Thanksgiving (2023)


Eli Roth


Patrick Dempsey - Sheriff Eric Newton

Nell Verlaque - Jessica Wright

Addison Rae - Gabby

Jalen Thomas Brooks - Bobby

Milo Manheim - Ryan

Rick Hoffman - Thomas Wright

Gina Gershon - Amanda Collins

Tomaso Sanelli - Evan

Gabriel Davenport - Scuba

Jenna Warren - Yulia

Karen Cliche - Kathleen

Ty Olsson - Mitch Collins

Genre - Horror/Slasher

Running Time - 106 Minutes


An axe-wielding maniac terrorizes residents of Plymouth, Mass., after a Black Friday riot ends in tragedy. Picking off victims one by one, the seemingly random revenge killings soon become part of a larger, sinister plan.


Back in 2007, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino released a double-feature called GRINDHOUSE - an unfortunate box-office miss but a huge cult classic that showcased Rodriguez’s PLANET TERROR and Tarantino’s DEATH PROOF, as well as fake trailers that ended up being discussion points all their own. Probably the most popular trailer was for Eli Roth’s THANKSGIVING, a homage to old school slashers focused around popular holidays. It gained enough buzz that Roth teased it would become an actual film.

For a while, hope for a THANKSGIVING movie lost traction as Eli Roth was more focused on other projects either as a director, actor or producer. But soon enough, Roth confirmed it was happening and we started getting photos and footage of the production. So after 16 years, THANKSGIVING was finally released in time for the actual holiday. But was it worth the wait or a total disappointment?

I can happily say that not only is THANKSGIVING worth the wait and a very cool slasher movie, but it’s also one of Eli Roth’s best films - at least his best one since probably CABIN FEVER. THANKSGIVING is a slasher that knows what it is, playing as a old-school whodunit slasher rather than your modern self-aware slasher film like SCREAM. And honestly, that’s actually refreshing in this modern horror scene. I was happy to see archetypal characters hitting those expected tropes, with a nice bit of depth to each of them as well. Add in a mystery to our Killer Pilgrim and we got ourselves a fun, little slasher flick here.

I appreciated the simplicity of the story, as it’s your typical revenge slasher film where the mysterious killer is targeting the protagonists due to being part of a sin, or crime, that the killer feels must be dealt with. In THANKSGIVING, the first ten or fifteen minutes involves a Black Friday event gone really wrong, as frustrated customers rush into a store for a free waffle iron while pushing, attacking, trampling and killing random people inside the store. One of the victims is a close friend of the killer, causing them to want vengeance on a bunch of teenagers who snuck into the store [the Final Girl’s dad owns the establishment].

Unfortunately, I figured out the killer’s identity right when the inciting incident happened. But the film does play it smart in making a few of the characters red herrings. The Final Girl Jessica has two love interests - one who was injured during the Black Friday incident and disappeared for a while before returning, and another who has money and looks down at some of her friends - both who have motive. The former manager of the store makes it known he wants to take the corporation down, especially since his wife was murdered during Black Friday. We have the owner of the store [Jessica’s dad] and his greedy new wife. We have the Sheriff of the town who was there. We also have an A-hole jock and his more heroic A-hole jock friend. There’s also a new Deputy who doesn’t mind wearing the Pilgrim mask from time to time. The characters have enough depth beyond their archetypes to give each one of them reason to want revenge on what happened. 

And the film plays out like an old school slasher should. We have characters acting stupid and doing dumb things that get them into trouble. We have characters who seem villainous who are actually misunderstood. We have characters who seem heroic but are just hiding secrets that relate to the Black Friday fiasco. There are side characters who are just there to increase the body count. And there are some great murder sequences - including someone getting baked inside a giant oven, impaled through the head, sliced in half by a dumpster and even fire. Some of the kills from the original 2007 trailer do make it in, like the Thanksgiving Parade decapitation. The trampoline scene is here, but it’s done differently and not as impactful. And no human turkeys get sexually assaulted, as times have changed since 2007. I do wish the double decapitation bit from the trailer was included though, as that was some of the funniest stuff in the trailer. But this version of THANKSGIVING plays things more seriously, so I can understand why it’s not included.

