Infinity Pool, Burial, Night of the Eagle, Spookies, Werewolf, and Manhattan Baby
Weekly Horror Bulletin Newsletter 218
We’ll start with “Infinity Pool” a weird story about cloning— sorta. Then we’ll look into a bait-and-switch barely-horror film “Burial,” try to avoid the curse in “Night of the Eagle,” and then hang out in a haunted house with the “Spookies.” As a bonus this week over at horrorbulletni.com, we’ll look at two more oldies:
• “Werewolf” (1995)
• “Manhattan Baby” (1982)
We’ve got two announcements this week pertaining to our books:
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1. NEW! “The Horror Guys Guide to the Films of Peter Cushing” is available now at all the usual places, including our web store: https://brianschell.com/b/cushing. This is one of our biggest books yet, looking at all fifty of Cushing’s horror films and eight of his other influential movies.
2. FREE! “The Horror Guys Guide to The Halloween Films” is available now, exclusively at our web store, https://brianschell.com/b/halloween. The eBook version is completely free. Enjoy! Note that it’s also available as a paperback, but that one’s obviously not free. Also note, that there are a couple of other free books on the site as well!
Check out all our books!
The Horror Guys Guide to:
• The Horror Films of Peter Cushing New!
• The Horror Guys Guide to The Halloween Films (Free!)
• The Horror Films of Vincent Price
• Universal Studios' Shock! Theater
• Universal Studios' Son of Shock!
• A Sextet of Strange Stagings: Six Surprising Scripts
Here. We. Go!
Infinity Pool (2023)
• Directed by Brandon Cronenberg
• Written by Brandon Cronenberg
• Stars Alexander Sarsgaard, Mia Goth, Cleopatra Coleman
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 57 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
A lovely resort vacation goes far off the rails. There’s a real science fiction element yet it seems to be pretty much set in our world and time, which gives it a surreal quality. It’s violent, disturbing, and all-around interesting to watch.
James and Em are on vacation at a tropical resort.
There’s a local tradition where there’s feasting and music. The band wears really creepy masks as they play. She wants to eat at the Chinese place in town, and James mocks the whole idea. One of the locals drives an ATV around the beach to scare the tourists. Gabi approaches James and chats; “I loved your book,” she says. She knows who he is. Gabi and her husband Alban invite him to dinner tonight… at the Chinese restaurant.
The four have dinner at the fancy Chinese place, which is actually part of the huge fenced-in resort area. Alban is an architect, and Gabi is an actress. She’s made a career out of “failing spectacularly” and demonstrates that she can’t cut bread with a knife—it’s a sort of a gimmick. James has taken six years on his second book, and he’s starting to think it’s a lack of talent. Em doesn’t work because she’s rich and supports James. They all seem pretty normal.
Alban and Gina have invited them out for the afternoon. Em warns James about getting mugged; that happens around here. They get in a car and drive out of the resort, and we see the place has some serious-looking barbed wire around the walls. They drive down the mountain to a private beach where Gabi does something naughty to James.
After the sun sets, they all head back to the resort. James is the only one who’s mostly sober, so he drives. The headlights go out for some reason, and he hits a man in the street. They all freak out, but Gabi says everyone should get back in the car and forget it ever happened. They do not want to get arrested in this country, so they all go home.
Back at the resort, the gates are closed, and the guards say that guests are not allowed outside the border of the compound. After some persuasion, the guards do relent and let them back inside.
The next morning, the police come for James and Em. They go to the police station and are separated. The police inspector asks James to deny they took a rental car out yesterday because the guy renting it to them would get in legal trouble. He does deny this, but then he’s accused of stealing a car and running over a man. The inspector says Em has confirmed all this. Federal law says the family’s eldest son will have the right to kill James in retaliation. The dead man had two sons. Ouch!
The inspector says that for a significant amount of money, they will supply a substitute for the execution. This substitute would be killed instead to satisfy the sentence. This is something they offer to support the tourist trade. They take James to the ATM right then.
There’s more to it than simply replacing him for the execution—they are literally making a double of him. They make him stand in a room that fills with goo that gets all psychedelic and then does something to him.
He wakes up with Em as he recovers. “They told me the double turned out correctly,” she says. They go and look, and it looks exactly like him—and then it wakes up.
Em and James are required to go watch the execution. The whole double-substitution thing is not a secret; it’s just how the law works. The nine-year-old son of the dead man approaches James-2, who cries and begs for his life. The boy stabs James-2 to death in front of the audience. James watches from the audience, mostly in shock. Afterward, they give James the ashes as a sort of souvenir. Em wants to leave the country immediately, but James somehow lost his passport.
