Haint’s Halloween Picks


Thought I’d toss out a random selection of offerings for this Halloween weekend: some funny ones, some spooky, some downright cheesy. Wow. this took a while. Made it to 15, in no particular order. Have you seen them all?

  • Young Frankenstein (1987)
  • Gene Wilder, Terri Garr, Marty Feldman, Peter Boyle, Madeleine Kahn
  • Hilarious homage to the classic Frankenstein films, essentially, a full-length film loaded with memorable lines. A must see if you haven’t seen it before; a must see again if you have.

  • The ‘Burbs (1989)
  • Tom Hanks, Carrie Fisher, Bruce Dern, Corey Feldman
  • directed by Joe Dante
  • Comedy horror
  • Funny film about suspicious neighbors in a cul-de-sac. Could watch this again and again. Even the soundtrack is perfection.

  • What We Do in the Shadows (2014)
  • Comedy horror
  • Written by/Directed by/ Starring Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi
  • Hilarious mockumentary about the day to day life of a flat of vampires.

  • The Lost Boys (1987)
  • Directed by Joel Schumaker
  • Comedy horror
  • Jason Patric, Dianne Wiest, Corey Haim, Corey Feldman, Keiffer Sutherland
  • A single mom with two boys moves to a small town in California. Her older son soon falls in with the wrong crowd, a band of vampires. Great fun with a rocking soundtrack.
  • Troll Hunter (2010)
  • Directed by André Øvredal
  • Otto Jespersen, Glenn Erland Tosterud, Johanna Mørck, Tomas Alf Larsen
  • (Norwegian with subtitles)
  • An investigation into bear attacks takes a wild turn as a group of student documentarians uncover a secret. If you watch the trailer, this may look violent or scary; it has its moments, but is mostly a funny thrill ride. Maybe all that old folklore wasn’t just made up stories afterall.
  • Carnival of Souls (1964)
  • Directed by Herk Harvey
  • Candace Hilligoss
  • Unscary but atmospheric horror/drama –final scenes quite memorable…
  • Some find this film too sluggish. It is a slow-burner with a dreamlike feel to it.
  • A woman is involved in a car crash. She recovers and stumbles around in a disoriented state, feeling a strange gravitation to a theme park on a wharf. I would highly recommend seeing the film AND the making of it documentary that comes with the DVD. The back story about the filming and location add to the weirdness of the film itself. The gorgeous carnival burned down not long after filming –the second massive fire on the wharf… This was Candace Holligoss’s only film. Now a cult classic, it was not an immediate hit… A must see if you like artsy-fartsy films.
  • HOUSE (HAU-SU) 1977
  • Nobuhito Kobayashi
  • This must be seen with the making-of documentary as the back story is essentially complementary to the film itself. This experimental director asked his daughter what scared her. She told him. The result is a scary film for children with homemade special effects, pop music, cartoon segments… it’s weird, creepy, funny, and totally unlike anything else– quite groundbreaking for its time.
  • Therapy for a Vampire (2014)
  • Director:  David Ruhm
  • Anatole Taubman, Tobias Moretti, Dominic Oley, Cornelia Ivancan
  • Just discovered this one! Trailer looks super fun– lush comedy. Just ordered. Should be here on Halloween! Woot! Premise–this vampire has been married for a couple hundred years and the marriage has gotten stale. The Count goes in for some therapy…
  • Skeleton Key (2010)
  • Directed by Iain Softley
  • Kate Hudson, Peter Saarsgard
  • I worried that this was going to be too scary for me when I first watched it. Nope. Sucked me in right away and I was hooked. Right to the wild ending. Perfect for folks who have a lower threshold for scary but still want to get the creeps.

