Dark Waters (1993)
Directed by Mariano Baino
Starring Louise Salter, Venera Simmons, Mariya Kapnist, Lubov Snegur, Albina Skarga, Pavel Kokolov
On the audio commentary for Dark Waters, director Baino mentions something that Alfred Hitchcock had said about how the invention of sound would destroy cinema. I am paraphrasing this, but his point was that after movies had sound, more time will be spent listening to the story than watching what is happening on screen. One could listen to a film and pretty much get the idea of what is going on, instead of letting the visuals tell the story, which I think is especially true with today’s features. Well, Dark Waters is a perfect example of the opposite of that theory. In fact, when it starts, there is almost 18 minutes before any real dialogue is heard. And in that short time, unforgettable images appear on screen, such as shots of nuns with large crosses on a hill, or more nuns in a darkened field at night with burning crosses, we see the murder of a young girl, with her blood flowing into the water that is leaking through the catacombs in the convent, to even something simple like an old woman on a bus playing with a couple of spiders. Thse are just but a few visual to start off the film. But it continues through the rest of the running time. If modern day Hollywood made their films look half as good and striking as this one, the cinematic world would be a much better place.
Horror Express (1972)
Directed by Eugenio Martin
Starring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Alberto de Mendoza, Silvia Tortosa, Julio Peña, Helga Liné, Telly Savalas, George Rigaud, Victor Israel
For any horror fan that is just starting his long journey into the depths of genre, one path that is easy and most followed are the ones that feature certain iconic actors known for their work in the genre, such as names like Karloff, Price, Chaney, Lorre, and of course Cushing and Lee. With the work Cushing and Lee did with Hammer Films, as well as many other genre pics, it gave a young and eager fan plenty of titles to investigate. If you found one of the many films that they both appeared in, then it was an even better deal!
The beauty of the horror genre is that it is a never-ending sea of titles that come in and out with the tide, that there are often movies that get swept away so quickly that fans either forget about them, or never hear about them to begin with. Mariano Baino’s 1993 film Dark Waters is one of those films. Not to be confused with the Japanese one from 2002 that was later remade here in the states, but Baino’s film is a highly original tale about dark things going on in a strange convent on a remote island in Europe. It was released in an amazing DVD box set by No Shame back in 2006, but hadn’t hit Blu-ray until now, thanks to Severin Films, which has been given a HD transfer from the original 35mm negative and features over 4 hours of special features.
Directed by Richard Stanley
Starring Dylan McDermott, Stacey Travis, John Lynch, William Hootkins
“No Flesh Shall Be Spared.” – Mark 13
“The worst possible drug trip.” That is how director Richard Stanley described his first movie. For me, I tend to use the description of “visually stunning” when I start any discussion of Stanley’s debut. Each time I watch this film, I come across something new or totally different that I hadn’t noticed before. Stanley’s look of the future is very bleak and dismal, but probably a good warning for one that is not too far off.
Obviously one of the things I preach here at the Krypt is Discover the Horror. By that, I mean to explore and seek out new things in the genre, both old and new…but mainly old. One of the things that makes this a little easier these days are these Blu-ray companies who are putting out some amazing titles, some that were on the verge of being lost in the vast wasteland of obscurity. But thanks to companies like Synapse, Vinegar Syndrome, Arrow Video, Shout Factory, Code Red, Severin, Dark Sky, Mondo Macabro, just to name a few, they are not only keeping these films alive and available, but giving some titles a treatment that they probably never had before, even when they were first released.
As horror fans, we all know that Barbara Steele made a few gothic horror flicks in her day. Some of the plots might even sound a bit similar….I mean, how many films can you make about ghosts coming back from the dead for revenge? Well…quite a few it seems. But the difference with these films is that they were made by talented filmmakers! So it didn’t matter if the plot had been used several times before, it was still a great movie. A prime example of that is Nightmare Castle
Sure, we all know and love Mario Bava’s Black Sunday, which was the film to catapult Steele into her path towards being a Queen of gothic horror, but I have to say that Nightmare Castle is one of my favorites of hers. The tale is about a deceitful wife and her lover who are tortured to death by her sadistic husband. But the story doesn’t end there, when they come back to haunt the husband and his new wife. With some incredible music by Ennio Morricone, and co-starring Paul Muller and the beautiful Helga Liné, I couldn’t recommend this film enough.