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Dead & Beautiful, Children of the Corn, Howling II, and The Werewolf
Horror Bulletin Week 145
Episode 145 Summary
This week, we’ll be watching our usual line-up of four full-length films and a short film. This week, we’ve got “The Werewolf” from 1956, "Howling II" from 1985, “Children of the Corn” from 1984, and "Dead and Beautiful" from 2021.
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The Werewolf (1956)
• Directed by Fred F. Sears
• Written by Robert E. Kent, James B. Gordon
• Stars Don Megowan, Joyce Holden, Eleanore Tanin
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 19 Minutes
• Watch it: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x3c4tpz
Spoiler-Free Judgement Zone
It’s a not-so-well-known film and deserves to be more well-known. It’s well done, a little long maybe, but it looks great and is well acted. It’s good, albeit a little slow.
A man walks down the street at night as the voiceover explains about lycanthrope. The man goes into “Chad’s Place,” and credits roll.
The man has a quick drink and stares into the fire. We see another man purposely ignoring the first man. He tells the bartender that he’s just passing through and leaves. The other man follows him outside. The first man says he doesn’t remember who he is, and the second man wants his money.
The two men fight in the alley, and an old woman watches. She sees the winner’s face and screams. She tells the deputy what happened; only an animal could do that to a man’s throat. Some of the men grab shotguns and follow his footprints in the snow. Somewhere along the trail, the shoeprints turn into wolf tracks.
Later, the sheriff comes back, and the deputy has been injured. They go to see Dr. Gilchrist and his daughter, Amy. Sheriff Haines says the thing that killed the man and hurt the deputy was both animal and man. Haines and Dr. Gilcrist argue about werewolves being real, but they’re both well aware of the legends.
The unnamed, amnesiac man wakes up still wearing a suit, but his shoes are gone. He, too, notices the change in his footprints. He goes to the doctor as well but runs into Amy by accident. The doctor tries to narrow down what the man remembers. He says he was in a traffic accident and went to see two doctors, then-- nothing. He then admits he killed the man last night, but he thought it was a bad dream. When they mention the sheriff, the man runs off.
The doctor and Amy tell Sheriff Haines that the man is sick, not a criminal and to try not to shoot him.
Meanwhile, Morgan, the mad scientist, is experimenting on dogs. Dr. Emery asks, “What have you done?” Morgan says that mankind will soon be mutating from nuclear radiation, and the werewolf is the cure for that. “When the rest of the world is destroyed, we’ll be the only thinking persons left,” he says. He pokes a dog with a sharp stick-- just because. Morgan wants to hunt down the werewolf and kill him before he blabs and gives away their work. The werewolf’s wife and son come asking about him, but Morgan says he ran off yesterday.
Morgan and Emery go to town and say they treated the missing man. Emery finds the man hiding in a cave. Emery says there’s nothing they can do for him. The man turns into a werewolf and attacks Emery. Morgan takes a shot and drives it off. The two doctors explain themselves to Haines.
The sheriff starts putting down bear traps. They find out that the werewolf’s name is Duncan Marsh, and his wife and son are on the way to town. The werewolf does step into a trap, but is smart enough to get out. Helen Marsh arrives in town, and she soon hears the story.
Sheriff Haines, Deputy Clovey, Amy, and the werewolf’s wife and son go up the mountain to search. They plead through a bullhorn, and Marsh staggers towards them. The family reunites, and Amy treats Duncan’s leg. They take him to the jail for protection, but Morgan and Emery are still waiting to kill him; he knows too much.
The doctor suggests to Haines that someone did this to Marsh. Doc talks about how science and medicine are always turning down new roads. Who would have done this to Marsh? What kind of man would do this?
Morgan and Emery overpower the deputy and enter the jail building. They find Marsh sleeping in his cell. They go into the cell and the werewolf kills them both. The townsfolk light up their torches and chase the werewolf back up the mountain. They shoot at the werewolf and then go home until morning for some reason.
The next morning, the men continue to chase the werewolf. They trap him in the middle of a bridge and shoot him several times. The werewolf turns back into Marsh and dies.
There’s no full moon, no silver bullets, and no magic or curse. This werewolf is 100 percent scientifically created by mad scientists. The makeup is pretty good, and the transformation was also well done. The werewolf wears a suit throughout, so the werewolf makeup is just his head and hands. Toward the end, they call him “the wolfman” a few times, which was interesting.
I like that the first conclusion the sheriff comes to is “it must be a werewolf.” Usually, they doubt and deny it for half the film before all doubt is erased. The sheriff isn’t out to kill the thing, but to help the poor man, who is a victim himself.
The film isn’t terribly scary, it’s more a missing-man drama, but it looks good, is well acted, and is paced well. I’m surprised a movie this decent isn’t more well known.
