(Pic courtesy of our lovely model Amber McTrouble Klepaski)

MERLINRAVENSONG'S DVD RECOMMENDATIONS

"Oh, we've spared no pains and we've spared no dough; And we've dug at the secrets of long ago; And we've risen to heaven and plunged Below, For we wanted to make it one Hell of a show."-From The Circus of Dr. Lao

Here you will find some of my favorite movies. These classics will fill your heart with wonder, amusement and knowledge. You will learn a great deal from viewing these films because they are not listed here just for your entertainment, they are listed here for your enlightenment.

Enjoy....MerlinRavenSong )0(

7 Faces of Dr. Lao is a (Metrocolor) 1964 film adaptation of the 1935 fantasy novel The Circus of Dr. Lao by Charles G. Finney. It details the visit of a magical circus to a small town in the southwest United States, and the effects that visit has on the people of the town. The novel was adapted by Charles Beaumont, directed by George Pal and starred Tony Randall in the title roles.

The Day The Earth Stood Still depicts the arrival of an alien dignitary, Klaatu (Michael Rennie), who has come to earth with his deadly robot, Gort (Lock Martin), to deliver the message that earthlings must stop warring among themselves--or else. After being shot at by military guards, Klaatu is brought to a Washington, D.C. hospital, where he begs a sympathetic but frank Major White (Robert Osterloh) to gather all the world's leaders so he can tell them more specifically what he has come to warn them about. Losing patience, Klaatu slips into the human world, adapting a false identity and living at a boarding house where he meets a smart woman with a conscience and her inquisitive son. Both mother and son soon find themselves embroiled in the complex mystery of Klaatu, his message and the government's witch hunt for the alien.

Night of the Demon is a black-and-white horror film from 1957, based on the story "Casting the Runes" by M. R. James. The film was produced in Britain by American actor-producer Hal E. Chester. using a freelance screenplay by Charles Bennett written two years earlier, and the film was directed by Jacques Tourneur.

Sceptical American psychologist John Holden flies to England to take part in a conference on the supernatural and lead an investigation into the activities of an obscure British devil-cult leader Julian Karswell. On arrival, he is stunned to learn British Professor Henry Harrington instigator of the investigation has died just prior to his arrival, apparently killed by an unknown animal. After the visiting the funeral home, where he meets Harrington's pretty, young schoolteacher-niece, Holden is contacted by Karswell by phone, who warns him off continuing the investigation with a loosely-veiled death threat. Holden dismisses Karswell as a crank, but gradually comes to realise that Karswell may have more than natural powers and a sinister disposition. In fact, Karswell has placed a curse on him using runic inscriptions on a piece of parchment, just as he did to Harrington, who in fact was killed by a demon in the film's opening scene. Holden finally realizes that he too will be killed by a demon unless he can first turn the curse back on the one who gave him the parchment�Karswell.

The curse can only be transferred by passing the parchment to the recipient without the recipient knowing it at that moment. After several failed attempts, Holden finally succeeds in passing the parchment to Karswell, who discovers it immediately afterwards. The wind then carries it out of his hand and onto a train track, where it burns spontaneously. The terrified Karswell can see the gigantic demon (invisible to everyone else) coming after him, and is powerless to stop it and unable to run away from it. Karswell meets a gruesome end, as the demon picks him up and claws him to death.

Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror is a German Expressionist film by F. W. Murnau, starring Max Schreck as the vampire Count Orlok. The film, shot in 1921 and released in 1922, was in essence an unauthorised adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula, with names and other details changed because the studio could not obtain the rights to the novel (for instance, "vampire" became "Nosferatu", and Count Dracula became Count Orlok).

Thomas Hutter is an employee at a real estate firm in Wismar, Germany, happily living with Ellen, his wife. One day, his employer, Knock, receives a mysterious letter, written in strange symbols. Knock decides to send him to visit Count Orlok in the Carpathian Mountains to finalize the sale of a house. Hutter leaves his wife with his good friend Harding, and Harding's wife Ruth, before embarking on his multiple-month journey.

