Thursday, October 28, 2021

October Quick Picks and Pans – Horror Month 2021


Symptoms Poster

Symptoms (1974) Angela Pleasence stars as Helen, a disturbed young woman in writer/director José Ramón Larraz’s thriller, a bubbling cauldron of repressed sexuality and unrequited love. She lives alone on a country estate, nursing the wounds of an unspecified psychological trauma. As a comfort to her friend in need, Anne (Lorna Heilbron) leaves London to spends some time with Helen. Over the course of the next several days secrets will be revealed. Symptoms takes its time, building up suspense gradually, and letting the story unfold (in the kind of slow-burn approach that’s so distinctively 1970s). Not much occurs for the first half, but stick with it, because it’s going to be a bumpy ride. Pleasence turns in a subtly creepy performance, portraying one woman’s disintegrating psyche.  

Rating: ***½. Available on Blu-ray

Parents Poster

Parents (1989) What goes on in the secret world of parents when the kids are in bed? Director Bob Balaban’s pitch-dark comedy/horror attempts to answer that question. Balaban and writer Christopher Hawthorne use an idealized ‘50s backdrop to spin a subversive yarn about domestic conformity. A young boy (Bryan Madorsky) suspects his squeaky-clean parents (Randy Quaid and Mary Beth Hurt) are up to something nefarious (Just what is that mystery meat they keep trying to serve him?). The film keeps its cards close to its chest about what his parents are really up to (Are they or aren’t they?) for the first two-thirds. Although Madorsky’s performance tends to be one-note, it’s mainly a foil for all the erratic behavior and skullduggery around him. Even though the climax is a trifle predictable, it’s worth seeing for the build-up.   

Rating: ***½. Available on Blu-ray, DVD, Tubi and Amazon Prime

Grave Encounters Poster

Grave Encounters (2011) Before you think, “Oh no, not another found footage movie,” give this one a try. The host (Ben Wilkinson) and crew of a TV ghost-hunting series named (Can you guess?), investigate an abandoned mental hospital, which might not be as uninhabited as they originally thought. Although the movie relies on a few too many CGI-enhanced jump scares, it stands out by introducing some intriguing concepts. The more time the investigators spend in the haunted asylum, the further it alters their perception of time and space. 

Rating: ***. Available on Blu-ray, DVD, Shudder, and Amazon Prime

The Terror Poster

The Terror (1963) If you think Roger Corman’s The Terror seems cobbled together from his other Poe movies, you’re not wrong. Corman repurposed the sets from The Raven for his film, along with a couple of its stars, Boris Karloff as Baron Victor Frederick Von Leppe, and Jack Nicholson, as French soldier, Lt. Andre Duvalier. Corman regulars Jonathan Haze appears as a mute, and Dick Miller (sporting an odd accent) plays the Baron’s butler. Duvalier meets a mysterious young woman wandering the beach (played by Nicholson’s then-wife, Sandra Knight), who seems to be linked to Van Leppe’s castle, and its brooding baron. I’m not sure where the eponymous “Terror” fits in, but Corman’s attempt to (in his words) “out-Poe Poe…” has some nice atmosphere, and Karloff seems game enough. It’s not as bad as some might attest, but there’s a “been there, done that” feel to the production. 

Rating: ***. Available on Blu-ray, DVD, Amazon Prime, and Kanopy

The Gruesome Twosome (1967) Herschell Gordon Lewis does it again, with this gore-laced oddity. An elderly lady (played by Elizabeth Davis, who spouts aphorisms to her stuffed wildcat “Napoleon”) lures young women to her house, under the auspices of having a room for rent. Subsequently, her deranged son Rodney (Chris Martell) scalps them, using their hair for a home-based wig shop (Not exactly a sustainable business model). A snooping college co-ed (Gretchen Wells) investigates a series of missing young women, while her irritating boyfriend doubts her suspicions. The story and characters have about as much depth as a puddle, but if you’re a fan of H.G. Lewis, or just curious about his movies, you could do much worse. 

