MONSTERZERO NJ’S 12 HORROR FLICKS FOR BLACK HISTORY MONTH!

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S 12 HORROR FLICKS FOR BLACK HISTORY MONTH!

February is the month where we mark the achievements of the black community and there have been some wonderful contributions to the world of horror films by some amazing talents. Whether it be black filmmakers like William Crain and Jordan Peele, or actors such as William Marshall, Pam Grier, Lupita Nyong’o and Duane Jones, there is much to celebrate! Here are twelve films that illustrate the sometimes groundbreaking and always entertaining achievements in the horror genre that this month so proudly commemorates!

REVIEW LINKS: click to read the corresponding review!

  1. Blacula
  2. Scream Blacula Scream
  3. Abby
  4. Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde
  5. Sugar Hill
  6. The House On Skull Mountain
  7. Candyman
  8. Tales from the Hood
  9. Night of the Living Dead
  10. Get Out
  11. Us
  12. His House

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To all these talented men and women in front of and behind the camera…CHEERS!

-MonsterZero NJ

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A TALENT GONE TOO SOON: THE FILMS OF WILLIAM GIRDLER!

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A TALENT GONE TOO SOON: THE FILMS

 OF WILLIAM GIRDLER!

WIlliam Girdler 1947 – 1978

photo: williamgirdler.com

William Girdler was a low budget filmmaker who made nine movies between 1972 and 1978. They were B-movies, rip-offs and exploitation flicks, but they were entertaining and displayed a man with a love for what he was doing. Name actors of the era, like Austin Stoker, Leslie Nielsen, Christopher George and Michael Ansara, worked with him on more than one film. A few of his titles are now considered cult classics. He not only directed, but wrote six of the films he made, produced two and wrote the score for three films, two of those, his own. His directing career started out with two low budget horrors, Asylum of Satan (1972) and 3 on a Meathook (1972), which were both filmed in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.

What will this pretty girl (Sherry Steiner) find behind that door? 3 on a Meathook, perhaps?

His next three films were for prolific exploitation studio American International Pictures. They were Blaxploitation titles, The Zebra Killer (1974), the Exorcist rip-off Abby (1974), with William Marshall, and the Pam Grier detective flick Sheba, Baby (1975). Abby was on the way to big box office profits, on a mere $100,000 investment, when Warner Brothers sued to have it pulled from release, due to it’s similarities to William Friedkin’s classic. Girdler’s first five films were lensed in his native Kentucky.

The great William (Blacula) Marshall as Bishop Garnet Williams in Girdler’s Abby!

Girdler left Kentucky for the Philippines for his next film, the Leslie Nielsen action flick, Project Kill (1976). It’s the oft-told story of a lethally skilled soldier battling his protégée (Gary Lockwood). The film was an early Troma release. Girdler’s next two films were for Film Ventures International. They included the Jaws rip-off Grizzy (1976), his most financially successful picture, with a $39 million box office gross and the eco-horror Day of the Animals (1977).

The fifteen foot tall Grizzly from Girdler’s largest grossing film of the same name.

His final feature was for the legendary Avco Embassy Pictures and was The Manitou (1978) with Tony Curtis, Susan Strasberg, Michael Ansara and Burgess Meredith. The Manitou was his most expensive film, budgeted at an estimated $3 million and was released a few months after his untimely death. It also was a box office success.

Michael Ansara and Tony Curtis set out to battle The Manitou!

Sadly, Girdler’s career was tragically cut short, when he was killed on January 21st, 1978 in a helicopter crash in the Philippines, while location scouting for his next project. His films were getting better from a production standpoint and even he once commented on his hands-on learning experiences making these movies…

“Other people learned how to make movies in film schools. I learned by doing it. Nobody saw Billy Friedkin’s or Steven Spielberg’s mistakes, but all my mistakes were right up there on the screen for everybody to see.” (Louisville Times, 1977)*

It’s a shame that an up and coming filmmaker like Girdler had his life and career cut short. Many highly regarded film talents, like James Cameron for one, got their start on movies like these. We may never know what he would have accomplished, if not for that tragic accident, but he has left behind a film legacy that B-movie fans will always cherish.

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THE FILMS OF WILLIAM GIRDLER

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-MonsterZero NJ

 

Sources: Wikipedia, IMDB and WIlliamgirdler.com

*quote from WIlliamgirdler.com

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S 10 HORROR FLICKS FOR BLACK HISTORY MONTH!

MZNJ_new_views

now playing

MONSTERZERO NJ’S 10 HORROR FLICKS FOR BLACK HISTORY MONTH!

