The Sentinel

(1977, rated R) Chris Serandon (Michael Lerner), Christina Raines (Alison Parker), Martin Balsam (Professor Ruzinsky), John Carridine (Father Halloran), José Ferrer (Robed Figure), Ava Gardner (Miss Logan), Arthur Kennedy (Monsignor Franchino), Burgess Meredith (Charles Chasen), Sylvia Miles (Gerda), Deborah Raffin (Jennifer), Eli Wallach (Detective Gatz), Christopher Walken (Rizzo), Jerry Orbach (Film Director), Jeff Goldblum (Jack). Music: Gil Mellé. Screenplay: Michael Winner (based on the book by Jeffrey Konvtiz). Director: Michael Winner. 92 minutes.

Tags: Horror, Suspense, Kitsch

Notable: Jeff Goldblum almost invisible; Christopher Walken with about three lines; presentation of a lesbian couple (who are, of course, evil).

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Model Alison Parker catches a great deal on a Brooklyn apartment, with her few neighbors being a bit eccentric, particularly the old, blind priest, Father Halloran in the upper floor apartment who sits in the window, staring at nothing, and never moves. It takes some time for her and her lawyer lover, Michael Lerner, to discover that the building is actually the gateway to Hell… and Alison has been invited to join the occupants of the building permanently. Continue reading “The Sentinel”

The Manitou

By Graham Masterton
ISBN 1587541033

Publication Year: 1975

Tags: Horror, Native American

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Harry Erskine is a phony clairvoyant who reads Tarot cards for a living. One of his “wealthy old ladies” has a niece, Karen Tandy, who has been having disturbing dreams and, perhaps coincidentally, has developed a strange lump on the back of her neck. Growing at an astonishing rate — measurable in centimeters per hour — the lump has some of the characteristics of a developing fetus. Piecing together clues both material and psychic, Harry believes this to be the impending reincarnation of a Native American Medicine Man from 300 years in the past, returning to reclaim the land from the White Man. If he grows to maturity, if he escapes Karen Tandy’s body, the girl will be the first to die… and the body count will only grow larger… Continue reading “The Manitou”

The Traveler

(2010, R) Val Kilmer (Mr. Nobody), Dylan Neal (Det. Alexander Black), Paul McGillium (Dep. Pine), Camille Sullivan (Dep. Hollows), Nels Lennarson (Dep. Sherwood), Christopher Gauthier (Desk Sgt. Gulloy), John Cassini (Dept. Hawkins). Music: Ross Vanelli. Screenplay: Joseph C. Huscat. Director: Michael Oblowitz. 91 minutes.

Tags: Thriller, Horror, Revenge

Notable: A few good twists on an old trope, with a deus ex puellita ending.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

A drifter walks into a police station on a rainy Christmas Eve to confess to a series of murders, none of which has happened… yet. A terrible thing happened in this police station a year ago, and those involved are about to discover that karma is, indeed, a bitch. Continue reading “The Traveler”

The Halloween Tree

By Ray Bradbury
ISBN 0-375-80301-7

Publication Year: 1972

Tags: Fantasy, Horror, Youth

Rating: ★★★★★

All the boys lament: How can there be Halloween without Pipkin? The light-footed lad may miss his tricks and treats this year, for he has been whisked away on a journey into the world of Halloween itself, and it could mean his life or death. His eight friends must follow him, guided by the mysterious Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud and the symbols upon the Halloween Tree, to fly through all of space and time to learn the terrifying history of Halloween, from ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt, through the Druids, medieval Notre Dame, and the Day of the Dead, with Pipkin always just ahead, waiting, calling, seeking the very roots of Halloween itself … Continue reading “The Halloween Tree”

The Horror at 37,000 Feet

(1973, not rated) Chuck Connors (Cpt. Ernie Slade), Buddy Ebsen (Glen Farley), Tammy Grimes (Mrs. Pinder), Lyn Loring (Manya), Jane Merrow (Sheila O’Neill), France Nuyen (Annalique), William Shatner (Paul Kovalik), Roy Thinnes (Alan O’Neill), Paul Winfield (Dr. Enkala), Russell Johnson (Jim Hawley, flight engineer), Will Hutchins (Steve Holcomb), Darleen Carr (Margot), Brende Benet (Sally), H. M. Wynant (Frank Driscoll, co-pilot). Music: Morton Stevens. Screenplay: Ron Austin & James Bucchanan (story by V. X. Appleton). Director: David Lowell Rich. 76 minutes.

Tags: Horror, Made-For-TV, Druids

Notable: Music by The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and  Hawaii Five-O’s Morton Stevens

Rating: ★★★★☆

A chartered 747 jet departs Heathrow airport bearing ten passengers, a crew of five, and 11,000 pounds of “architectural features” — part of an English abbey being transported back to the U.S. Small mysteries grow larger as the plane appears to be facing a 600mph headwind, stuck in mid-air as if held there, and the passengers and crew are struck by invisible tormentors. It is the night of the summer solstice, the altar stone of the abbey was once part of a site where Drudic ritual sacrifices were held… and the ancient spirits are demanding their due. Continue reading “The Horror at 37,000 Feet”

Eyes of Laura Mars

(1978, R) Faye Dunaway (Laura Mars), Tommy Lee Jones (Lt. John Neville), Brad Dourif (Tommy Ludlow), René Auberjonois (Donald Phelps), Raul Julia (Michael Reisler, listed as R.J. in the opening credits), Frank Adonis (Sal Volpe), Bill Boggs (himself). Music: Roy Budd. Screenplay: John Carpenter and David Zelag Goodman (story by John Carpenter). Director: Irvin Kirshner. 103 minutes.