To say that THANKSGIVING is Eli Roth’s best looking and most polished film is an understatement. There’s a confidence here, as Roth probably had this film playing in his head for almost two decades, knowing exactly what shots he was gonna do and how he was going to visually play the story out. The gore looks great. The flow is pretty much exceptional. There’s actual tension and suspense. And when humor is used, it’s actually pretty funny. Roth also uses locations well, making them characters of their own. And as you watch, it’s obvious he was inspired by other slasher films. The opening is a take on the opening scene of the original HALLOWEEN. The Thanksgiving Parade is straight out of 1997’s I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER. There’s a Thanksgiving dinner scene that’s obviously a homage to 1981’s HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME. And we have a love angle that seems to be inspired by 1981’s MY BLOODY VALENTINE. Just really cool how Roth incorporated all of this to make a fun throwback slasher.

The cast is good as well. Nell Verlaque is solid as Jessica, the Final Girl who is smart and aware of bad things when they happen. Verlaque is sympathetic and likable. Patrick Dempsey returns to horror as Sheriff Newton, portraying a convincing authority figure who sometimes seems over his head when it comes to the slashings. Jalen Thomas Brooks is good as Bobby, Jessica’s returning ex-boyfriend. While he comes across as reliable and likable, some of Brooks’ actions for his character make you question his true motives. Same goes to Milo Manheim as Ryan, Jessica’s current boyfriend who seems to have a chip on his shoulder, making you wonder what his deal is. Addison Rae, Gabriel Davenport and especially Tomaso Sanelli are good as Jessica’s friends - especially Saneilli, who plays a jock who you wouldn’t mind getting picked off for how he behaves and treats other people. And it’s always cool to see character actors like Rick Hoffman and Gina Gershon in supporting roles.


is worth the 16-year wait, as it plays by the old school slasher rules and has a good time doing so. With a solid cast and your typical whodunit slasher mystery, the movie ends up being a fun ride due to archetypes that have a bit more depth than expected, wild gore sequences and a strong use of locations and set pieces that build a lot more tension and atmosphere than I was expecting. It’s also nice to see an engaged Eli Roth direct one of his best movies in his filmography, playing homage to many familiar slasher movies while putting his own twist on each one. The film looks good, the pacing is solid and the humor actually works in the movie’s favor. Plus, this John Carver villain has a great look and could be a cult icon if the film becomes more successful to create a franchise out of. THANKSGIVING doesn’t reinvent the slasher wheel and the villain’s identity is pretty easy to figure out, which took away the mystery aspect for me. But overall, I had a lot of fun with a movie I’ve been waiting a long time for and it didn't disappoint for the most part. THANKSGIVING will probably be an annual movie tradition for me every end of November.


3 Howls Outta 4

(8 out of 10)


Howls of the Week (10/29/23 - 11/04/23)

This will probably be a new feature, similar to the old monthly LUNAR CYCLE I used to do. I figured I would just post quick thoughts on films I've recently seen, while giving bigger/solo spotlights to more popular/important films. Let's see how this goes.


Directed By: Paul Morrissey

Starring: Udo Kier, Joe Dallesandro, Vittorio de Sica, Maxine McKendry

Genre: Horror/Vampires

Running Time: 103 Minutes

Score: 3 Howls Outta 4 (8 out of 10)

Plot: Deathly ill Count Dracula and his slimy underling, Anton, travel to Italy in search of a virgin’s blood. They’re welcomed at the crumbling estate of indebted Marchese Di Fiore, who’s desperate to marry off his daughters to rich suitors. But there, instead of pure women, the count encounters incestuous lesbians with vile blood and Marxist manservant Mario, who’s suspicious of the aristocratic Dracula.

Presented by Andy Warhol after the cult success of FLESH FOR FRANKENSTEIN, BLOOD FOR DRACULA is director’s Paul Morrissey’s superior follow up that focuses on Dracula and her servant traveling to Italy searching for virgin blood, as Dracula is severely ill from a lack of pure sustenance. While the acting is not great and the story isn’t the strongest, BLOOD FOR DRACULA is very worthwhile for a few reasons.

