Sunday, August 28, 2022

Announcing the Devilishly Delightful Donald Pleasence Blogathon


Donald Pleasence Blogathon

When Gill from Realweegiemidget Reviews asked me if I was interested in co-hosting a blogathon devoted to the one and only Donald Pleasence, how could I resist? Who else but Mr. Pleasence could be a Bond villain, a blind POW, a Soviet conspirator, William Hare (of the notorious duo Burke and Hare), and a determined psychiatrist, all with equal conviction? Friend or foe, the infinitely versatile character actor was always committed to his craft.

Dr. Loomis, Halloween

Since the blogathon will take place Halloween week, you’re more than welcome to cover any of his horror roles, but don’t forget his many other non-horror characters, as well. You might choose to review one of his films, do a retrospective of his filmography, or cover one aspect of his career (such as his enduring role as Dr. Loomis in the Halloween series). There are no limits to the possibilities.

Dr. Michaels, Fantastic Voyage

Of course, you’re not just restricted to blog posts about Pleasence. Feel free to send us links to your YouTube video, podcast, black-light velvet paintings – wherever your creative impulses take you. Not sure where to start? With acting credits, according to IMDB, there’s bound to be something that will strike your fancy. Check out a list of his roles here

SEN, THX-1138

What: The Devilishly Delightful Donald Pleasence Blogathon


Who: Hosted by Gill Jacob and Barry P. 


Where: Realweegiemidget Reviews & Cinematic Catharsis


When: October 28-30, 2022 


How: Please read the rules below, and send me your post request (review, podcast, etc…) via email (, Twitter (@barry_cinematic), or by commenting below. You may also contact Gill by commenting on her post, or through her blog’s Contact Me page. (Be sure to include your preferred name, along with your blog’s title).

Priest, Prince of Darkness

The Rules…

1.     You may review ANY of his film or TV appearances. Or if you want to review books or topics about him that’s fine with us as well.

2.     Because Mr. Pleasence has such a large number of appearances in his filmography, NO DUPLICATE MOVIE OR TV SHOW TITLES WILL BE ALLOWED. If a specific title has already been claimed, you may only include that title if it’s part of a list or retrospective review. If you choose to write about Donald Pleasence, tell us what your topic will be. We won’t accept posts that are uncomplimentary or disrespectful to him.

3.     Review choices may be requested as a comment on this page or you may contact me through the methods listed above.

4.     Add your Twitter username so we can promote your post.

5.     A full list of blogs and review choices will be posted on a separate page, and updated regularly.

6.     Only original, never-before-published posts will be accepted.

7.     Limit TWO blog posts per participant, please.

8.     Send a link of your post(s) to me or Gill on one of the days of the blogathon. Note: We will be publishing all links on both blogs.  

9.     Please also note: Gill and I have already claimed the following titles below:

Gill at Realweegiemidget Reviews – Telefon (1970)

Barry at Cinematic Catharsis – Circus of Horrors (1960)


One more thing: 

If you plan to participate, or just want to show your support, please grab one of the following banners to display on your blog:


We’re looking forward to seeing your submissions!

Thursday, August 25, 2022

The Ginger Snaps Trilogy



“The goal was to create a werewolf movie that no one had seen before. It was to kind of take people’s expectations of the genre, and then… bend them and twist them, and really make it something that was a departure. I really wanted to strip the magic away from the werewolf, and create the werewolf as a kind of a biological entity. The werewolf was a virus that infected the human body…” - John Fawcett (Director, Ginger Snaps)

Aroooo… Ho hum. There’s a certain sameness to many werewolf movies: Man gets bitten by werewolf and subsequently acquires curse, man transforms into werewolf, followed by man living a tortured existence until he meets a tragic ending. Sure, there’s infinite possibilities within these confines, but most permutations seem to follow a similar trajectory, with predictable results.

Brigitte and Ginger

The first Ginger Snaps movie (which seemingly sprung from nowhere) was just the shot in the arm the genre needed, managing to be a clever twist on coming-of-age comedies and werewolf flicks in one go. It was a refreshing departure from the usual male-centric genre offerings, which typically portrayed men as the problem-solvers and women as passive and virtually extraneous (except, perhaps, as sex objects). Instead, the men are often depicted as ineffectual or toxic (or a combination of both).  

