The Silver Emulsion Podcast: Ep. 49 – Mr. Vampire

Silver Emulsion’s annual Horrific October continues with Ricky Lau’s 1985 Hong Kong classic, Mr. Vampire! Listen and enjoy! 🙂

Also: the show is now on iTunes! So if you feel like subscribing there, or rating/reviewing the show, feel free to share your thoughts!

Music Notes

Intro:

  • Dialogue from Manos: The Hands of Fate
  • Ozzy Osbourne – Bloodbath in Paradise

Outro:

  • The Ramones – Pet Sematary (Single Version)

If you’ve got feedback, throw it into the comments below or email it to me via the contact page! We’ll include it in a future show!

The podcast is embedded directly below this, or you can go directly to Podbean (or use their app) to listen. If you want to subscribe, paste http://silveremulsion.podbean.com/feed/ into whatever reader you’re using.

Cryptz (2002)

Starring Choice Skinner, Rick Irvin, Dennis Waller, Lunden De’Leon, Andre McCoy, Ty Badger, Olimpia Fernandez, Archie Howard, Lemar Knight

Directed by Danny Draven

Expectations: Super low.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:


Cryptz isn’t exactly an original film (it’s kind of a Full Moon take on Vamp), but it is competently made and incredibly entertaining. For a film with an ultra low-budget like this, you really can’t ask for much more than that. And when this is coupled with incredibly low expectations due to my general disinterest in the films of Danny Draven, you’ve got the recipe for a B-movie sleeper hit. Cryptz works for a couple of very basic reasons which are generally taken for granted in a bigger film. One of these reasons is definitely not the story, but it does set up the film perfectly to deliver its goods.

Like so many of Full Moon’s “urban” films, Cryptz is about a group of amateur rappers hoping for their big break. The difference here is that this is merely character window dressing, so we aren’t forced to sit through any of their performances. This might not seem like much, but if you’ve seen Full Moon’s other black-focused movies you’ll know what I’m talking about. In any case, our lead is Tymez Skwair (Choice Skinner) and his mom is fed up with his rap career. She tells him to get a job… TODAY! On his way, he is sidetracked by his rapping buddies, Fuzzy Down (Rick Irvin) and Likrish (Dennis Waller), and this is further compounded when they meet Stesha (Lunden De’Leon), a buxom woman wearing a shirt advertising a bar named Cryptz.

Continue reading Cryptz (2002) →

Song of the Vampire (2001)

vampireresurrection_2AKA Vampire Resurrection

Starring Denice Duff, James Horan, Jillian McWhirter, Frank Bruynbroek, Marilyn O’Connor, Geoffrey Lewis, Julie Michaels, John Mese, Scott Spearman

Directed by Denice Duff

Expectations: Low.

On the general scale:
onestar

On the B-movie scale:
twostar


Song of the Vampire is a classic tale of a supernatural being searching for the reincarnation of his lost lover. I’m not sure where this type of story originates from, but I’m most familiar with it from the 1932 film The Mummy and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I’m a huge fan of both of these films, so to say that Song of the Vampire had a lot to live up to is an understatement. But since Song of the Vampire is such a low-budget film, holding it up against two of my all-time favorites would be dooming it to a pit of comparison and utter disappointment. On its own, Song of the Vampire is an average vampire tale that could have been better with a tighter focus.

The most interesting aspect of the film is the idea that in addition to the vampire, Jonathan Travers (James Horan), hunting down Caroline (Denice Duff), her abusive ex-husband, Marty (Frank Bruynbroek), is fresh out of jail and on her trail, too. One pursuer is a supernatural entity that feeds on life, hoping to reconnect with his lost love and be with her forever. The other is a truly evil man with nothing but malice in his heart, completely obsessed with Caroline and literally willing to do anything to have her life back under his control. Both men share a clarity of purpose, and they’re both willing to do horrific things on their way to Caroline. Since this is a romantic vampire tale, Jonathan is clearly intended as the heroic male, but I couldn’t really get into rooting for him. Caroline never asked for either man’s undying, obsessive love, so instead I hoped that she would transcend both of their desires and end the film as a powerful character living on her own.

Continue reading Song of the Vampire (2001) →

Decadent Evil II (2007)

decadentevil2_2Decadent Evil II (2007)
AKA Decadent Evil Dead II

Starring Jill Michelle, Daniel Lennox, Jessica Morris, Ricardo Gil, Jon-Paul Gates, James C. Burns, Mike Muscat, Rory Williamson

Directed by Charles Band

Expectations: Low.

