one disc per person! Great cover and image of Peter as van Helsing on the label of the disc. The Limited edition was only 666 numbered copies on blood red vinyl!!


Saturday, 14 July 2012


Terence Morgan (Adam Beauchamp), Ronald Howard (John Bray), Jeanne Roland (Annette Dubois), Fred Clark (Alexander King), Jack Gwillim (Sir Giles Dalrymple), Dickie Owen (The Mummy), George Pastell (Hashmi Bey), Michael Ripper (Achmed)

Director/Producer – Michael Carreras, Screenplay – Henry Younger [Michael Carreras], Photography – Otto Heller, Music – Carlo Martelli, Makeup – Roy Ashton, Production Design – Bernard Robinson, Technical Advisor – Andrew Low. Production Company – Hammer/Swallow Productions.

In 1900 an archaeological expedition to Egypt uncovers the tomb of the pharaoh Ra-Antef, killed 3000 years before by his brother Be, a sorcerer. But then Alexander King, the vulgar American showman who financed the expedition, announces to the disgust of the archaeologists that he is going to take the artifacts on tour around the world. But once they return to England the mummy disappears from the exhibition and then reappears to slaughter the members of the expedition one by one.

There are few horror films that seem automatically destined to B-programmer status simply by their themes – the werewolf film fairly much so, the mummy film however without any doubt. Hammer Films conducted a good remake of The Mummy (1959) under Terence Fisher, which did a fine job of updating the classic monster into Hammer’s milieu of Victorian repression. But Hammer’s subsequent mummy efforts, The Mummy’s Shroud (1967) and this, were utterly routine. [The sole exception was Hammer’s quite interesting Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb (1971)].

Michael Carreras’s direction is crude and colourless, failing to enervate the scenario with any horror – although an opening severing of a man’s hand has some crude impact. The mummy, routinely made up and played by a stocky stuntman, is unconvincing. Even though a twist ending shows the mummy is not the real villain of the piece, the film seems stuck with and unable to unhitch itself from the need to conduct a routine mummy’s revenge story. The pedestrian plot is buoyed somewhat by the usual plush Hammer production values (even though we see nothing of the supposed expedition to Egypt) but this only shows that a Hammer period film without the florid stylism of a Terence Fisher can be deadly static.

The cast are a singularly dull bunch – heroine Jeanne Roland hardly displays any emotion at all. Fred Clark’s brassy performance as the crass, money-hungry American showman is rather awful, but even so is the liveliest thing in the film. He does get some of the more amusing lines – suggesting to an Egyptian bellydancer he could find a place for her if she could learn to dance ragtime; and a scene where he is introduced to some Turkish candy and decide he wants to exploit, then taking Ronald Howard’s eulogy ‘delightful’ – “That’s it, we’ll call it – Turkish Delight.”

REVIEW: Richard Scheib
IMAGES: Marcus Brooks


Monday, 9 July 2012



Ray Barrett (Harry Spalding), Noel Willman (Dr Franklyn), Jennifer Daniel (Valerie Spalding), Jacqueline Pearce (Anna Franklyn), Michael Ripper (Tom Bailey), John Laurie (Mad Peter Crockett), Marne Maitland (Malay)

Director – John Gilling, Screenplay – John Elder [Anthony Hinds], Producer – Anthony Nelson Keys, Photography – Arthur Grant, Music – Don Banks, Music Supervisor – Philip Martell, Special Effects – Bowie Films, Makeup – Roy Ashton, Production Design – Bernard Robinson. Production Company – Hammer/Seven-Arts.

Harry Spalding, a captain in the Royal Grenadiers, inherits a cottage in a small Cornish village after his brother Charles dies in mysterious circumstances. He moves into the cottage with his wife Valerie. Harry discovers that several locals have been killed by mysterious snake bites. This is also found to have been the cause of Charles’s death. The origin of the snake killings appears to rest with Dr Franklyn who lives in the village mansion. As Harry investigates, he discovers that these are being caused by Franklyn’s daughter Anna who was abducted by a snake cult that Franklyn was researching in Borneo and that she now periodically transforms into a snake creature.

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