Brigitte and Ginger in 1815

How do you follow up a successful film? The usual sequel formula involves upping the action and raising the stakes, while making everything louder, faster and more bombastic. The Ginger Snaps sequels are a surprising exception, despite featuring different writing/directing teams (which usually isn’t a good sign). Then again, the changing of the guard created a unique tone for each film, as well as providing an opportunity to take the two principal characters in unexpected directions.

Ginger Snaps Poster

Ginger Snaps (2000) Directed by John Fawcett; Written by Karen Walton; Story by John Fawcett; Starring: Emily Perkins, Katharine Isabelle, Kris Lemche, Mimi Rogers and Jesse Moss; Available on Blu-ray and DVD

Rating: ****

“A girl can only be a slut, a bitch, a tease, or the virgin next door.” – Ginger (Katharine Isabelle)  

Ginger Snaps was barely a blip on the radar when it debuted in Canadian theaters. After it failed to score a distribution deal in the States,* director John Fawcett feared that was the final nail in the coffin for his independent werewolf flick. A screening in New York breathed new life into his movie, and it was subsequently picked up by HBO, where it enjoyed heavy rotation. Thanks to home video and positive word of mouth, the little-werewolf-movie-that-could grew to become a cult favorite, as well as a modern genre classic.

Ginger and Brigitte

Gawky teen sisters Ginger and Brigitte* (Katharine Isabelle and Emily Perkins) share an odd sort of symbiosis. Not unlike the eponymous Harold from Harold and Maude, Ginger and Brigitte enjoy staging brutal deaths and filming them – the more revolting, the better. Their long-suffering parents, Pamela (Mimi Rogers) and Henry (John Bourgeois) have come to begrudgingly tolerate their stunts as some sort of weird phase. Being late to the puberty party, they’re further isolated from their high school** peers, so they stick together as one death-obsessed unit, with outgoing Ginger and reclusive Brigitte against the world. But for Ginger, at least, she’s about to undergo a radical transformation. After she’s viciously attacked by a wolflike creature, her body seems to be making up for lost time, as she experiences her first period, and boys begin to take notice of her appearance. The dyad between the sisters begins to splinter, as Ginger begins to discover boys, while wielding her newly discovered sexual charms. But puberty is only the beginning for Ginger, as her body has new, monstrous changes in store. Brigitte becomes increasingly alarmed at her sister’s metamorphosis, and is determined to find a cure. 

* Fun Fact #1: Just after casting Perkins as Brigitte, Fawcett was chagrined to learn that she had cut her hair extremely short. His less-than-elegant solution was to put her in a wig. 

** Fun Fact #2: The various high school PA announcements throughout the film were done by an uncredited Lucy Lawless. At one point, she pages the “Raimi twins, Samuel and Theodore,” to the principal’s office, a fun reference to her longtime working partnership with Sam and Ted Raimi.

Brigitte and Pamela

Mimi Rogers’ amusing supporting performance as the sisters’ peppy but clueless mother Pamela, is well worth noting. She sports one tacky outfit after another (selected by Rogers, herself), and her default coping method for a life-changing event is to bake something. There’s unexpected depth to Pamela (unlike her obtuse husband), as she gets wise to some of the strange and awful things that are occurring around town.


Director Fawcett aimed for a monster that seemed biologically plausible, rather than a product of some magical process. Other than lunar phases being associated with menstrual cycles, the filmmakers didn’t want the moon linked to Ginger’s transformation.* Compared to their hirsute cousins in nearly every other werewolf film, the beasties in this movie were mostly hairless (featuring makeup effects by Paul Jones). Also, unlike most other werewolf depictions, changing into the mythical beast is a one-way street – there’s no reverse transformation from werewolf to human. Likewise, screenwriter Karen Walton wanted veracity in her teen characters. As a result, the characters sound like flesh and blood teens, rather than some idealized Hollywood construct. Walton equates lycanthropy with teens becoming something monstrous, as the culmination of a self-destructive lifestyle. 