Dead & Beautiful (2021)
• Directed by David Verbeek
• Written by David Verbeek, Hugh Travers
• Stars Gijs Blom, Philip Juan, Anna Marchenko
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 38 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgement Zone
Five ultra-rich friends learn what happens when you become a vampire. It looks really good and has a fun premise that really goes nowhere. I didn’t hate it, but I don’t plan to watch it again.
A couple of girls are driving through the city in an expensive sports car and almost hit an old woman who points a finger and mutters gibberish at them. A couple of guys are waiting for them at the airport bar. They are waiting for the arrival of a fifth friend, Bin-Ray, who has died. Mason, Anastasia, Alexander, Lulu sit around his memorial cake… until Bin-Ray pops out of the cake-- it was all a joke.
Ana says the guys are bored, that’s why the guys keep picking stupid things to do on their turns. Lulu says it’s her turn next week, what does she want to do? The five friends are all excessively wealthy, each worth umpteen billions apiece. They start a fight in the club, because why not? Lulu goes home to find her mother passed out drunk on the floor.
On Ana’s turn, they all go on a hike through the jungle, but she won’t say to where. They all camp out that night. A strange looking little man comes out of the woods to their campfire. The man cuts his hand and drips blood into a cup. He burns the blood, and they each inhale the smoke. Then they all pass out.
When they wake up, they find the old man, dead. They all pack up their stuff and start to head home. Then they notice that they all have fangs. They call for a helicopter to come pick them up. The copter takes them to a high-rise that’s still under construction. The sun starts to rise, and they all go inside. They doubt the sun will hurt them, but why take chances?
Ana swears she found the whole trip on Instagram. Bin-Ray does research about an ancient tribe of vampires that used to live on that land, and their shaman refused to leave. The shaman wanted to create a new “tribe” and gave them his blood.
How can they find out if they’re really vampires? The girls hire a gigolo. He lets them take his blood, and four of them drink it; Mason abstains to see what will happen. Afterwards, they are very energized. They don’t burn up in the sunlight. Lulu dares Mason to bite her, but again, he refuses.
Alex kidnaps a woman off the street and ties her up. Lulu tells him to release her, but he refuses. Ana finds the woman later. Alex practices looking scary in front of a mirror. Bin-Ray explains how he mind-controlled a lady at the 7/11.
The whole group goes to a Chinese Elvis impersonator dance. It goes well until Alexander bites a woman in the neck. Bin-Ray talks Anastasia into going public online. She says, “I have decided to become a vampire,” on an Instagram video.
Throughout the flim, we get various flashbacks of Lulu’s childhood, including her father’s suicide. Alex’s prisoner-woman turns up dead. Then we see what really happened that night in the jungle. Then it gets weird.
The scenery, settings, and overall cinematography are really cool. The audio is pretty bad in places; some of the characters are hard to understand, even ignoring the accents. If these people really believed they were vampires, I suspect they wouldn’t all be behaving this way.
I suspected exactly what happened far, far too early on. This is what happens when you have too much time and too much money. It just went on for far too long without seeing any special effects. Did these guys not get hungry during the three of four day span of the film? Once the truth is revealed, the fun comes to a screeching halt, but then it continues to go on and on and on with yet another twist.
Short film: The Barn (2021)
• Directed by Damon Nash White
• Written by Damon Nash White
• Stars: Justice Tirapelli-Jamail, Rocío de la Grana
• Run Time: 18 minutes
"After the disappearance of his sister, a man experiences increasingly disturbing dreams of raw chicken."
A huge number of short films don’t have any dialog, presumably to make the film more marketable worldwide. There’s nothing too innovative or unusual about a film with no dialogue.
This one, however, really puts in the effort on the visuals. It’s bright, colorful, and artsy without overdoing it. The music is very well done as well, showing us, without telling us, that something isn’t quite right in this household. It’s maybe a little longer than it needed to be, but it looks great!
And I have to go full disclosure here: I find actual raw chicken a hundred times scarier and more disgusting than any amount of gore in a horror movie.
Children of the Corn (1984)
• Directed by Fritz Kiersch
• Written by Stephen King, George Goldsmith
• Stars Peter Horton, Linda Hamilton, R. G. Armstrong
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 32 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgement Zone
This was a lot slower getting going than I remember. If you’re creeped out by religious fanatics or little kids, watch out. If you are creeped out by both then you need to see this one.
Gatlin, Nebraska, three years ago. There was a corn drought. A boy and his father go for ice cream after church and see a bunch of creepy kids hanging around. One of them locks the door as the very young waitress poisons everyone’s coffee. The ones who don’t drink the coffee get their throats cut-- or worse. It happened all over town that day. Credits roll.
In the present day, Burt and Vicky wake up; it’s his birthday. He just graduated from medical school. She wants to get married, but he’s putting her off.