  • The Sixth Sense (1999)
  • Written/Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
  • Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette
  • Is it possible that you haven’t seen this? Terrific film about a young boy and a therapist, each working through issues. Some spooky moments but all in all, not very scary, but with a whopping twist. Brilliant film.
  • The Legacy (1978)
  • Directed by Richard Marquand
  • Sam Elliott, Katherine Ross, Charles Gray, Margaret Tyzack
  • My favorite 70s horror film. An American woman is summoned to a homestead home in England where relatives she hardly knew she had are gathered together. The patriarch is dying; only one can inherit. But what is the inheritance? Creepy low budget with some memorable lines and moments. You can try to run away, but all roads lead right back to the mansion. Bonus: Rather remarkably, the film is very true to the book.
  • Shadow of the Vampire (2010)
  • Director: E. Elias Murhige
  • John Malkovitch, Willem Dafoe
  • Not scary but atmospheric, more drama than horror with bits of comedy, this is a favorite of mine.
  • The premise: what if the vampire in the original Nosferatu film was real? It’s a problem when your lead actor wants to eat the film crew…
  • KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park (1978)
  • Director: Gordon Hessler
  • Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Anthony Zerbe as “Abner Devereaux”

Okay, no this isn’t a great, must-see film. I was just wondering if you were paying attention. It’s super campy and actually the reason that I became a KISS fan. I mean, come on, this is CHEESY. If they can laugh at themselves, well, as always, Gene can laugh his way to the bank. It’s a cult classic. Dare I admit that I’ve seen it quite a few times? Favorite scene: the unpleasant bikers going through the house of horrors. Dee, Chopper, and Slime get their comeuppance. Peter Criss gets a nice “Beth” solo. KISS saves the day, defeating robots made to replace them.

  • Midnight Lace (1968)
  • Directed by David Miller
  • Doris Day, Rex Harrison, Roddy McDowell
  • I’ve done a fuller review of this already, but if you want a spooky thriller, this one isn’t scary but quite atmospheric. Someone is stalking the recently wed Mrs. Preston but no one believes her. Rex Harrison was deliberately frosty to Doris Day, who had a nervous breakdown on film for real, having been in an abusive relationship herself. It was the only scary movie she ever acted in.

  • Coraline (2009)
  • Directed by Henry Sellick/Written by Neil Gaiman
  • Horror/Fantasy cartoon for kids but quite creepy
  • Big ol’ weenie me, discovered this film fairly recently. Was surprised at how unsettling this is. Guess today’s kids are jaded so this isn’t scary.
  • The gist of the story is that a young girl, whose family recently moved, discovers a door in the new house that leads to an alternate universe.

A Kind of Murder (2016)

I was in the mood for a mystery thriller and this one fit the bill in some ways while missing it in others. The film is based on the novel The Blunderer written by Patricia Highsmith in 1954. Highsmith is also known for writing The Talented Mr. Ripley and episodes of Armchair Detective, Tales of the Unexpected, Chillers, and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and that’s a small portion of her writing credits.

The plot is contrived; the ending–well, let’s say not entirely satisfying.

I’d give it three monkeys but for the acting and period design which are both excellent and bump it to a 4-monkey rating.

Patrick Wilson and Jessica Biel are the leads, as Mr. and Mrs. Stackhouse. They are perfect in their oddities and dysfunction alone and together. She’s unhappy, neurotic, suspicious, which pushes him inevitably towards the beautiful and available young Haley Bennet who is terrific as Stackhouse’s girlfriend.

I’m surprised that Eddie Marsan (I knew him from the series Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell) did not get top billing too, as he is a scene stealer, in my opinion, holding back a world of malice behind his glasses.

Mr. Stackhouse is a successful architect who writes crime stories in his free time. His hobby is collecting true crime articles for reference. Things go south quickly when his own wife is found dead at the scene of a recent murder and it becomes apparent that Mr. Stackhouse had previously gone to meet the key suspect. It’s possible Mrs. Stackhouse killed herself, but an obsessed cop is not so sure. Stackhouse is a terrible liar. It was unclear to me why he seems to deliberately make people more suspicious of him. His obsession with the murder and the creepy Mr. Kimmel only makes the cop more anxious to prove him guilty.

Have to assume they intended the play on meaning with the title: a kind-of murder or a type of murder? Did he kill his wife? This title works better for me than The Blunderer for sure.