* Fun Fact #3: Fawcett joked that it was the first werewolf movie without a shot of the full moon. Although I can’t confirm the veracity of that statement, it’s safe to say few other filmmakers would dare to omit an obligatory shot of the full moon in their werewolf movies.

Ginger with Janitor

If Heathers had been filmed by David Cronenberg,* it might look something like Ginger Snaps. It’s an inspired mix of the comic and the grotesque with an insightful study of human nature, deftly balancing the drama with well-timed comic moments (Walton’s ear for how people talk runs circles around the sequels in the dialogue department). As an intentional departure from genre stereotypes, Ginger Snaps thumbs its muzzle at werewolf lore, while honoring its horror roots, making this an essential addition to the sub-genre. 

* Fun Fact #4: Fawcett and Walton cited several films as the inspiration for Ginger Snaps, including Carrie, Heavenly Creatures, and the films of fellow Canuck, Cronenberg (especially Dead Ringers and The Fly). 


Ginger Snaps 2 Poster

Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed (2004) Directed by Brett Sullivan; Written by Megan Martin; Characters by Karen Walton; Starring: Emily Perkins, Brendan Fletcher, Katharine Isabelle and Tatiana Maslany; Available on Blu-ray and DVD 

Rating: *** 

“You’re healing faster, aren’t you? That shit’s not a cure, you know. It just slows the transformation. It doesn’t stop it, B. Nothing will stop it.” – Ginger (Katharine Isabelle) 

It must have been a daunting task following up one of the most original werewolf movies in years, but director Brett Sullivan and writer Megan Martin did an admirable job with Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed. This time, the focus is on Brigitte, who’s become increasingly withdrawn from society, following the aftermath of the first film. Now afflicted with the same curse as Ginger, the only thing that keeps her transformation at bay is a solution of poisonous monkshood (a relative of wolfsbane), which she injects on a regular basis. Her escalating self-destructive behavior eventually leads her (unwillingly) to a rehab center for young women.

Brigitte and Ginger

If the first film is about lycanthropy as a metaphor for puberty, the second concerns werewolves standing in for the ravages of addiction. Brigitte has become sickly and gaunt, waiting for her next fix of an antidote that isn’t really an antidote. Haunted by the threat of turning into a werewolf, she starts shooting up with greater frequency, but it appears to have a diminishing effect. She finds little solace in her visions of Ginger (reprised by Katharine Isabelle), who mercilessly goads her.

Brigitte and Ghost

The film introduces some interesting characters, including Tyler (Eric Johnson), a loathsome orderly who gives the inpatients the drugs they crave, in exchange for sexual favors. A strange young girl, known only as Ghost (Tatiana Maslany), follows Brigitte around the facility, narrating everything that’s going on, as if she’s writing a story. With Ginger out of the picture, there’s a reversal of roles, with Brigitte standing in as the unwitting surrogate older sister. As we soon learn, however, there’s more to Ghost than Brigitte first suspects.

Brigitte and a Werewolf

The creature effects, employed sparingly, are handled by KNB Effects Group. Instead of the mostly hairless creatures in the first film, the werewolves have a more traditional, furry appearance, which carries over to the third film (also featuring KNB Effects). The annoying rapid-cut shock scenes (especially ubiquitous in the early 2000s) are distracting rather than engaging. It’s disappointing, albeit unsurprising, that Ginger Snaps 2 doesn’t have as much to say as the first movie. Although it’s more like an epilogue to Ginger Snaps, rather than a fully satisfying sequel, it ultimately gets more right than it does wrong.


