I love combing through the archives of the local newspapers to see the ads used for my favourite films as they were released in Yorkshire.
If one of these films is controversial enough, it will find itself the centre of attention, wherever it is released.
One such film was, of course, The Exorcist. The film being released in Leeds (in May 1974) didn’t go unnoticed by the local bureaucratic busybodies as they hadn’t even seen the film yet. What happened gives a glimpse into the censorship process that held more sway in the 70’s when a film was to be released.
The film came to Leeds without a press screening.
The above article is very telling. In those days, films would have to go through a two stage process regarding whether it was shown in a locality by a certain council or not rather than today’s process in which the decision of the British Board of Film Classification (or the BBFC for short) is the ‘be all and end all’. A local council could decide whether a film passed (or indeed, rejected) by the BBFC could still be shown or banned locally. Hence, The Warriors could be banned by Leeds City Council after it was passed with an X certificate by the BBFC. Conversely, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre could be banned by the BBFC but local councils could still decide to show the film in their area. This actually happened with 3 councils deciding to show it including the GLC and Leeds.
In the above article, Coun. Lund asks for further screenings to be stopped until the Licensing Sub-committee have seen the film in a private screening to ascertain if it is suitable to be shown locally. I’m gobsmacked that the film had already been banned in Bradford and Wakefield.
Of course, local religious figures piled on to set pressure to get the film banned. Tellingly, Mr Holy Roller hadn’t actually seen the film. I wonder if he knew Mary Whitehouse.
And after all of that broohaha, the film is actually passed as safe to be shown. But not until Coun. Rose Lund, who caused all of this stink, dismisses it as ‘rubbish’. Thanks for your opinion. I actually disagree wholeheartedly though.
The Exorcist went on to play for many weeks in Leeds, went on to become one of the highest grossing films of all-time and is generally regarded as one of the best horror films ever made.
After the death of their daughter by drowning, John and Laura Baxter (played brilliantly by Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie) decide to go to Venice as John has an assignment there restoring a church. It’s here that Laura crosses paths with an elderly pair of sisters named Heather and Wendy, one of whom claims to have the gift of second sight even though she is blind. She claims to see their deceased daughter which prompts Laura to faint. After Laura’s recovery the couple venture out to a restaurant but after getting separated, John glimpses a small figure dressed in red which promptly makes him think of his daughter who was wearing a red raincoat when she drowned.
Laura then attends a séance held by the two women who had told her about her daughter. Heather predicts that John is in danger and must leave Venice. However, they then get word that their son who is attending boarding school back in England has been involved in an accident. Laura leaves Venice to attend to their son whilst John stays on to continue restoring the ancient church. John is nearly killed within the church when scaffolding holding him collapses. The foretelling of this incident now makes sense to John who now thinks that this was the danger that the elderly sisters had predicted would befall him.
But then John sees Laura on a boat with the two women, all dressed in black. He also keeps on seeing the figure in red who proves to be as allusive as it is omnipresent. What could this all mean?
Don’t Look Now is one of the most unsettling films I’ve ever seen. Not only is the locale of Venice used to great effect (this Venice is very far removed from Cornetto adverts) but it becomes a character in it’s own right within the film. And a very sinister, macabre character at that.
The fact that all of the film’s events are playing out with the news that there is a serial killer on the loose in the city makes for very uncomfortable viewing indeed and adds an extra layer of horror to proceedings.
Don’t Look Now and it’s locale would later inspire Siouxsie and the Banshees to film the video for their cover version of Dear Prudence there.
The character of the old woman with second sight whilst being blind (her eyes are a milky hue due to her blindness) who predicts horrific events in the future for John is crepiness, literally, personified.
Look out for the use of the colour red within the film too. The red of John and Laura’s drowned daughter’s mac, the red of the figure who darts around Venice, the red of the photograph negative slide that Laura has accidentally spilt her drink on…
And speaking of the drowning scene near the film’s beginning, this must be one of the most harrowing opening sequences I’ve ever seen. It’s epic in magnitude and sets a blueprint for the calibre of acting we’re to see throughout the rest of the movie especially from Sutherland and Christie.
Also look out for the theme of water within the film. The drowning of Christine, the Baxter’s daughter and then the fact that they find themselves surrounded by water. There is also a horrific shot of the serial killer’s latest victim being recovered naked from the water of one of the canals. Water isn’t a giver of life within the film but a force that takes it away.