Gabi tells him that something similar happened last year to Alban; some men died on a construction project, and Alban was blamed. She invites James to a small party with a handful of people. “We’re all zombies here,” says one of the women. “Everyone here is a brother,” Alban says. They’ve all been in his position at one time or another. Dr. Bob asks him, “Do you worry that they killed the real James?”
One of the guests wants to play a game; in return, he can help with the passport problem. Tonight, they want to go up the hill and kill the mayor. You can easily get away with murder here if you pay the duplication fee, so why not have fun? They break into the man’s home wearing those weird masks from earlier. They capture the man and two women and tie them up. Gabi tries to talk James into shooting the man, but he can’t do it. A bodyguard comes in shooting, and there’s an all-around gunfight; Alban gets shot, along with several people from the house.
The whole group is arrested and taken back to the police station. The others are not in the least upset. This is just part of the game for them, and they know they’ll just buy their way out of it. The inspector says he’s tired of all this, and they are pushing the limits of their hospitality; today, he wants to “make a statement.” “We’re ready to pay now!” screams one of the men as they’re all taken to the execution chamber and killed. Then we see that they were duplicates and didn’t know it. How can they tell them apart if they don’t even know?
One of James’s friends says that it’s the inspector who’s holding up his passport and that he’s due for an injection of something at the hospital that evening. The gang enters the hospital and kidnaps the inspector, who is sedated on a gurney. James takes drugs to get himself pumped up and then beats the hooded man. Gabi pulls off his hood, and James sees that it’s really a duplicate of himself—or is he a duplicate? “We paid the detective to make another double just to have some fun with you!”
James goes into the bathroom and takes out his hidden passport; he had it all along. He gets on the bus to the airport, but the gang shoots up the bus and forces it off the road. They say they’ll kill everyone on board if James doesn’t give himself up. They aren’t going to let him leave that easily.
The group makes James walk back as Gabi calls him names and demeans him all the way there. She reads him bad reviews of his book. Eventually, he runs into the woods, but Gabi shoots him in the leg.
Wounded, James limps towards a farmhouse, where he passes out. He has another psychedelic dream before he wakes. He goes outside, and Alban, Gabi, and the others are there, along with the duplicate version of James on a leash, crawling like a dog. They hand James a knife and say he must kill the other one. When James throws the knife away, the “dog” attacks him. With no other choice, James beats the other James to death. Gabi consoles him after.
The next morning, James calls Em and tells her his flight details. We see that he has at least three urns of ashes with him now. Gabi, Alban, and everyone else gets on the bus to go home as well—they all seem very civilized and sensible.
The resort closes for the season, and we see that James has remained behind.
The technology needed to duplicate a person like that is way out of reach for such a third-world country. Other than that, what a great place to vacation! Actually, this is my big gripe about the film. At no point is this a science-fiction world, nor do we see anything else out-of-the-ordinary here-- just the duplication process as part of our ordinary world. It’s a little hard to swallow on its own in this particular location.
We thought James couldn’t find his passport for a while because the real James had already gone home. The gore here is excellent, there’s a lot of interesting, weird imagery in the hallucination scenes, and the whole concept of “Am I real?” is ever-present here. Overall, it’s an uncomfortable movie, but it’s also really good.
• Directed by Ben Parker
• Written by Ben Parker
• Stars Tom Felton, Harriet Walter, Charlotte Vega
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 35 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This was a werewolf movie on Shudder. Oops. Someone misunderstood somewhere, and this is actually a war movie thriller. The werewolves were a kind of German fighter during World War 2. Still, it was a pretty good war movie and a decent action movie.
London, 1991. Gorbachev has resigned as President of the Soviet Union. Anna Marshall watches the news while her little dog barks outside. She lets him inside, and we see that there’s someone out there… someone in a mask who lets themselves in. The lady sees the guy and Tases him. He wakes up cuffed to the radiator, and he’s not happy.
She asks him why he broke into her house; he’s a skinhead and she’s a Jew, so that might be the reason. “I know who you are,” he says. She’s seen his ID, so she knows him now too. “I know you were a Soviet translator. I know what you found in Berlin,” he says. He says there’s a story from the end of the war. A small group found something very, very secret. They all got wiped out– except for Anna. He wants to know the truth. She blows some kind of powder on him, and he starts to shake. She’s drugged him. “I’ll tell you my story.”
