Movies I’ve Seen During the Pandemic, Part 2

Crawl (R, 2019, ***). Are you afraid of alligators? Stay away from this one. Haley, a collegiate swimmer, travels to southern Florida to check on her dad during a Category 5 hurricane (rather nonchalantly, I might add). Floods from the hurricane have allowed a couple of big ol’ gators to enter the house’s basement, where her dad is. Claustrophobic. Viewed on Netflix.

Messiah of Evil (R, 1973, **). This felt more like a ripoff of Italian horror movies, which themselves are usually low-budget knockoffs of better movies. A young woman travels to a remote California town to find her artist father, from whom she hasn’t heard in a long time; finds the townfolk ruled by a mysterious cult. Thrown into the mix are a bohemian and his two groupies, er, companions. Elisha Cook, Jr. shows up in a quick but memorable role as a supposedly crazy old man. Viewed on Prime.

Please Murder Me (NR, 1956, **1/2). Unheralded noir about a lawyer who gets his femme fatale client off for murder and then discovers she was guilty, guilty, guilty. Angela Lansbury is the murderess, and Raymond Burr is the lawyer, with able support from Dick Foran. Sure, you may think of Dame Angela as a sweet old lady now, but she could play the most wicked of characters. Second half is a little slow, but this is still worth your while. Viewed on Prime.

The Seventh Victim (NR, 1943, ***). Val Lewton produced some terrific horror movies in the 1940s, including Cat People and I Walked with a Zombie. This one is similarly good, and it tackles a topic that was none too common to movies of the time – Satanists! Kim Hunter, in her debut, plays a college girl trying to track down her sister (Jean Brooks). She soon finds out that a Satanic cult has their hooks into the sister, and they’re bound and determined to make sure she keeps their secrets – to her grave, if necessary. Very moody and suspenseful, the movie also features Tom Conway in a very George Sanders-like role (Conway and Sanders were brothers in real life), as well as Leave It to Beaver’s Hugh Beaumont. Fantastic (in both senses of the word) film. Viewed on Netflix.

Viy (NR, 1967, ***). Touted as the first-ever Russian horror film, this one has an old legend as its basis. A young seminarian is asked by a wealthy landowner to pray over his dead daughter for three nights, per her dying request. The seminarian is then beset by a series of otherworldly creatures, including succubi, incubi, and the titular demon. Even with subtitles, it’s a very chilling movie, packed with import and scares. Viewed on TubiTV.



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