There is also a scene that proved to be very controversial when the film was released. There is a scene of John and Laura making love intercut with footage of the couple after this. At that point in the 1970’s, the censors weren’t ready for a scene that was too realistic for them (whilst not being gratuitous or graphic). Nine frames were removed from the American version of the film, whilst the BBFC passed the scene uncut in the UK.
The score by Pino Donnagio is just as haunting, surreal and disturbing as the action on the screen. It really is one of the greatest film scores I’ve ever heard and it will burrow it’s way into your brain in much the same way as the score for John Carpenter’s Halloween will. It really is a thing of disturbing beauty. This was also Donaggio’s introduction to the world of scoring films and it’s an impeccable first score for an impeccable career.
And then there’s the last scene. One of the most unsettling last scenes in horror history, most of you will now what I’m referring to. But for those few who haven’t had the pleasure of seeing it whilst projecting your popcorn bucket skyward in fright, then I’m sworn to secrecy.
In fact, if you’ve seen the ending of the film, I’m hoping you’ve seen the film as a whole rather than just this shocker of a scene on it’s own. Don’t Look Now is a film that will stay with you long after the end credits have rolled. After years of being buried by studio red tape, it was released but the print was very poor indeed. I can now say that in this wonderful age of Blu Ray and 4K the film has been restored and remastered and has never looked or sounded better.
Also, try to read Daphne Du Maurier’s short story that the film was based on. There even more detail in it and it’s just as brilliant as the film.
Don’t Look Now would make a great double-bill with Carnival of Souls.
It’s 1990. I’m tuning into the excellent Moviedrome series of films on BBC2 with each cult film in the series being introduced by director Alex Cox.
The film being shown that night was John Carpenter’s second feature film Assault on Precinct 13, his reworking of Howard Hawks’ Rio Bravo and my mind was blown. I had been a fan of Halloween since I had seen it a few years before this and desperately wanted to see Assault but tracking it down was very hard indeed due to the video release being out of print. That made this screening even more essential. I recorded the film and watched it over and over and over again.
The film concerns a police station in the crime-ridden suburb of Anderson, California closing down with a cop named Bishop being assigned to oversee this for his night shift. He arrives to see that there are still a few staff working in the police station. Unfortunately, the local gang named Street Thunder have decided to announce a ‘cholo’ (meaning ‘to the death’) against the police as the pigs had killed six members of their tribe. That night they will seek their revenge because of this.
Add to this a bus transporting Death Row criminals that has to make a stop at the police station and a distraught father who is catatonic with grief who also arrives at the near derelict locale. Add together all of these ingredients, blend together and voila! You have a kick ass movie.
What is it about the film that makes it so good? There are many reasons.
Firstly, the look and feel of the film are amazing. Carpenter’s use of Panavision gives the film a panoramic (duh) scope that is not only inspired but also epic.
This aspect ratio also makes the film very sinister in places with the Panavision making the dark, shadowy corners of the police station and it’s environs even more creepy. In fact, there are a number of parallels between Assault and Night of the Living Dead with the black leads of both films, the character who you think is going to be a major player in the film’s narrative being completely sidelined because of their catatonic state (Lawson is the father who reminds me of Barbara who very quickly retreats into herself shortly after she reaches the farmhouse in Night) and the zombie-esque qualities of the Street Thunder gang members who are just as omnipotent, numerous and expendable as Romero’s undead.
Another great quality that Assault possesses is that whilst it contains a great deal of humour this never overbalances the horror and suspense. Whether it’s Napoleon Wilson and Wells playing ‘potatoes’ to decide who goes out to hot-wire a car or the plathora of funny one-liners uttered by one of the film’s characters (‘I have a new plan. It’s called ‘Save Ass’), these moments never make Assault descend into a horrible sludge of geek humour or derivative dialogue (yes, I’m thinking of you Quentin Tarantino). The screenplay for Assault crackles with electricity.
Assault also contains one of the most shocking scenes I’ve ever seen in a film, something that is still talked about by many film critics, journalists and fans. I’m not giving it away but it remains taboo even today.
The characters are another reason why I love the film so much. Napoleon Wilson is yet another legendary Carpenter creation that includes Snake Plissken, Michael Myers and Jack Burton. How did he get his name? (I think the arm breaking scene is a good step in the right direction when pondering this point regarding his backstory). In fact, we want to know everything about his life that led to the night captured within Assault’s narrative.
