Thursday, February 29, 2024

February Quick Picks and Pans


Visitors from the Arkana Galaxy Poster

Visitors from the Arkana Galaxy (1981) Robert (Zarko Potocnjak) likes to immerse himself in his writing, much to the detriment of his long-suffering girlfriend, Biba (Lucie Zulová). While working on his latest science fiction novel, his characters suddenly take on a life of their own: Andra (Ksenia Prohaska) an android, two precocious kids, and a terrifying monster that resembles a cross between ALF and Giger’s xenomorph. When they cross paths with Robert’s friends and neighbors, havoc ensues. Director/co-writer Dusan Vukotic’s Croatian-language oddity is full of WTF moments that will make you alternately scratch your head and smile. I’m not sure how this ever got made, but I’m kind of thankful for it.    

Rating: 3 ½ stars. Available on Blu-ray and Kanopy


The Cat Creature Poster

The Cat Creature (1973) This mildly engaging TV movie directed by Curtis Harrington (Who Slew Auntie Roo, Night Tide) and written by Robert Bloch (Psycho) plays a bit like a low-key Kolchak episode. After a thief (Keye Luke) steals an ancient Egyptian amulet, people tied to the amulet are killed off by a murderous feline. A college professor (David Hedison) teams up with a skeptical police detective (Stuart Whitman) to get to the bottom of the mysterious slayings before an occult store clerk (Meredith Baxter) becomes the next target. There’s some fun dialogue and nice chemistry between Hedison and Baxter, but the film never adds up to much (no thanks to a silly ending). 

Rating: 3 stars. Available on YouTube 

Tender Dracula Poster

Tender Dracula (aka: The Big Scare) (1974) Peter Cushing stars for his first and only time as a vampire (Or is he?) in this tepid French sex farce. The writers of a popular TV show visit a castle owned by reclusive horror celebrity MacGregor (Cushing). Strange things are afoot when they spend the night with two frisky actresses (Miou-Miou and Nathalie Courval), and something or someone attempts to kill them. Despite the frothy material, Cushing and co-star Alida Valli (as his wife Héloïse) seem to be enjoying themselves. There are a couple of fun nods to Cushing’s work at Hammer, but as a comedy, it falls flat. 

Rating: 2 ½ stars. Available on Blu-ray (included in the Cushing Curiosities box set) and DVD


Blood Suckers

Blood Suckers (aka: Incense for the Damned) (1971) A young woman (Madeleine Hinde) travels to Greece to discover the whereabouts of her fiancée, college professor Tony Seymour (Alexander Davion). To her horror, he’s become infatuated with Chriseis (Imogen Hassall) an oddly alluring woman, and the cult that surrounds her. This slow-moving, kind of, sort of vampire movie plays coy with its subject to the point where it ends up being an exercise in frustration with little payoff. Outside of a drug-fueled psychedelic orgy scene (in the uncut version), there’s not much to distinguish this from other, better horror films from the era. Despite being touted as a Peter Cushing vehicle he's barely in it, except for the beginning and ending, as Tony’s mentor, Dr. Goodrich. You’d probably be more entertained by watching a TV test pattern.   

Rating: 1 ½ stars. Available on Blu-ray (included in the Cushing Curiosities box set) and DVD



  1. Short but interesting selection of films, even if some of them maybe aren't as interesting as they sound! I generally enjoy watching TV movies from the 1970s, so I may have to look up the cat creature! And this Peter Cushing box set sounds like something different, and a good way!

    Now I'm looking forward to exploitation month, Barry!

    1. Thanks, John! I'm still exploring the Peter Cushing box set, so I'm hoping to find a hidden gem or two.

      Let's see what this month brings... ;)

  2. Wow, thanks for reminding me of The Cat Creature, a 70s TV horror that somehow I have never seen! I looked this up in David Deal's Television Fright Films of the '70s, and in addition to the actors you name, apparently Kent Smith (from the original The Cat People) and John Carradine appear in it. That's enough for me, time to fire up Youtube!

    1. Hmm... That's a cool bit of trivia about Kent Smith. And I forgot to mention Carradine. It's well worth a look. Enjoy!