Honestly, the ending doesn’t quite do it for me, BUT overall, the film kept me guessing. I loved the noir-ish atmosphere. The characters are complicated. Even though I wasn’t enamored with any of them–oh, hold up, I take that back–the girlfriend is likeable–but there was enough mystery to keep me engaged.

I give it four monkeys!

My Cousin Rachel (1952) Olivia de Haviland/Richard Burton

I have a confession. I’ve never read any Daphne du Maurier. I plan to remedy this soon. She concocts impressive plots and they’ve been made into legendary films.

Saw Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963) as a kid of course; fabulous.

Don’t Look Now (1974) with Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie, well, wow. A fine example of how parents had no idea what we kids were watching. I saw it as a young teen and it scared me silly. It remains one of the weirdest movies that I like. Haunting. Dreamlike. Creepy. I recently got the book, but haven’t gotten to it yet. Eager to know how true to the book the film was. It’s high on the to-read-next-pile.

Rebecca (1940) with Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine, and a small part by George Sanders who is so much fun to dislike. Also a Hitchcock classic. Perfection.

But last night, watched My Cousin Rachel for the first time. Had never heard of it! How is that possible? Wowee. In the gothic tradition of Rebecca, but directed by David O. Selznick, it should stand firmly with the greats, Rebecca (1940; Wuthering Heights (1939); Laura (1944) Clifton Webb, Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney; and Gaslight (1944) Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotton, Charles Boyer.

The plot is simple enough: a young man (Richard Burton) is raised by his devoted uncle, Ambrose Ashley. His uncle leaves for Italy, but does not return as planned, instead, he marries a distant cousin and remains in Italy. Not long after, the nephew receives two letters indicating that the uncle is unwell and suggests that his wife is killing him. The nephew packs off to Italy only to arrive too late, the uncle has just died and his wife has vacated their home.

It’s all very suspicious. The nephew vows to get revenge. All seems straightforward until he meets his cousin Rachel; she is not at all the gold-digging viper he imagined.

Or is she?

Don’t want to give too much away. This film grabbed me and kept me guessing. Just love it!

And check out how young Richard Burton was! “Introducing Richard Burton!”

The stunning film is in black and white. The cinematography is gorgeous. The acting is superb–and it really was acting, as they seem to have convincing chemistry when in real life Burton had issues with his prima donna leading lady.

Check out the trailer!


As with all films it seems, there has been a remake and even a TV mini series. Can’t speak to them; haven’t seen them. Well worth a gander at this original. Atmospheric, and I’ve heard, Burton portrayed a more refined Philip than Daphne du Maurier created. Not surprising.

I loved this film!

Night Watch (1973) Elizabeth Taylor, Laurence Harvey

I stumbled on this film at the library recently. Had never heard of it. Perhaps it’s a little slow for today’s standards, and reviews are luke warm, but if you like Hitchcock films, or films from the 60s and 70s in general, this is well worth a look-see. I enjoyed Dame Elizabeth Taylor in this.

A stormy night. Ellen looks out at the decrepit windows of the house next door. The shutters are closed but perhaps one is banging. In a flash of lightning, she sees a bloody body sitting in a chair by the window. She screams and calls for her husband, but of course, by the time he looks out, he sees nothing but the decrepit and closed shutters. She insists that they must call the police. As you might expect, the police arrive, search the house, find nothing. And so begins with what seems to be yet-another-wife-being-gaslit story which may lead you to lose patience with it… yeah, yeah, yeah, okay, either the creepy neighbor dude is up to something, or the husband is gaslighting her. Fine. We get it. Let’s move on.

Oh, it will get on with it! Have a little patience. The ending is worth it.

This was Elizbeth Taylor’s only performance in a “horror” movie. It’s pretty tame for a horror film, but it does qualify. I’d consider it giallo-esque, but then I’ve been deep diving into gialli lately. (Giallo = Italian mystery/slasher film)

Night Watch was based on a play by Lucille Fletcher, who also wrote Sorry, Wrong Number.