Close to his final destination, Hutter boards at an inn, where the locals become frightened at the mere mention of Orlok's name, and discourage him from traveling to his castle during the night. In his room at the inn, Hutter finds a book entitled The Book of the Vampires, which he disregards before falling asleep.

Hutter is left to finish his journey on foot after his hired driver refuses to pass the bridge to the castle. However, he is soon picked up by Count Orlok's coach, which is driven by a strange specter that hides its face, and moves at an unnatural speed. At his arrival at the castle, whose doors open by themselves, he is welcomed by Count Orlok. His grotesque facial features hidden at this stage by his hat, Orlok initially appears to be a mere eccentric gentleman. Hutter has dinner at the castle; Orlok refuses to eat and silently reads a letter. A bell rings at midnight and a startled Hutter cuts his thumb. Count Orlok tries to suck the blood out of the wound, before being repelled by a cross hanging around Hutter's neck. Hutter falls asleep in the parlor after a conversation with Orlok.

Hutter wakes up to an empty castle with fresh wounds on his neck, which he attributes to mosquitoes. That night he is joined by Orlok and they sign the documents for the sale of the house facing Hutter's. Hutter finds The Book of the Vampires in his luggage and starts to suspect that Orlok is nosferatu. He tries to hide in his bedroom as midnight approaches. However, the closed door opens by itself and Orlok comes in, his true nature revealed. At the same time, Ellen sleepwalks and is found by Harding in a comatose state, screaming for Hutter. Her screams stop Orlok, who leaves Hutter untouched.

Waking up, Hutter explores the castle and its crypt. He finds a coffin, where Orlok is resting in a dormant state. Paralyzed with fear and the sheer sight of the nosferatu, he dashes back to his room, where he witnesses Orlok piling up coffins on a coach and climbing into the last one before the coach leaves. Hutter escapes the castle through the window, but is knocked unconscious when he falls and hits the ground. Meanwhile, the coffins are shipped down a river on a raft.

Next, Hutter is at a hospital after his flight from the castle. The coffins are put into a large boat, after the crew sees that they are full of soil and rats.

In a psychiatric ward, Knock is in a confinement cell where he eats flies and tries to bite the neck of his doctor. Hutter decides to leave the hospital to warn his town against Orlok. In his cell, Knock steals a newspaper with news of a new plague, which causes him to rejoice. The sailors on the boat carrying the coffins get sick and soon, all but two are dead. One of them decides to destroy the coffins, which are now crawling with rats. However, Orlok wakes up and confronted with this vision, the sailor jumps into the sea. The captain ties himself to his ship's wheel. Orlok is the new master of the boat.

The ship arrives. Orlok leaves it unseen in one of his coffins, quickly followed by the rats. Knock escapes from his cell. Hutter also arrives in Germany. The next morning, the ship is inspected and it appears empty, except for the dead captain with wound marks on his neck. The logbook of the ship is found, the doctors realize they are dealing with plague. The town is stricken with panic. Ellen reads the book of vampires, despite Hutter's forbidding. She learns how to kill a vampire: a woman pure in heart must make him forget the rooster's first crowing. The town is flooded with corpses and its people chase Knock, mistaking him for a vampire.

Orlok stares from his window at the sleeping Ellen. She opens her window to invite him in but faints. As Hutter leaves to get help, Orlok comes in. He drinks her blood and forgets about the dawning day. A rooster crows and Orlok goes up in smoke as he tries to escape. The last image of the movie is Orlok's castle in the Carpathian Mountains where a woman stares out the window with a blank expression on her face.

Richard Gere plays John Klein, a hot-shot Washington, D.C. reporter whose life suddenly takes a different turn after he and his wife (Debra Messing) are involved in a car accident. Although she suffers a non-fatal head injury, his wife’s CAT scans show that she has a brain tumor that turns out to be glioblastoma. Shortly after her death, John discovers an assortment of cryptic drawings she had made of a strange creature.

