Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A Cinematic History of Horror for Hallowe'en On Roku - DAY 25: Vampires, Zombies & Serial Killers! (1991-1994)

Welcome back, Boils & Ghouls...

... to 'Day Twenty-Five' of "A Cinematic History of Horror for Hallowe'en On Roku" in which I'll bring you my next batch of fright flicks from the enormous back-catalogue of macabre movies that have been thrilling cinema-goers for more than a century and can now be streamed to your television sets via the magic of Roku player - so, let's dim down those lights... and get on with the frights! :-O

If you read my special hallowe'en blogathon preview - FOUND HERE - which I published at the end of September, then you'll know that I plan to post one Hallowe'en / Horror related article each day, throughout the month of October, and to feature one horror movie per year from cinematic history, starting in 1895 and ending in 2016. This should average out at about four films per day, so you'll have plenty of choice for your macabre movie viewing as we count down the days to Hallowe'en! ;-)

To get things started, in the first week of this blogathon, we went all the way back to the end of the 19th century for some of the earliest horror cinema ever recorded. The movies on day one were from 1895 - 1898 (inclusive) and featured beheadings, vampires, skeletons and nightmarish dreams. For my second article on day two of this series, I shared four films (one for each year) from 1899 - 1902 (inclusive) and those featured ghostly apparitions, aliens and selenites, plus a visit from the devil to a convent. In my next post on day three, I shared four films (again, one for each year) from 1903 - 1906 (inclusive) and those featured impish devils, demons and ghost brides, plus a man who practices entomology being pinned to a cork like an insect. For my fourth article on day four in this series of posts, I shared four more films (one for each year) from 1907 - 1910 (inclusive) which featured evil spectres, haunted houses, plus the first filmed version of the story of Frankenstein's monster. Following that post, on day five, I shared four films (again, one per year) from 1911 - 1914 (inclusive) and those were all based on works of literature by either Dante Alighieri, Robert Louis Stevenson or Edgar Allan Poe. Next up, on day six, four more films were shared (one for each year) from 1915 - 1918 (inclusive) and those included one about a spooky portrait, another about the victim of a kidnapping, plus a Faustian tale told from a female perspective and another about an artificial creature produced by a mad scientist. For my next post, on day seven, I (again) shared four more films (one for each year) from 1919 - 1922 (inclusive) and those featured an epic account of the horrors of war, plus tales of vampires and phantom carriages, as well as a hypnotist who used a somnambulist to commit acts of murder!

To kick-off the second week of my month-long blogathon, on day eight of this series, I shared another four films (again, one per year) from 1923 - 1926 (inclusive) and those included tales of hunchbacks, phantoms, and a pact with the devil plus a pianist whose hands were replaced by those of a murderer (following a train accident) after which he discovered they had a will of their own! Then for my next post, on day nine, I shared four films (one for each year) from 1927 - 1930 (inclusive) and those included a truly stunning "mood piece" based on the work of Edgar Allen Poe, along with the story of a master criminal who terrorized the occupants of an isolated country mansion, plus the creepiest, spookiest, mystery melodrama ever produced, with an early animated horror short thrown in for good measure. After that, on day ten, I shared four more films (again, one for each year) from 1931 - 1934 (inclusive) and those told various tales of terror, including: two American honeymooners trapped in the home of a Satan-worshipping priest, a colossal gorilla hitting the heights in New York with a movie starlet, a tale of love between a siren, a giant and a dwarf from a circus sideshow, plus the story of the strangest passion the world has ever known! Following on from there, on day eleven, I shared four more films (one per year, as before) from 1935 - 1938 (inclusive) and those featured the story of an escaped convict who used miniaturized humans to wreak vengeance on those that framed him, more tales of the horrors of war, and a Chinese ghost story (of sorts) plus the film which, when first released, was billed as the super shocker of the twentieth century! In the subsequent post, which I made on day twelve, four more films were shared (one per year) from 1939 - 1942 (inclusive) featuring strange creatures such as Werewolves, Cat People and The Hound of the Baskervilles, as well as some light-hearted comic relief (of the horror variety) courtesy of Bob Hope! Yesterday... the four films that I shared, on day thirteen, were from 1943 - 1946 (inclusive) and there was (again) one film per year - as there has been for each of my previous posts from this series. That batch of macabre movies included films about ghosts, zombies, and severed hands, plus what is widely believed to be the forerunner of all the horror anthology films that would follow it - a British film, from Ealing Studios! Yesterday, on day fourteen, I shared four more films spanning the years from 1947 to 1950 (inclusive) with one movie per year (as previously) Those included faceless killers, hidden secrets and a tale of human avarice, plus further light-hearted comedy (of the 'tongue-in-cheek' horror variety) courtesy of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello!