Four Monkeys!

Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)

Rated R for language.

Three tabloid journalists, Darius, Arnau, and Jeff, set out to investigate the author of this mysterious ad in the paper. Time travel? Is this a joke or the ravings of some crackpot? By staking out the post office box a respondent should reply to, they soon find Kenneth. He doesn’t seem that weird, in fact, he seems like an okay guy. It is quickly decided that Darius is the most likely of the three to gain his confidence.

Pictured: Aubrey Plaza, Karan Soni, Jake Johnson

Won’t tell you more, but this is high on my list of all-time favorite films for various reasons– terrific acting, quirky plot, setting, and mostly heart. This film has a lot of heart and chemistry, between the three investigators, and between Darius and Kenneth. Funny and moving, it managing to rehash the old girl-meets-boy story in a refreshingly original package.

Makes you want to read the want ads to find that special call for a partner…

Looking for a feel good movie? This is it.

Quick comment. You know how sometimes there’s just a special moment in a film that blows you away? This film has one. It’s so simple, so minor, and yet so amazing. When Darius “meets” Kenneth in the grocery store, she knows she has to hook him or she’ll lose him. She holds his gaze with her riveting, large eyes, while putting a can on a display shelf over her head. Plaza must have practiced this a few times, it sure doesn’t look easy to do. Impressive. Memorable. It works. He’s hooked. So are we. I was tempted to put a link to the trailer, but decided no, just go for it. The less you know the better. Just get the popcorn and hit play.

Favorite line: Kenneth: “That was before I got skills.”


What We Do in the Shadows (2014)

I will say up front that this film is rated R for bloody images and violent content, so viewer discretion is advised. These days, it seems, kids see stuff far more graphic than this, but there are a few scenes that might be questionable.

This is one of my favorite movies. They made a TV series out of it, and I haven’t seen that yet. It’s on my list. The premise to this mockumentary is that a film crew was granted access to interview a group of vampires who share a flat in New Zealand–reality television with the undead. It’s hilarious! They don’t really get along all that well. They have the same mundane problems that college roomies do: there’s always someone who leaves a mess, doesn’t pay rent on time, won’t cooperate with flat rules. Then there are other problems, such as, how do you get dressed for a fancy party when you can’t see your own reflection? And then there’s that annoying gang of werewolves to deal with. (Know how to distract them? Throw a stick!) There’s an ancient vampire named Petyr in the basement who looks pretty corpsey and doesn’t speak. Viago, the most agreeable of the bunch, is in charge of feeding him. It seems Petyr might eat Viago if he’s not careful.

Co-written and co-directed by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, this film is fresh, clever, and thoroughly entertaining. Taika as Viago is the pleaser, the one who wants to keep harmony and maintain a clean, respectable flat. Jemaine as Vladislav, self-described as “dead, but delicious” is charming but his love life is in shambles and he is tormented by “The Beast”–not who you might think. No need to wait until October to see it, though it’s a great way to start the spooky season. Even if you aren’t into vampires, you should expect to sink your teeth into this film.

Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 96/100!

Here is a link to the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAZEWtyhpes


Perfume of the Lady in Black (1974) Italian giallo

Oh, Kittymuffins, is this a humdinger of a film! This might, just might, bounce Bird With Crystal Plumage out of the #1 spot in my favorite giallo list.

Where to start…

It has all the best elements of a great giallo, plus Mimsy Farmer–she’s terrific.

If you aren’t familiar with the genre, here’s a quick catch up. In the late 50s or thereabouts, a German production company got rights to do a series of films based on Edgar Wallace novels. They were usually in black and white with less than stellar acting, a good bit of camp, some detection, some slasher stuff. They’re called krimi (=crime). About the same time, this type of thing caught on in Italy. They derived from cheap pulp novels published with predominantly yellow covers. Giallo means yellow. The giallo genre runs a spectrum from gory sadistic slashers (not my thing) to detective story. Anything mystery/thriller/horror/supernatural. But there are some elements to a giallo that make it a giallo: masked killer in designer leather shoes, paranoia, helpless heroine —