In 1945, when Berlin had fallen, but the war wasn’t quite over yet, Anna was a Russian officer. Brana (young Anna) and two men have to take something important in a box to Moscow. It looks like a coffin, but we don’t see what’s inside.
Every night on the road, when it gets dark, they have to bury the box. Grigory thinks that’s strange, but he’s told to not think about it. Brana has nightmares at night since Berlin. Tor asks her why they bury it; she says that way if someone kills them, the box will remain lost forever.
In the morning, they dig it up and get back underway. They run into an ambush; it’s a sniper. The colonel is killed, but they get the sniper, a German “Werewolf.” They will only need to camp this one final night and get to the train in the morning. They bury the colonel next to the secret box.
Four of the men decide to go to the nearest town for some “spoils of war,” and Brana follows after them to make them return. The men remaining with the box talk about real werewolves and make jokes. Grigory and Iossif talk about Romans and their slogan “Remember Death.” Brana finds Ilyasov and they end up physically fighting. Some of the men succumb to poison smoke; one man wakes up and says it was a “werewolf.”
Back at the camp, Iossif hears something growing out in the woods, and he’s the only one still awake. There’s an attack, and they lose three men. Brana and Ilyasov return and argue about what to do next. The truck is gone, and they can’t carry the coffin all the way out of Poland.
Tor gets separated from the group. He runs into a woman from the village who agrees reluctantly to help him– she’s not afraid of werewolves. Brana meets up with a local man, Lukasz, who knows the area.
Some stuff happens to Tor in the dark.
Lucasz takes Brana and the others to a farmhouse where they can store the coffin overnight. Brana finally agrees to open the coffin to show them what’s inside. It’s the mostly embalmed corpse of Adolph Hitler. They need to return the body to Moscow for absolute proof that he’s dead. They end up hiding the body in the basement of the barn.
Lucasz tells Brana about his now-dead wife and how he deserted after being conscripted. A group of Germans find Tor out in the woods and torture him to find out where “it” is. The Germans find the farmhouse where everyone else is hiding. The soldiers inside watch as the German leader stabs Tor in the back. Then the shooting starts.
Tor runs off; he’s not dead yet. There’s a long gunfight and lots of running around. The Germans eventually get away with the body. They talk interminably. The Germans figure out they kidnaped the wrong body, but now the Russians want revenge. Somehow, the barn gets set on fire with everyone inside. Eventually, one of the men throws Brana out of a window. Tor crawls under the barn where Dead-Adolph is, and everyone burns.
The next morning, Brana looks through the debris. She went back to Moscow and spent six years in a gulag. Now she’s “Anna” and living in London. When she got out of the gulag, she went back to Poland and met up with Lukasz, who also survived.
The man Anna has tied to her radiator killed Lukasz only recently, and now he’s come after her. She makes the paralyzed man drink a bunch of poison. He won’t be coming after her again. As he dies, she pulls a hatbox out of her closet and opens up. It contains Hitler’s head.
It would have saved a great deal of time if they had mentioned this up front:
Werwolf (pronounced [ˈveːɐ̯vɔlf], German for "werewolf") was a Nazi plan which began development in 1944, to create a resistance force which would operate behind enemy lines as the Allies advanced through Germany, in parallel with the Wehrmacht fighting in front of the lines. It is widely misconstrued as having been intended to be a guerrilla force to harass Allied forces after the defeat of Germany, a misconception created by Joseph Goebbels through propaganda disseminated in the waning weeks of the war through his "Radio Werwolf,” which was not actually connected in any way with the military unit.
That’s right; there are no monsters in this film. They don’t mean that kind of werewolf. Still, it’s advertised as horror, and it plays on Shudder, so… Someone made a mistake somewhere.
By the time we figured that out, we were more than an hour into it and wanted to finish. Then they all decided to stand around and talk interminably. It’s a pretty decent war movie. It’s a pretty decent action movie. Other than having a head in a box, it’s not a horror movie.
Short Film: Moonstruck (2023)
• Directed by Alan Seawright
• Written by Alan Seawright
• Stars Shona Kay, Jonathan Decker, and Audrey Seawright
• Run Time: 12:32
• Watch it at:
Liz is asleep when a whole bunch of text messages come in, waking her up. Everyone is saying “It’s amazing!” and “Don’t look—they’re all going crazy!” Then there’s a Presidential Alert—DO NOT LOOK AT THE MOON! There’s a warning on the TV. She looks for husband Rod, who isn’t in bed where he should be.
What is going on?
Well, that was intense!
