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Psycho

Starring
Anthony Perkins as Normie Bates
Janet Leigh as Marion, the shower girl

You remember Psycho, and if you don’t I’m sure you’re familiar with most of the scenes. So much of Psycho has been ripped by other horror movies, and so much of it has been parodied in countless movies and TV shows. Psycho is the granddaddy of the intense, psychological horror movie. Marion (Janet Leigh) steals $40,000 so she and her boyfriend can elope to Las Vegas, catch a few shows, and embark on their new careers as slot jockeys. As she drives, it begins to rain, so she stops off at Bates motel, so she can SHOWER. In a conversation with Norm, she discovers that he’s an even bigger loser than she is, and decides she will turn herself in tomorrow. But before that can happen, she gets hacked to death in the shower, in the movie’s most famous scene. From there it’s a whirlwind of suspense, intensity, psychological, dramatic plot twists and cross dressing, that an episode of Cops can’t supply. In fact, when the movie came out in 1960, Alfred Hitchcock (the director for you mulyaks) guaranteed that you’d pee your pants. Since then, a lot of theatres have sticky floors.

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A Clockwork Orange

Starring
Malcolm McDowell as Alex
Patrick Magee as Frank Alexander
Anthony Sharp as Minister of the Interior
Michael Bates as the Chief Guard

As far as I’m concerned, Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange is about Alex and his droogs that know how to have fun. Sure they rape, murder, fight, rob and talk funny, but I figure the victims had it coming. Besides raping, murdering, fighting and robbing builds character. Its good for a young guy to get out there and do some rough housing. And being in a gang, well that teaches a young man about teamwork, and not to be selfish. Now the do-gooders and the bleeding hearts, well they will probably see this movie in a different light. They’ll say that these guys are hoodlums, and have no redeeming value. If it were up to them, these fun loving thugs would be conditioned against violence. Well boohoo. Ironically, we go through this conditioning program everyday in the real world whenever we watch TV, only our way is less harsh. Eventually Alex is caught, and goes through a conditioning program, which makes him sick to the stomach when he sees violence. Can you imagine a world without the Three Stooges, or Bugs Bunny, Cops, the Bloods and the Crypts, or the city of Detroit? Where would we get our culture? If it weren’t violent, Alex would probably commit suicide. Disturbing, violent, savage, barbaric, futuristic, Orwellian, ironic, and thought provoking. What more do you need?

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A Clockwork Orange (1971) COVER C

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A Clockwork Orange (1971) COVER A

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It Came From Beneath The Sea

Starring
Kenneth Tobley
Faith Domergue
Donald Curtis

What happens when you wake up a sleeping giant? It destroys cities and stuff you palooka. A giant octopus is driven from the murky depths by an H-bomb explosion. So, simply looking for food that won’t give him radiation poisoning, he turns to…HUMANS. And why not, after all we have a taste that can’t be beat. So he attacks a fishing trawler, beach goers and the city of San Francisco, to get all the essential vitamins and destruction that you sci-fi fans have come to love over the years. And with the special effects done by the master himself, Ray Harryhausen, you have on your hands what Freud used to describe the 1919 all star game, “a classic”.

 

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It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955) COVER A

It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955) COVER BR

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20 Million Miles To Earth

Starring
Frank Puglia
Joan Taylor
William Hopper

The special effects of Ray Harryhausen are the highlight of this sci-fi spectacular about a monster wreaking havoc in Italy, who is not a fascist, Mafia, or the Prime Minister. A U.S. spaceship on its way home from Venus crashes into the Sea of Sicily, with seemingly only one survivor. A container is also found at the sight, and when it’s opened, a blob of goo escapes. Well this goo grows up to be a monster that has some big plans for Italy, none of which I can divulge at the moment. Well ok, he plans to…he plans to… he plans to destroy Italy, or die trying. Now I know you’re saying, “Destroy Italy, that’s not so bad. I mean sure I like Sicilian pizza, but that’s a small price to pay for the destruction of Italy. Besides, maybe the monster only hates Italians, so the rest of us could hardly blame him. The world would probably be better off.” But, in only one day after its escape, that goo has doubled in size, and has taken on a more monster like appearance. Now the monster has to be stopped. We no longer have the luxury of waiting and hoping to see if he’ll just destroy Italy and maybe France. He has to be stopped now. So the army gets called in for a dramatic showdown at, suitably, the Coliseum. One thing’s for sure; this monster isn’t all smiles and sunshine. It’s Venus versus Earth in the fight of the century.

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20 Million Miles to Earth COVER

 

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The Birds

Starring
Jessica Tandy as Lydia Brenner
Suzanne Pleshette as Annie Hayworth
Rod Taylor as Mitch Brenner
Tippi Hedren as Melanie Daniels
Veronica Cartwright as Cathy Brenner

Birds are going crazy man, I mean like far out wacko man, like real nutty man, and nobody knows why man. Maybe because the town’s full of peckerheads, I don’t know. Anyway, these birds aren’t just bombing cars and ripping garbage bags, no way eh. But take it from me: you want excitement; you want suspense; you want horror; then what could be more scary then a swarm of birds, with their beaks and talons, and … what about them humming birds. You don’t think that’s scary, well let me tell you kids; this movie is so scary its not even funny. Directed by my homeboy Alfred Hitchcock, who originally wanted to use turtles, but testing revealed they just weren’t scary. This is what happens to a town when it’s built on a former dump.