Tags: Mystery, Suspense, Psychic

Notable: John Carpenter after Halloween but before The Fog; title song, “Prisoner,” sung by Barbara Streisand; if you look quick, you can see UMP on a building in the apparently low-rent district!

Rating: ★★★★☆

Fashion and artistic photographer Laura Mars discovers that she has been seeing visions of violence and murder and, without knowing it, recreating authentic reproductions of crime scenes in her work. Police Lieutenant John Neville thinks that Laura may actually have committed the murders in a form of split-personality fugue state. Her claim is that she witnesses the crimes, not as an outside observer, but through the eyes of the killer. The killings become personal as her publisher, her publicist, and two of her models are hideously murdered. How many more must die before she can discover the gruesome secret behind the murderer’s connection to her? Continue reading “Eyes of Laura Mars”

The Taking

By Dean Koontz
ISBN-13 978-0553593501

Publication Year: 2004

Tags: Horror, Suspense

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

From the book cover: On the morning that marks the end of the world they have known, Molly and Neil Sloan awaken to the drumbeat of rain on their roof. A luminous silvery downpour is drenching their small California mountain town. It has haunted their sleep, invaded their dreams, and now, in the moody purple dawn, the young couple cannot shake the sense of something terribly wrong. As the hours pass, Molly and Neil listen to disturbing news of extreme weather phenomena across the globe. By nightfall, their little town loses all contact with the outside world. A thick fog transforms the once-friendly village into a ghostly labyrinth. And soon the Sloans and their neighbors will be forced to draw on reserves of courage and humanity they never knew they had. For within the misty gloom they will encounter something that reveals in a shattering instant what is happening to their world—something that is hunting them with ruthless efficiency. Continue reading “The Taking”

Nightflyers

(1987, Rated R) Catherine Mary Stewart (Miranda), Michael Praed (Royd), John Standing (Dr. D’Branin), Lisa Blount (Audrey), Glenn Withrow (Keelor), James Avery (Darryl), Hélene Udy (Lilly), Annabel Brooks (Eliza Scott), Michael Des Barres (Jon Winderman). Music: Doug Timm. Screenplay: Robert Jaffe (based on the novella by George R. R. Martin). Director: T. C. Blake. 90 minutes.

Tags: Science Fiction, Horror, Suspense

Notable: Dark sci-fi long before George R. R. Martin became Game of Thrones; comparatively low-budget film makes good use of atmosphere and suspense to supplant glitzy special effects.

Rating: ★★★★☆

In hope of finding an alien life form known as the Volcryn, a research professor is granted a small crew for a deep-space journey. The limited budget leads to the hiring of a computer-operated freighter called the Nightflyer, whose sole crew is Royd, the captain, who appears only as a hologram. Following a trail of weak psychic energy which may be the wake of the Volcryn’s journey through the galaxy, events on-board the ship lead the research team to wonder if the greater mystery lies within the ship itself. Continue reading “Nightflyers”

Signs

(2002, rated PG-13) Mel Gibson (Graham Hess), Joaquin Phoenix (Merrill Hess), Rory Culkin (Morgan Hess), Abigail Breslin (Bo Hess), Cherry Jones (Officer Paski), Ray Reddy (M. Night Shyamalan), Patricia Kalember (Colleen Hess). Music: James Newton Howard. Screenplay: M. Night Shyamalan. Director: M. Night Shyamalan. 106 minutes.

Tags: Horror, Suspense, Kitsch, Stupid

Notable: Apart from indicating just how bad Shyamalan can be, not a helluva lot.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Well, there’s two hours of my life that I won’t get back.

Former minister Graham Hess (Gibson) wakes to find a 500-foot crop circle in his cornfield. As worldwide reports show similar, nearly identical crop circles all over the globe, people begin to fear that this is not a hoax, like the ones in the early 1980s; aliens really are here, and no one knows if they’re friendly or not. After sightings of ships and actual aliens, the world throws itself into panic, and they fear that the human race may be run. Hunkering down in his farm home with his brother Merrill (Phoenix) and two children (Culkin and Breslin), Hess must find a way to survive the possible “end times” without the power of his faith. Continue reading “Signs”

The Wicker Man (1973)

(1973, R) Edward Woodward (Sgt,. Howie), Christopher Lee (Lord Summerisle), Diane Cilento (Miss Rose), Britt Ekland (Willow), Ingrid Pitt (Librarian), Lindsay Kemp (Alder MacGreagor), Russell Waters (Harbour Master), Aubrey Morris (Old Caretaker/Gravedigger). Music: Paul Giovanni (performed by “Magnet”; “Corn Rigs” sung by Paul Giovanni). Screenplay: Anthony Shaffer. Director: Robin Hardy. 88 minutes.

Tags: Thriller, Suspense, Horror

Notable: Britt Ekland before she became a “Bond girl”; Edward Woodward’s first leading film role

Rating: ★★★★☆

A hard-nosed, devoutly Christian police officer from the mainland, Sgt. Howie (Woodward), is sent to the Island of Summerisle to search for a missing young girl. What he finds is a small, isolated population devoted to the faith and practices of the “Old Gods,” with all the accompanying pagan sensuality, nature worship, rites, and rituals, along with a firmly-established wall of secrecy and misdirection from every person on the island. Continue reading “The Wicker Man (1973)”