Tag Archives: Vincent Price

Bruce Almighty

I love Bruce Campbell.

Now I know I’m not the first person to utter these words and won’t be the last, he’s kinda like Vincent Price meets Jim Carrey. My buddy and nemesis Matt agreed with this, but added that Bruce is also funny. I think this a tad harsh on Jim to be honest. ACE VENTURA: PET DETECTIVE, the first one, was hilarious at the time and I have a bit of a soft spot for ME, MYSELF, AND IRENE…… He was appalling as The Joker though, there’s no arguing with that one.

I was first exposed to Bruce a few weeks back when David Nicklen (a work colleague) had me round to his to enjoy a double bill of his choosing which consisted of THE EVIL DEAD and EVIL DEAD II. He was shocked that I’d never seen the films, especially as I’m a child of the “video nasty” generation.

The first picture impressed me as it had obviously been done with very little cash but excelled in being genuinely frightening (in parts) and achieving gory special effects that looked believable. I love when the ingenuity of the filmmaker almost becomes its own character. Part 2 very obviously had more money thrown at it but, although taking a more comedic angle, is still a great picture.

……….. Last night I watched part 3: ARMY OF DARKNESS.

In this film Sam Raimi gives up on the original idea of trying to scare us and produces a comedy which, although has its roots in the horror genre, is closer to slapstick and, in the extreme, complete silliness. It shouldn’t do, but it works.

The reason I say it shouldn’t is that it deviates so severely from the first 2 pictures. There was definite hints to the direction it was going in the second film but this was (mostly, there were a couple of amusing scenes) due to a more extreme style of acting which gave the whole picture a “hammy” feel, hence the Vincent Price comparison. What’s strange (and nice) about AOD is that the acting is toned down a little and replaced with actual out and out comedy scenes.

The fight scene in the pit is well constructed, as is the large battle towards the end. You can really see Raimi pushing the scale of the picture which obviously put him in good stead for his superhero outings some years later. I’m also a huge fan of that low steadycam(?) shot that flies through the forrest in all 3 films. In this one there’s trees splitting down their length and the camera goes between the split. Very nice indeed. The wide angle lens used up close is also applied to good effect in various scenes.

Bruce Campbell, or Forsyth?

There is a story holding all this madness together:

Ash, having been sucked into a time vortex at the end of part 2, finds himself in the year 1308. Luckily, his car, double barrelled shotgun and chainsaw arm attachment all made it through which prove handy as the picture progresses.

He immediately finds himself fingered as an ally of the enemy by a mob that pick him up and is, naturally, sentenced to be thrown into a pit where two grotesque members of the undead are waiting to shred him to a bloody mess as soon as he hits the bottom. Ash easily picks off these ugly beasts using his chainsaw, kindly thrown to him by an elder who thinks he’s “the one” (mentioned in a prophesy) who falls from the sky and frees them from an evil that has befallen them……

All perfectly plausible so far.

Ash is then tasked with killing two birds with one stone, as the only way to break the “spell” (I can’t think of a better word, sorry) AND get home is to embark on a quest to obtain and return with the ancient Necronomicon (book of the dead) which will banish the evil, and give instructions to get Ash back to good ol’ 1981. It’s like BACK TO THE FUTURE on Ketamine.

All doesn’t go to plan.

There’s no real need to see the first 2 films before seeing this one as it has nothing at all to do with any continuation of the story. It is great fun though and these movies, along with some other notables I’ve watched of late, are changing my mind on the horror genre, of which I’ve not, at any point in my life, had a lot of time for.

The chosen scene is the first part of the battle between Ash and co and the undead. It doesn’t take a genius to spot the influence of Ray Harryhausen, it could be JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS.

Incidentally, NBC Universal have taken exception to me uploading this clip which seems stupid as I’m using it to PROMOTE THEIR MATERIAL. As a result, our American viewers will be faced with a blank screen. Anyone else having problems can find the video by clicking this link:


A Bunch of Phibes

With the exertions of PLASTIC over and done with until I can get into an editing suite, it’s nice to be able to absorb myself in some interesting cinema once again. I’ve had the DR. PHIBES films, directed by Robert Fuest, knocking about my collection for a while so thought it was high time they got a viewing.

Starring the amazing Vincent Price as the super villainous but super inventive Dr Phibes, the films chart both his mission to avenge the death of his wife at the hands of, in the opinion of Phibes, bungling surgeons and his attempts to resurrect the woman by transporting her corpse to the valley of the kings in Egypt in order to sail down the river of eternal life.

These films are fantastic!

In normal Price fashion, and you’ll know what I’m talking about here if you’ve see THEATRE OF BLOOD, his mission can only be accomplished by killing a whole bunch of people. Now, this isn’t done using the boring as hell Freddie Krueger or Michael Myers method, no way! That wouldn’t nearly as much fun as inventing a multitude of different ways to dispose of the people who have either wronged him, or are in some way obstructing his success.

THE ABOMNIBLE DR. PHIBES (1971) is the first in the duo and it is in this picture that we learn of Phibes obsessive, but rather touching, love for his wife, who’s death is the sole motive for all his horrific wrong doing.

Of course, there is a huge element of style on show here. For instance, Phibes doesn’t live in a run down cottage in the country, that just wouldn’t do. He resides in a palatial house in upmarket London. Not bad for a guy who’s supposed to be dead…… all is explained in the clip.

He also, bizarrely, has a clockwork band to entertain him and his beautiful (and painfully quiet) assistant, Vulnavia……

Frank Sidebottom anyone?

Vulnavia: The quiet, loyal type

The clip, in true ham horror fashion, explains the entire premise of the film. Check out our old friend Joseph Cotton as the head surgeon who finds himself at the top of Phibes’s list. Also take note of the way Phibes communicates…. Pure genius.

The closing chapter of this terrible tale is commonly known as:

In this picture, as I mentioned earlier, Phibes travels to Egypt to plan the resurrection of his dead wife and along the way, kills a lot of people in an array of elaborate methods. This picture is funnier than the last, the body count is slightly less but it’s a joy to eagerly anticipate the outrageously unlikely causes of death. One character gets trapped in a giant gold scorpion, then is stung to death by loads of real scorpions. Another guy has his face blasted off by a sandstorm….. that originates from the cigarette lighter of his jeep…… it’s great stuff.

I highly recommend looking at both films together as a double bill. Shown below is an example of Phibes incredible ingenuity….. Where does someone find a wind machine in the middle of the Egyptian desert?