On the general scale:
onehalfstar

On the B-movie scale:
twostar


Decadent Evil II has a bigger budget, more FX, and more decadence than the original film. I guess in that way it’s everything you could want a sequel to be. Somewhere in the writing process, though, they forgot to add in enough of the comedic elements that helped the original film be the dumb fun it was. Decadent Evil II isn’t anywhere close to straight horror, but it’s much too straight for a story as inherently dumb and recycled as this one is.

Our story picks up shortly after the events of Decadent Evil, with the vampire Sugar (Jill Michelle) and her human boyfriend Dex (Daniel Lennox) on the run with the caged homunculus Marvin in tow. Also along for the ride is the corpse of Phil Fondacaro’s character Ivan (played here by Ricardo Gil), stuffed into a suitcase. I guess being the corpse of a three-foot-tall vampire hunter has its benefits. Sugar and Dex are tracking down the elder vampire that will take the place of Morella (see DE1) as leader of the vampire bloodline, and their search has brought them to good ol’ Littlerock, AR. And where might this bloodthirsty fiend of the night be hiding his dusty bones? In a strip club, naturally.

Continue reading Decadent Evil II (2007) →

Decadent Evil (2005)

decadentevil_7Decadent Evil (2005)
AKA Decadent Evil Dead

Starring Debra Mayer, Jill Michelle, Raelyn Hennessee, Phil Fondacaro, Daniel Lennox, John F. Schaffer, Hazel Dean, Roger Toussaint

Directed by Charles Band

Expectations: Low.

On the general scale:
onehalfstar

On the B-movie scale:
threestar


The experienced B-movie viewer is well aware of the “no bad movie can be short enough” principle, so any movie artificially trying to extend its runtime is immediately suspect. I’d guess that even Charles Band wouldn’t hold it against you if you judged Decadent Evil harshly in the first 15 minutes — which consist of 10 minutes from Vampire Journals, three minutes of opening credits, and two minutes of actual movie. And that’s the real shame about Decadent Evil: it’s actually pretty damn entertaining underneath all the low-budget shenanigans. It’s a film that reminds me how some stories just aren’t meant to be feature length; once you get past the padding, Decadent Evil is about as long as it needs to be. Part of that is that it’s built upon a foundation of vampire movie cliches and the characters are all fairly one-note, but nearly every element of the film is fun, which makes up for a lot of the so-called shortcomings.

Continue reading Decadent Evil (2005) →

Quick Takes: The Beyond, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Fright Night Part 2

beyondThe Beyond […E tu vivrai nel terrore! L’aldilà] (1981)
AKA Seven Doors of Death
twohalfstar

Starring Catriona MacColl, David Warbeck, Cinzia Monreale, Antoine Saint-John, Veronica Lazar, Anthony Flees, Giovanni De Nava
Directed by Lucio Fulci

I’m starting to think I’ll never completely warm up to Italian horror movies. They very rarely capture my attention fully, although when they’re good they are really good (like Suspiria). So I guess I’m trying to say that I’m gonna stick with ’em because I know — or at least hope — that there are gems to find. I definitely liked The Beyond more than City of the Living Dead, but it was still fairly uninteresting and slow for the most part. After hearing about this movie for years, it’s a little hard to understand that this is what all the hype was over. The gore, though, holy hell, so much to love there. I have to attribute the film’s reputation almost completely to the gore, because it’s pretty much worth seeing the movie just to see the nasty bits. Italian filmmakers definitely had a different approach to gore, and it often comes off as much more stomach-churning and revolting than in the films of their American counterparts.

invasionofthebodysnatchers1978Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
threehalfstar

Starring Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Jeff Goldblum, Veronica Cartwright, Leonard Nimoy, Art Hindle, Lelia Goldoni
Directed by Philip Kaufman

Fantastic remake that’s nearly as good as the original. I wish all remakes were like this, in that it felt sincere, artistic & in complete understanding of what made the original film so great. It’s a remake that diverges from the original plot in ways that perfectly update the film to the ’70s, while still retaining the pervasive ’50s paranoia of “the other” that made the original film pop. A lot of times remakes change things and people like me wonder why they had to change it. In this film it all clicks, in such good fashion that the film almost exists as a separate entity to the original film. In some ways you could even say that it’s a sequel to the ’50s film, and this ambiguity also helps the film succeed. The whole cast is exceptionally good, with the main four of Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Jeff Goldblum and Veronica Cartwright raising the movie to heights that genre films rarely reach. Sutherland is really becoming a favorite of mine, too, and for whatever reason he reminded me a lot of Clive Owen here (specifically Owen in The Knick).

frightnight2_posterFright Night Part 2 (1988)
threestar

Starring Roddy McDowall, William Ragsdale, Traci Lind, Julie Carmen, Jon Gries, Russell Clark, Brian Thompson, Merritt Butrick, Ernie Sabella, Matt Landers, Josh Richman, Karen Anders
Directed by Tommy Lee Wallace