Meanwhile, back in the cornland, Joseph is going to run away, but Job and Sarah whine about it first. He starts running through the cornfield. Someone with a knife has other ideas.
Vicky and Burt drive to Nebraska and laugh at the religious shows on the radio until they run over Joseph, who was standing in the middle of the road. Burt thinks right away that there’s something fishy going on. He walks through the corn and finds Joseph’s suitcase and blood. They put the body in the trunk and drive on. Burt notices that Joseph’s throat had been cut before they hit him - he was walking dead already.
Job and Sarah are little kids, and they don’t like Isaac and Malachi much. Malachi, the main enforcer, catches them having fun. Isaac, the religious leader, forgives them of their crimes.
Burt stops at the gas station, and old man Diehl comes out to warn them not to go to Gatlin. Diehl’s dog barks at the corn. He yells at the corn, “I kept our bargain; I didn’t tell them nothin!” He then finds the dog’s bloody scarf in the engine he’s working on. He goes into the barn, and they get him too.
Burt tries to avoid Gatlin, but the road won’t let him. Before long, they find themselves driving through a cornfield. They crawl through the corn and find Isaac giving a sermon to the children of Gatlin. “He Who Walks Behind the Rows said outlanders would come, and the man would sorely test them.”
Vicky and Burt get to Gatlin, and it’s deserted. They go into the cafe from the pre-credit sequence, and there’s corn spread around everywhere. They find Sarah, who tells them that Isaac put the adults in the cornfield. Sarah has been forbidden from drawing because she has “the sight” of things she’s not supposed to draw. Burt goes to explore the town hall, while evil teenagers surround the house where Vicky is hiding.
Vicky is soon captured by Malachi and his goons. Burt returns, and Sarah tells him about Malachi. He goes outside, and the corn parts, showing him where to go. Isaac and the others tie Vicky to a big cross as all the kids chant “Kill! Kill! Kill!” over and over.
Burt goes to the church and finds a bunch of kids drinking blood. When the kids reach age 19, they go to “He Who Walks Behind the Rows.” He runs, but all the kids pursue him all over town. Job finds him and takes him to a hiding place where he and Sarah hide, an old bomb shelter. They take him up into the barn, where they can look down on the whole cornfield.
Malachi argues with Isaac and takes over. They cut down Vicky, hoping to use her as bait to catch Burt. They tie up Isaac in her place. Amos, who turned 19 today, walks into the field, and “He Who Walks Behind the Rows” comes for him. It also kills Isaac. Burt grabs Vicky in the chaos and accuses the whole group of being in a cult.
Then… Isaac comes back, looking pretty seriously undead. He comes for Malachi and kills him, as the others, Burt included, run away. A storm comes up, and many people hide in the barn. Job gives Burt a Bible verse that’s supposed to make the monster go away. Vicky figures out that they need to burn the cornfield with gasohol.
They hook up a firehose to the gasohol tank and Burt goes outside. The corn itself attacks Burt, wrapping him up. He cuts himself loose with Job’s help. They hook up the gasohol to the irrigation system and soak the whole field. As He Who Walks Behind the Rows approaches, they burn the fields and the monster.
Burt, Vicky, Job, and Sarah start walking for the nearby town of Hemingford, nineteen miles away.
Isaac is played by a 26-year-old little-ish person who is way creepier-looking than he should be. The actor who plays Malachi has been in a bunch of things, including “The Burbs” one of my favorite 80s comedies. Linda Hamilton wasn’t a big name yet, as Terminator was released the same year as this.
It’s a not-too-subtle metaphor for any culty religion, especially Deep South Christianity, which quite often doesn’t look too much different than this, only with actual adults. It’s really slow getting started, but once the action finally starts, it’s pretty good.
The monster burns at the end, but it’s some kind of supernatural force. Isaac didn’t stay dead either. Could there be a sequel in the works? How about nine or so of them? This film has more sequels than any other Stephen King adaptation.
Howling II: ... Your Sister Is a Werewolf (1985)
• Directed by Philippe Mora
• Written by Gary Brandner, Robert Sarno
• Stars Christopher Lee, Annie McEnroe, Reb Brown
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 31 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgement Zone
Christopher Lee expressed some shame about being part of this one, which gives you some idea of the quality. It’s not… good. There are some entertaining moments, but they’re pretty fleeting. The acting, editing, special effects, story, just all lack quality. If you want to see what happened immediately following the first Howling, check this out. Otherwise we can’t really recommend it.
This time, we’re in Los Angeles, at a funeral for Karen White. The news editor tells Jenny the reporter to cover the story about six dead bodies found half-eaten. Stefan, an occult investigator, gives Ben a business card. Jenny asks him about Karen, and he says that Karen was and still is a werewolf. Jenny tells Ben, “Your sister is a werewolf.” Then we see Karen beating on the lid of her coffin from within.
