Sunday, 24 October 2021

Hallowe'en Movies (of the Week)


On YouTube you can find a lot of old ABC Movies of the Week, dating from the early Seventies. I've already mentioned Trilogy of Terror, but there's also The Cat Creature (1973), scripted by none other than the great Robert Block of Psycho fame. Bloch also wrote for The Twilight Zone and early Star Trek, so he had good TV chops. What's more, The Cat Creature is clearly a love letter to all those classic Hollywood movies in the Egyptian Gothic school, complete with a mummy, an amulet, and a cat goddess cult. 

Sadly, the result is less than the sum of its parts. Apparently some idiot told Bloch that the movie had to lose 12 minutes so he cut his script. Then when shooting was over, guess what? It was 12 minutes short and they had to hastily try and put back the bits he'd cut or just pad it here and there, and it shows. A fairly lacklustre cast and a less-than-urgent pace make this a bit dull, but still quite interesting. And it's free to watch, in full, on YT.

Also worth a go if you like science fiction is The People, an adaptation of one of Zenna Henderson's popular stories about undercover aliens. Again, it's nothing special but it does a creditable job of inverting all those stories where the extra-terrestrials are subverting our world by mind-control, body-snatching, and the like. Here they are just trying to get by, suppressing their psi powers after having some nasty past encounters with witch-hunters and such. 

Much more horror-tastic is Moon of the Wolf, starring David Janssen as a small-town sheriff who begins to suspect a series of grisly murders are the work of a werewolf. Again, the pace is sedate and there's precious little mystery (for the viewer, anyway) over what's going on. This is one of those films where, as the opening credits roll, an old guy on the porch of his shack tells his dogs to quit their barkin'. But if you want to some hairy, toothy horror there are worse examples of the genre.

Finally, there's a curiosity that almost passed me by - The Screaming Woman. This is based on the short story of the same name by Ray Bradbury, and stars one of the true Hollywood greats, Olivia de Havilland. She plays a wealthy old lady who becomes convinced that a woman has been buried alive on her country estate. Unfortunately she's just been released from a mental hospital, so people are sceptical about her claim. Not a great thriller but remarkable to see a fine, full-blooded performance from de Havilland, who was finding movie roles hard to come by at this stage in her career. ABC certainly got their money's worth.

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