The original Fright Night was about as fun as an ’80s vampire movie can get, so when I heard there was a sequel I was both jazzed and sure it was doomed to let me down. But no! Fright Night 2 is super fun and surprisingly solid. It builds its story on the same basic framework as the original, except they sometimes shift the genders of characters who filled the various roles originally. This gives Fright Night 2 a distinct feel that is its own, while also feeling very familiar and comfortable. To be more specific, this mostly manifests itself as Charley’s new girlfriend, Alex (Traci Lind), having a much more active role in the plot than Amanda Bearse did in the original. The vampires are multiple, too, and they’re all very different and fun. Fantastic FX work, too. There’s a body melting that’s just incredible! If you enjoyed the first one definitely seek out Fright Night 2!

Quick Takes: Ganja & Hess, Fright Night, The House on Skull Mountain

ganjaandhessposterGanja & Hess (1973)
AKA
Blood Couple, Double Possession, Black Evil, Blackout: The Moment of Terror, Vampires of Harlem, Black Vampire

Starring Duane Jones, Marlene Clark, Bill Gunn, Sam Waymon, Leonard Jackson, Candece Tarpley, Richard Harrow, John Hoffmeister
Directed by Bill Gunn

Tasked with creating a Blacula-type blaxploitation vampire movie, director Bill Gunn instead made an allegorical arthouse film that’s about as far from blaxploitation as possible; a bold move you just have to respect (although one look at those alternate titles above will show that the distributors definitely did not). But while I respect the balls that a move like that took, I can’t say that I liked Ganja & Hess much. It’s got an interesting vibe, and there are some real standout scenes (the ones featuring Bill Gunn himself in a supporting role, for instance), but for the most part I was bored. To be fair, though, I generally have this kind of reaction to arthouse movies, so I think it’s more my fault than Gunn’s. This is why I can’t bring myself to rate Ganja & Hess. Even though I didn’t really like it at all, it’s an incredible achievement of black cinema for the time. I simultaneously felt both impressed and bored. In this circumstance it would be wrong to assign a rating based on either of these feelings, and some arbitrary concoction of the two would only further obfuscate matters. So it’s just the kind of movie you’ll have to see on your own and decide for yourself. Just make sure you like arthouse-style movies. Oh, for those who care: Spike Lee’s Kickstarter film, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, is a remake of this.

fright_nightFright Night (1985)
fourstar

Starring Chris Sarandon, William Ragsdale, Amanda Bearse, Roddy McDowall, Stephen Geoffreys, Jonathan Stark, Dorothy Fielding, Art Evans
Directed by Tom Holland

Four stars, you say? Yeah, maybe I’m overrating it but — aw hell, no I’m not! Fright Night is the type of ’80s horror blast to the brain you crave if you’re one of those people, like myself, who’s lamented the painful death of the horror movie over the last 25 years. Hell, it’s such a great example of an ’80s horror movie that modern directors should examine it and learn the great and simple truths contained within. It’s rare that a film can effectively convey multiple tones, but Fright Night manages to be a truly funny comedy that builds from the ’50s paranoia genre format (while also parodying them), that then morphs as the film progresses into one hell of a gory and tense thrill ride. The FX work is exceptional, with Richard Edlund, fresh off of Ghostbusters, bringing out all the stops. Fright Night is an intensely fun vampire movie. I haven’t seen it since I was about seven or eight years old, and a movie this great really should be seen more than once every 25 years or so. Highly recommended.

houseonskullmountainThe House on Skull Mountain (1974)
threestar

Starring Victor French, Janee Michelle, Jean Durand, Mike Evans, Xernona Clayton, Lloyd Nelson, Ella Woods, Mary J. Todd McKenzie
Directed by Ron Honthaner

I sought out The House on Skull Mountain after I saw it on a blaxploitation horror list, but it’s not really a blaxploitation movie at all. Unless a predominant black cast and a production year in the ’70s is all that defines a blaxploitation movie. This movie actually had black characters from varying socioeconomic backgrounds, and the jive talkin’ guy is clearly the butt of the joke, not the ass-kickin’ hero. Anyway, The House on Skull Mountain is a fun “people going to an old house for the reading of a will” movie mixed with a lot of voodoo and dope African drums. Since I’m such a fan of black magic films, I suppose it stands to reason that I’d also greatly enjoy a good voodoo movie! It will definitely be too dated for some, but I was suitably unsettled by many of its tricks and treats. Unfortunately, the intriguing mystery it sets up never pays off in any satisfying way, but it’s far too enjoyable a film for even something like this to diminish the fun.

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