One, Morrissey’s direction is very good, as he uses many camera techniques and shot-scales to enhance the narrative. The cinematography is also well done, as this film is quite beautiful to look at.

Two, the subtext in this film is very strong and shows that a Dracula in a modern world probably wouldn’t survive for too long. There’s commentary on politics, class status [a rich Count is feeding on the poor to make himself richer] and the deterioration of religion when it comes to sex. The fact that this Dracula turns literal green after feeding on non-virgin blood twice within a supposed religious household says it all.

And three, this has to be one of the sleaziest DRACULA films ever put to screen. Incestuous siblings, a servant who forces himself on women [who ends up being the hero strangely] and disgusting acts like Dracula crawling on the floor to lick up virgin blood after a girl has been sexually assaulted to save her life from the Count. Not to mention, the epic finale that will probably make you lose a few limbs like you’re a Black Knight in a Monty Python sketch.

This is a DRACULA story that needs to be watched if you enjoy a memorable vampire flick.


Directed By: José Ramón Larraz

Starring: Marianne Morris, Anulka Dziubinska, Murray Brown, Brian Deacon, Sally Faulkner

Genre: Horror/Vampires

Running Time: 88 Minutes

Score: 2.5 Howls Outta 4 (6 out of 10)

Plot: A duo of bisexual female vampires prey on passing motorists, whom they seduce and murder in the English countryside. 

A story of bisexual vampires luring people at night to satiate their bloodlust, Jose Ramon Larraz’s VAMPYRES is a visually stunning film that unfortunately doesn’t have much of a story to really invest in. This film is a sleazy slow burn, with the two lead actresses seducing characters and the audiences with their good looks and sexual chemistry with each other. Cinemax would be proud of the sex scenes displayed in this movie. The use of the film’s main setting, a mansion in the countryside, is well done. The forest outside of this mansion almost seems like a character in itself, as these beautiful vampires just lurk around waiting for victims. It’s just too bad there’s not much of a story besides the brutal opening scene and a love triangle of sorts between the two vampires and a male victim one of them is in love with. VAMPYRES is not a scary film, more focused on titillating the audience. But watching the male lead kiss one of the actresses multiple times was pretty nightmare inducing. Open mouth, flailing tongue and just nasty love making all around. Even beautiful vampires can have a lack of taste, I guess.


Directed By: Jean Rollin

Starring: Franca Mai, Jean-Marie Lamaire, Brigitte Lahaie, Fanny Magier

Genre: Horror/Vampires

Running Time: 80 Minutes

Score: 3 Howls Outta 4 (8 out of 10)

Plot: A runaway criminal breaks into an eerie chateau, taking its two frightened chambermaids hostage. As night falls, a group of mysterious aristocratic women arrive and the criminal begins to realize the women are hiding a sinister secret.

My first Jean Rollin film ever, believe it or not, the French-language FASCINATION is a vampire movie that surprised me with how well shot and how well told it was. The plot is super simple, with a thief hiding inside a chateau with two beautiful servants who obviously aren’t as they seem. The film is romantic, melodramatic and has very memorable moments throughout. I think the iconic scene is the scythe sequence, which is full of tension and suspense. It’s also quite stunning to look at. For an 80 minute film, it sets up a lot for the first two acts before crashing into a sinister and bloody final act that feels mostly ironic to what we knew of these characters and their situations before. It’s also interesting how they tried to make the thief into an anti-hero of sorts by the end, even though it doesn’t really feel earned. But love will make you do some strange things, whether it’s returned or not. FASCINATION proves that there’s beauty in horror.


Directed By: Tony Scott 

Starring: Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie, Susan Sarandon, Cliff DeYoung, Beth Ehlers, Dan Heyada

Genre: Horror/Drama/Vampires

Running Time: 97 Minutes

Score: 3 Howls Outta 4 (8 out of 10)

Plot: Miriam promises her lovers the gift of eternal life, but John, her companion for centuries, suddenly discovers that he is getting old minute by minute, so he looks for Dr. Sarah Roberts, a researcher on the mechanisms of aging, and asks her for help.