Mystèrew, I find this trope surprising really. I watched a fair number of Sophia Loren films and as I recall, she was not a shrinking violet who would just cower against the wall as the killer came at her holding a knife. And older Italian women look pretty tough–like collectively they would beat anyone to death with skillets and rolling pins while their hair remained perfect, protected in kerchiefs, know what I mean? Anyway, the trope is usually gorgeous women whose clothes seem to fall off easily (fire the tailors!) and are ridiculously easy targets. In The Killer Reserved Nine Seats for example, a woman in a cocktail dress and three inch heels goes poking about in a basement. “Hey, crazy killer– come find me! No one could possibly rescue me here! You can’t miss me, I’m sparkling in my dress and click-clacking in my heels!” But not always. Mystere is a glorious departure from this. Wish they’d make a series. She’s fabulous.

Where was I? Oh yes, giallo elements. Lots of red herrings and mystery, and sometimes, like with this one, a saturation of gorgeous colors. Plot aside, this is a luxurious film cinematically speaking. Good thing colors don’t have flavors (unless perhaps you have synesthesia, in which case, I really want to know what that blue in the bedroom tastes like!) or you’d be wanting to lick the screen.

The plot is pretty simple: Sylvia is either a chemist or a manager of a perfume company. She is invited to a gathering of friends and the discussion veers into the dark arts of witchcraft in Africa. It is explained that when a sacrificial subject is chosen, he/she will gradually descend into madness. From this moment, Sylvia begins to experience hallucinations that become increasingly more bizarre and it is obvious that her sanity has broken free from its mooring. We learn more of her backstory, including trauma from the suicide of her mother, whom she remembers sitting at her dressing table in a black dress with white polka dots, spraying herself with perfume. I don’t want to give away much more, but I will say that the ending is quite a shock. You almost feel like that time at the theater where you went to the bathroom and accidentally returned to the wrong theater. What? Zombies? This can’t be right. Oops! Wrong film! Only it’s not.

Now here’s the thing. Up until the ending, you think you know what’s going on. As the credits role, you will probably have questions, as I did. “But…but…huh? What about–?” And while the first half of the film is pretty tame relative to the hack-and-slash gialli, it does get to the blood splatter eventually. I’m going to assume that if you are going to give this one a go, you can handle that. Brace yourself for the ending though.

I’ll be honest, I had to hunt up reviews so someone could explain the ending to me. So glad I did! Many thanks to giallo aficionado, Carlin Cook. I add the link to his review below. His take on it, and I totally agree, is that this film is similar to Identity and the ending is not literal but symbolic. Carlin suggests, and I agree, that multiple viewings would reveal just how amazing this film is–so much subtle symbolism and plot hints along the way.


Here’s a link to a video explaining the giallo genre that includes pics of the original giallo book covers:


Here’s a link to Carlin Cook’s review on YouTube:


Strictly Ballroom (1992) (Australian PG)

This feel-good, romantic-dance dramedy is a one I can watch over and over. The characters are way over the top, except for the two main characters. The initial camp and cheese of this doesn’t cloak the themes of this coming-of-age film, where Fran is an awkward girl whose Spanish family doesn’t fit in with the Australian culture they’ve moved into or the glitzy dance world she’d like to enter. Scot Hastings was born into a dancing family. He’s a young maverick whose dance heritage, his birthright, makes him a darling of the dance circuit–until he decides to veer off course and introduce new dance steps.

This is a modern day Fred Astaire, film, where dance is the language of self-expression and love.

The plot is simple: boy meets girl, boy doesn’t think much of girl, boy dances with girl, they fall in love, big dance finale. Don’t worry, you knew that was going to happen anyway. I haven’t given anything away really. You’ll cheer them along as they go against the system and find each other in the process. Honestly, this movie gets funnier after multiple viewings.