And yet every character is just as enigmatic and brilliantly realised whether it be Bishop who just wants a quiet night shift or Leigh who is working at the police station still. I love the scene in which Bishop whispers to Leigh what he had carved into a desk as a child that had prompted his father to drag him to that very same police station years before to be ticked off by a cop there. The audience never finds out what it was. I love mystery in film, something that modern filmmakers know nothing about but should. Overexplanation hinders so many films especially the vile horror prequels that get churned out nowadays.
In fact, the character of Leigh is a fantastic updating of the Hawksian woman- tough, resourceful and icily sexual. Witness the scene in which Napoleon finally finds someone with a cigarette. Leigh gives it to him and even lights it. This scene in itself is one of my favourite moments in film history. In fact, there are many scenes with Assault which are lay claim to that mantle. Another example is the gang attack on the police station which quickly turns into a beautiful ballet of bullets. It’s impeccable.
Add to this one of Carpenter’s best music scores (which is really saying something. His music for Assault is minimalist, gritty and utter analogue synth perfection) and you have a bona fide masterpiece. I was honoured enough to see the film at a midnight screening here in Leeds a few years ago and it was great to see one of my favourite films on the big screen.
A film I love from start to finish. All killer, no filler.
One of the best things about Yorkshire Television, when I was growing up, was the eclectic fare that made up their schedules. At night they showed the most wonderful and unexpected films you could ever imagine. They also showed films you had never heard of before that were either unavailable on video because of some silly oversight or they were caught up in some rights limbo which denied their exposure to a wider audience.
I used to scour the TV listings and use the timer on our prehistoric video machine during the 80s to record anything on late that sounded vaguely of interest to a cult film fan like myself. And there were plenty of movies offered up that I found interesting.
One such was Slithis from 1978, a monster movie that I’m so glad I recorded.
There’s a monster on the prowl in 1978 Venice Beach who starts by killing the dogs in the neighbourhood but then starts killing humans. But don’t worry. There’s a local journalism teacher (!) and some of the nerdiest scientists you’ve ever seen who are on the trail of the sub-aquatic being named Slithis, a product of a leak from a local nuclear plant.
This is amazing cult film goodness. A man in a rubber suit is always better than the CGI monsters you see in modern-day horror films. I love Slithis’ look and the way that the film’s lighting and colour palette changes dramatically whenever he makes an appearance. It’s important to light your leading man in the best way possible.
I also love the locale of Venice Beach that was used with the settings being so beautiful and full of such eccentrics, bohemian types and winos. You get the impression that these extras were captured on film just the way they were which is fantastic. I wish I was a meths drinker in 70’s Venice when Slithis was doing the rounds. But I digress…
There are also scientist types who give you the impression that they aren’t actors at all but just knew the director and were asked to appear. Their acting is erm, raw. Think Edith Massey but rawer (and if you think that’s some kind of insult, you obviously know nothing of my cinematic preferences. It’s a compliment of the highest order. No ‘so bad it’s good’ nonsense here!)
I was amazed by Slithis when I first saw it and I get more and more from it with every screening. It would make a great double-bill with the equally brilliant Blood Beach. Both self-aware and brilliantly executed horror movies from the ’70s which also contain a deft sense of humour.
But as if this wasn’t enough, I then learnt that Slithis had his own fan club! Yes, you heard that right. HIS OWN FAN CLUB!!!
I loved what I read about the publicity used regarding the release of this film. Every patron would receive a Slithis Survival Kit on the purchase of tickets to the movie. This kit (in reality a pink or yellow piece of folded cardboard) included information regarding joining the Slithis Fan Club, how patrons could help promote the notion that Slithis is, in fact, a victim (he is, after all, the product of nuclear plant leakage) rather than a foe and, most importantly, the information that if you keep the kit on your person at all times or stash it under your pillow at night then Slithis would know and won’t come to pay you a visit when he inevitably stalks your neighbourhood.
You could even send off for a Slithis 8×10, a Fan Club membership card and merch order form.
As if that wasn’t enough, the campus screenings of the film (notice where the film played and that the film’s producers already knew the demographic who would dig Slithis the most) would involve someone wearing the actual costume from the film for the occasion.
There’s a great press clipping of one such screening with a picture of Slithis walking alongside students from the University of Nebraska.
This is all very William Castle (actually, Castle would have gone one further and not told anyone about the costume and had someone wearing it jump out unexpectedly at the audience towards the end of the screening) and that just makes me love the film even more.
Do you remember showmanship? Do you remember films that were, y’know, fun?!
That’s Slithis. And it’s a terrific monster movie to boot.
I had heard so much about the original of Black Christmas from 1974 by the time I finally got to see it. Its reputation as being the main film that inspired the slasher movie sub-genre pre-Halloween was well established with horror fans salivating over it and singing its praises to the heavens.