I really like the lighting in this one—everything is lit by moonlight and is a dark blue. The music is really good as well—very ominous and several steps above the vast majority of indie short films. The special effects with Rod are maybe a little bit much, but they get the point across.
You have to wonder what the next step is for the people of Earth. We don’t get any real explanation for any of this, but it’s so well done that it’s completely forgivable.
Night of the Eagle (1962)
• AKA “Burn, Witch, Burn”
• Directed by Sidney Hayers
• Written by Fritz Leiber Jr., Charles Beaumont, Richard Matheson
• Stars Peter Wyngarde, Janet Blair, Margaret Johnston
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 30 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
There’s witchery afoot. Or is there? We wonder at first if it’s real magic or coincidence, but it becomes clearer what’s happening as it goes along. It’s very well acted, has an interesting script, and entertained.
We open on Hempnell Medical College. Normal Taylor writes “I do not believe” on the chalkboard. “This is how you stop all supernatural things.” He’s giving a lecture on superstitions and religion; he clearly doesn’t believe any of it. Margaret is the teacher’s pet, and Bill is the lazy student. Bill says Margaret is infatuated with her much older professor.
Harvey asks Norman if he and his wife Tansy are up for bridge tonight. Harvey’s wife is jealous of Tansy and Norman, the new professors in town. Norman might be promoted above Harvey, who’s been there forever. At home, Tansy complains about the jealous wives of Norman’s colleagues. She says she’d rather be in Jamaica. Norman laughs at Jamaican religions, which Tansy doesn’t appreciate.
They all play bridge, a game with no excitement whatsoever. Then they all break for coffee. Harold asks how Norman’s such a gifted professor, “Have you sold your soul to the devil?” Tansy flinches when she hears that. After the party, Tansy looks very upset, as there’s something she’s looking for but seems to have lost.
Norman goes upstairs, opens his dresser, and finds a jar with a dead spider in it. She says it’s a souvenir from their trip to Jamaica. It’s a good luck charm and why he’s so successful. After he goes to bed, she finds another spider and burns it in the ashtray.
The following day, Norman looks around for other “souvenirs” from Jamaica—and finds several. It looks like Norman’s wife is a witch.
Tansy comes home and finds all her spell-things spread out on the table. She admits she’s been doing witchcraft. She was doing spells to try to change the future. He’s simply flabbergasted that his wife believes such utter rubbish. She’s been protecting them both from the petty jealousy of the local people. It all started two years ago in Jamaica when Norman was dying after that terrible accident.
The two argue about the situation. He demands that she stop what he considers nonsense, but she’s terrified that bad things will happen to Norman if she doesn’t protect them. Norman gets his way, and they burn all her charms. He accidentally throws in a picture of himself, and she totally loses it. Not long after, a strange woman calls Norman. It’s a woman who says, “Norman, I need you.”
At school Monday, Bill confronts Norman for picking on him. Jeff thinks Norman wants Margaret for himself, but Norman seems surprised by the idea. Jeff talks about how Margaret behaved Saturday, and something clicks in Norman’s head about that phone call. The dean comes in, and he says that Margaret has accused Norman of violating her. Margaret is Flora’s ward; Flora is one of Norman’s colleagues.
Margaret says Norman raped her Saturday night, but he was home with Tansy. She admits that it was she who called him, “Something came over me. I hate you!” A little late, Bill comes in with a gun pointed at Norman. Norman tells him that Margaret recounted the story and then slaps him silly. “I’ll spread the truth about you; you won’t be able to get out of it!” Suddenly, Norman remembers Tansy and her “protections.” Could she have been right?
Norman gets home and finds that someone has sent him a tape of one of his lectures. Tansy tells him not to play it, but he does. It makes a strange sound, and she’s terrified. She turns it off; the phone rings, and the same sound is playing.
That night, Tansy does a ritual, “Let me die in his place.” Then she leaves him a recording that she’s leaving him. “I’ve gone away, so this terrible curse can no longer touch you. By midnight, this will all be over.”
Fiona comes over and says she saw Tansy heading for their country home. He zooms there, but traffic is heavy. He catches up to her bus, then runs off the road and wrecks the car.
By the time Norman gets to the country home, it’s getting late. He runs all over the place but cannot find her. He finds one of her black magic books, and it says that the ritual must be performed in “The house of the dead- the place of the dead.” He runs to the old nearby cemetery and breaks into a mausoleum.
She’s not there; she’s on the beach, walking into the ocean for her suicide.
Norman pulls out some candles and does his own ritual. Something moves behind him in the darkness—it’s a very wet Tansy.