Ginger Snaps Back Poster

Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning (2004) Directed by Grant Harvey; Written by Christina Ray and Stephen Massicotte; Starring: Katherine Isabelle, Emily Perkins, Nathaniel Arcand, JR Bourne, Hugh Dillon and Brendan Fletcher; Available on Blu-ray and DVD 

Rating: ***   

“The English and the French brought with them their diseases to plague our land. And with them came the Wendigo. This was all foretold. Watched for. And with the Wendigo would come two sisters, the Red and the Black. And their love and their deaths would decide the way of things.” – Hunter (Nathaniel Arcand)

Instead of following the sequence of events in the first two installments, the third Ginger Snaps movie regresses 200 years, to Canada’s pre-history, focusing on Ginger and Brigitte’s ancestors (who conveniently look identical and possess the same names). This time, the setting is a remote outpost, surrounded by hostile assailants.

Burying the Dead

Ginger Snaps Back is essentially a siege film, taking its inspiration from John Carpenter movies such as Assault at Precinct 13 and The Thing. A pervasive sense of dread and paranoia takes hold, as the outpost’s occupants view outsiders Ginger and Brigitte with suspicion. Things drag on a bit long, as we anticipate the inevitable bloody werewolf onslaught, but arrive it does. In this film, the werewolf is an unstoppable supernatural force, a manifestation of the Wendigo legend. A First Nations warrior (Nathaniel Arcand, in an intriguing but underwritten role) protects the sisters from harm, as he watches an ancient prophecy come to fruition.  

Hunter and Elder

Considering its meager budget, Ginger Snaps Back boasts strong production values and some excellent cinematography. It’s too bad the pacing, as well as the dialogue is so inconsistent. Much like the previous installment, it’s a mostly humorless affair, with the witty exchanges of the first film sorely missed. Ginger and Brigitte appear to be transplanted from a different era, speaking contemporary English, while everyone else remains entrenched in the early 19th century. Faults aside, it’s laudable that the filmmakers avoided the easy route, choosing to take the third movie in a completely different direction. Here’s hoping this isn’t the last adventure of Ginger and Brigitte. 


Sources: Shout Factory Blu-ray commentary by John Fawcett; “Ginger Snaps: Blood, Teeth and Fur” (2014 documentary); “A Different Kind of Monster Movie: Writer Karen Walton Reflects on Ginger Snaps 20 Years Later,” by Tatiana Tenreyro, Bloody Disgusting 


Monday, August 8, 2022

The Night of the Werewolf

The Night of the Werewolf Spanish Poster

(1981) Written and directed by Paul Naschy (as Jacinto Molina); Starring: Paul Naschy, Julia Saly, Silvia Aguilar, Azucena Hernández, Beatriz Elorrieta and Pilar Alcón; Available on Blu-ray (Part of the Paul Naschy Collection) and DVD (Out of Print) 

Rating: ***½ 

“The movies I was making not only reflected my spirit and personality, but was the result of a series of circumstances that surrounded the peculiar country of Spain. The Wolf Man created by the English or Americans, like Larry Talbot, had nothing to do with Spanish culture. I guess that’s why my fans are people who know my movies and have been subconsciously affected by all of this, by a very special country that has always been in conflict, which is Spain. This is reflected in my work.” – Paul Naschy (excerpted from a 2002 interview)


Over the course of his career, Paul Naschy* earned a well-deserved reputation as the Spanish Lon Chaney, portraying a variety of boogeymen, including Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, the mummy, and of course, a werewolf. Arguably his best-known character was the eternally doomed Polish nobleman/lycanthrope Waldemar Daninsky (a role he played 12 times). ** The Night of the Werewolf (aka: El Retorno del Hombre Lobo) represented a return to familiar territory, blending old-fashioned Hammer-style gothic atmosphere and pools of blood, with a sprinkling of sex and nudity* for good measure. 

* Fun Fact #1: Jacinto Molina adopted the moniker “Paul Naschy,” in an effort to make his name more marketable to international audiences. According to the prolific actor/filmmaker he chose “Paul” after seeing a picture of Pope Paul VI in a newspaper, and the surname “Naschy” was based on Hungarian weightlifter, Imre Nagy. 

** Fun Fact #2: By comparison Lon Chaney Jr. only played his signature role, Lawrence Talbot (aka: The Wolf Man), five times. 

*** Fun Fact #3: According to Naschy, horror filmmakers were allowed to slip by the persnickety Spanish censors, provided all of the supernatural mayhem took place in a different country.