Rating: **½. Available on DVD

Guru the Mad Monk Poster

Guru the Mad Monk (1970) Here’s another baffling, bargain-basement wonder from filmmaker extraordinaire, Andy Milligan (I think he had about $50 allotted for this movie, yet somehow managed to stay under budget). Lead Neil Flanagan plays the titular character, a ruthless, self-serving priest who tortures for the thrill of it (a highlight is a scene where he acts against a mirror). He runs his cathedral like a private fiefdom, while sheltering his former mistress, a vampire named Olga (Jaqueline Webb). Everyone recites their lines with a strange cadence as if no one knew what real speech sounded like. The story is supposedly set on an island, but there are no location shots (or stock footage) to establish where they are. Instead, we just hear a looped recording of the crashing of ocean waves and seagulls. Its many faults aside, you have to admire how anyone could attempt to shoot a medieval period piece with virtually no resources, except for the use of an old Manhattan cathedral. 

Rating: **½. Available on DVD and Tubi

The Stone Tape Poster

The Stone Tape (1972) The scariest thing in this BBC television production from writer Nigel Kneale and director Peter Sasdy might be the appalling preponderance of the color green in the set and costume design, but it does have its moments. The Stone Tape carries many of the themes that Kneale has explored previously, albeit with mixed results. The director of an electronics firm (Michael Bryant) stumbles on a potential new recording medium, thanks to a discovery by his resident mathematician (Jane Asher). Ghostly sounds and visions emanate from the ancient stone foundation of an estate, leading a team of researchers to investigate. Madness and chaos ensue. An interesting premise is hampered by casual racism and sexism throughout. Overwrought acting, and an unlikable lead also make this difficult to stomach. 

Rating: **½. Available on DVD (Region 2)


The Mummy's Hand Poster

The Mummy’s Hand (1940) This sort-of sequel to 1932’s The Mummy is a big step down. An archaeologist (Dick Foran) and his very annoying sidekick (Wallace Ford) set out to find the tomb of Karas, with the promise of untold riches and notoriety. A high priest (George Zucco) who’s sworn to protect the tomb, and the not-so-dead Karas have other plans. There are some impressive sets, and the mummy (played this time by Tom Tyler) is truly frightening. It’s too bad the story is so scattershot and unfocused, and the emphasis on comedy doesn’t help the mood. Watch if you must. 

Rating: **½. Available in The Mummy: Legacy Collection Blu-ray and DVD

Sunday, October 24, 2021

The 3rd Hammer-Amicus Blogathon – Day 3 Recap


The 3rd Hammer-Amicus Blogathon

Whew! We’ve reached the end of the 3rd Hammer-Amicus Blogathon, hosted by Yours Truly and Gill Jacob of Realweegiemidget Reviews. I hope everyone had as much fun participating as we had hosting this three-day event.  

Once again, I’d like to thank my astounding co-host Gill, for another spectacular blogathon. Special thanks to all who took part, and we hope to see you again soon.  We have two more blogathons in store next year, which you won’t want to miss, so stay tuned for future announcements. 

If you planned to participate but missed the deadline, feel free to reach out (Post a comment below, email me at, or reach me on Twitter, @barry_cinematic), and I’ll be happy to add your link to this post.


In addition to today’s links, be sure to visit the Day 1 and Day 2 Recaps. 



When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth

Join Rick from Classic Film & TV Café as he travels back in time (long before VHS fought Beta), When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1968). 


Dracula Has Risen from the Grave

David L. Rattigan explores the theological implications of DraculaHas Risen from the Grave (1968).

Ten Seconds to Hell Poster

J-Dub from Dubsism examines hidden sports analogies in TenSeconds to Hell (1959). 

From Beyond the Grave Poster

To The Devil... A Daughter Poster

Eric Binford from Diary of a Movie Maniac presents a twin bill of terror with From Beyond the Grave (1974), and Tothe Devil… A Daughter (1976).


The Devil Rides Out Poster

Joey Halphen from Wolffian Classic Movies Digest cautions us to beware when The Devil Rides Out (1968). 

Vampire Circus Poster

Sally Silverscreen from 18 Cinema Lane is our ringmaster for the Vampire Circus (1972).


Kiss of the Vampire Poster

You might prefer a fist bump instead, after you read Eddie Harrison’s (from Film Authority) review of The Kiss of the Vampire (1963).



Dr. Who and the Daleks Poster

Daleks - Invasion Earth Poster

Who’s on first? Mitchell Hadley from It’s About TV has the answer, when he takes a look at Dr. Who’s big-screen adventures in Dr Who andthe Daleks (1965), and Daleks Invasion Earth 2150 A.D (1966).  