Fran gradually transforms from an insecure and homely girl to a gutsy, attractive woman. Scot breaks from the control of his parents.


following in someone else’s steps or setting or your own steps

Coming of age

Conformity vs. integrity

Dependence vs. independence

rigid rules vs. creativity

insecurity vs. confidence

Honoring family and heritage

I want so much to add photos from the film, but you just have to see it. A fun film for teens or adults. Some good messages for kids about integrity and inner strength.

The ending will make you want to put on heels and stomp around the house until the neighbors consider calling the cops. Don’t even watch a trailer. Just do it. Jump in! It’s weird and campy in the beginning, it might throw you, but hang in there. Lavish costumes, saturated colors, great dance sequences–

Hey, have you got the popcorn going yet?

I feel sure Fred would approve of this review. If you love dance and like a rom-com, I’ll be surprised if this one doesn’t satisfy.


I found this article, a psychological breakdown of this film.

I’d read if after you’ve seen it.


Fitzcarraldo 1982 (German w/subtitles)

Director: Werner Herzog Klaus Kinski, Claudia Cardinale

BAFTA Award: Best Foreign Language Film

Golden Globe Award Best Foreign Language Film

Cannes Film Festival: Best Director

This became a controversial film relating to whether Herzog exploited the indigenous people of the Amazon during the making of it. Filming was originally supposed to take three months and star Jason Robards and Mick Jagger. But 40% into filming, Robards got sick, delays conflicted with Jagger’s schedule, so the film was scrapped and re-written for Herzog’s “Best Fiend” (no, not a typo), Klaus Kinski. If you aren’t familiar with Kinski, he was a talented but extremely volatile actor. He and Herzog had one of the strangest bromances of all time, they loved each other, respected each other, but often contemplated killing one another or dying together. I should add here that Kinski was willing to stay on the boat to film it going through ridiculously dangerous rapids and said something to Herzog to the effect that if you go down, I will go down with you. Eleven months in the jungle making a monumentally difficult film would test anyone. Doing it with Kinski… Herzog was approached by one of the indigenous extras who asked if Herzog would like him to kill Kinski. Herzog’s reputation wasn’t exactly magnanimous either–he could be quite the task master. But clashing egos was just one side of this daunting, complicated, hubris-packed project.

This wildly ambitious project was plagued with tragedies and setbacks. A plane crash. The boat ran aground on a sand bar and delayed filming. Heavy rains stopped filming. There were accidents, deaths and major injuries including arrow wounds inflicted by an irate tribe. A cameraman’s hand was ripped open and there was no anesthesia left for the 2.5 hour surgery to put his hand back together (it had already been used up in a prior accident). (Link to article below)

The plot is simple and straightforward: a crazy Irishman, mad about opera, has a chance to get rich in the rubber industry, but to do so, he must get his newly acquired land and show signs of productivity in a given amount of time. (I think it was a year, but I may be mistaken.) He hatches a wild idea about getting the boat over the mountain and approaching the land from an otherwise not accessible river.

The story is loosely based on a true story of an Irishman in the rubber industry who got the idea to move a boat from one river to a nearby river by hauling the boat parts over a mountain and constructing it on the other side. In the film however, he hauls the finished boat over the mountain. Not wanting to rely on computer graphics, Herzog determined to haul a real boat up the mountain. (An environmental issue, there were three boats used during the film and the one that got up the mountain is still there. It was left. Not sure how it is being used currently–is it a gift shop or a rusting wreck? I don’t know.) But speaking strictly about the final product, the film itself, epic, magnificent, gorgeous, and to borrow from Ebert, “grandiose” only begin to describe this masterpiece. It could not have been made without Kinski; he is sublime. He sells it in every frame.

Thought the plot is simple, the beauty of the film and sheer magnificence of accomplishment are staggering. The underlying message and symbolism are about not letting dreams die. In the commentary, Herzog says that there were many times he thought to give up, but he knew that if he gave up on this film, he was giving up on dreaming itself. Seeing Kinski standing tall on the deck of the boat at the end, he says, “That’s me. I am Fitzcarraldo.” And even while talking of how Kinski’s behavior on set to the last was physically violent, he says with love, that it doesn’t matter. He lives in film. Yes he certainly does. He gave this film every bit of himself and was willing to go down with the ship. The ship did not sink; this film soars.