February is the month where we mark the achievements of the black community and there have been some wonderful contributions to the world of horror films by some amazing talents. Whether it be black filmmakers like William Crain and Jordan Peele, or actors such as William Marshall, Pam Grier and Duane Jones, there is much to celebrate! Here are ten films that illustrate the sometimes groundbreaking and always entertaining achievements in the horror genre that this month so proudly commemorates!

REVIEW LINKS: click to read the corresponding review!

  1. Blacula
  2. Scream Blacula Scream
  3. Abby
  4. Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde
  5. Sugar Hill
  6. The House On Skull Mountain
  7. Candyman
  8. Tales from the Hood
  9. Night of the Living Dead
  10. Get Out

 

To all these talented men and women in front of and behind the camera…CHEERS!

-MonsterZero NJ

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S SATURDAY NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE: ABBY and JD’S REVENGE

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It’s been a long time since I took a look at any films from the Blaxploitation era of the 70s, so I decided to put these two stories of supernatural possession together for today’s Saturday Night Double Feature!…
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ABBY (1974)

Released Christmas day 1974, Abby was A.I.P.’s blaxploitation answer to The Exorcist, so much so, that Warner Brothers sued and got the film pulled from release. But not before it made a ton of cash on it’s low budget investment. Abby tells the story of a holy man (the great William ‘Blacula’ Marshall) who, while investigating an archeological dig in Nigeria, pertaining to their ancient Yoruba religion, accidentally releases the evil entity Eshu. The vile spirit shows it’s gratitude by possessing his daughter-in-law Abby (Carol Speed). As the spirit takes hold and Abby becomes more and more vile in her behavior, Dr.Williams (Marshall) returns home to do battle with the demonic entity.

Abby is played very straight despite delivering some unintentional laughs. It’s very low budget, so it’s FX are limited to blowing wind, bizarre sounds and throwing furniture around while Abby speaks in an almost comically dubbed man voice, that was provided by Bob Holt, a prolific voice actor, complete with echo. Exploitation filmmaker William Girdler writes and directs and while despite trying to play it straight, most of possessed Abby’s vulgar talk and behavior just elicits laughs not chills. I do give credit to Carol Speed for just going with it and giving it her all despite how silly some of this comes off. Not to forget William Marshall, who once again brings a power and nobility to his role and maintains it despite how ridiculous things get. Still, you gotta like a movie that stages an African themed exorcism in a bar.

In Abby’s defense, there is some nice 70s nostalgia and unintentional laughs are a form of entertainment, so Abby is by no means a boring movie, it’s just not very scary or chilling. With a few beers it can be a hoot to watch and that’s just fine. Also stars Austin Stoker (Assault On Precinct 13) as Abby’s police officer brother.

EXTRA TRIVIA: Again actor William Marshall was involved in adding African culture to a film as he did with Blacula. It was he who added the use of the Yoruba religion in the film, though he apparently was still unhappy about the film’s final script. I don’t blame him.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 possessed Abbys!

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JD’S REVENGE (1976)

J.D.’s Revenge starts out in 1942 New Orleans as gangster J.D. Walker (David McKnight) is gunned down for a murder he didn’t commit, that of his own sister. Flash forward to 1976 New Orleans where Ike (Glynn E. Turman), a student working through law school, starts to have bloody hallucinations of a mysterious and violent man and soon starts to take on his characteristics against his will. A confused Ike seeks help, not realizing J.D. is back for revenge and using Ike’s body to do it.

As blaxploitation films go, this A.I.P. made flick looks good on a low budget and the acting (including future Oscar winner Lou Gossett Jr. as a former mobster turned preacher, who figures in J.D.’s past) is actually pretty good, especially from Turman. What hurts J.D.’s Revenge is director Arthur Marks’ slow pace and that the film could have used some more intensity. That’s not to say there aren’t intense scenes, there are, especially during the last act, but the film does drag a bit early on. You would expect a bit more scares in a story of possession and revenge from beyond the grave. Marks seems to treat the material like a routine drama despite the violent and supernatural story and that takes away from the fun and makes it a bit too serious for this type of movie. It’s as if he wasn’t comfortable with the horror elements, despite the fact that this is indeed a horror film. If it wasn’t for Turman’s effective portrayal of Ike’s torment, J.D.’s Revenge would be far less watchable. And without giving anything away, the end was far too neat and clean.

As it is, it is a well made film but not as intense or fun as we’d like. It is a curiosity for those who enjoy films from this era and not without some nostalgic fun, but doesn’t quite live up to it’s cult reputation.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 gangster possessed Ikes!

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