Thursday, December 31, 2015

13 Frightened Girls! (1963)

Starring Murray Hamilton, Joyce Taylor, Hugh Marlowe, Khigh Dhiegh, Kathy Dunn
Directed by William Castle
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

An American diplomat's teenage daughter studies up on espionage and becomes a secret and successful spy, but doesn't plan on the dangers she will encounter.

Although the screenplay sometimes borders on the ludicrous, this is a very fun picture with Dunn winning the audience over with a charming and engaging performance.  Although I've seen it grouped in with Castle's horror films, it definitely isn't one, but succeeds on its own merits, with some talented young actresses joining Dunn in the cast.  It paints the Chinese as villains in rather broad strokes when judged by modern standards, but fortunately avoids any kind of racist propaganda.  I enjoyed it, and appreciated the filmmakers' avoidance of the most predictable conclusion.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Voodoo Island (1957)

Starring Boris Karloff, Beverly Tyler, Murvyn Vye, Elisha Cook, Rhodes Reason
Directed by Reginald LeBorg
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

A debunker of superstitions is hired to prove a tropical island safe for a hotel magnate's new property, only to find the island is filled with man-eating plants and voodoo-practicing natives.

This film unfortunately sounds better than it is, as despite the presence of Karloff, a good cast, and a promising premise, the payoff once the film reaches the island is rather lackluster.  Nevertheless, there's still moments to enjoy here, with fine photography, believable special effects, and some genuinely chilling scenes.  Writer Richard Landau has done better and one wonders if his script was censored by budget limitations and the inclusion of a lesbian character.  Still, this is a good bit of diverting fun, although anyone expecting horror from the presence of Karloff will be disappointed.  A young Adam West appears uncredited in an early sequence in the picture.