The late Tony Scott’s directorial debut, this cult classic adapted from a novel didn’t get a lot of love 40 years ago. And while it’s definitely imperfect, it shows Scott’s style that would only improve in his future works like TOP GUN and TRUE ROMANCE. It’s visually sleek, looking atmospheric and moody like those early MTV music videos, with quick editing and juxtapositions to make certain moments pop. While the story could be stronger, I do appreciate the themes addressed in the film. Having the man deal with the effects of aging instead of a woman is an interesting touch, especially when this struggle also seems to be a commentary on the AIDS epidemic that had only just become known two years prior. The performances are very good with Catherine Deneuve being a strong presence as Miriam, who gives her lovers the promise of an eternal life but had all of them age on her quickly for some reason. David Bowie is captivating as Deneuve’s husband, John, getting to play with aging makeup and a pretty messed-up murder sequence. And Susan Sarandon is stunning as the doctor who is studying these aging effects, but gets caught up in Miriam’s web to bad results. Any film that starts out with a Bauhaus performance definitely deserves one’s attention.


Howls of the Week (10/22/23 - 10/28/23)

This will probably be a new feature, similar to the old monthly LUNAR CYCLE I used to do. I figured I would just post quick thoughts on films I've recently seen, while giving bigger/solo spotlights to more popular/important films. Let's see how this goes.


Directed By: Miguel M. Delgado

Starring: Santo, Blue Demon, Aldo Monti, Agustin Martinez Solares, Nubia Marti, Maria Eugenia San Martin, Alfredo Wally Barron, Jorge Mondragon

Genre: Horror/Action/Adventure/Vampires/Werewolves 

Running Time: 90 Minutes

Score: 2.5 Howls Outta 4 (6 out of 10)

Plot: After facing defeat at the hands of Cristaldi the magician, Dracula is back to seek revenge and rule the world. With the help of Wolfman and his legion of followers, victory seems eminent. Professor Cristaldi, a descendant of the magician, is warned about Dracula’s plans and calls upon El Santo and Blue Demon in the hopes that they can put the infamous Count and the werewolf down for good.

Review: Another installment starring the two most famous Lucha Libre wrestlers of their era, SANTO & BLUE DEMON VS. DRACULA & THE WOLFMAN involves a scientist who brings back Dracula and the Wolfman to the living world after being manipulated by a scheming hunchback. Apparently the scientist’s ancestors took care of Dracula centuries before, making him plot revenge on him and his female relatives - one who is dating Santo.

It’s not as good as SANTO & BLUE DEMON VS. THE MONSTERS, but it’s still a fun time overall. Evil Dracula [played by a returning Aldo Monti] bites some people, hypnotizes other people and even tries to get his revenge on a clueless child who has some of the worst English dubbing ever. The werewolf, beautifully named Rufus Rex, uses his human good looks and “heroics” to manipulate the scientist’s daughter. You get your standard wrestling matches [which are done on a soundstage with no visible crowd for some reason], Santo and Blue Demon fighting off vampires and a group of hairy werewolves over a pit and other silliness to pass the runtime. The film was obviously inspired by the Hammer and/or Paul Naschy films of the era, making this film super colorful and visually polished [this film definitely had a budget]. I think fans of Santo, Blue Demon, or both will get a kick out of this one.


Directed By: Rafael Perez Grovas

Starring: Santo, El Hijo del Santo, Nelson Velazquez, Arturo Cobo, Rubi Re, Marcos Vargas

Genre: Horror/Comedy/Action/Vampires

Running Time: 85 Minutes

Score: 0.5 Howls Outta 4 (2 out of 10)

Plot: Chanoc fights alongside Santo’s son against the Killer Vampires.