Then, as we entered week three of this month-long blogathon... on day fifteen, I shared another four films (again, one for each year) from 1951 - 1954 (inclusive) and those featured a dinosaur-like beast out to destroy the world, an artist (out for revenge) who created wax sculptures from human cadavers, a woman who visited her local shaman and was turned into a white reindeer vampire, plus... the tale of the thing that turns your blood ice-cold, as it creeps and crawls, then strikes without warning! For my next post, on day sixteen, I shared four more (one film per year) from 1955 - 1958 (inclusive) and those included the tale of of a sadistic boarding school headmaster whose wife & mistress plotted to kill him, another about a doctor with a demonic curse put upon him by a devil cult leader, and one from Hammer Films involving Count Dracula, plus the extraordinary tale of the most awesome fate that ever happened to earth people... with the invasion of the body snatchers from another world! For the next post, on day seventeen, I shared another four films (one for each year) from 1959 - 1962 (inclusive) and those featured a "Haunted House" party where the guests had to spend their night with ghosts, murderers, and other terrors, and; the tale of a woman, caught in a storm while driving, who got off the highway and pulled into a remote motel managed by a quiet young man who seemed to be dominated by his mother, and; another based on a ghost story written by Henry James, wherein a woman experiencing apparitions had to confront the evil spirits & exorcise the demons head onplus one more story... "so unusual, it will burn itself into your mind"! After that, on day eighteen, I shared four more films (again, one per year) from 1963 - 1966 (inclusive) and those included tales of ravens, repulsion, The Red Death and a Gothic horror from Mario Bava! Following on from there... for my next post, on day nineteen, I shared four films (one for each year) from 1967 - 1970 (inclusive) which featured a tale about a group of people beset by flesh-eating zombies, as well as the second part of the "Coffin Joe" trilogy - featuring more possessed corpses and sadistic practices, and another about a demented cremator who enjoys reading the Tibetan book of the dead, plus a surreal tale in which love, fear, sex and religion merge into one fantastic world! The next post in this series, on day twenty, featured four more films (one per year) from 1971 - 1974 (inclusive) and those included a film which is widely considered to be the "grandfather" of the modern slasher, as well as a mystery surrounding a series of child killings in a remote southern Italian town, and the story of a teenage girl possessed by a mysterious entity, whose mother sought the help of two priests in order to save her, plus the tale of some youngsters who had the misfortune to meet a family of cannibalistic psychopaths! After that... on day twenty-one, came four more films (again, one for each year) from 1975 - 1978 (inclusive) and those included the tale of a high school senior who unleashed the full extent of her telekinetic powers on the classmates that humiliated her, as well as an account of a series of grisly murders at a ballet academy involving a coven of witches, and the tale of a psycho-killer who, having been in a mental hospital for 15 years (after stabbing his sister to death), broke-out and returned to his home town, just in time for Halloween... plus a story about a Great White shark, menacing the small community of Amity Island, which attacked people as they enjoyed the water at the beach!

