Howls of the Week (10/8/23 - 10/14/23)

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: Nahnatchka Khan

Starring: Kiernan Shipka, Olivia Holt, Julie Bowen, Charlie Gillepsie, Lochlyn Munro, Troy Leigh-Anne Johnson, Kimberly Huie, Randall Park

Genre: Horror/Science Fiction/Slasher

Running Time: 106 Minutes

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

Plot: Thirty-five years after the shocking murders of three teens, an infamous killer returns on Halloween night to claim a fourth victim. When 17-year-old Jamie comes face-to-face with the masked maniac, she accidentally time-travels back to 1987. Forced to navigate the unfamiliar culture, Jamie teams up with her teenage mother to take down the psycho once and for all.

Review: If you like FREAKY or HAPPY DEATH DAY, you'll get a kick out of Amazon's TOTALLY KILLER. While it should have used its BACK TO THE FUTURE premise better, I still had fun with it. The 80s needle drops are always welcomed, the characters were colorful and the mystery of the killer kept me guessing [decent twist at the end]. I wish Kiernan Shipka’s character didn't keep mentioning how things in the 80s were problematic like they are in 2023. Saying it once or twice is fine, but every five to ten minutes wasn’t necessary. I also wish the film was a bit funnier. Still, I didn’t feel like I wasted my time.


Directed By: Lindsey Beer

Starring: Jackson White, Forest Goodluck, Jack Mulhurn, Henry Thomas, Natalie Anne Lynd, Isabella Star LeBlanc, Pam Grier, David Duchovny, Samantha Mathis

Genre: Horror/Science Fiction/Fantasy/Zombies

Running: 87 Minutes

Score: 1 Howl Outta 4 (3 out of 10)

Plot: In 1969, a young Jud Crandall has dreams of leaving his hometown of Ludlow, Maine behind, but soon discovers sinister secrets buried within and is forced to confront a dark family history that will forever keep him connected to Ludlow. 

Review: The less said about PET SEMATARY: BLOODLINES, the better. 87 minutes and felt longer than that, as I had to sit through multiple sittings just to get through this. Great actors [Pam Grier, Henry Thomas, Samantha Mathis, David Duchovny] were wasted in their roles. The story dragged towards an unsatisfying resolution. The novel and even the ‘89 version told this story in a more effective way in a much lesser time span. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the 2019 remake, but I thought maybe this prequel could have improved on that. The people behind this forced franchise should realize that sometimes, dead is better. 


Directed By: Erik Bloomquist 

Starring: Cara Buono, Clare Foley, Spencer List, William Sadler, Michael Park, Tyler Elliot Burke

Genre: Horror/Supernatural/Slasher

Running Time: 101 Minutes

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

Plot: In 1987, a group of counselors accidentally unleashes a decades’ old evil on the last night of summer camp.

Review: Caught this modern slasher on Tubi before it left the service and I dug it quite a bit. Set in 1987 [besides the modern language and the appearance of an Apple Watch - whoops], this supernatural slasher involves a camp being terrorized by a watch who possesses children and campers after a ritual gone wrong. Good performances [Cara Buono and William Sadler especially], decent gore effects considering its small budget and a lore that’s nicely built but doesn’t end in a real satisfactory way makes this one worth looking for whenever it pops back up on Tubi or another streaming service. Recommended for FRIDAY THE 13TH, THE BURNING and MADMAN fans.


Directed By: Lambert Hillyer

Starring: Gloria Holden, Otto Kruger, Marguerite Churchill, Irving Pichel, Gilbert Emery, Edward Van Sloan

Genre: Horror/Drama/Fantasy/Vampires

Running Time: 71 Minutes

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

Plot: A countess from Transylvania seeks a psychiatrist’s help to cure her vampiric cravings. 

Review: The first sequel to the immortal 1931 Universal Studios classic DRACULA, I slightly like this film more due to the filmmaking style. This feels more like a real movie than the stagey DRACULA does. The story with the Countess dealing with not wanting to be like her father, trying to find ways to stop being a vampire, was actually pretty interesting, Plus for a film from this era, having a lesbian angle was quite brave and surprising in a good way. I thought the performances were okay, with only Gloria Holden really standing out as the title character. And learning she hated being in this film because she thought she was above the material, it makes her performance stronger and more legit in my opinion. Plus, the film is short and sweet and doesn’t overstay its welcome.