Norman takes Tansy to the doctor, but she orders him to tell the doctor nothing about what happened. “Take me home!” She’s not dead, but she’s clearly still in shock or something.
In the middle of the night, Tansy goes to the kitchen and pulls out a big knife. She comes back to the bedroom and tries to stab Norman. He notices her limping strangely. We immediately cut to a pair of hands holding a voodoo doll. Norman stops the attack, and the hands drop the doll.
Norman storms to the college, where he goes through Fiona’s things. He remembers that she walks with a limp the same way Tansy had earlier. She comes into the office, and he confronts her. He pulls out the audio recording of his lecture, and that strange sound plays again. Fiona makes a face and then turns it off.
Norman still plays the whole thing off as hypnosis, but Fiona denies that. She was afraid of someone younger taking her place at the school. Fiona insists that it’s real witchcraft. She builds a house of cards on the table and then sets them on fire; back at home, Norman’s cat starts a fire. “Do you really believe your home is burning, Norman? Do you believe it?”
Norman says she’s raving mad and runs out. As he leaves, she turns the audio tape back, this time into the school’s PA system. As Norman runs to the car, he becomes terrified of the giant stone eagles placed everywhere on the campus. He sees one of them come to life and attack him.
Tansy wakes up and finds she’s locked inside a burning house.
The eagle bursts in through the door and chases Norman down the halls. It chases him into his classroom, where “I do not believe” is still written on the chalkboard. He hides in terror as the screaming bird approaches.
Lindsay enters Fiona’s office and switches the tape from PA to the room. Fiona looks terrified now and switches it off.
As Norman leaves the school, he notices the big doors are wholly intact, and the stone eagle is right where it always was. He gets home and finds Tansy out in the yard with many firemen. She’s OK, but the house is destroyed.
Lindsay says the dean has decided to give the promotion to Norman, but Fiona says he’ll change his mind. The colossal stone eagle falls as they leave the building and crushes her to death.
The first choice for the role of Norman was Peter Cushing, but Cushing was too ill to attend filming.
It moves fast and stays interesting. There are a lot of “is it real or coincidence”-style bad things that happen to Norman once the magic charms are destroyed. Eventually, of course, we learn that there is real magic involved, but we don’t know about the second witch until very late in the story.
• Directed by Genie Joseph, Thomas Doran, Brendan Faulkner
• Written by Ann Burgund, Thomas Doran, Frank M. Farel
• Stars Felix Ward, Maria Pechukas, Dan Scott
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 25 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
There wasn’t much of a story, and much of the acting isn’t great, but the creature effects are pretty awesome.
We open on a small graveyard. We focus on one grave that’s chained shut and pulsing. Elsewhere, an old man talks to a coffin saying, “We’ll soon be together for all time,” ominously. He opens the coffin, and it’s a perfectly preserved, much-younger woman.
Billy walks through the forest with a bag on a stick, so we can see that he’s a runaway. Some kind of fanged ghoul watches him through the trees. A drifter talks to Billy in the woods about his parents missing his 13th birthday. As Billy walks away, the ghoul kills the man.
Two cars drive down the road after a party; they’re lost. The ghoul drops a log in the middle of the road, so they have to stop and move it. Duke and Peter argue with each other and show us what bad actors they both are.
Billy goes into the old mansion next to the cemetery. There’s a whole birthday party set up for him inside. Outside, a dwarf in a Jawa cloak sneaks inside– nope, it's a little green ghoul-kid. He opens the big gift and finds a man’s head, who says, “Happy birthday, Billy!” Billy runs away.
Duke, Peter, and their friends arrive outside the same big house and graveyard. The old man with the coffin watches them from upstairs, “Welcome, fools!”
Billy runs for the ghoul from earlier, who has a hook for a hand. The ghoul catches Billy, claws him a few times then buries him alive in an open grave before returning to the big house.
Inside, with Duke and the gang, it’s a really boring party with only one annoying puppet. Carol and Duke find a weird occult figure in a box. Duke opens a closet and there’s an old skeleton in there. The dead man has a sort of Ouija board in its arm. The occult figure will work as a pointer. Carol knows all about these things. “It’s for communication with the dead.”
The group asks the Ouija board questions, and the old man upstairs sends the answers back down. It says none of them will leave this house alive. Carol then shrivels into a fanged demon right in front of the group. Lewis runs into the cemetery and is promptly swallowed by a grave.
The whole group goes outside and sees all manner of creepy dead things in the graveyard and quickly go back inside. They all decide on the smartest possible course of action and break into small groups.