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The Birds (1963) COVER A

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The Birds (1963) COVER C

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Village of the Damned

starring:
George Sanders as an old guy
Barbara Shelly is a 30’s-ish women
and a dozen freaky kids

The film starts with haunting imagery of a village, no noise save for the ringing of church bells, the streets strewn with bodies. Everyone within the village limits seems to be dead. Of course the big bad army rolls in and takes control of the situation by doing nothing and not long afterwards the people regain consciousness. Weeks later all the woman capable of being pregnant are (even those still chaste and pure). The children are born after an abnormally short pregnancy, all at over 10 lbs, with strange eyes, an unknown hair group, and unusual fingernails… oh, and strange mental powers. Once the children grow older (looking 10 years after only 3), they all coalesce together, ignoring the other children. The villagers are disturbed by these platnum blonde children (much as we were all disturbed by the Platnum Blonde band), mostly because of their cold, calculating nature. After reports of other villages experiencing the “time out” being destroyed by similar children, the village takes it upon themselves to try and destroy the freaks (as we so often kill what we do not understand). Haunting, frightening, and well paced, Village of the Damned is a classic suspense tale in the sci-fi genre.

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Suspiria

starring:
Jessica Harper as Susy Banyon

One of the more visually striking horror movies, Suspiria tells the tale of a German dance academy and the horrible secret hidden within it. Susy Banyon has come from America to study at one of the top dance schools, but immediately upon her arrival she becomes a part of the school’s mystery as she becomes the last person to see a murdered girl alive. Soon Susy finds herself drugged and, after her friends murder, believing in the rumors that surround the headmistress, and the academy itself… it’s a secret house of witchcraft, where the witches injure for personal gain, and they murder those who offend them. Director Dario Argentino has created a movie rich with violent colours and tremendous cinematography, it’s the richest looking horror film I’ve seen. The score is perfectly European, and even more creepy and heart-pounding than that from Halloween. A few words of note, the box states “the only thing more terrifying that the last 5 minutes of this film are the first 90!”, and you know what, it’s right. The last 5 minutes make for a pretty weak topper to a wonderful film. Also, if you’ve ever seen Phantom of Paradise, don’t worry because Jessica Harper doesn’t actually dance in the film.

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Phenomena

Starring:

Donald Pleasence – John McGregor
Jennifer Connely – Jennifer
Patrick Bauchau – Rudolph Geiger

Young girl is left behind when her bus takes off without her and so walks down a side road to a house where she is attacked, chased through the woods and eventually beheaded in Phenomena. Young and beautiful Jennifer is sent to school for girls in Europe and shows and affinity for bugs of all kind. She meets her new roomie named Sophie who tells Jennifer about the killer that is preying on young girls. That night Jennifer has a bad dream and starts sleepwalking. She heads down the hallway of the school and falls out a window when she gets scared, wanders into the street, gets hit by a car, and when the people in the car try and help her she jumps from the car when it is speeding along. Down the hill on the side of the road Jennifer meets a monkey who leads her to John McGregor’s house who just happens to be a professor who works with bugs, and Jennifer and John soon hit it off. When Jennifer returns to the school she gets into a lot of trouble and that next night, Sophie is killed and Jennifer sleepwalks again. Finally when the headmistress decides to commit Jennifer to a mental hospital, Jennifer takes off and starts on the trail of the killer by herself. Incredibly cool film about bug summoning girl, razor wielding monkey and disgusting little mutant boy. Very suspenseful and atmospheric and never lets up the pace as the film winds down to its eventual conclusion. There is even a pretty good performance by Patrick Bauchau, who plays Sidney on The Pretender, as the poor policeman Rudolph Gieger. Excellent film and should not be missed.

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Phenomena (1985) COVER A

Phenomena (1985) COVER B

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The Bird With the Crystal Plumage

starring:
Tony Musante
and Suzy Kendall

If you havn’t yet discovered the films of Dario Argento, the Bird With the Crystal Plumage is probably the best place to start. Argento’s films (which he both writes and directs) contain at the same time visually captivating scenes and a thoroughly engrossing story. The Bird With th Crystal Plumage is no exception.
Musante stars as an American writer working in Italy on a short term Visa, and one night becomes the only witness to an attempted murder at an art gallery. While suffering with a case of writers’ block, his investigative instincts get the better of him and he decides to help the police pursue the case. But his investigations only draw attention to him, and soon his girlfriend and his own life are threatend by attackers on the street, invaders in their apartment and harassed by creepy phone calls.
The writer, with the help of some experts and a an odd assortment of characters, including a foppish gallery owner, a reclusive painter, and an off-beat police detective, soon nails down the who murderer is… or whom he thinks it is… but it may be too late.
Easily one of the most intense murder mystery films I’ve seen, the Bird With the Crystal Plumage is a must watch for any fan of the suspense/mystery genre.

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Bird With The Crystal Plumage COVER