Review: Before his retirement a year later, Santo appears one last time in his wrestling persona on film as he passes the torch to his real life son in the opening moments of this movie. You’d think with a younger version of Santo, the action and story would be more exciting and modern for a new generation of people. But in one of the worst films I’ve seen all year, CHANOC & THE SON OF SANTO VS. THE KILLER VAMPIRES is a waste of everyone’s time. That includes the people who were part of this production and for anyone who spent 85 minutes suffering through this thing. If it wasn’t for the fact that this film looks alright and there are some decent musical sequences (!), this would be a total dud. 

Not only is it dull for the most part, but we’re stuck with two actors playing these annoying old men who are trying to pass as comic relief. I thought this was a Son of Santo film, but he feels like a supporting character in his own movie. The wrestling scenes feel like a parody of what they once were. The action is repetitive. Random scenes pop up to fill up time because there isn’t much of a story here. And those killer vampires? You maybe get five minutes worth with them and they don’t seem to be real vampires anyway. They’re just a gang dressed as them to scare people. It’s really depressing to see how low this series has fallen. I pretty much hated this movie and would never ever watch this again.


Directed By: Emma Tammi

Starring: Josh Hutcherson, Piper Rubio, Elizabeth Lail, Matthew Lillard, Mary Stuart Masterson

Genre: Horror/Mystery/Supernatural/Ghosts/Robots

Running Time: 110 Minutes

Score: 1.5 Howls (4 out of 10)

Plot: Recently fired and desperate for work, a troubled young man named Mike agrees to take a position as a night security guard at an abandoned theme restaurant: Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria. But he soon discovers that nothing at Freddy’s is what it seems.

Review: Based on the popular video game, Universal and Blumhouse apparently hit the box-office jackpot with their adaptation that may have brought Josh Hutcherson back to the A-list. If I were a fan of the games or even younger, I probably would have enjoyed this. But it honestly didn’t do much for me overall. I do love the Jim Henson animatronics, cool practical effects and a well-acted cast who are totally game to bring these ideas to life. But I didn’t find the film scary and some of the screenwriting and twists are odd and predictable. Like characters just buy everything that’s going on in the film without an ounce of skepticism, which didn’t allow enough drama to play out. And there’s so much story in this film that it becomes a bit long-in-the-tooth after a while. I’m glad people watched this in theaters and on Peacock for a successful Halloween weekend. But I’d probably just watch WILLY’S WONDERLAND, since that seems to be more of my vibe.


Directed By: Brian Duffield

Starring: Kaitlyn Dever, Elizabeth Kaluev, Zack Duhame, Lauren L. Murray

Genre: Thriller/Horror/Science Fiction/Aliens

Running Time: 97 Minutes

Score: 3 Howls Outta 4 (7 out of 10)

Plot: A young woman who’s been alienated from her community finds herself in a face-off against a host of extraterrestrial beings who threaten her future while forcing her to deal with her past.

Review: I finally caught up with this Hulu exclusive after all the hype it received last month. While I didn’t think it was the greatest film ever, I did enjoy it for the most part. An alien invasion movie is nothing new and this film doesn’t really reinvent the wheel, instead just turning this into a home invasion/INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS redo. But I liked how the film worked well without much dialogue [I believe only five lines are said throughout this movie]. The lack of dialogue is greatly helped by a wonderful performance by BOOKSMART actress Kaitlyn Dever, whose body language and facial expressions tell you everything you need to know. She carried this movie on her back like a champ. Her character arc was also very interesting, especially how her neighborhood hated her for whatever reason, leading to a reveal in the final act that I wasn’t expecting. I also thought the ending could be interpreted in multiple ways depending on who you are, which I think may have divided many people if social media is any indication. But the CGI aliens are interesting looking enough, but nothing that you’ll remember a month from now. And the film is pretty much just one tough woman defending herself against aliens and her own town, which slowly becomes overrun by pod people. I’m not sure if I would watch this again, unless it was for a podcast or something. But I do recommend it if you’re looking for a science fiction film done mostly right.