As we began week four of this month-long blogathon, on day twenty-two, I shared four more films (one for each year) from 1979 - 1982 (inclusive) and those included stories of mysterious alien life-forms, and evil spirits causing mid-winter havoc for the caretaker-manager & his family in an isolated hotel, as well as five friends who must fight for their lives when flesh-possessing demons are unleashed upon them, as they vacation in a remote cabin, plus the crew of an isolated U.S. research station in Antarctica, who must endure the ultimate in alien terror! After that, on day twenty-three, I shared another four films with you (again, one per year) from 1983-1986 (inclusive). Those included tales of a sleazy cable-TV programmer who began to see his life spin out of control in a very unusual fashion when he acquired a new kind of programming for his station, as well as a group of friends being hunted by a serial killer murdering victims in their dreams, and a dedicated student at a medical college who became involved in bizarre experiments to re-animate dead tissue when an odd new student arrived on campus, plus the story of a brilliant but eccentric scientist who began to transform into a man / fly hybrid after one of his experiments took an unexpected turn! Following on from there, on day twenty-four, I shared four more films with you (one for each year) from 1987-1990 (inclusive). Those featured a strange puzzle box that (once unlocked) let loose some sadomasochistic creatures which took great pleasure in ensnaring human victims to toy with, as well as some special sunglasses which enabled the wearer to see the world as it really was (including how some people were, in fact, aliens) and that there was a grand scheme to keep humans subdued, and another story about a bizarre character with an insane compulsion to stick pieces of scrap metal into his body and the bodies of those who had wronged him, plus the tale of a best-selling novelist who was rescued from a car crash only to be held captive and abused by his "number one fan" who became even more unhinged on discovering the heroine in those novels had been killed-off by the author! All of which brings us rather nicely to this post, in which I plan to share four more films with you (one per year) from 1991-1994 (inclusive). These are set to feature the stories of a young F.B.I. cadet who must confide in an incarcerated and manipulative killer to receive his help in catching another serial killer, a vampire from eastern Europe who comes to England and begins a reign of seduction and terror, as well as a mysterious device (designed to provide its owner with eternal life) which resurfaces after four hundred years... leaving a trail of destruction in its path, plus a "Cemetery Man" who must kill the dead for a second time, when his graveyard becomes overrun by zombies! As with other movies shared thus far some may seem a little bit dated now, but they are none the less watchable for it, as examples of movies whose influence can still be seen in some more recent horror films.


First up today... is a feature-length film from the USA, that was directed by Jonathan Demme, and first released in 1991 under the original title of "The Silence of the Lambs"... which it shares with the 1988 novel, by Thomas Harris, on which the screenplay (written by Ted Tally) was based. This crime, drama, thriller tells the story of FBI trainee, Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster), who aspires to work in the agency's Behavioral Science Unit under the leadership of Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn). While she is still in training, Crawford asks her to question Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), who has spent the last eight years in maximum security isolation for being a serial killer, and was imprisoned after being found guilty of cannibalising his victims. Clarice figures out the assignment is to pick Lecter's brains with a view to solving another serial murder case... that of someone coined by the media as "Buffalo Bill", and who has already killed five victims. The common thread, linking these five murders, is that they were all located in the eastern US; all involved young women who were slightly overweight (especially around the hips), and; all were drowned in natural bodies of water... but, the most gruesome fact is that all of them were stripped of large swaths of their own skin!

Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
PHOTO CREDIT: imdb.com

The Silence of the Lambs (1991) [USA Movie Poster]
PHOTO CREDIT: subscene.com

The Silence of the Lambs (1991) [British Quad Poster]

Fortunately for us, like many of the films featured so far, this psycho thriller of a serial killer by Jonathan Demme is also available online, as well as free-to-stream on Roku devices. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find this film on 'YouTube', so I'm relying on some other links - found on 'Dailymotion' - to share this with you. For some reason, the original uploader has chosen to split the movie into two (roughly equal) parts, so you'll need both links in order to watch the whole movie. Just think of the break in the middle as a regular intermission and go get some popcorn! ;-) Also: feel free to watch this online, or else use the details obtained from the links (below) to search for the film within the 'Dailymotion' channel (on your Roku player) and watch it on the big screen. Whichever method you choose, here's the links to stream it...