Looking for something new? Need some inspiration? Get the popcorn and set yourself down in front of this outstanding film.

Link to article about the epic problems during the making of Fitzcarraldo: https://www.factinate.com/editorial/making-of-fitzcarraldo/


The Indian Scarf (1963)

A bit of explanation before I jump into the film itself. You may have seen my comments on Blood and Black Lace, the 1965 Italian giallo film, which I really enjoyed. Giallo is an Italian crime/mystery film genre that grew out of the cheap pulp fiction novels of the 50s that had a predominantly yellow cover. Early giallos were black and white, but with directors like Bava and Argento, lush, saturation of color became a signature of this form of film. Other notable signatures of this genre are stylishly-dressed, masked murderers who go on frenzied killing sprees–over hours or days not weeks and months. Often there are weird dream-like sequences. Whereas in an American film, the score of a noir film may be for subtle atmosphere, in a giallo, the score is prominent, sometimes jazz, sometimes classical, always a bit jarring to the scene. A warning to the curious, some giallo are uncomfortably violent, featuring graphic and bizarre deaths. Despite my appreciation for the many remarkable filming techniques in Argento’s Opera (1987), with gorgeous operatic selections in the score, I won’t be reviewing that one as it was too much for me. Honestly, I have to wonder if some of these films aren’t gateways to lower the audience threshold for sadism, murder and snuff films. Neo-giallo is not for me.

But before Italian giallos there were German krimis. English author Edgar Wallace, best known for King Kong, wrote over 175 novels, many of them crime novels, (see link below) which a German film company used to create their own giallo-style films, called “krimi“s. There is overlap of the two genres. (Link below with more about krimis.) Here’s the fun part– the stories are by an English author, set in England, performed in German, dubbed (badly) back into English. The early ones were primarily in black and white with the same actors appearing again and again, film by film. The atmosphere and camera work is notable; the acting is over the top, reminiscent of silent films where expressions are held for unnaturally long periods of time, actions are exaggerated, fight scenes are lame and limp-fisted, and the murders are quick and almost silly in their stagey-ness.

The Indian Scarf is a perfect and wacky whodunnit. An eccentric old man dies, the heirs gather like vultures, eager to get their share and run, only to find out that the pre-will stipulates they must all live together in the house for seven days before the real will is to be read. One by one, in rapid succession, they are killed off. Oh, and we are informed that there has been a flood so the peninsula is cut off, as is the phone. No escape and no way to call for help. The bodies are piling up in the chapel. Each victim is found with a distinctive scarf around the neck. Why does the killer leave the scarves? Does the killer have an endless supply of scarves? Scarf fetish perhaps? I wish I could tell you, but unless I hiccupped during the explanation and I missed it, none is given. There is a vague mention of India, but that’s about it.

This campy, atmospheric, wild ride has been compared to Clue for its pace and feel. As with Clue, the entire film takes place within a colossal and beautifully bizarre house. The set design, like the acting, is over the top. Now that I know the story, I will have to have another viewing just to take in all the props–wildly oversized flowers in jeroboams, massive statues, hidden passages, weird art and tchotchkes abound. In fact, early on, for no apparent reason, a box is lifted, releasing a tarantula. Why was there a tarantula there? No idea. Why was the box lifted? I couldn’t tell you. It made no sense in the storyline.

Eddi Arent as Richard Bonwit

Eddi Arent stands out with hilarious comedic talent as the butler–again much like Tim Curry in Clue or Hank Azaria’s Agador in The Birdcage (1996). Looking for a fun escape? This is IT! It’s on YouTube–see link below.

Link to film on YouTube:


Link to blog on Edgar Wallace with list of books:


Link to list of Krimi films: https://mubi.com/lists/krimi-1959-1972

strangle scene from The Indian Scarf which I have to mention has some super sound effects

I give The Indian Scarf FIVE MONKEYS for weirdness and camp.