Saturday, October 23, 2021

The 3rd Hammer-Amicus Blogathon – Day 2 Recap


The Hammer-Amicus Blogathon- Tales from the Crypt

We’re back for the second day of the 3rd Hammer-Amicus Blogathon, hosted by Yours Truly and Gill Jacob of Realweegiemidget Reviews. While the quantity of entries is somewhat smaller than Day 1, there’s no skimping on quality. Here, you’ll find mysteries, folk horror, a “lost” TV series, and even a scrumptious celebrity recipe. 

If you plan to participate but you’re not quite ready, we’ll post your link on day three. Post a comment below, email me at, or reach me on Twitter (@barry_cinematic). You may also contact Gill by commenting on her post, through her blog’s Contact Me page, or on Twitter (@realweegiemidge). 

In addition to today’s posts, be sure to visit the Day 1 Recap, and stay tuned for Day 3!




Journey to the Unknown

Travel with Brian Schuck of Films from Beyond the Time Barrier, as he introduces us to two episodes of the little-seen Hammer television series, Journey to the Unknown (1968-69). 

Scream of Fear Poster

You scream, I scream, we all scream for Caftan Woman’s review of Taste of Fear (aka: Scream of Fear) (1961). 


Wake Wood Poster

Join the other half of Maniacs and Monsters, Andrew Stephen, as he discusses the nouveau Hammer chiller, Wake Wood (2009). 

Blackout Poster

Kristina from Speakeasy tells us about the Hammer noir Blackout (aka: Murder by Proxy) (1954). 




Supper with the Stars

Jenny from Silver Screen Suppers wishes you bon appétit, inviting you to sample Peter Cushing’s Beetroot and Onion Supper Special


Friday, October 22, 2021

The 3rd Hammer-Amicus Blogathon Has Arrived – Day 1 Recap


Hammer-Amicus Blogathon Banner - Cushing

After a one-year hiatus, the Hammer-Amicus Blogathon has risen from the grave for yet another round. Once again, my co-host extraordinaire, Gill Jacob from Realweegiemidget Reviews has joined me to preside over the three-day blogging event. We’d like to extend a big thanks to our regulars, who have participated in our previous Hammer-Amicus blogathons, and a warm hello to those who are joining us for the first time.   

We’re excited to see such a wide variety of posts, covering deep cuts in Hammer and Amicus’s respective catalogs, shining the spotlight on some unknown and unloved titles. Once again, there’s something for everyone here, covering a wide range of genres, from horror and mystery, to musicals, and everything in between. 

If you plan to participate but you’re not quite ready, don’t despair, we’ll post your link on days two or three. Post a comment below, email me at, or reach me on Twitter (@barry_cinematic). You may also contact Gill by commenting on her post, through her blog’s Contact Me page, or on Twitter (@realweegiemidge). 

Now, on with the show! Be sure to check out the following links, and tune in Saturday and Sunday for recaps of days two and three.



The Witches Poster

There’s sure to be double, double toil and trouble if you miss Angelman’s review of The Witches (1966). 

These Are the Damned Poster

This is Michael Denney’s (from Maniacs and Monsters) review of These Are the Damned (1962). 

The Black Glove Poster

Rebecca Deniston from Taking Up Room throws down the gauntlet with her review of The Black Glove (aka: Face the Music) (1954). 


Cloudburst Poster

Prepare for some stormy weather when Terence Towles Canote from A Shroud of Thoughts reviews Cloudburst (1951). 


Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter Poster

Join John V. from John V's Eclectic Avenue, as he rides along with Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (1974). 


The Vengeance of She Poster

Holger Haase from Hammer and Beyond prepares us for TheVengeance of She (1968).

The Lady Vanishes Poster

Gill Jacob from Realweegiemidget Reviews appears with her review of The Lady Vanishes (1979). 


Demons of the Mind Poster

It’s a Freud for all, when I examine Demons of the Mind (1972).



The Beast Must Die Poster

Take a (Werewolf) break from the ordinary, when Scampy from The Spirochaete Trail discusses The BeastMust Die (1974). 

Ring-A-Ding Rhythm Poster

Hey, daddy-O, get hip to John L. Harmon’s review of Ring-A-Ding Rhythm! (1962).

