Ratings Key



★★★★
= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
★★★
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Night Visitor, The (1971)

... aka: L'assassino arriva sempre alle 10 (The Murderer Always Arrives at 10)
... aka: Lunatic
... aka: O visitante inesperado (An Unexpected Visitor)
... aka: Papegojan
... aka: Perfekte Rache (Perfect Revenge)
... aka: Salem Come to Supper
... aka: Tappaja yöstä (The Night Killer)

Directed by:
László Benedek

The first image we see in The Night Visitor is of a tall stone building silently sitting atop a snow-covered hill at night. A shadowed figure soon comes into frame, scales down the rocky embankment and begins hurriedly running through the woods. When the figure finally comes into view, we realize the guy's wearing only a t-shirt, underwear and boots. No, he's not a member of the Polar Bear Club, but an escapee from that tall building (an insane asylum), and he - Salem (Max von Sydow) - is about to head home. Er, what used to be his home. Once he arrives, he sneaks inside through an upstairs window and makes it there just in time to eavesdrop on an argument his sister Emmie (Hanne Bork) is having with their other sister Ester (Liv Ullmann) and her husband Anton (Per Oscarrson). Ester and Anton want to sell the home and farm and move elsewhere so that Anton, a doctor, can make more money. Emmie refuses. As for Salem, he has other ideas in mind, namely revenge for being convicted for a crime he may not have actually committed.






Salem steals a neck tie, a syringe and three bottles of morphine from the doctor's bag and manages to run back outside without being noticed. His first stop is the bedroom of a startled young girl named Britt (Lotte Freddie). After strangling her to death, he sneaks back into his former home to return the tie and bashes in Emmie's skull while he's there. Salem makes sure his presence known to his brother-and-law before fleeing into the night once again. When a police inspector (Trevor Howard) shows up to look into matters, Anton finds himself in the rather precarious situation of having to explain matters. Not only were his tie and his paper weight used to kill both victims, but the man he claims has murdered them had never even left his cell at the asylum. That is, according to the hospital staff, who claim he's carefully locked up in his cell each and every night. The Inspector even goes on a tour of the drafty seaside hospital and learns from Dr. Kemp (Andrew Keir) just how impossible it would be to escape from there. Of course, where there's a will, there's a way.






All of these bizarre events transpire because someone took an axe to an inquisitive farmhand who stumbled upon something incriminating two years earlier. Salem, who had full control of the farm prior to being incarcerated, ended up taking the fall despite having no hand in the crime. That turns out not to be coincidental or a miscarriage of justice, but a frame-up by design. Both of his sisters, his girlfriend, his brother-in-law and his worthless lawyer (Rupert Davies), who was paid off to change the plea from innocent to guilty by reason of insanity, all had a hand in getting him put away. But there's nothing like spending two years in a nuthouse to get the cerebral hamster wheel spinning and Salem has devised an ingenious way to finally get his revenge.






A great film in many ways, this is well-made and nicely shot by Henning Kristiansen, has an effectively minimalist score from Henry Mancini, is very well acted (especially by von Sydow) and boasts a very clever premise. One particularly interesting touch is a talking parrot that ends up becoming the 'Poe Black Cat' of the story. There's wonderfully chilly atmosphere, with the windy, wintry landscapes of Scandinavia (parts were filmed in both Sweden and at the Asa and Laterna Studios in Copenhagen, Denmark) making for a perfect backdrop.

People frequently compare this to Ingmar Bergman and that's one thing I cannot really agree with. Sure, it was filmed in Sweden and, sure, it features Bergman stars von Sydow and Ullmann, but the similarities pretty much end right there. I wish it were true, though. This film suffers most from shallow characterizations and a curious absence of psychological depth, so if anything it could have used a little shot of Bergman. The best moments here are found in the suspense department and the director has managed to stage several great, heart-racing sequences. The resolution is simultaneously clever and unsatisfying; clever in that it's completely unexpected and unsatisfying because it doesn't feel fully realized.






This was the second-to-last film for Hungarian-born director Benedek, who began his career in Europe at the tail end of the silent era and eventually came to the states to work for MGM. His greatest claims to fame came early on: directing the classic adaptation of Arthur Miller's play Death of a Salesman (1951), which won him a Golden Globe, and then following that up with the controversial (and now somewhat iconic) biker flick The Wild One (1953) starring Marlon Brandon. While the latter was a hit with teenagers, it caused a stir with critics and conservative moralist groups at the time and was even banned in several countries. Its success was sort of a double-edged sword for the director, who'd spent most of the rest of his career working on television. While Visitor isn't all that widely-seen, it's still probably the director's most widely-seen outside of the two films just mentioned. Actor Mel Ferrer was the producer.