‘Let’s see how scary it really is!’ I said to myself as I watched it on the DVD brought to us in the UK by the excellent Tartan Video. It was Christmas Eve and I was all alone in a shared house that all of my housemates had vacated to go home for the holidays. I can honestly say that I have never felt so scared, unsettled and downright terrified in all of my life.
Years later and I’ve just arrived in Sydney to start a year-long vacation/working holiday and as it’s almost the Yuletide season I see that my local cinema is showing a double-bill of Black Christmas and Christmas Evil which I had heard John Waters say was the best Christmas movie ever made. Christmas Evil was every bit as brilliant as I hoped it would be.
But a very curious thing had happened. I found my second viewing of Black Christmas to be even creepier and scary than the first.
So what is it about the film that works so well? In less imaginative hands Black Christmas could have been far more generic and less inspired, especially if it had been made when the slasher genre had kicked off. But the fact that the film was made prior to this means that there were no genre conventions or expectations to constrain it and so the sky was the limit.
The film concerns a group of sorority sisters and their house mother being together in their sorority house just before they all depart for their Christmas vacations. They don’t realise that they will be departing but in a much bloodier way than they could have imagined. They start to receive obscene phone calls but don’t realise that the deranged person making them is already inside the house. In fact, this is one major plot device that the audience is privy to as we even get a shaky POV shot of the killer making his way to an attic window to enter the residence. He makes said attic his HQ of terror if you will. The decor is suitably demented and creepy as hell with an old rocking horse and shop mannequins in it.
Of course, this plot device has been used sooo many times since but this was all very new in 1974 when the film was made and released. Black Christmas brilliantly mines into the urban legend of The Killer Upstairs that has been told countless times around campfires with the odd tweak or variation according to the person telling it.
The fact that the killer is using a separate phone line to make the calls whilst being in the same house as his prey has also been used since with 1979’s excellent When A Stranger Calls fully exploiting this idea and also referencing the same urban legend. But this was a full five years after Black Christmas was unveiled to the world. Director Bob Clark also says that back then it was very common for one property, especially a multi-residence property like a sorority house, to contain many different phone lines for the multiple occupants.
And these aren’t just any kind of disturbing phone calls. These are calls that Clark wanted to be as disturbing as possible and he really excelled at this! He used multiple different actors during these telephone calls to convey the different personalities inhabited within the killer who later identifies himself as Billy. If these calls don’t scare the bejesus out of you, you’re either lying to save face or you’re trying to be an edge lord. These calls veer between being sexually explicit, feral, unhinged and animalistic.
But the film also depicts something that was happening to millions of homes around the world at that time. The primitive methods of tracing a call in the film and how difficult it was was a very accurate portrayal. In those days technology regarding telephones was in its infancy and so this left many people vulnerable to prank calls. It also left them vulnerable to calls from people who wanted to do more than just scare whoever was unfortunate enough to answer the phone. Black Christmas was reflecting back to audiences something that wasn’t spoken about back then and how scary and potentially traumatic it was. It was a practice so widespread that it resonated massively with audiences.
The calls suggest that you’re watching something a lot grittier than how other horror films operated up until that point. The Exorcist had been released the year before and pushed as many envelopes as possible whilst not merely for some tedious attempt at shock value. You get the feeling that Black Christmas is doing the same but in a very different way.
In fact, another feature of the film that makes it feel utterly unsettling is that whilst everything is going on in the house, other similarly dark events are playing out in the wider community. A young girl has gone missing. Some of the film’s characters join a search party in a local park to look for the girl and her body is discovered. Just as the film depicted the horror of the nuisance call, it also depicted the full horror of child abduction with many such cases seemingly happening with shocking regularity at that time and continuing to happen to this day.
In fact, this sequence is given an extra layer of poignancy as the father of one of the sorority sisters, Clare who he was due to meet him that morning but didn’t show up, takes part in the search. After reporting her missing to the police, Clare’s father searches for the other missing girl unbeknownst that she has been murdered at the hands of Billy who has suffocated her with a plastic dry-cleaning bag. He places her body in a rocking chair in the attic with the film cutting to her body resplendent with the startled expression on her face still under the plastic.
Another great feature of Black Christmas is the characters. One example is Barb who provides the film with a hilarious scene whilst interacting with a very gullible and inexperienced cop when they report Clare missing. Her drinking becomes endearing to the audience (check out the scene when she’s letting a child have some of her booze) but could also be used by her to mask the fact that her mother seemingly doesn’t care about her. Mommie Dearest has decided to go away for Christmas with her latest boyfriend and these plans don’t involve her daughter.