Two years later, while driving to Richmond, Virginia, John becomes lost and inexplicably finds himself almost five hours off-course, arriving in the small town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. He soon becomes entangled in the personal stories and a chain of mysterious events, whereby local townspeople report strange supernatural encounters, along with weird lights and phone calls. With the help of the town sheriff (Laura Linney), John begins to investigate the encounters and determines that the common link is an apparently supernatural creature known as the Mothman, whose appearances seem to foretell cataclysmic events. Things take a decidedly personal and frightening turn when he realizes the eerie connections between his wife’s drawings, eyewitness accounts of the Mothman, and phone calls from an other-worldly, seemingly malevolent entity named Indrid Cold

Sergeant Neil Howie (Woodward), of the fictitious West Highlands Constabulary, is sent an anonymous letter recommending that he investigate the disappearance of a young girl, Rowan Morrison, on the remote Hebridean island of Summerisle. He flies to the island and during his investigations discovers that the entire population follows a neo-pagan cult under the island's owner Lord Summerisle (Lee), believing in re-incarnation, worshipping the sun and engaging in fertility rituals and sexual magic in order to appease imminent natural forces.

Howie, an extremely devout and conservative Christian, is increasingly shocked by the islanders' behaviour; yet he is attracted and repelled by the alluring and sexual Willow (Ekland), the daughter of the landlord of the inn where he is staying. He receives no assistance in his search from the islanders, who initially deny Morrison exists and then say that she recently died. Howie persists and uncovers evidence suggesting the girl was a victim, or perhaps is soon to be a victim, of human sacrifice. Delving deeper into the island's culture, he disguises himself as Punch, a principal character of the May Day festival, to uncover the details of the ceremony as it is acted out. The islanders are not fooled and at the end of the festival it is revealed that the girl is alive and unhurt; the letter was part of a ploy to bring Howie to the island for him to be the sacrifice, which they believe will restore the fertility of their orchards.

Edward Woodward as Sgt. Howie. As Howie is seized by the islanders, Lord Summerisle drolly notes that the sacrifice will be especially effective since Howie, although engaged, is like Punch a virgin; is simultaneously wise and a fool; comes as a king (a representative of Her Majesty's government); and comes to the place of sacrifice of his own free will. Howie admonishes Lord Summerisle that if his sacrifice does not work, the next year the islanders will have no choice but to sacrifice their king, Lord Summerisle. Summerisle appears certain that sacrificing Howie will work. Howie is forced into the belly of a large hollow wicker statue of a man, which is set on fire. In the final shot of the film, the islanders surround the burning wicker man and sing the Middle English folk-song "Sumer Is Icumen In" while the terrified Howie shouts out Psalm 23 and implores divine vengeance on the island and its inhabitants.

Lifeforce is a 1985 science fiction film directed by Tobe Hooper from a screenplay by Dan O'Bannon and Don Jakoby, from the novel Space Vampires by Colin Wilson. The film starred Steve Railsback, Peter Firth, Frank Finlay, Mathilda May, Patrick Stewart, Aubrey Morris, Michael Gothard, and Nicholas Ball.

While investigating Halley's Comet, an Anglo-American space mission aboard the space shuttle Churchill finds a large spaceship hidden in the comet's nucleus. Upon entering the spacecraft, the shuttle crew finds three human bodies, two male and one female (played by Mathilda May), in suspended animation in the spacecraft. The shuttle starts the return trip to Earth with the three beings. On Earth, Mission Control loses communication with the shuttle. As it nears Earth, a rescue mission is conducted. The rescuers find the Churchill gutted by fire, except for the three suspended animation cases bearing the aliens. The three are taken to earth where they eventually unleash havoc. They are actually members of a race of space vampires that consume the lifeforce from living beings and send it to their ship.

The three vampires escape from confinement and proportionally transform most of London's population into zombies. Once "zombified", the victims cycle into living-dead every two hours and seek out the 'lifeforce' of the living. These people also become zombies.

The shuttle mission's only survivor, a British colonel and a scientist attempt to destroy the space vampires before they subjugate the planet.

Lifeforce stars Steve Railsback as the leader of the shuttle mission and Mathilda May as the beautiful female space vampire. Frank Finlay and Peter Firth have supporting roles as the British authorities pursuing the vampires and Patrick Stewart plays a minor role as the director of a psychiatric institution. The movie features a stirring score by the late Henry Mancini.