Directed By: Herbert L. Strock

Starring: Sandra Harrison, Louise Lewis, Gail Ganley, Mary Adams, Malcolm Afterbury, Barbara Wilson, Lynn Alden

Genre: Horror/Vampires

Running Time: 69 Minutes

Score: 2 Howls Outta 4 (5 out of 10)

Plot: A crazed teacher at a respectable girls’ school draws power from a medallion she has obtained from the Carpathian Mountains, and uses it to experiment telepathically on the school’s newest young pupil.

Review: Pretty much the same template as I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF, this “vampire” movie feels more like a teen drama with supernatural elements in it. Honestly, this film didn’t do a whole lot for me. It sort of meanders towards the finish line, with the main character being hypnotized and controlled by her teacher, for whatever reason, until we see the main reveal in the last moments of the movie. I thought the main character’s relationship with her father and her indifferent stepmother was interesting at the start, but it just felt flatter as the movie rolled on. Not bad, but nothing I would rush out to watch again.


Directed By: Roy Ward Baker

Starring: Ingrid Pitt, Peter Cushing, George Cole, Kate O'Mara, Ferdy Mayne, Douglas Wilmer, Madeline Smith, Pippa Steel

Genre: Horror/Vampires

Running Time: 91 Minutes

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

Plot: In the heart of Styria the Karnstein Family, even after their mortal deaths, rise from their tombs spreading evil in the countryside in their lust for fresh blood. Baron Hartog whose family are all victims of Karnstein vampirism, opens their graves and drives a stake through their diabolical hearts. One grave he cannot locate is that of the legendary beautiful Mircalla Karnstein. Years of peace follow that grisly night until Mircalla reappears to avenge her family’s decimation and satisfy her desire for blood.

Review: Part of the Karnstein trilogy, this Hammer production is quite titillating with its lesbian undertones and an Ingrid Pitt performance that commands the spotlight and captivates the audience. Nicely paced, with a Gothic atmosphere and good performances that balance the horror with the melodrama. Probably not one of the best Hammer films out there, or even one I would think of whenever the studio is brought up. Yet, this one is definitely worth watching if you’re into sexy vampires.


Directed By: John Hough

Starring: Peter Cushing, Dennis Price, Madeleine Collinson, Mary Collinson, Isobel Black, Kathleen Byron, David Warbeck

Genre: Horror/Vampires

Running Time: 87 Minutes

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

Plot: While dabbling in Satanism, Count Karstein resurrects Mircalla Karnstein who initiates him into vampirism. As a rash of deaths afflicts the village, Gustav the head of Puritan group leads his men to seek out and destroy the pestilence. One of his twin nieces has become inflicted with the witchcraft but Gustav’s zeal and venom has trapped the innocent Maria, threatening her with a tortuous execution, whilst Frieda remains free to continue her orgy of evil.

Review: The third film of Hammer’s Karnstein’s trilogy, I thought TWINS OF EVIL was a lot more fun to watch than THE VAMPIRE LOVERS. Better action. Better effects. More compelling performances, especially by Peter Cushing, David Warbeck and the Collinson twins. The title is misleading [only one evil twin really] and it isn’t as titillating as THE VAMPIRE LOVERS. But I liked this film quite a lot and would definitely watch this again.


Directed By: Alfonso Corona Blake

Starring: Santo, Lorena Velazquez, Maria Duval, Jaime Fernandez, Augusto Benedico, Ofelia Montesco, Xavier Loja

Genre: Horror/Action/Fantasy/Vampires/Werewolves

Running Time: 89 Minutes

Score: 2 Howls Outta 4 (5 out of 10)

Plot: A professor recruits a professional wrestler to protect his daughter from vampires intent on kidnapping her and marrying her to the devil.

Review: If you’ve ever watched a horror film starring Lucha Libre star Santo [or Samson in the English dubbing], you know exactly what you’re getting. Silly, campy and just oddball story and action involving a coven of female vampires and their male minions who want to kidnap the daughter of someone who escaped their grasp many years prior. The grandfather hires Santo to protect her, leading to many goofy action scenes, including a wrestling one involving a vampire/werewolf person(?). Considering this was an episode of MST3K, I don’t think the film is that bad that it earned that honor. While pretty dumb, the dubbing is actually funny and the action scenes are amusing. Plus I thought the final act was a lot of fun, especially with Santo driving that sweet convertible. Better than what its reputation would tell you, to be quite honest.

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