A group of scientists are working on a freezing cold planet excavating the ruins of an ancient civilization believed to have lived there. Soon one crew member starts showing signs of being possessed and another one, Sandy, is attacked and impregnated by a creature there. At first she seems to have survived the ordeal intact but soon starts behaving weirdly and eventually starts killing her colleagues and drinking their blood in order to protect her rapidly growing fetuses.
“Night of the Creeps” is mostly comically driven, at least in the beginning, but once the threat becomes apparent there’s some grisly gore on display and a few well realized suspense set-pieces. It’s never really scary but it is well paced and has enough enjoyable lulls that add tremendously to the characters and it’s a gamble that more than pays off due to the terrific lead performers.
The passing of William Hurt on March 13th prompted me to go through my collection and check out some of his work. I’ve always thought he was a very good actor and I was quite saddened to hear he was gone. I don’t own a lot of his movies but “Body Heat” (1981) is a big favorite, “The Big Chill” (1983) as well and also “Altered States”. There are a few movies I really like but I’m not sure why and “Altered States” has always been one of those. I know painfully little about the film’s late director Ken Russell and have seen only one other film of his; “Crimes of Passion” (1984), which I do like as well so maybe I should check out more of his films.
While the film has never been a critical darling or even that well liked by it’s own director it has always been well regarded among a huge number of Wes Craven fans and a general cult item with steadily increasing followers. I’d describe it as the closest thing you’d get to a family oriented graphic horror movie as it’s mash up of genres create a unique viewing experience that somehow works like a charm.
“Without Warning” is a fun cross between gruesome sci-fi and slasher flicks that were doing good business in the late seventies and early eighties. A real coup was getting two terrific old timers Palance and Landau to headline the proceedings and inject real intensity into their wacky characters. They certainly help distinguish “Without Warning” and raise it from being of interest to only genre fans into being also a real curio.
For the longest time while I was growing up “John Carpenter’s The Thing” was the scariest thing I’d ever seen. Even watching it on grainy VHS the ground breaking practical effects and suspenseful set-pieces, the extremely effective moody atmosphere and isolated icy setting made a massive impression. For many the film is on the short list of the top horror movies of all time.
In 1937, in Seattle, a twenty-year old budding filmmaker had already created 50 plays and 9 never released, award-winning films, using his own equipment. This director would go on to work for Disney, and eventually create an Academy Award winning documentary in 1950. Richard H. Lyford’s films have developed a following among film-historians around the world. His early “amateur” films are some of the first “indie” films ever created outside of Hollywood. Lyford experimented with special effects and models, and was developing as a director. His final film of this era was “As the Earth Turns”. It was filmed in the Pacific Northwest, around Seattle.
On March 23rd Mr. Larry Cohen passed away at the age of 82. A true auteur who left behind bucket loads of writing credits in a career than spanned five decades and along the way he directed a few gems. Always very witty but also concocting some truly original horror and suspense stories; Cohen’s legacy will live on with genre aficionados all over the world.
Arguably his greatest contribution to the horror genre was a trilogy of films concerning mutant baby monsters in the “It’s Alive” threesome. Cohen’s writing was spot on when it came to every parent’s fear of a child’s possible abnormality, society’s fear of all kinds of human made chemicals interfering with what Mother Nature intended and mankind’s cluelessness when it has to deal with something very different from them. Director Cohen also infused these semi-exploitation mutant movies with very adult and heartfelt drama and elicited some top-notch performances that really legitimized the material beyond B-movie schlock horror.