The Kindred

Ah, another “modern Prometheus” evil experiment movie. You seldom go wrong with a lab coat and nefarious doings in a basement lab. Enter, The Kindred, a movie with dollops of backstory and erudition to spare usually the opposite in these kinds of things, especially ones filmed on the cheap.

Dr. Amanda Hollins’ life work lurks in bubbling Florence flasks and mysterious beakers in a dark subterranean lair.After all, that’s where the very best biomedical research labs are, let’s be honest.

Dr. Hollins had a falling out with evil Dr. Lloyd (Rod Steiger) over the direction of their controversial gene-splicing research. She has moral scruples, he decidedly does not.

Hollins is not long for this earth, and issues an edict to son John to destroy the fruits of her labors before they get into the wrong hands. John and a bunch of grad student buddies head to her home and basement lab to do her bidding.

But things are never cut-and-dried. There’s a young Hollins acolyte among them, Melissa, who is keen on preserving the doc’s research for posterity.

Da-da-dum.

It’s what the group eventually find in the lab that inspired the title, The Kindred, and what adds another appendage to the Hollins family tree.

The movie’s baby bottle fetus poster is undoubtedly etched in the memories of seasoned gore hounds, even if they never got around to actually watching The Kindred (it wasn’t exactly a breakout smash in 1987).

Still, with slimy creatures, savvy, smarts, infidelity, and grave-robbing, The Kindred has the makings of a 19th century novel! (turns out Dr Lloyd is in cahoots with a body snatcher who passes him near-dead bodies).

Rod Steiger chews the scenery like nicotine gum, but regardless…it’s a fun role, and Amanda Pays (above) is dynamite as grad student/temptress Melissa.

Fans of ’50s monster movies will be delighted as there are definite nods to flicks like The Brain that Wouldn’t Die and countless others.

***1/2 (out of 5)

[Check out our podcast discussion of The Kindred on the Really Awful Movies Podcast!]

The House That Dripped Blood

The house is the epicenter of so much in horror, whether it’s the caller calling from inside it, the creaky door slamming in the middle of the night, the body lodged in the wall, or the phantasmagorical figures appearing in the bathtub. That’s why it’s a bit odd that in the anthology horror, The House That Dripped Blood, the role of the abode is so diminished.

But that shouldn’t diminish the impact of this fun little 70s feature, which showcases the combined talents of some horror icons, albeit appearing in different segments: Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.

The set up for each of the four segments involves prospective renters of a sprawling, dusty Victorian home.

In Method for Hire, a crime writer played by Denholm Elliott rents the place for some peace and quiet (a bit like Ethan Hawke in Sinister). He’s soon plagued by visions of his own fictional creation, a leering strangler named Dominic.

In Waxworks, Peter Cushing portrays a retired stockbroker who becomes completely obsessed with the image of a waxwork figure in a local curiosities museum.

In Sweets to the Sweet, Christopher Lee is a hard-ass dad who won’t let his young daughter associate with her peers or have any toys. He hires a tutor, and soon the daughter is exacting her revenge.

In The Cloak, a two-bit b-movie actor is dissatisfied with a vampire production he’s starring in. Acting as his own wardrobe stylist, he procures a Dracula cape from a rundown curio shop (never a good sign, see Dario Argento’s Inferno). Soon, he’s overcome with vampiric/method acting tendencies.

The Cloak is the cheekiest of the bunch, Sweets to the Sweet the most unpredictable.

They’re each delightful in their own way, as are many/most Amicus productions.

***1/2 (out of 5)

[Check out our podcast discussion of The House that Dripped Blood!]