Directed By: Chris LaMartina

Starring: Melissa LaMartina, Ted Geoghegan

Genre: Horror/Comedy

Running Time: 91 Minutes

Score: 3 Howls Outta 4 (8 out of 10)

Plot: Gorge yourself on candy corn and hunker down for a haunted house party filled with aliens, vamps, and phantom tramps via this hard-to-find flick from an infamous East Coast ’90’s bootleg video operation. Straight from the archives of Trader Tony’s Tape Dungeon, the “Out There Halloween Mega Tape” was assembled from the highest quality source materials available and presented just as it was sold via Trader Tony’s mail order catalog in the 1990’s.

Review: The sequel to the 2013 cult hit WNUF HALLOWEEN SPECIAL, this sequel is actually a lot of fun and gets all the 90s pop culture references and advertisements fairly perfectly. More comedy than its predecessor, OUT THERE HALLOWEEN MEGA TAPE is mainly focused on daytime talk show host Ivy Sparks.

The first half of the feature revolves around her talk show, where she has several guests - including a wife who is cheating on her husband with a female ghost and a vampire who is forced by a family member into one of those makeovers. The vibe of the show is definitely Ricki Lake, mixed with some Maury and Jerry Springer as well. 

The second half is a parody of that FOX paranormal show from the 90s, Sightings, which focuses on an impending alien invasion and a Heaven’s Gate like cult who believe the aliens are coming to take them to their home planet since Earth is wasting away due to climate change and pollution. It makes fun of Heaven’s Gate and their beliefs, while poking light at how the government is hiding the truth about extraterrestrials by disrupting their television special. Ivy Sparks, having been fired from her talk show, is now "Out There’s" co-host and pretty much does her schtick to a bunch of annoyed brainwashed cult members.

The real gem with this sequel is obviously the commercials throughout the mega tape, which capture those memorable ads you watched on television during the 1990s. All of them are really funny and I was impressed with the research and time put into each and every one of them. Definitely recommended.


Directed By: Gary Whitson

Starring: Tina Krause, Dave Castiglione, Debbie D, Deana Enoches, Laura Giglio

Genre: Horror/Slasher

Running Time: 87 Minutes

Score: 0.5 Howls Outta 4 (2 out of 10)

Plot: Three sorority girls play a prank on their creepy neighbor, Hugo. He is accidentally shot and killed, but returns to life in order to kill them as human sacrifices in order to grant himself immortality.

Review: The only thing that’ll be slaughtered is your time, as SORORITY SLAUGHTER is the longest 87 minutes of your life. Shot on video, this film contains some of the longest scenes of nothing you’ll ever see. Ever wanted to experience a strangle sequence that lasts about 10 minutes? Have you ever wanted to watch characters wash a car for 15 minutes? You ever wished you could have human sacrifices mixed with random T-shirt contests? What about sex scenes where none of the actors seem into it at all? Then this film is for you! Hell, was there even a sorority in this movie?? There’s even an extended cut and a sequel to this! I usually like Tina Krause but this film is just pure torture. Probably the worst thing I’ve seen all week.


Howls of the Week (10/15/23 - 10/21/23)

This will probably be a new feature, similar to the old monthly LUNAR CYCLE I used to do. I figured I would just post quick thoughts on films I've recently seen, while giving bigger/solo spotlights to more popular/important films. Let's see how this goes.


Directed By: José Díaz Morales

Starring: Santo, Fernando Oses, Mercedes Carreno, Antonio de Hud, Susana Robles

Genre: Horror/Action/Vampires

Running Time: 77 Minutes

Score: 2 Howls Outta 4 (6 out of 10)

Plot: Santo goes up against the vampire Baron Brakola, who has returned to seek vengeance on the descendants of the Knight in the Silver Mask (Santo’s colonial era ancestor).

Review: Santo sure loves fighting vampires, as BARON BRAKOLA is another installment of our favorite Lucha Libre star battling the undead. I actually liked this a bit more than SANTO VS. THE VAMPIRE WOMEN, only because there seemed to be higher production values and an interesting narrative that went back-and-forth between the past and present. I enjoyed the swashbuckling aspect of the past scenes with The Knight In the Silver Mask getting one up on Brakola, causing the vampire to go after Santo [Silver Mask’s descendant] and the female descendant of a past enemy in the present day, which have more action/wrestling scenes of its time. The cheap effects, including a frame cut disappearing act and a rubber bat scratching windows, add a nice charm as well. Brakola is really goofy looking as well, which brings some unintentional comedy. Nothing groundbreaking or a must-see, but Santo fans will eat this up for the film’s short and breezy runtime.