DAILYMOTION LINK (PART ONE):- The Silence of the Lambs (1991) [RUN TIME: 59m 30s]

DAILYMOTION LINK (PART TWO):- The Silence of the Lambs (1991) [RUN TIME: 58m 48s]

If you have yet to add the 'Dailymotion' channel to your Roku streaming media player(s), you will find it under "Web Video" in the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store built-in to your Roku device(s). As mentioned previously, with other recommended channels in this series of posts, you could also take advantage of the Roku "Search" function to find and then install the 'Dailymotion' channel on your Roku streaming media player. It is FREE-TO-ADD to all UK Roku devices, and the massive choice of FREE-TO-STREAM content available through it, means it's a "must-have" for Roku users! To make things a bit easier, whether scrolling through the channel store trying to find it... or simply wishing to pick the right channel from your Roku "Search" results, here is what the icon looks like:-

Once it's installed, and you have loaded the channel so that you can see the main menu on your TV screen, simply navigate to "Search" (identified by a large magnifying glass) and type in your search term... in this case, "The Silence of the Lambs", to bring-up a string of results. You shouldn't have to scroll too far, before you find the video(s) you will need in order to enjoy this movie... and the best part is, you'll be able to stream it for free (with just a short break to "switch reels", so-to-speak)! :-)


Our next movie in today's post, is another feature-length film from the USA... but, this time, it was directed by Francis Ford Coppola, and first released in 1992 as "Dracula"... but is, perhaps, better known in some parts as "Bram Stoker's Dracula", which also confirms (in case of any doubt) that the screenplay (written by James Victor Hart) was indeed based on the classic novel by Bram Stoker! ;-) Arguably, this particular film adaptation of "Dracula" is more closely based on Bram Stoker's novel than most (if not all) of the films which preceded it. Anyway... when the story begins, a young lawyer called Jonathan Harker (Keanu Reeves), is assigned to a gloomy village in the mists of eastern Europe. He is captured and imprisoned by the undead vampire Dracula (Gary Oldman) who then travels to London, inspired by a photo of Harker's betrothed - Mina Murray (Winona Ryder). Once in England, Dracula begins a reign of seduction and terror, draining the life from Mina's closest friend, Lucy Westenra (Sadie Frost). Lucy's friends gather together to try to drive Dracula away and they are closely guided by one Professor Abraham Van Helsing (Anthony Hopkins) who has the knowledge they require if they are to defeat this monstrous vampire that is inflicting havoc across their land!

Gary Oldman in Dracula [aka Bram Stoker's Dracula] (1992)
PHOTO CREDIT: wickedhorror.com

Dracula [aka Bram Stoker's Dracula] (1992) [USA Movie Poster]
PHOTO CREDIT: traileraddict.com

Dracula [aka Bram Stoker's Dracula] (1992) [British Quad Poster]
PHOTO CREDIT: followingthenerd.com

Unfortunately, as with some of the other films shared recently, I was unable to find a decent copy of "Dracula" [aka Bram Stoker's Dracula] that was free-to-stream and compatible with the requirements for playback on Roku devices. Again, there were rough copies out there... either with reduced aspect ratios, heavily cropped images, or shrunk to less than one quarter screen-size - never mind those which had foreign language audio dubs and/or subtitles... plus others, whose sound and/or picture quality left a lot to be desired. Feel free to do your own search for those, if you so wish. For my part, I advise choosing the best option I found for streaming "Dracula" [aka Bram Stoker's Dracula] (1992) on Roku devices, and that was... 'Amazon Video', as has often been the case with films in this series.

If you have yet to install this Roku channel, you will find it under "Film & TV" in the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store that is built-in to your Roku streaming media player(s). Those of you who are Amazon Prime members are out of luck once more, however, as there is no option whereby you can watch this film for free via your Amazon Prime membership. The only available choices are to rent the video from Amazon Video UK for £0.99 (SD) or (HD)... so it doesn't take much guess-work to know which version I'd recommend - given they both cost the same! Of course, some of you may wish to "buy & keep" this film... and, again, Amazon Video UK has you covered - asking only £4.99 for the 'SD' version and £5.99 for 'HD' quality streaming. Anyway, whichever version you decide upon, it can either be watched via the Amazon Video channel on your Roku player... or, any other compatible device you might happen to own. Confirmation of these options is provided in the screenshot (below), taken from the Amazon UK website, and there is a link provided beneath the screenshot image which will take you directly to the webpage where you can buy the film:-

HINT: Please CLICK on the above image TO ENLARGE IT for easier viewing !!

