György Pálfi – Taxidermia (2006)

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A strange young man takes his family’s long tradition of bizarre behavior to new heights (or depths) in this wildly perverse and explicit horror comedy from director Gyorgi Palfi. Kalman Balatony (Gergo Trocsanyi) is a grotesquely fat gentleman who was fathered by an angry hospital orderly getting revenge on his boss by having sex with his wife. While the embittered husband killed the orderly when he was caught in the act, Kalman was born as a result of the wife’s indiscretion, and when he grows to adulthood he earns a modest fame as a competitive eating champion. At an eating contest, Kalman meets a female competitor, the freakish Gizi (Adel Stanczel), and the two fall in love. Kalman and Gizi marry, and she gives birth to a son, Lajos (Marc Bischoff), who grows up to be just as skinny as his parents are fat. Lajos studies taxidermy and takes up preserving animals as a career when he isn’t busy taking care of his elderly and increasingly massive father. Lajos also raises a handful of unusually large house cats, and when they begin to turn on their master, Lajos uses his talents to keep them around the house without the danger of their bothering anyone. Taxidermia received its North American premier at the 2006 Toronto Film Festival. Continue reading

Terence Fisher – The Brides of Dracula (1960)

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The vampire Baron Meinster (David Peel) terrorizes a girl’s academy, and it’s up to Dr. Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) to stop him…

Following the phenomenal success of their 1958 version of Dracula (released in the U.S. as Horror Of Dracula), Hammer Studios mulled over the idea for the inevitable sequel. 1960’s The Brides Of Dracula is misleadingly titled, in that Dracula himself never appears, but it’s a worthy follow-up that, for many fans, actually eclipses the original. Precisely why Dracula doesn’t factor into the narrative is open to speculation. Hammer was obviously looking to capitalize on their biggest success, so why not bring back Christopher Lee to essay the role that made him famous? Some sources indicate that Lee refused a sequel, fearing that he’d become typecast in the role just as Bela Lugosi had been before him. Yet other sources, including Lee himself, refute this claim. Regardless, despite its title, Brides Of Dracula charts the exploits of Dracula’s disciple, Baron Meinster. Establishing continuity between the two films is the heroic/obsessed Dr. Van Helsing, played once again by Peter Cushing. Continue reading

George Waggner – The Climax (1944)

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In old Vienna, Count Seebruck (Thomas Gomez) is the impresario for the Royal Theatre. His biggest headache is his soprano diva, Jarmila (Jane Farrar). That’s why he’s more than willing to listen his aide Carl’s nephew, Franz (Turhan Bey), and Franz’s fiance, soprano Angela (Susanna Foster). Her voice sounds remarkably like the Royal Theatre long-lost star, Marcellina (June Vincent), who mysteriously disappeared ten years before.
Her disappearance is no mystery to Dr. Friedrich Hohner (Boris Karloff), the theatre’s physician. Spurned by former lover Marcellina, Dr. Hohner remembers back (in a flashback) to the night she finally rejected him, as well as her strangulation death — by his own hands. When Dr. Hohner hears Angela sing, he at first thinks it’s Marcellina, come back to haunt him again. However, when he sees Angela, he immediately schemes to silence her singing voice. Will Angela sing for the King’s (Scotty Beckett) command performance of The Magic Voice? Well…. Continue reading

Ewald Andre Dupont – The Neanderthal Man (1953)

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Wheeler, a tourist-hunter in the California High Sierras, is not believed by the patrons of Webb’s Cafe when he claims to have run across a live tiger with tusks. Among the scoffers is game-warden Oakes – until he is driving home later that night and the critter hops on the hood of his car. Oakes convinces a skeptical Dr. Harkness, state university zoologist, to come to the small town to investigate. At Webbs’, Harkness meets Ruth, fiancée of Prof. Groves who maintains his home and lab outside the town, and thru her meets Groves’ daughter, Jan. Groves himself is down in the city, angrily trying to convince the Naturalists’ Society of the truth of his theory that the size of skull and brain equate with intelligence, and therefore Neanderthal man was equal, if not superior, to Homo sapiens. He is rejected, and by the time he returns home, seems completely unhinged, rejecting his fiancée and secluding himself in his lab. There, he has developed a serum with which he is experimenting. After Harkness and Oakes kill the tiger – indeed, a sabre-toothed tiger, which vanishes when they go to Groves’ for help retrieving the body – they begin hearing of a grotesque humanoid in torn clothing, which has killed a couple of local men and assaulted Nola, Webbs’ waitress; and join the Sheriff in attempting to solve this new mystery, which is clearly connected to Groves’ experiments. Continue reading