Directed By: Harry Kümel

Starring: Delphine Seyrig, John Karlen, Danielle Quimet, Andrea Rau

Genre: Horror/Thriller/Drama/Vampires

Running Time: 100 Minutes

Score: 3 Howls Outta 4 (8 out of 10)

Plot: A newlywed couple are passing through a vacation resort. Their paths cross with a mysterious, strikingly beautiful countess and her aide. 

Review: Any film that starts out with a sex scene is going to instantly grab your attention. Harry Kumel’s DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS is no exception, playing less like a standard vampire film and more like an arthouse psychological thriller that just implies the undead manipulating the situations happening throughout the film. Delphine Seyrig is hypnotizing as Countess Bathory, giving a seductive and classy performance that hides her menace and bloodthirsty intentions. John Karlen as Stefan is also very good as a man who is repressed in many aspects of his life, causing him to be physically and sexually abusive as he gets off on the idea of death. Danielle Ouimet is stunning, but is kind of one-note as Valerie, while Andrea Rau is striking in her presence as Bathory’s familiar, Ilona. The Belgian scenery adds an exotic flair, while Kumel’s use of primary colors throughout [especially the reds and blues] are striking. What could have been a sexploitation type of "Dracula” movie ends up being more interesting and captivating than that, making DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS one to seek out if you like sex and drama in your vampire movies. This film is definitely a vibe.


Directed By: Jesus "Jess" Franco

Starring: Carmen Yalzade, Anne Libert, Alberto Dalbes, Howard Vernon, Daniel White, Jesus Franco

Genre: Horror/Mystery/Vampires

Running Time: 82 Minutes

Score: 1.5 Howls Outta 4 (4 out of 10)

Plot: Luisa is called to the bed of her dying mother Edith at Karlstein Castle. Before she dies, she tells Luisa that the Karlsteins are a family of vampires and that her ancestor, the original Count Karlstein, lies buried in the crypt. Afterwards, Luisa goes and finds the count’s coffin and discovers that he is undead. As she takes Karine, her cousin as her lover, a police inspector, Ptuschko investigates a series of killings around the town, dismissing the locals who insist these are being caused by vampires.

Review: Anyone who is expecting VAMPYROS LESBOS is going to be severely disappointed, as Jess Franco’s DAUGHTER OF DRACULA is pretty much a confusing snore for much of its runtime. Despite the beautiful women, the sex that occurs between them, and a weird vampire Count who just lays in his coffin and never bothers getting out of it, the film doesn’t really have much more to offer. It wants to be a vampire film, while also trying to be a giallo, as well as going for a sexploitation incest angle between two female cousins lusting for each other - this movie never knows what it wants to be. Great Jess Franco zoom shots though, if you’re into that sort of thing. And the final few minutes are pretty cool, but it’s a chore getting there. Unless you need to see every Jess Franco movie, I wouldn’t rush out to watch this anytime soon.


Directed By: René Cardona 

Starring: Santo, Aldo Monti, Noelia Noel, Roberto G. Rivera, Carlos Agosti, Alberto Rojas

Genre: Horror/Action/Science Fiction/Fantasy/Adventure/Thriller/Vampires

Running Time: 81 Minutes

Score: 2.5 Howls Outta 4 (6 out of 10)

Plot: A woman travels to her past life with the help of Santo’s past life regression machine.

Review: What an odd Santo feature this is. So apparently Santo creates a time machine, in which he sends a female colleague back in time to live the life of an ancestor who Dracula was infatuated with. Not only that, but there’s a goon squad in the present day - led by someone in an executioner’s hood who hates guns - who wants to use the time machine to steal treasure, or something like that. The best part about this film is that this executioner guy and Santo agree on who gets to use the time machine through a wrestling match [but of course]. And then Dracula manages to enter the present day to cause trouble. Typical Santo goofiness but with a pretty chill performance by Dracula actor Aldo Monti, who would appear as other characters in later Santo features. Pretty dumb in an amusing way.