AMAZON UK WEBSITE LINK:- Dracula (1992) [via Amazon Video UK]

While 'Amazon Video' does provide the cheapest options for buying this film, it's really because you're only getting a 'digital' copy to stream. However, for those who are considering a purchase in the 'HD' format, I'd recommend using 'Sky Store' instead... since, included in your £5.99 purchase price, you get a DVD of the film posted to you - in addition to the digital copy, which (like Amazon) is available to stream immediately after payment has been made. Again, you will find their channel under "Film & TV" in the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store that is built-in to your Roku streaming media player(s). If you have yet to add it to your channel selection, here is the icon to look out for when you're scrolling through the channel store:-

If this is your first experience of using 'Sky Store', you will need to set-up an account with them... but, if you already have a Sky ID or NowTV Login, you can use the same username and password to get registered more quickly & easily. Speaking of which... here's a link to "Dracula" [aka Bram Stoker's Dracula] from 'Sky Store', so that (once registered) you can access the film details more easily, too!

SKY STORE WEBSITE LINK:- Dracula (1992) [via Sky Store]


Our third film today is a feature-length movie from Mexico, which marked the directorial debut of one Guillermo del Toro, and was first released in 1993 under the original title of "Cronos"... while based on a screenplay which the fledgling director had also written himself! Luckily for us, it's good. Very good, in fact... and well worth ninety minutes of your time, for what is an original, intelligent, suprising, and (at times) genuinely creepy horror movie. Anyway, the story goes like this... in 1536, during the Inquisition, an alchemist (in Veracruz, Mexico) builds a mysterious & sophisticated device named "Cronos" with the power to provide eternal life for the owner. Present day antiques dealer, Jesus Gris (Federico Luppi), finds Cronos hidden inside an ancient statue while cleaning it with his grandaughter Aurora (Tamara Shanath). After accidentally triggering the device, which cuts his hand and makes him bleed all over it, he notices that he is starting to look younger (as does his wife)! In the meantime... a man by the name of Angel de la Guardia (Ron Perlman) has visited the antiques shop and purchased the statue on behalf of a wealthy man. The very next day, Gris finds his shop trashed and Angel's card on the floor. He pays a visit to Angel, who introduces him to the eccentric millionaire, De la Guardia (Claudio Brook), and he explains to Gris about the healing powers and eternal life given by Cronos. Not long afterwards, when De la Guardia realises the device is no longer in the statue, he sends Angel to hunt down Gris and recover the Cronos... no matter what the cost! :-O

Federico Luppi in Cronos (1993) [Movie Still]
PHOTO CREDIT: imdb.com

Cronos (1993) [Mexican Poster]
PHOTO CREDIT: gnula.nu

Cronos (1993) [Publicity Poster]
PHOTO CREDIT: tmdb.org

Cronos (1993) [British Quad Poster]
PHOTO CREDIT: posteritati.com

While I was able to find a copy of "Cronos" on 'YouTube', via "The Criterion Collection" channel, it is not available for those of us in the UK. However, for the benefit of readers in the United States, I will include a link (below) that will take you directly to the video - which is being offered for rent at just $2.99 to those interested in watching this movie... and I highly recommend that you do! ;-)

With nothing available for Roku users in the UK, the best I could come up with is this "Official" film trailer captured from a VHS copy of "Leprechaun 2" which was released in 1994 so, admittedly the quality leaves a lot to be desired... but, it will (at least) give you some idea of whether you'd like to track this movie down and watch it either (elsewhere) online, or via DVD / BluRay, etc, etc. ;-)

The more technically gifted among you may be able to sniff-out or otherwise scrape together some Roku-compatible links (URL's) which then can be added to the 'channelPEAR' private Roku channel (CODE: channelpear) and streamed in that way. For more information about the channel, please see the Roku help page on the 'channelPEAR' website to get assistance with installing the channel, pairing your Roku device and/or troubleshooting the more common playback issues. Regardless of whether you find an MP4 (or other Roku-compatible file) for "Cronos", I thoroughly recommend you add the 'channelPEAR' private Roku channel to your device because, even in the media database on their website, there are some useful additions for any Roku owner to stream - all of which can be added to your own 'channelPEAR' library with just a few clicks - so why not give it a try?! ;-) :-)