The Skeleton Key is a 2005 horror-suspense film starring Kate Hudson, Gena Rowlands, John Hurt, Peter Sarsgaard, and Joy Bryant. The film focuses on a young hospice nurse who acquires a job at a spooky New Orleans plantation home, and becomes entangled in a mystery involving the house, its former inhabitants, and the hoodoo rituals and magic that took place there. -Wikipedia

This movie is much more than your standard horror movie and it has many hidden messages that will surely be recognized by the true occultist. Real magickians know the value of using hoodoo for soul transference. Those of us who are true to The Craft know that the mirror and the drum are portals. -MerlinRavenSong

The story begins with two teenage girls discussing the events of the previous weekend, during which one of them, Katie Embry (played by Amber Tamblyn), went to a cabin in the mountains to spend time with some friends. While talking, the subject of a supposedly cursed videotape is brought up. The other girl, Rebecca 'Becca' Kotler (played by Rachael Bella), states that anyone who watches this video receives a phone call, in which a voice says, "seven days." Then, exactly seven days after viewing the tape, the viewer dies. Katie reveals in horror that she had watched that video at the cabin last weekend with three friends, exactly seven days earlier. After a series of unexplainable occurrences, involving televisions in the house turning themselves on and eerie sounds, Katie is mysteriously killed while Becca had the misfortune of watching. We don't know what killed Katie but we know it was enough to get Becca sent to a mental hospital.

The film then introduces Katie's aunt, Rachel (played by Naomi Watts), a journalist living in Seattle. Her son, Aidan, was not only Katie's cousin but also a good friend, and seems to be sensitive to psychic occurrences. At Katie's funeral, Rachel begins investigating Katie's death and learns of the videotape. Her investigation leads her to the same cabin in the mountains where Katie and her friends had watched the tape. There, she finds the tape and eventually watches it. She makes a copy for Aidan's father, Noah. Unfortunately, Aidan watches the tape a couple days later.

Rachel's investigation turns to the tape itself, which contains a seemingly random series of disturbing, grainy black and white images. Investigating those images leads Rachel to learn of a girl, Samara, who had been adopted and then murdered by her foster parents. They had killed Samara because they believed she had caused her mother to go insane as well as causing the deaths of several horses. Rachel is led to where Samara was killed; at the bottom of a well. Rachel gets stuck in the well, and, finding Samara's body, puts her to rest. Rachel notifies the authorities, and Samara is given a proper burial, presumably putting her spirit to sleep.

At this point it seems that everything is well again, and Rachel informs Aidan that they will no longer be troubled by Samara. However, Aidan quickly corrects her and says that Samara's spirit has been released, evident by the bruises on his arm, given by Samara in a nightmare (This also happened to Rachel). In the film's most unsettling and memorable scene, Noah is going over some film prints in his apartment when his TV turns on to static, in the same fashion that Rachel's niece Katie experienced before her death. Noah turns it off casually before the TV turns itself on again, which alerts Noah. He is then treated to a recurring image of a well, in which a long-haired female figure (which would be Samara) crawls out of the well and slowly walks toward the screen. It intensifies as Noah quickly backs away and Samara literally crawls out of the television set. Noah knocks over a shelf in fear and crawls away before turning around, only to have Samara stare directly at him, causing his inevitable death which Rachel discovers after racing to his apartment. Rachel is scared and worried that Aidan would die too when she realizes that the only way to escape Samara after watching the video is to make a copy of the tape and show it to someone else, thus continuing the cycle. The ending of the movie is when Rachel is helping Aidan copy the tape.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is a work of children's literature by the English mathematician and author, the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, written under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. It tells the story of a girl named Alice who falls down a rabbit-hole into a fantasy realm populated by grotesque figures like talking playing cards and anthropomorphic creatures.

The tale is fraught with satirical allusions to Dodgson's friends (and enemies), and to the lessons that British schoolchildren were expected to memorize. The Wonderland described in the tale plays with logic in ways that have made the story of lasting popularity with adults as well as children. It is considered to be one of the most characteristic examples of the genre of literary nonsense.