Visitor debuted in February 7th, 1971 in Sweden (under the title Papegojan) and would make its U.S. debut (distributed by Universal Marion Films with a GP / PG rating) just three days later in New York City under the Night Visitor title. A critical blurb from Look Magazine used in many of the ads - "If your flesh doesn't crawl, it's on too tight!" - was later reused as a tagline for Bob Clark's proto-slasher BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974). The reviews were mixed and it quickly sank from view. In 1981, it was briefly re-released by 21st Century Film Corporation under the new title "Lunatic" and again disappeared. United / VCI Home Video released it on VHS at least three different times here in America (twice in the 80s and once in 1991) but it took them until late 2013 to finally get this one out on DVD. I didn't watch the new remastered version, but I'm sure you already knew that looking at the screen caps.

★★

The 2015 Orloks - 1979 Results

Started many moons ago by Prof-Hieronymos-Grost, the Orloks were a yearly poll on the IMDb horror boards where users submitted Top 5 lists of their favorite horror movies for each year. All of the results were then tabulated to come up with a definitive list of the year's most-liked genre offerings. Alas, when the good Professor decided to depart the boards years ago, the awards went with him... that is until now. IMDb-er seth_yeah - taking on responsibilities as both host and calculator - has decided to bring back this long-standing tradition in 2015, and now the awards will have a permanent place right here on this blog. Scoring is rather simple and done on a weighted system where first choice receives 5 points, second choice 4 points, etc., with a +1 bonus then awarded to the #1 selection on each list. IMDb release years are being used, but it is left up to voters to determine what they may or may not consider horror (which may be in conflict with IMDb's genre labeling system). If you'd like to participate, head on over to the IMDb HORROR BOARDS to vote! So without any further ado, the results...

_________________________________________________________________________________

1979
Top 5
* * * * * * * * * *
1. Alien
UK, USA / 116 points / Ridley Scott
* * * * * * * * * *
2. Phantasm
USA / 62 points / Don Coscarelli
* * * * * * * * * *
3. Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht (Nosferatu the Vampyre)
France, West Germany / 43 points / Werner Herzog
* * * * * * * * * *
4. The Brood
Canada / 40 points / David Cronenberg
* * * * * * * * * *
5. Salem's Lot
USA [TV] / 37 points / Tobe Hooper

_________________________________________________________________________________

Making the Top 10:

6. Zombi 2 (Zombie) / Italy / 32 points / Lucio Fulci
7. Buio Omega (Beyond the Darkness; Buried Alive) / Italy / 19 points / Joe D'Amato
8. Tourist Trap / USA / 17 points / David Schmoeller
9. (tie) Fascination / France / 11 points / Jean Rollin
9. (tie) Thirst / Australia / 11 points / Rod Hardy
10. Fukushû suru wa ware ni ari (Vengeance Is Mine) / Japan / 10 points / Shôhei Imamura

_________________________________________________________________________________

Others receiving votes:

- Amityville Horror, The / USA / Stuart Rosenberg
- Apocalypse Now / USA / Francis Ford Coppola
- Arrebato (Rapture) / Spain / Iván Zulueta
- Dip bin (The Butterfly Murders) / Hong Kong / Hark Tsui
- Don't Go in the House / USA / Joseph Ellison
- Dracula / UK, USA / John Badham
- Driller Killer, The / USA / Abel Ferrara
- El caminante (The Traveler) / Spain / Paul Naschy
- 'Hukkunud Alpinisti' hotell (The Dead Mountaineer Hotel) / Soviet Union / Grigori Kromanov
- La tía Alejandra (Aunt Alejandra) / Mexico / Arturo Ripstein
- Murder by Natural Causes / USA [TV] / Robert Day
- Prophecy / USA / John Frankenheimer
- Schalcken the Painter / UK [TV] / Leslie Megahey
- Screams of a Winter Night / USA / James L. Wilson
- Silent Scream, The / USA / Denny Harris
- When a Stranger Calls / USA / Fred Walton
_________________________________________________________________________________

Links here will be connected when the time comes:

< Back to 1978                    Continue to 1980 >

The 2015 Orloks - 2007 Results

Started many moons ago by Prof-Hieronymos-Grost, the Orloks were a yearly poll on the IMDb horror boards where users submitted Top 5 lists of their favorite horror movies for each year. All of the results were then tabulated to come up with a definitive list of the year's most-liked genre offerings. Alas, when the good Professor decided to depart the boards years ago, the awards went with him... that is until now. IMDb-er seth_yeah - taking on responsibilities as both host and calculator - has decided to bring back this long-standing tradition in 2015, and now the awards will have a permanent place right here on this blog. Scoring is rather simple and done on a weighted system where first choice receives 5 points, second choice 4 points, etc., with a +1 bonus then awarded to the #1 selection on each list. IMDb release years are being used, but it is left up to voters to determine what they may or may not consider horror (which may be in conflict with IMDb's genre labeling system). If you'd like to participate, head on over to the IMDb HORROR BOARDS to vote! So without any further ado, the results...