Isabelle, the woman in the coffin, wakes up and calls the old man, ”Kreon.” She doesn’t want him anywhere near her; she wants to die. “I poisoned myself once before, I’ll find a way to do it again,” she warns.
Duke and Linda wind up in the basement. Suddenly, farting mud monsters rise out of the ground and slowly chase them around the basement. Linda breaks open a wine barrel and melts the three creatures.
Rich runs into the Carol-demon and the Ouija board. Linda and Duke argue. Dave and Adrienne just hang out together as the ghoul creeps around outside their room. Peter and Meegan find a body in the attic.
Kleon conjures up some helpers who make short work of Dave, but Adrienne gets away. Kleon talks to Isabelle about their many children. Korda, the little guy in the Jawa outfit, walks in. Isabelle runs off to get lost in the tunnels.
Adrienne runs into a dollar-store version of Man-Thing, who melts her into a puddle.
Duke, Linda, Peter, and Meegan finally come together and compare notes. Rich runs into a spider woman who traps him in her web. Duke and Peter go at it again, showing us that they’re better at choreographed fighting than acting. The big grim reaper statue in the room comes to life and finishes off Duke.
Peter pushes the Grim Reaper off the balcony, and “Death” explodes. As all of this is going on, the sneaky ghoul-man lurks everywhere and watches everything. The group runs into the Carol-Demon again, and she electrifies the group until they are about to pass out. Peter spots a vial in the dead mummy’s hand and crawls for it. He throws it at her, and sparks fly. We don’t really see them die, but since we never see them again at all, that’s the assumption.
Isabelle is still wandering around the tunnels, “I know now what I must do. Maybe I’ve always known.” Kleon somehow catches up to her, and they talk some more and then she stabs him in the forehead with an ice pick.
Isabelle climbs out the upstairs window and works herself down a tree. All the dead people start crawling out of their graves. There’s a really long chase with lots of crawling and clawing, but there are an awful lot of zombies to avoid. Isabelle finally gets into a car with a man, and they drive away.
We cut back to that chained-up grave that pulses in the graveyard. Then she realizes that the driver is the ghoul-man. The grave opens up and Kleon comes out, laughing uproariously. Game over!
The acting here is atrocious all around. The story is pretty basic and uncreative as well. The soundtrack is pure 80s, which ain’t bad. The main reason to watch this one is for the creature effects, which are absolutely awesome. Some are costumes, some are stop motion, some are practical/puppetry effects, and most are really quite good.
For some reason, they decided to make the mud-men constantly fart, which wasn’t funny, it just made them silly. None of the other monsters were comic relief, so it made no sense.
• Directed by Tony Zarindast
• Written by Tony Zarindast, Brad Hornbacher
• Stars Jorge Rivera, Richard Lynch, Federico Cavalli
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 39 Minutes
We open in the desert, as Noel drives to an archaeological dig. At the dig, a group of men dig in the dirt with shovels until a fight breaks out. Yuri beats up all the workers because they wanted to stop for a drink. Noel arrives and takes care of the injured man, but Yuri interrupts because he’s found something; it’s a skeleton. Not just any skeleton, but a werewolf skeleton!
Noel immediately gives the other men the rest of the day off as he, Yuri, and Natalie continue to work on the skeleton. He orders that Natalie make sure that none of the Indian workers see it. Joel, however, does see it, and he runs off. Noel recognizes that the skeleton is a “skin walker,” and explains the lore behind them.
Joel talks to Tommy, who is really sick after the fight in the desert and calls an ambulance for the man. The doctor and nurse who examine Tommy wonder why his face keeps changing. Joel tells the other workers that Tommy got an infection from his cut yesterday.
Natalie examines the skeleton and admits that it’s no animal she’s ever seen before. Noel is ready to accept that it really is a werewolf. Yuri sneaks into the hospital, pretending to be a doctor to check on Tommy. He takes a blood sample and leaves.
Night falls. The full moon rises. Tommy goes full werewolf in the hospital bed with howling, fangs, and the whole deal. The werewolf kills a security guard and terrorizes the nurses before it gets out. Joel and Bill are waiting at Tommy’s place with silver bullets in their guns. They both shoot the animal, and it dies.
Paul Niles arrives in town from New York, and the cab driver tells him all about the wolf man who was shot the other night. He arrives at the big house, and Sam the keeper comes to the door, shotgun in hand. Sam says there are weird things happening in the area. He’s there to write a book, and this used to be his mother’s house. Carrie invites him to a party this evening.