Amicus Horror Anthologies - Tales from the Crypt

Jay from Cinema Essentials invites us to read about the Amicus Horror Anthologies.

It's Trad, Dad Poster

The good folks at That's Cool, That's Trash! discuss what those kooky young people are listening to these days, in It's Trad, Dad! (aka: Ring-A-Ding Rhythm!) (1962).

Supper with the Stars Cover

Gill Jacob is back to serve a second helping in the blogathon, paging through Peter Fuller and Jenny Hammerton’s new book, Supper with the Stars, with Your Host Vincent Price (2021)


Demons of the Mind

Demons of the Mind Poster

(1972) Directed by Peter Sykes; Written by Christopher Wicking; Original Story by Frank Godwin; Starring: Robert Hardy, Shane Briant, Gillian Hills, Yvonne Mitchell, Patrick Magee and Paul Jones; Available on Blu-ray and DVD 

Rating: ***½ 

After a one-year hiatus, I’m back with my co-host with the most, Gill Jacob from Realweegiemidget Reviews, to present the third installment of the Hammer-Amicus Blogathon. Be sure to check out all the wonderful posts over the next few days!

Aunt Hilda, Baron Zorn, and Dr. Falkenberg

“Demons of the mind. Mankind is on the brink of understanding itself at last. Pure knowledge. And myself, leading the hunt.” – Dr. Falkenberg (Patrick Magee) 

“When I came to make this film, what struck me most strongly was the central very serious idea of looking at the life of Mesmer and origins of looking at psychopathic behavior and hysteria and treating through hypnotism.” – Peter Sykes (interview excerpt, featured in Hammer Films: The Unsung Heroes, by Wayne Kinsey) 

Baron Zorn

It was a changing world for Hammer films in the 1970s, as the production company reluctantly sought to keep pace with the times. It was a period of fits and starts, challenging older styles and stretching the boundaries of what could be depicted on screen, while retaining what was distinctly Hammer. While some might argue that it was a period of decline for the company, some unique films sprung from the changing landscape, including Demons of the Mind. Originally titled Blood Will Have Blood (reduced to a line in the movie), Peter Sykes, a first-timer for Hammer, handled the directorial duties. British locations stood in for the story’s German countryside, including Wykehurst Place, located in West Sussex.** 

* Fun Fact #1: In case you’re counting, the film featured three performers from A Clockwork Orange (1971): Gillian Hills, Virginia Wetherell, and Patrick Magee. 

** Fun Fact #2: If the sprawling estate in the film looks familiar, it’s no coincidence. The Gothic Revival mansion (designed in 1871 by Edward Middleton Barry), has appeared in several film and television productions over the years, including All the Colors of the Dark (1972), and The Legend of Hell House (1973).

The Zorn Family and Aunt Hilda

Baron Friedrich Zorn (Robert Hardy) harbors an awful family ailment (including madness, incest, and bloodlust),* which he’s unwittingly transferred to his offspring, Elizabeth and Emil (Gillian Hills and Shane Briant, respectively). With the help of their aunt Hilda (Yvonne Mitchell), he keeps them apart, locked away in their rooms, where they’re subjected to bloodletting (in an effort to purge the sickness). When the mental condition of Zorn’s grown children fails to improve, Zorn secures the services of the controversial Doctor Falkenberg (Patrick Magee), who’s developed some radical treatments of his own. Meanwhile, several young women from the nearby village have gone missing, raising the suspicions of the local residents and a wandering priest (Michael Hordern). 

* Fun Fact #3: According to The Hammer Story, per the original screenplay, the family curse was not purely psychological in nature, but attributed to lycanthropy.

Emil and Elizabeth Zorn

Gillian Hills and Shane Briant are believable as sister and brother, whose bonds are a little too close for comfort. As Elizabeth Zorn,* Hills imbues her character with a distant, dreamy quality. She appears passive and emotionally stunted, due to being locked away for years. Briant portrays Emil as a caged animal, restless and wary. Spurred on by his intense distrust of his father and aunt, Emil’s primary motivation is to reunite with his sister. Instead of helping ameliorate their symptoms Baron Zorn has exacerbated their ongoing illness. Under Falkenberg’s hypnosis, his terrible history emerges, involving violent, animalistic urges (despite a professed disgust for blood), followed by impotence, and the subsequent suicide of his wife. In turn, he transfers his shortcomings and neuroses to his children. In one scene, he discourages a visitor from pursuing a relationship with Elizabeth, stating, “She’s incapable of love.” He reserves the worst, however, for Emil who may have inherited his father’s darker, destructive impulses. 