The book is often referred to by the abbreviated title Alice in Wonderland. This alternate title was popularized by the numerous film and television adaptations of the story produced over the years. Some printings of this title contain both Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass.

Allison Hayes stars as Nancy Archer, whose husband Harry (William Hudson) wants the US $50 million she recently inherited from her father so he can abandon her and live it up with his young mistress Honey Parker (Yvette Vickers). After catching Harry flirting with Honey during a Friday night dance at a local bar, Nancy encounters a spaceship carrying an extraterrestrial thirty feet tall who, we later learn, needs diamonds to power his "satellite," as the craft is called throughout the movie. (The film was produced about two months after the launch of Sputnik, and was co-featured with the Roger Corman film War of the Satellites.) Nancy wears one of the largest "rocks" of all, the priceless Star of India diamond. The local sheriff initially scoffs at Nancy's tale, but humors her because the taxes she pays afford him and his deputy a comfortable salary. Harry sees what he regards as his wife's relapse into alcoholism as an opportunity to have Nancy committed to an asylum. The next afternoon, having summoned a psychiatrist to examine his wife, Harry agrees to drive Nancy, now seductively dressed in tight-fitting toreador pants, through the desert in search of the alien.

At sunset they find his satellite. Nancy pounds on the hull of the ship and, finally vindicated, shouts, "It's real! I'm not crazy!" thus rousing the interplanetary traveler inside. Finding the creature impervious to bullets, Harry flees, leaving Nancy at the giant's mercy. The alien intends his victim no personal harm; he only wants the Star of India. In seizing the diamond he scratches her throat, but then takes the unconscious woman back to home and leaves her on the roof of the poolhouse. Her doctor explains she has apparently been exposed to some kind of radiation.

Egged on by Honey, Harry schemes to give Nancy a lethal dose of a "serum" with which she's being treated. Approaching her in the dark with Nancy's private nurse surreptitiously following him, he discovers that Nancy has grown to an enormous size. Nancy's doctors want to operate to stop her growth, but they need Harry's permission to begin the procedure. Imagining his wife to be incapacitated, he leaves home and spends the evening drowning his sorrows in a bar with Honey while awaiting Nancy's demise. Doctors manage to sedate and restrain her massive form as the sheriff and the Archers' butler follow the giant's footprints and discover his satellite. When they attempt to reclaim the stolen diamond, they are chased away and their car demolished before the spacecraft takes off. By nightfall Nancy is too large to restrain. Wrapping sheets around her body, she escapes by tearing the roof off her own mansion. "I know where my husband is!" she exclaims, heading toward town. "He's with that woman! I'll find him." Cornering the cheating lovers, she rips the roof off the bar in which they're hiding and hurls a beam onto Honey, killing her. She then picks up Harry and carries him away like a rag doll (which is the prop that was actually used in this scene). The sheriff fires a riot gun at an electrical transformer as she passes it and she falls to the ground, electrocuted along with the husband she only wanted to herself.

Nancy Archer has had an alien encounter and its left her 50 ft. tall! Now she sees the men in her life from a new angle - looking down on them - and it's time for her to fight back. This movie is a remake based on the original 1958 Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman. This new version stars Daryl Hannah in the leading role. Although it was a low-budget production, the 1990s special effects were sufficient to make Hannah a convincing giantess. Whenever she gets angry, she starts to grow. And this movie is a lttle more revealling. One memorable scene showed her using a swimming pool for a bathtub, whilst talking to her normal-sized husband (played by Daniel Baldwin) on the poolside. The movie also had a strong feminist undercurrent; the heroine's "enlargement" is a metaphor for her emancipation from the men who previously had controlled her life.

Jan Svankmajer's Dr. Faustus. Merging live action with stop motion and claymation, Svankmajer has created an unsettling universe presided over by diabolic life size marionettes and haunted by skulking human messengers from hell. The story concerns the fate of a learned gentleman named Faust, who in his quest for forbidden or advanced knowledge of material things, summons the Devil (represented by Mephistopheles, often also referred to as Mephisto), who offers to serve him for a period of time, at the cost of his soul--perhaps meant to represent the loss of his integrity. In the fulfillment of Faust's increasingly frightening desires, Mephistopheles functions almost as a genie. However, at the end of the story, they quarrel over their bargain and Mephistopheles kills Faust.