Directed By: Federico Curiel

Starring: Santo, Norma Lazareno, Gina Romand, Victor Junco, Aldo Monti

Genre: Horror/Action/Vampires

Running Time: 85 Minutes

Score: 1.5 Howls Outta 4 (4 out of 10)

Plot: The vampire women of Mexico have awakened to take their revenge on the descendant of the man who destroyed them shortly after they had emigrated to Mexico during the 19th century.

Review: Probably one of my least favorite Santo films I’ve watched this month, THE VENGEANCE OF THE VAMPIRE WOMEN doesn’t really live up to its wonderful title unfortunately. While there are still wrestling scenes and Santo grappling with goons to stop the evil threat that has come upon him and his friends, nothing else is really all that interesting and it feels a bit “same-old, same-old” by this point. Gina Romand is stunning as the evil Countess Mayra, with many close ups of her eyes attempting to mind control men to do her bidding. I just wish the film was more exciting, but it’s kind of slow and meanders towards the finish line. There’s also a mad scientist subplot that doesn’t help either, moving the vampire women angle to a secondary one. I think this could have been a fun Santo flick, but all I see is wasted potential. 


Directed By: Jesus "Jess" Franco

Starring: Lina Romay, Jack Taylor, Alice Arno, Monica Swinn, Jesus Franco, Anna Watican

Genre: Horror/Vampires

Running Time: 105 Minutes

Score: 3 Howls Outta 4 (7 out of 10)

Plot: A mute noblewoman’s vampiric heritage compels her to drain the life force from all of her lovers. 

Review: This Jess Franco film was very interesting in several ways. One, it’s more of a softcore adult movie rather than a horror film. If you ever wanted to see both female and male nudity, as well as pretty close to hardcore sex scenes, FEMALE VAMPIRE is definitely for you. Two, it doesn’t have much of a plot, but I thought Franco projected the themes of loneliness quite well. There’s a great sequence in which Irina [played by the beautiful Lina Romay] writhes on a bed against a wooden bedpost. It not only showcases how lonely she is, but it’s also quite clever since impaling herself on a wooden post for pleasure would just end up killing her probably. And three, is this the only vampire movie where people can die because of great oral sex? That’s quite a gift and a curse. I also liked the idea of a man believing he’s Irina’s soulmate, bringing down her walls and giving her hope she could overcome her vampire curse [which unfortunately doesn’t end well]. I think the film gets repetitive at times but it’s worth a look if you’re a Jess Franco fan. I do think this is one of his better works.

DEAFULA (1975)

Directed By: Peter Wolf

Starring: Peter Wolf, James Randall, Lee Darel, Dudley Hemstreet, Katherine Wilson

Genre: Horror/Vampires

Running Time: 95 Minutes

Score: 1.5 Howls Outta 4 (4 out of 10)

Plot: A theology student finds himself turning into a vampire and hunting other students for their blood.

Review: Considering all the different adaptations and perspectives on the immortal Bram Stoker novel, I shouldn’t have been surprised by a Dracula movie where all the actors are reciting their lines through American Sign Language. I think that’s a pretty cool novelty and an interesting way to see how deaf people interpret the Dracula story.

Unfortunately, this Peter Wolf directorial and starring feature wouldn’t be worth mentioning if it wasn’t for the ASL aspect. I don’t mind the really low budget or the amateur takes on filmmaking here. But I watched the dubbed version, which probably didn’t help, making you realize how important scene transitions are when it comes to line reading and dialogue. There are moments where I felt Tommy Wiseau took inspiration for THE ROOM because the way characters spoke to each other was really weird. The flashback scenes weren’t edited in a pleasing way. Also, why did Dracula need a huge prosthetic nose? That was very distracting. But I did admire the twist on the vampire story and the use of religion in the final act. But overall, this didn’t do much for me and I would probably never watch this again. But I respect and I’m glad that it exists because even the hearing impaired deserve their own vampire story. So that gets points from me.

Related Posts with Thumbnails