* Fun Fact #4: The role of Elizabeth was originally slated for Marianne Faithfull.


Dr. Falkenberg

The always great Patrick Magee stands out as Doctor Falkenberg (based loosely on Austrian physician Franz Mesmer). Accused of being a charlatan for his unorthodox theories and methodologies, he’s ousted from his institute, taking up a private practice. As a proponent of the budding field of psychiatry/psychology, he believes there’s a cure for the Zorn family’s “curse.” Although unabashedly egotistical and self-aggrandizing, Falkenberg seems to have a genuine interest in discovering the root of the illness, and finding a way to correct their maladies. He uses hypnotism as a means of exploring the unconscious minds of his patients, and attempts a risky form of experimental therapy, employing a woman from the village (Virginia Wetherell) as a substitute for Elizabeth. Ultimately Zorn’s fatalism about his condition, and his children’s condition by proxy, undermines Falkenberg’s treatment.

* Fun Fact #5: The odd device Dr. Falkenberg employs to hypnotize Baron Zorn was based on actual equipment used by Mesmer in the 18th-19th centuries.

Elizabeth and Emil as Children

Demons of the Mind delves deeply into Freudian (before Freud existed) concepts of childhood trauma, transference, sublimation, and the unconscious. While Mesmer’s (and by extension Falkenberg’s) belief in a “universal fluid” that regulated the wellbeing of the mind doesn’t hold a lot of water now (pardon the pun), he was ahead of his time with regard to exploring the roots of childhood trauma, and using hypnotism as a tool for therapy. Falkenberg refers to the family illness as a disorder, and not a sickness of the blood (as Zorn would attest). As it turns out, both are right and wrong. While draining Elizabeth’s blood was a futile effort, Zorn’s belief that he passed on a disease was a step in the right direction. For his part, Falkenberg failed to acknowledge that Zorn’s blood (i.e., genetics) could have contributed to the current situation. The Zorn estate, itself, is a fitting metaphor for the family’s malady. Photographed from skewed angles, the structure and everything in it seem purposely off-kilter. As Elizabeth’s would-be suitor, Carl (Paul Jones) observes, “This place reeks of madness and decay.”

Village Ritual

The film briefly segues into folk horror territory when we witness a ritual in the nearby village. The residents dance with an effigy of Death, chanting, “We carry Death to the fires of hell. All is well.” At one point, a visitor asks about meaning of the ritual, but no one seems to knows about its significance. It’s an interesting thread that’s (sadly) never fully explored. It does provide a foreshadowing, of sorts, for the events that follow. The villagers eventually rise up against Zorn, spurred on by the wandering priest who fans the flames of evil, painting Zorn as a focus of evil. Why the villagers would choose to follow an outsider, upsetting the status quo, is another question.

Emil Zorn

Compared to Hammer’s output of the time, Demons of the Mind remains something of an outlier, not quite fitting into the “horror” mold, while retaining many of the trappings of the genre. Is it a psychological thriller, family drama, or a gothic romance? An argument could be made for any of these. It’s a potent cocktail of Freud’s greatest hits, eschewing any physical manifestation of monsters for the cerebral kind. To borrow another Freudian concept, we can only view the surface of these characters, but there is much to explore what lies underneath their exteriors. With its heady themes, Demons of the Mind wasn’t exactly the sort of move intended for audiences that wanted to forget their troubles for 90 minutes and have a good time. Subsequently it was no surprise that distributor EMI was less than thrilled with the finished product, which promptly faded into obscurity. The fact that Demons of the Mind defied expectations of what a Hammer film could be is at once, to its credit and detriment. It’s an often fascinating, sometimes perplexing viewing experience, which merits reappraisal.  


Sources for this article: Featurette, “Blood Will Have Blood: Inside Demons of the Mind”; The Hammer Story, by Marcus Hearn and Alan Barnes; Hammer Films: The Unsung Heroes, by Wayne Kinsey