Another character who likes to booze is eccentric housemother and cat-lady Mrs Mac. We see that she has alcohol stashed in all kinds of places in the house including in a hollowed-out book in her library. This character along with Barb provides a lot of the comedy within the film. But just because there are comic interludes these don’t detract from the feeling of unease and terror the film generates for the audience.
Jess is having problems in her relationship with her pianist boyfriend Peter when she discovers that she’s pregnant. She says to him that she is going to have an abortion which provokes the testy retort from her other half that she talks about it almost as if she’s ‘getting a wart removed’. Billy references this later in one of his phone calls, thus making her think that Peter could be the killer.
The actual murders themselves are something to behold in the film. Not only are they shocking and very well executed (pun not intended) but are also beautifully directed sequences. Clare’s shocking murder only ten minutes in, housemother Mrs Mack’s almost slapstick sequence involving a hook after she’s discovered Clare’s body, Barb’s exit with the glass figurines by her bed of which Billy utilises one to stab her. These wouldn’t have been out of place in one of the best Giallo movies never made. In fact, Black Christmas seems to hold quite a few similarities with some of its Italian counterparts.
The sorority house feels like another character within the film. The dark wooden shadowy passageways, cubbyholes and nooks and crannies to which the killer has full access are the perfect locale for the film to take place in.
The cast of Black Christmas is also a strong point for the film with a list of actors that is like a roll call of the creme de la creme of cult filmdom. Olivia Hussey, Margot Kidder, Keir Dullea, John Saxon to name but a few. Again, if Black Christmas had been made whilst the slasher movie was in full flow, maybe some of these actors would have declined to take part as some may have felt they were above such fare.
Carl Zittrer’s music for the film is suitably unsettling, surreal and downright macabre. Apparently, the composer achieved the score by tying different objects to the strings of a piano to distort and warp the sounds it made when played. He would also record music and then playback the results at a slower speed to further manipulate the results until they were suitably unsettling enough. He certainly succeeded.
Whilst I’m rhapsodising about the film, there’s plenty more I could say but to do so would spoil the experience of seeing this masterpiece, especially for the first time (although multiple viewings seem to enhance the film’s stature in my head as I pick up things that I didn’t hone in on during previous viewings).
Black Christmas is a one-off. It has its own feel and sense of terror and dread that no other film has ever come close to replicating. There are very few horror films that actually frighten me but this movie scares the pants off me. It’s the Christmas gift that keeps on giving.
My early teenage years were when I discovered my three favourite living film directors- John Waters, William Friedkin and Martin Scorsese.
It was whilst I was frantically hunting down all of the movies made by Scorsese after first watching Taxi Driver when I was 14 that I read of a documentary made in 1977 called Movies Are My Life. I had a friend who was lucky enough to have Sky TV on which there was a one-off screening of this and so I gave him a blank videotape and begged him to record it for me. He obliged.
It didn’t disappoint. Over the years the tape it was on disappeared but it was just the other day that I was thinking about this documentary when I had the lightbulb moment that involved looking for it on the internet. And after a quick Google search, I found it!
It’s great watching it again. It was made in 1977 after Scorsese had finished shooting New York, New York and was editing The Last Waltz. This was an iconic time for Scorsese when he had made so many classic movies and was yet to make even more.
Not only is the maestro interviewed about his career so far but his contributors and collaborators are also interviewed and it’s great to see such luminaries as De Niro, Jodie Foster, Steven Prince and Liza Minelli speaking about what’s like to work with such a visionary.
The film is also noteworthy as it shows the friendship that Scorsese had/has with Robbie Robertson. These were Scorsese’s wild years when he took certain substances to excess and ended up hospitalised because of it. The interviews with Robinson here capture this very vividly indeed (you’ll know what I mean when you watch the film!) A choice moment is when he looks out of the window into the night sky and says ‘It isn’t even dawn yet!’
It’s great that this peeks into such a thrilling era of Scorsese’s filmmaking life was chronicled, not so great that this film was unavailable for so long. It’s fantastic that someone has uploaded it onto the internet but how long it stays up before it’s pulled down is unknown. If I was you I’d finish reading this, do a Google search and watch it now. Just to be sure. Note- the version on YouTube is cut. Go the Google route to watch the full version on the net.