We shift to a nightclub where Stefan is the least hip-looking guy around, but nobody seems to notice - it must be because he was given cool sunglasses to wear. He watches a woman lure Moon Devil, Deacon, and two friends to a warehouse. She turns into a werewolf and kills them all.
Jenny and Ben go to see Stefan. He explains that Ben’s sister was shot with a silver bullet, but the bullet was removed at the autopsy, so she can never rest in peace. “There are great numbers of werewolves living among us.” Stephan says Karen arranged her own murder. He shows them a videotape of Karen’s last news broadcast; she was the reporter in the first “The Howling” film. He shows them a photo of Mariana, the woman we saw in the warehouse; Stephan explains that only titanium will kill her kind, not silver. Their leader is a woman called Stirba.
Stefan says he’s going to make sure Karen is really dead, and Ben swears to kill him first. The three all converge on the mausoleum. They hear wolves howling. Ben shoots a werewolf outside, and then shoots his sister inside. More of the rubbery monsters attack, and they chase him until one of the beasts tells them where to find Stirba.
Stefan says he’s off to find Stirba, and now Ben is on his side and wants to go with him. Jenny will tag along too. The Dark Country is, of course, Transylvania.
Mariana also travels to Transylvania, where she is meeting Stirba. The truckload of werewolves stop to pick up a couple German appetizers. We soon see that the werewolves like to dress in bondage gear and chant in the candlelight. Once the chanting is done, an old woman sucks the life out of a sacrificial victim and becomes young again. This is Stirba. Her breasts are pert again, and we get to see them and their cleavage a lot through the rest of the movie. Then they all have a werewolf orgy.
Stefan, Jenny, and Ben arrive and almost immediately stake a werewolf. Another werewolf is hiding in their backseat, but they don’t notice. They go to the hotel and stay in room 666, but the hotel doesn’t have six floors. Jenny and Ben have sex in a bad montage with gypsy dancers. Werewolves and people with fangs seem to be literally everywhere in town, even in the daylight.
The full moon rises, and Ben sneaks up to the werewolf castle. Vasile the dwarf gives Ben blessed earplugs that look like teeth. Stirba reveals that Stefan is her brother. Stirba says some magic words, and when Vasile loses his earplugs, his eyeballs explode.
Stirba captures Jenny, and Ben and Stefan have to rescue her. Meanwhile up at the dark castle, the werewolves are having a major orgy, including the same band that was playing back in L.A. “I haven’t felt like this since I was in the Mekong Delta,” Ben says. Meanwhile, more orgy. They get word that their enemies have arrived, and the orgy is over.
There’s a battle between five well-armed guys in the dark and a dozen men in monkey suits. “I told you we’d get these fuzz-balls!” shouts Ben. Soon, there are only three guys with guns. Stirba then throws her pet dragon at the priest in what is probably the coolest effects and gore shot in the movie.
Ben rushes in, kills Mariana and Vlad, and rescues Jenny. Stefan continues on to find Stirba. “Finally, we meet again,”she taunts. “For the last time,” he answers. Yeah, that’s the real dialog. Her hands glow, and he stabs her, letting all the glowing light out. The light surrounds them both and they burn to death.
Back in L.A., it’s Halloween, and Ben and Jenny go to answer the door. It’s their first trick-or-treater. They open the door and it’s a werewolf. Their neighbor is a little Transylvanian priest that they saw on the road outside the castle. They’ve been followed home!
This might just get my vote for “objectively worst episode of a franchise horror film.” It’s painfully bad to watch, and not in a fun way. I don’t know what the director and scriptwriter were on, but it was some pretty powerful stuff. Someone, somewhere, thought this was worth releasing to the public.
The monsters are cheap, the special effects shots are heavily borrowed from the first film, and the script and story are both atrocious. Most of the werewolves were literally men in monkey suits; the studio delivered monkey suits by mistake, and the director was told to “make it work.” A number of scenes had no purpose whatsoever, and nothing connected some of them together.
Sybil Danning spends most of the film dressing and posing like a supervillain from an R-rated version of the Power Rangers.
Christopher Lee looks bewildered here, as if he wasn’t given a script. He’s truly the only good part of this film, but even he can’t save the dialog. He wanted to be in this because he’d never done a werewolf film before, and spent the rest of his career apologizing to people about it.
He wasn’t wrong. This movie is comically awful.
And that’s our show. Thanks for joining us. Stop in during the week at our website, HorrorMovieGuys.com for news and horror updates, to comment on this podcast, or to contact us.
Get ready for next week, where we’ll be watching some more classics. We’ll watch four more horror films, including "The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears" from 2013, "The Amusement Park" from 1975, "Red Christmas" from 2017, and "Better Watch Out" from 2016.
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