Communion is a 1989 science-fiction/thriller/drama film based on the book by Whitley Strieber with the same name. It tells a story of a family that experiences the extraterrestrial phenomenon while on vacation. According to Strieber, the story is a real-life account of his own encounter with "aliens", with Walken playing the role of the author. The movie begins with Mr. Strieber (Walken) and his wife (Crouse), with their son, deciding to take a vacation at their summer house. As they arrive, strange things start to happen. Eventually, Whitley discovers that the aliens mean no harm, and that they are "one"

Italian horror maestro Dario Argento made his name by turning homicide into modern art with a cinematic flourish, but with Phenomena he takes his stylish mayhem in new directions. The film opens with the dreamy grace of a fairy tale: a young girl wandering the green meadows of Switzerland and discovering a gingerbread house, wherein lives a monster more modern than mythic, a psychopathic maniac who plunges the picture into a lush nightmare. Jennifer (Jennifer Connelly in her first starring role), a gifted young girl at a Swiss school, has a psychic link to the insect world and develops a connection with the killer through midnight sleepwalks. With the help of a lonely, wheelchair-bound entomologist (genre stalwart Donald Pleasence, who inflects his sonorous tenor with a gentle Scottish burr) she turns telekinetic detective, which only draws her closer to the killer's lair. The densely plotted story becomes muddled at times (this is the busiest film in Argento's oeuvre) but the lyrical cinematography and gorgeous nocturnal imagery--dreamy sleepwalks, nightmarish murders, hideous horrors that emerge in the dark of night--take on a poetic elegance not seen in his previous work, providing the tale with a kind of dream logic. This is a slasher film reborn as an exquisitely grim fantasy: Jennifer in Argentoland. --Sean Axmaker --This text refers to the VHS Tape edition.

Passion is not one of those words usually associated with the controversial author Ayn Rand, unless one is speaking of her controversial ideas. Her novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged made egoism a virtue, and her philosophy of objectivism, which she defiantly trumpeted in the face of criticism, proclaimed self-interest was a patriotic virtue. For 15 years she also used her philosophy to justify an affair with her "intellectual heir" (as she proclaimed him) Nathaniel Branden. This made-for-cable drama, based on the memoir by Barbara Branden (Nathaniel's wife), hones in on this clash between her ideas and her emotions. Helen Mirren is sharp and intense as the demanding, often icy Rand, playing down her striking features to become severe and plain.

Eric Stoltz brings an insidious mix of charm and calculation to Nathaniel, a sycophantic devotee who espouses the gospel of intellectual honesty while compromising himself at every turn. Peter Fonda and Julie Delpy are the wounded spouses who endure their open affair. It's an unusually handsome film for a cable production, and the cool jazz score beautifully sets both the era and the mood of the film. Director Christopher Menaul, who previously directed Mirren in the brilliant British miniseries Prime Suspect, is fascinated by the hypocrisies justified by love and jealousy. While he's critical of Rand's philosophy and the cultlike following it spawns, he is nonetheless respectful of her intellect and devotion to her ideas, contradictions and all. --Sean Axmaker

Forbidden Planet is a 1956 science fiction film directed by Fred M. Wilcox, with a screenplay by Cyril Hume. It starred Leslie Nielsen, Walter Pidgeon, and Anne Francis. The characters and its setting were inspired by those in William Shakespeare's The Tempest,and its plot has many similarities. This movie is a must see for those of you who are truly interested in self deification.

This tape along with the others can be ordered at http://amazon.com

Love is the Law: MerlinRavenSong )0(

For those of you who live in Michigan and find it more convenient to rent these movies you can most likely find them at Thomas Video. Thomas Video has one of the largest rare and cult movie selections around and I highly recommend you stopping by their store. You can visit them online by clicking the banner below.