Gail Osborne is a 16 year old who starts dating Steve Pastorinis who goes to the same school as her. It’s also around this time that she starts to receive abusive notes stuck in the grills of her school locker and also abusive telephone calls.
For a film, let alone a TV movie to deal with an issue such as stalking in 1978 was very brave indeed as it hadn’t entered the public consciousness yet and was largely an alien concept. But Are You In The House Alone? deals with the subject very intelligently and exposes it for the vile, terrifying and horrific practice that it actually is.
But the movie also deals with other issues such as Gail’s parents struggling with their marriage following her father losing his job. This again is dealt with brilliantly and feels integral to the plot rather than just feeling like padding to fill up the running time.
But Are You In The House Alone? also deals with rape, another taboo topic for 1978. It deals with it amazingly well with discussions regarding getting the rapist to court and obtaining a conviction against him being seen as being very difficult indeed.
I love doing 31 Days of Halloween as it’s a great chance to revisit horror films that I have seen in the past but also to watch films that are completely new to me. Some of these I’m really glad I took the time to watch. A small minority bowl me over as they are just so powerful and brilliant. Are You In The House Alone? is one such film. When it ended I literally had to just sit and digest what I had just experienced and think about just how trailblazing the production was especially for that time and for the topics it depicted without any sugar coating or saccharine gloss.
Are You In The House Alone? is a very unsettling experience as it worms its way into your head and will stay with you long after it has finished. And it’s a rare instance of a TV movie rightly finding its way onto Blu Ray (thank you Vinegar Syndrome!)
A hotel complex where a new building is being constructed is infested with killer ants.
I love the TV movies that featured a special guest star who was slumming it as work had dried up. Ants stars Myrna Loy as well as Suzanne Somers (!) and Lynda Day George (yes, the actress from Pieces!) so you know you’re in for a special time.
I actually remember watching this on UK TV in 1980 when I was the tender age of 5.
I love the fact that whenever the ants appear on screen we get discordant violins on the soundtrack.
This is surprisingly bright and breezy in tone until the ants become more prevalent within the storyline and then it becomes a lot more apocalyptic in tone (which is always welcome for cult film fans). The whole production is a triumph in camp however dark it tries to become.
Ants aka It Happened at Lakewood Manor holds up very well though. The TV movie was also issued on DVD in 2014. This might not be some kind of classic uncovered from the vaults but it’s nice to see it has a life after being shown on TV all those decades before.
This infamous film from 1978 starts with an anonymous man wearing a balaclava and going on a killing spree. He uses a different tool for each murder such as an electric drill, a screwdriver and nail gun.
But then events take a bizarre twist as we get to see who the killer is and…to tell you anymore would ruin several surprises that the movie has in store. And it has plenty of surprises to shock us with!
This film has such a notorious reputation and none so much as in Britain where it was firstly cut for its initial cinema release but then banned outright on video as it was then labelled as one of the more shocking video nasties.
There is an authenticity to the killing spree we witness and with the film in general. The balaclava motif felt all so real as it was a staple of killers such as Ted Bundy who was prolific during this era. Also, The Yorkshire Ripper was killing women with the implements used in the film around this time which gives it an extra layer of horrific realness.
Your jaw will hit the floor when you watch Cameron Mitchell’s central performance. It truly is demented genius.
I’m so glad that The Toolbox Murders is now appreciated as the fantastic piece of psychotic art that it truly is. Watch out for the 4K scan on Blu Ray. The film looks and sounds amazing and has finally gotten the treatment it so rightfully deserves.
Maggie and Ben inherit an old farm by default (the man who it was actually left to had to inhabit the farm within 30 days but we see him attempt to move in in the dead of night but runs his car into a tree after swerving to miss a mysterious girl who intentionally caused the accident which results in the car exploding on impact).
Maggie has a strong feeling that she’s been at the farm before and wonders if a phenomenon such as reincarnation actually exists as she remembers cooking in the farm kitchen, living on the farm and more sinister episodes. This freaks her out as she tells her husband Ben that she doesn’t want to move in even though he is excited at the prospect.
There are quickly established links to witch trials that took place at the farm in years gone by.
For a 1970 horror TV movie, Crowhaven Farm pulls no punches. There are some very taboo aspects to the plot that are just as taboo now as they were back then. With the short running time, the action zips along which adds to the quickly developing insanity of how the plot develops that lends a surreal aspect to proceedings.
As I’ve said before, I hope a Blu ray company invests more in these made for TV gems and releases them looking and sounding as good as they possibly can with tons of extras. There are plenty of these movies to mine into and a horror audience who would gladfully lap them up.