Carrie dumps Paul at the party, and he quickly catches Natalie’s eye. Drunken Yuri only has eyes for Natalie. Natalie doesn’t care for Yuri at all, so she needs rescuing. Paul is happy to oblige, and Noel has to break up yet another fight. Natalie tells Paul about their recent discovery, and he says he can let the world know about the find. The two quickly hit it off and end up at his place.
Yuri staggers over to the museum’s lab, where he drugs the security guard. Yuri injects the old guard. He wants to make a “modern man-made werewolf.” He helps the hold man up and tells him he must have fainted. On the walk home that night, the guard wolfs-up as expected. The werewolf drives down the road with Yuri following. Since werewolves can’t drive, he soon crashes, and the car explodes.
Paul wanders around the museum that evening and meets with Natalie. Yuri watches them together and smirks. Yuri comes in and beats Paul over the head with the werewolf’s skull before throwing him out.
Paul goes home and bandages up the scratch marks on his back. He starts to growl and twitch. Natalie arrives, and he fights down the urge to change. She says that what Yuri did wasn’t his fault, but he wants to take it personally. He shows her his wound, and they wind up in bed together.
There’s a young couple making out in a convertible. She sees the werewolf and screams. He then chases her through a field and kills her. Carrie comes to Paul’s place and runs into the werewolf there, a mistake she won’t repeat.
Natalie comes over the next morning, and Paul tells her about his “nightmares.” She relays that Joel and Billy told her that Tommy turned into a werewolf before they shot him. Later, Natalie talks to Joel about what’s been going on. Noel acts mysteriously and says, “In due time, I’ll tell you everything,” which is a clear sign that he’s not the good guy we thought he was.
We spend a lot of time watching Paul and Natalie play pool in a bar. Yuri comes in and breaks up their game, so Natalie starts playing with some other guy. Meanwhile, Paul’s in the restroom getting hairy. Yuri sees what’s going on and heads outside.
Yuri calls Noel and tells him everything that’s going on with the werewolves. Noel offers a huge reward if Yuri’s story checks out and says he’s on the way there. Yuri then asks Natalie to help him get Paul into a cage in the lab.
Paul-wolf goes home and runs into Sam, who’s a hoot, as well as possibly the worst actor of all time. Sam begs for his life, and Paul runs off. Sam tells Natalie about the werewolf upstairs, but she says she knows all about it. She tells him to shoot anyone who tries to come inside.
Natalie goes upstairs and confronts the werewolf. She believes it when she sees him. She calms Paul down as Yuri arrives. Paul jumps out the window and runs through the rocky wilderness as Natalie and Yuri chase him. The werewolf kills Yuri in the woods.
Natalie goes home to Paul’s place. She gets together with Paul, and we see that she’s a werewolf now too.
Just in case you forgot the name of the film you’re watching, there are sounds of wolves howling in the background of nearly every scene, even the ones in the city. Why do we hear the hawk screeching so much? There are no birds in this film! The sound effects are so incredibly repetitive and overblown that it really detracts from the story.
It seems to take nearly forever for someone to actually turn into a werewolf, and when they do, they look mostly human for a long time. Richard Lynch’s Noel just sort of vanishes halfway through the film, and he’s the only one who can act.
Some of the werewolf effects and makeup are pretty decent, and at other times, it’s just a plastic puppet. It’s all very talky and cheap and feels like a made-for-TV movie or even a soap opera. Overall, the sound design is awful, the story is slow and plodding, and the acting is atrocious.
Manhattan Baby (1982)
• Directed by Lucio Fulci
• Written by Elisa Briganti, Dardano Sacchetti
• Stars Christopher Connelly, Laura Lenzi, Brigitta Boccoli
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 29 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
It’s a story that’s a little weak. There are some pluses in the gore effects and soundtrack, but overall, it’s on the dull side and not very well made.
Professor George Hacker takes an Egyptian scorpion home for his nine-year-old daughter Susie as credits roll.
Meanwhile, near the pyramids, little Susie has some kind of vision of sand falling into a hole. Her mother Emily takes photos of her. While she’s alone for a moment, Susie gets another vision of a woman with white eyes. “Tombs are for the dead,” the old woman says before handing Susie a brightly colored amulet with an eye on it.
Professor Hacker works on the archaeological dig with his men. He thinks that he’s found a new tomb, but the men say it’s cursed. Only one man volunteers to go inside with him.