Erika Revives Elizabeth Bathory

In the film’s prologue, set in 16th Century Hungary, we witness a tribunal, where Countess Elizabeth Báthory (Julia Saly) and her confederates are punished for their sadistic crimes against humanity. Compared to her cohorts, Báthory receives a veritable slap on the wrist, confined to her chambers for the rest of her life, while her accomplices are sentenced to death. Most notable among the doomed, is Polish nobleman Waldemar Daninsky (Paul Naschy),* who moonlights as a werewolf (under the control of Báthory, he preyed on hundreds of villagers). But (Surprise!) death isn’t the end for Báthory and her troublesome troupe. Skip forward several centuries, when diligent archeology student Erika (Silvia Aguilar) is hot on the trail of the site that houses Báthory’s not-so-final resting place. Erika, whose ambition is only matched by her ruthlessness, strangles her mentor (Narciso Ibáñez Menta) and takes his amulet, which holds the key to bringing the evil countess back to life. Meanwhile, a wealthy collector and his lackey unwittingly bring Daninsky back to life by removing a silver cross from his chest. If Erika’s previous exploits weren’t enough to convince you of her malevolent intentions, she brings along two of her nubile colleagues, Barbara (Pilar Alcón) and Karen (Azucena Hernández), just so she can sacrifice them. Proving how cutthroat the field of archeology can be, Erika suspends Barbara’s body above Báthory’s crypt, puncturing her neck. In return for Erika’s loyalty, the newly revived Báthory bites her number one fan in the neck, adding her to the ranks of the undead. 

* Fun Fact #4: Unlike Elizabeth Báthory, don’t bother searching for Waldemar Daninsky in the history books. Naschy derived his venerable character’s name from Polish weightlifting champion Waldemar Baszanowski.


Since Naschy is the star of the movie, we’ll conveniently forget about all those murders that occurred several hundred years ago, so he can emerge as the nominal hero. In an early scene, he comes to Erika and her friends’ rescue when they’re ambushed and assaulted by bandits. 300 years of slumber haven’t dulled Daninsky’s impulse to settle the score with Báthory and stop her growing league of vampire minions. To reinforce Daninsky as a sympathetic character, there’s a brief poignant moment (paralleling a shot in Jean Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast) in which the werewolf regards his reflection in a pool of water with contempt. Karen plays Beauty to Naschy’s Beast, whose unconditional love for Daninsky can set him free.

Bathory vs. Daninsky

Julia Saly seems to be having a blast as Elizabeth Báthory, and why not? Along with her vampire henchwomen, she’s a formidable opponent for Daninsky – a force of nature to be reckoned with. Compared to Báthory, goody-two-shoes Karen couldn’t be anything but bland. The closest thing to a tragic figure is Mircalla (Beatriz Elorrieta), Daninsky’s live-in caretaker. Although persecuted by the villagers as a witch (half of Mircalla’s body is horribly scarred from an attempt to burn her), she’s a force of good, protecting her benefactor and Karen from harm. She scarcely hides the fact that she’s also in love with Daninsky, but no thanks to her hideous appearance, she remains squarely entrenched in the friend zone (Yeah, so much for “It’s what’s inside that counts.”).

Vampire Attack

Despite some creaky elements, recycled from countless other monster movies, The Night of the Werewolf never fails to entertain. It’s the equivalent of cinematic comfort food, packed with the usual trappings we’ve come to expect from modern gothic horror: a tortured protagonist, a shadowy castle shrouded in fog, comely women clad in diaphanous nightgowns (carrying an unwieldly candelabra, no less). If one ignored the movie’s origins, it could almost be confused with a Hammer production (if Hammer played fast and loose with their properties). It’s an irresistible blend of trashy and sublime that hooks you in from the first reel. Who wouldn’t want to see Elizabeth Bathory and her vampire horde versus a werewolf, in a struggle for ultimate power? It’s the historical smackdown we so richly deserved, if reality hadn’t denied us.


Sources: “Paul Naschy: Interview with the Werewolf,” 2002 Blue Underground interview; Paul Naschy wiki