Meanwhile, if you like the look of "Cronos" (and who wouldn't?!)... Amazon UK (currently) have the DVD of this film for £3.48 + FREE DELIVERY - via their website - so, technically, you can always just purchase that... then make a back-up on your computer, which can be streamed via your Roku - even if you happen to live in the UK where, bizarrely... Amazon Video, Netflix, NowTV, Sky Store, Google Play Movies & TV, Wuaki.TV, CinemaNow, etc, etc. have neglected to add this all too often over-looked piece of cinematic horror history to their streaming catalogues - more fool them! :-(


Anyway, our last film for today is an all-European collaboration (between Italy, France and Germany) which resulted in a feature-length film, directed by Michele Soavi, and first released in 1994 under the original title of "Dellamorte Dellamore"... although British and American audiences are (perhaps) more familiar with it under the alternative title of "Cemetery Man", which was the one used when the film finally made it to the U.S. some two years after it's initial release in Italy. There's also the more literal translation, "Of death, of love", which is the world-wide English title (save for Australia, who opted for "Of Death and Love", which has a better ring to it - if you ask me) although the subsequent DVD release in Germany went by, "Zombie Graveyard",  which (while technically accurate) is not quite as poetic as the original Italian version. However, I digress.... so, getting back to the storyline, this comedy, fantasy, horror - based on a novel by Tiziano Sclavi, and always reflecting the "Sclavian Philosophy" diffused by the most succesful Italian comics: such as "Dylan Dog", otherwise known as the detective of the nightmare. There is also the duality between death & love (in Italian, "dellamorte" means "of death" and "dellamore" translates as "of love"). It is a duality that Francesco Dellamorte (Rupert Everett) feels deeply. He is guardian of the cemetery of Buffalora, a little town in the north of Italy, in which corpses rise from tombs and Dellamorte has to destroy them, with the help of Gnaghi (François Hadji-Lazaro). Dellamorte does not question why this happens - he just shoots, and loves!

Anna Falchi in Dellamorte Dellamore [aka Cemetery Man] (1994)
PHOTO CREDIT: imdb.com

Dellamorte Dellamore [aka Cemetery Man] (1994) [Italian Poster]
PHOTO CREDIT: wrongsideoftheart.com

Dellamorte Dellamore [aka Cemetery Man] (1994) [USA Movie Poster]
PHOTO CREDIT: wrongsideoftheart.com

Fortunately for us, unlike "Cronos" (above), this time I did find a decent FREE-TO-STREAM copy of this movie online which can be enjoyed by UK Roku users, as well as those in "other" regions. While I've not had as much success finding some of the recent films via my usual online sources (YouTube, Vimeo, Dailymotion, etc.) I'm pleased to say this nineties horror comedy fantasy was available on 'YouTube' and so I'm able to share it for free with you today. Again, you can either watch this movie online, or else use the link to cast it from the 'YouTube' app (via your Roku) and then watch on the big screen for maximum enjoyment! Whichever way you choose, here it is...

YOUTUBE LINK:- Dellamorte Dellamore (1994) [IMDB Rating: 7.3]


Anyhow, that's all I've got time for today... but do remember to come back again tomorrow, for more macabre movies from the history of horror cinema, when I serve-up another batch of four films on 'Day Twenty-Six' of "A Cinematic History of Horror for Hallowe'en On Roku" right here on this blog. Meanwhile... please be sure to visit the Countdown To Hallowe'en website and show your support for this annual online Hallowe'en extravaganza... PLUS don't forget to use the links you find there and check out all the other 'Cryptkeepers' taking part this year. I know they'll appreciate it if you visit their blogs & share your thoughts on the contribution(s) they've made.


BEFORE I GO: Don't forget that, aside from all the Hallowe'en / Horror-themed ghastliness going on around these parts for the next month, you can always keep up with all the UK Roku action (as it happens) by following the companion Twitter Feed: @ukrokuchannels where you will find up-to-the-minute info on all things Roku is posted on a daily basis (well, almost).

Until the next time, then...

That's all folks !!

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