13 Ghosts (1960)

13 Ghosts

I was having such an enjoyable non-Halloween movie watching day with 4 John Candy movies in a row. So relaxing, but horror calls and I answer. Today I watched the original 1960’s 13 Ghosts. I had not seen this William Castle movie, in several years and I could not reckon whether I enjoyed it or not. Well, I don’t love it, but it is not the worst horror film ever made. The move would be pretty good actually, if it were not for the gimmicky nature of the plot and the whole goggles thing to accompany the Illusion-O aspect of the film. What is Illusion-O you ask? In the theaters, scenes involving ghosts were shown in a “process” dubbed Illusion-O: the filmed elements of the actors and the sets — everything except the ghosts — were displayed in regular black-and-white, while the ghost elements were tinted a pale blue and superimposed over the frame. Audiences received viewers with red and blue cellophane filters. Choosing to look through the red filter intensified the images of the ghosts, while the blue filter “removed” them. Castle’s claims to the contrary, not many heart attacks or nervous breakdowns were averted by the Illusion-O process; although the blue filter did screen out the ghostly images, the ghosts were visible with the naked eye, without the red filter. They were far from horrifying: they were cartoonish drawings that had no animated movement and would just float — or not — around the frame. They were about as visible, and as frightening, as their depictions on the poster at the top of this article.

I am starting to feel like a factory worker with these movies, watching the film sort of like I am labeling a can of peas. It is an unforeseen consequence of this horrible experiment.

Poltergeist Wallpaper

I always put Poltergeist into Halloween Movie Madness selection and for good reason. The film feels quintessentially 80s with its product placement and Reaganomics boom town feel. It is well acted and most importantly, even though its an older film, it is still creepy. I salute you Poltergeist, with this awesome desktop wallpaper. Thank-you for helping me forget some of the bad movies I have watched this month.

poltergeist wallpaper

Horror Express (1972)

horror express

“Horror Express” used to be on TV all the time in the early 80s, but around the mid-1980 they stopped showing it. I would say around 1986, was the last time I saw it, but I had positive memories. So I was looking forward to today’s movie. (drumroll) Boy did I remember right (whew). Peter Cushing, Christoper Lee AND Telly Savalas are all great. If I could go back in time and pull a duo from the past to make movies with, I am thinking I would pick Cushing and Lee. They play off each other so well and just chew through dialogue. I would just team them up and have them defeat modern horror villains. Cushing would play a prissy British Lord and Lee would play a former 1960s British Swing. They would defeat Jigsaw and Capture Hannibal Lechter with wit and aplomb. Oh, if only. OK, back to “Horror Express”. Just because Cushing and Lee are great doesn’t mean Savalas is a slouch, he in fact steals the movie when he is on screen, the only problem is that his role is limited.

The move has everything you could want in a horror film. A monster, zombies, compelling and flawed heroes, Russian Cossacks and it is all set on a train. The movie was done on a tight budget $300K, but with the claustrophobic train setting and great acting you won’t notice. Why don’t they re-make weird and interesting movies like this one? Why are you still reading this? Go watch “Horror Express”!

House on Haunted Hill (1959)

Vincent Price

I wanted to see this movie from a very early age. Not just because I have an obsession with Vincent Price, but because my mother recalled seeing it with my father when they dated in High School at some third run movie house. She would tell me it was very scary and I anticipated that when I saw it the first time. Let me tell you something, 1960s scary is in no way the same as 1980s scary (when I first saw it). Still because of her stories, the movie holds a special place in my heart and I watch it every Halloween when I can and try to picture two carefree kids at a rundown movie house in NJ, trying to get a good scare.

Watch House on Haunted Hill (1959) for free on Hulu

The Terror (1963)

the terror

The Terror was an interesting little low budget gem I watched this morning. It is a typical Roger Corman classic, which means it is decent, despite Corman’s rush job. This is due mainly to the performances of the movie’s two leads – a very old Boris Karloff and a very young Jack Nicholson. The plot is not that important, but here it is: A baron rules over an isolated castle on the Baltic coast, where a Napoleonic officer appears after becoming intrigued by the presence of a mysterious and beautiful woman. Nicholson is great and you can see future star written all over him. Karloff is looking his age in this flick, but is still in every way Nicholson’s equal. Now if the movie was not in the public domain, I might not say you should see it, but since you can stream it off many free sites, why not just put it on in the background and watch for some of the scenes with Jack in them. You will not be disappointed. Watch the Terror for free online at YouTube or Hulu.

This is a really useful movie for people who like to play Six Degrees of Separation. Linking Nicholson to a golden age of horror star is very useful.