Ring of Terror (1962)

With that name, can the movie be anything but a crappy el cheapo horror flick? Well, yes, yes it can. Funny thing, I thought the “ring” of the title referred to a ring of people, like there was this group of people terrorizing, or something. Turns out it has something to do with a ring on a corpse’s hand.

Anyway, it’s really not that bad. It’s a little overlong, which is weird since it’s really only about 75 minutes in length, but what I mean is that there’s plenty of filler, a lot of extended shots for no apparent reason. Still, the atmosphere is pretty creepy, even if the acting is thoroughly wooden.

It’s set in the present time, which would be early 1960s, back when the hippies were still in only one area of the country, where men were men and women were subservient to them. You get the picture. Big cars, short haircuts, conservative values. Everyone has this hokey golly gosh accent. The main characters are med students who are also pledging a fraternity; in the frat angle to the plot, they’re each given some goofy “assignment” at the wild-n-crazy Bacchnalian barbeque. These kids wouldn’t know wild and crazy if Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd, circa 1975, jumped on them and sang “King Tut” till their vocal cords began to bleed. I mean, one of the assignments is that one guy – who apparently likes his liquor, if you know what I mean – isn’t allowed to touch ANY liquid for an entire day – and then he’s allowed to gorge. WOW! What a task! Can he survive? Sure, the first part’s tough, but then you get to drink all you want. This is not a tough assignment.

The crux of the plot, though, concerns one Lewis P. Moffatt, a balding collegian who apparently has no fear. He even assists the professor in an autopsy, while his chums vomit! Whee! He’s tough as nails, this one. So he, naturally, gets the frat assignment of a lifetime. But alas, I can’t tell you about it here, since it’s integral to the ending AND happens withing ten minutes of said ending.

As with many of the dollar DVDs I’ve found, most of the actors (he said, unconvincingly) in this movie never appeared in anything again. I can’t imagine why. Their characterizations aren’t too deep, anyway – there’s even a couple that exists solely because they’re fat as hell and proud of it. (There’s even a gratuitous beauty pageant in which the chunky boyfriend – a judge – votes for his hefty girlfriend and then spends precious plot minutes explaining why. Whee!

But even so, the ending doesn’t seem tacked on, and the mood is pretty well set. It’s not nearly as bad as its name might imply.

Ring of Terror: **1/2

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