They go inside the old, dark tomb and find Egyptian art and writings inside. He quickly discovers a secret room, and also sets off a trap that contains a pair of cobras (how long were they in that wall?). They continue down some stairs to another set of doors. Hacker’s assistant falls into a spike-filled pit and dies. Strange blue light engulfs Hacker, and he screams.
Emily searches for Susie where she left her, but soon finds her holding the amulet. George Hacker stumbles out of the tomb and passes out; he goes to the optometrist, as he’s blind now. The doctor says his sight will come back in about a year.
Everyone moves back to New York, where Susie argues with her little brother Tommy, who calls her a “lousy lesbian”-- He’s about six years old. Their babysitter Jamie Lee comments on the cool necklace that Susie wears. She has premonitions, like predicting a thunderstorm tonight. She’s correct about that, of course, but she still gets creeped out at her own shadow on the wall.
George starts dictating a book, since there’s not much else he can do right now, and he’s pretty bitter about it. Susie’s eyes start glowing blue, and George suddenly hears screaming and scary sounds on his audio tape. In her room, Susie watches little Tommy walk into a glowing portal and vanish.
“Daddy Help Me” appears written on a mirror, but since George is blind, he can’t see it. Something zaps him in the face again, and he passes out. When he wakes up, he’s able to see fuzzy shapes, better than he could before. He soon starts to recover and wants to go back to finish his work in the tomb. We see that Susie still has the living scorpion. Tommy’s not really gone, or maybe he came back.
George talks to Wiler, another Egyptology expert, about what he saw, and he describes the eye that was in the tomb. We know that it looks similar to Susie’s amulet.
Jamie Lee can’t get the lights to come on, and we see that there’s a snake in the room with her. She calls the lazy security guard to help, but he dies in an elevator malfunction. Jamie Lee calls Emily at work, so Emily comes home and brings coworker Luke along. By the time they arrive, the kids are watching TV. Luke’s into magic, and he’s all “hocus pocus” as he opens the locked door and turns to sand. Emily tries the door, and everything is just fine.
Emily wants to call the police over Luke’s disappearance, but George thinks it’s one of Luke’s elaborate jokes. That night, as they sleep, Susie’s hand burns a hole in her bedsheets. The next morning, Luke doesn’t show up for work.
Jamie Lee takes a Polaroid of Susie, but it doesn’t develop correctly; they throw it away. A creepy woman in the park picks it up, and we see nothing in the picture but the amulet. She calls Adrian, and he instructs her to “call the others.” The woman then gives Emily an envelope, “this concerns your children.” It’s the photo from earlier.
Wiler studies the photo in his study, but a cobra comes out of nowhere and kills him. The Polaroid vanishes. Susie sees all this in a vision and can’t stop screaming. Susie has the Polaroid in her hand– how did she get that?
Tommy explains to George and Emily about the “voyage game” where they go somewhere mysterious. Tommy shows them a souvenir he brought back from one of his trips. It’s a statue of Anubis from the 3rd century that he found on the riverbank.
George goes to see Mercato, who brings up the topic of parapsychology. He thinks Susie may have absorbed the powers that were held in the amulet. He tells them to make sure that Susie doesn’t have the jewel.
George goes through Susie’s desk, and he finds it. He calls Wiler but learns that Wiler had been killed by a poisonous snake. They bring Marcato to see Susie, who’s in a sort of coma and won’t wake up. George hears her screaming, runs upstairs, and watches Mercado roll around with a painful seizure– But Susie still hasn’t woken up.
Mercado wakes up and wants to take George on one of Tommy’s “Voyages.” Suddenly, they're in the desert– but only for a moment. They finally take Susie to a real hospital. Mercado stares into the amulet, and it does something to him.
Mercado tells George that “I have substituted for your daughter.” He’s taken the power into himself and removed it from Susie. He advises George to throw the amulet into the “deepest, darkest part of the river.”
Later, Mercado works on his collection, He’s then attacked by taxidermized eagles and seagulls which goes on and on.
Back at home, George looks at the amulet and drops it into the river as he was instructed.
Back in Egypt, the white-eyed woman gives the amulet to another little girl…
“Raiders of the Lost Ark” was released just one year before this. Coincidence? I think not. There sure are a lot of cobras in Manhattan!
The pacing is slow. The editing is clunky. The plot is thin but stretched out to the breaking point. Not much happens, and it’s so stretched out that it’s a little hard to get through. Still, the gore effects are pretty good, and the soundtrack is just offbeat enough to be interesting.
Overall, this was pretty boring. My understanding is that it was promised to have a much larger budget, which was reduced at the last minute. They did what they could, but it just wasn’t good.
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