_________________________________________________________________________________

2007
Top 5
* * * * * * * * * *

1. À l'intérieur (Inside)
France / 62 points / Alexander Bustillo and Julien Maury
* * * * * * * * * *
2. [REC]
Spain / 39 points / Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza.
* * * * * * * * * *
3. End of the Line
Canada / 24 points / Maurice Devereaux
* * * * * * * * * *
4. Trick 'r Treat
USA / 22 points / Michael Dougherty
* * * * * * * * * *
5. Black Water
Australia / 18 points / David Nerlich and Andrew Traucki.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Making the Top 10:

6. El orfanato (The Orphanage) / Spain / 17 points / J.A. Bayona
7. (tie) Diary of the Dead / USA / 15 points / George A. Romero
7. (tie) Mist, The / USA / 15 points / Frank Darabont
8. (tie) Ekusute (Exte: Hair Extensions) / Japan / 14 points / Shino Sono
8. (tie) Grindhouse / USA / 14 points / Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino (trailers by Eli Roth, Edgar Wright and Rob Zombie)
9. (tie) Signal, The / USA / 10 points / David Bruckner, Dan Bush and Jacob Gentry
9. (tie) Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street / UK, USA / 10 points / Tim Burton
9. (tie) Vacancy / USA / 10 points / Nimród Antal
10. (tie) Paranormal Activity / USA / 9 points / Oren Peli
10. (tie) 30 Days of Night / USA / 9 points / David Slade

_________________________________________________________________________________

Others receiving votes:

- Black Cat, The ("Masters of Horror" series) / Canada, USA / Stuart Gordon
- Botched / Germany, Ireland, UK, USA /  Kit Ryan
- Brad Dead / USA / Kevin S. Tenney
- Dead Silence / USA / James Wan
- Disappearance of Jenna Matheson, The / USA / AJ Wedding
- Down the Road / Denmark / Run Christensen
- 1408 / USA / Mikael Håfström
- Frontière(s) (Frontier[s]) / France, Switzerland / Xavier Gens
- Funny Games / Austria, France, Germany, Italy, UK, USA / Michael Haneke
- Girl Next Door, The / USA / Gregory Wilson
- Goregasm / USA / Jason Matherne
- Halloween / USA / Rob Zombie
- Hansel and Gretel (Henjel gwa Geuretel) / South Korea / Pil-Sung Yim
- Headless Horseman / Romania, USA / Anthony C. Ferrante
- Hostel: Part II / USA / Eli Roth
- Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer / Canada / Jon Knautz
- Joshua / USA / George Ratliff
- Kafuka: Inaka isha (Franz Kafka's a Country Doctor) / Japan / Koji Yamamura
- Milk Teeth / UK / Tibor Banoczki
- My Name Is Bruce / USA / Bruce Campbell
- Outpost / UK / Steve Barker
- Pearce Sisters, The / UK / Luis Cook
- Peur(s) du noir (Fear[s] of the Dark) / France / Blutch, Charles Burns, Marie Caillou, three more
- Planet Terror / USA / Robert Rodriguez
- Poughkeepsie Tapes, The / USA / John Erick Dowdle
- Razortooth / USA / Patricia Harrington
- Right to Die ("Masters of Horror" series) / Canada, USA / Rob Schmidt
- Rogue / Australia / Greg Mclean
- Shuteye Hotel / USA / Bill Plympton
- Snuff 102 / Argentina / Mariano Peralta
- Spegelbarn (Looking Glass) / Denmark, Finland, Sweden / Erik Rosenlund
- Stuck / USA / Stuart Gordon
- Teeth / USA / Mitchell Lichtenstein
- 28 Weeks Later / UK, Spain / Juan Carlos Fresnadillo
- Xin zhong you gui (The Matrimony) / China / Hua-Tao Teng
- Zibahkhana (Hell's Ground) / Pakistan, UK / Omar Khan
- Zombie Love / Netherlands, USA / Yfke Van Berckelaer
- Zombie Town / USA / Damon Lemay
_________________________________________________________________________________

Links here will be connected when the time comes.

< Back to 2006                    Continue to 2008 >

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