JANE EYRE. (1943) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

jane eyre- weddingJANE EYRE. (1943) BASED ON THE BOOK OF THE SAME NAME BY CHARLOTTE BRONTE. DIRECTED BY ROBERT STEVENSON. STARRING JOAN FONTAINE, ORSON WELLES, AGNES MOOREHEAD, MARGARET O’BRIEN, HILLARY BROOKE, HENRY DANIELL AND ELIZABETH TAYLOR AS HELEN. MUSIC BY BERNARD HERRMANN.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

It’s so funny that this film should have been on the good old BBC2 today, because just this very week I’d been telling people that I wanted to properly read and, in some cases, re-read a selection of the classics.

Books like JANE EYRE and Charlotte’s sister Emily Bronte’s WUTHERING HEIGHTS, not to mention Jane Austen’s and Charles Dickens’ works in their entirety. That’s some tall order, innit, but watching this fabulous screen adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s deliciously Gothic novel has only whetted my appetite and now I’m raring to go. Let’s see how far I get, shall we…?

Joan Fontaine, whose sister Olivia De Havilland is miraculously still alive aged over one-hundred, is sublime as the poverty-stricken governess Jane Eyre. This and REBECCA and SUSPICION are my favourite films of Joan Fontaine’s. She has the face and voice of an angel and was absolutely the perfect choice for Jane in this movie.

Actually, there are a lot of similarities between her roles in JANE EYRE and REBECCA. In REBECCA (1941), she plays the un-named female companion who is obliged to trail behind the obnoxious Mrs. Van Hopper in Monte Carlo because she’s utterly impoverished since the death of her father and, frankly, urgently needs the pay-check.

Here she comes to the attention of the rich and embittered Maxim De Winter, who marries her after a whirlwind courtship and whisks her off to his fantastic Gothic family home of Manderley in Cornwall, England. Nice work if you can get it, eh? From poorly-paid and looked-down-upon ‘friend of the bosom’ to mistress of Manderley in one easy step…

The little paid companion couldn’t be happier, of course, but it seems that there is some mystery surrounding the first Mrs. De Winter, the deceased and titular Rebecca and, whatever it is, it’s making Maxim desperately unhappy. Worse, it’s stopping the newly-married couple from enjoying themselves, their new-found love and their marriage…

In JANE EYRE, Joan Fontaine plays a dirt-poor little English governess who is employed to take care of a little French girl called Adele, in the country household of the rich and mysterious Mr. Edward Rochester.

This is only, however, after she’s endured ten hard cold years at the brutal Lowood Institution For Girls and nearly a decade more as the un-wanted orphaned niece of her hard cold Aunt Reed and her fat bully of a son, Jane’s Cousin John.

As this is England in the first trimester, as it were, of the nineteenth century, you can imagine how rough it was for anyone but the rich and privileged. An impoverished female would have been at the very bottom of the totem-pole, so to speak.

Jane probably falls head-over-heels in love with the dashing Mr. Rochester the instant she meets him by accident on the moors at night. How romantic is that, eh? The moors at night? Beats locking eyes over an over-priced bag of chips and a battered sausage in Dublin’s Temple Bar on a crowded Saturday night, does that…!

Mr. Rochester, the Heathcliff of this book/film, is superbly played by that lion of a man, Orson Welles. He cuts a magnificent figure in his knee-boots and riding breeches, with the confidence and arrogance that comes with a lifetime of privilege and giving the orders.

He’s as taken with the stubborn, virtuous Jane as she undoubtedly is with him, but he toys with her and makes her think he’s going to marry the proud and haughty aristocratic Blanche Ingram before eventually crushing Jane to his manly bosom and declaring his undying love for her. Handsome and overpoweringly charismatic he might be, but he’s still a total prick when it comes to how to treat women…!

Jane and Edward’s tragic story plays out against the fabulous, awe-inspiring backdrop of the oh-so-Gothic Thornfield Hall, with its forbidden tower that houses a strange occupant whom Jane hears laughing maniacally in the night but never sees. An occupant that may have tried to kill Mr. Rochester by burning him to death in his bed, who must be watched night and day by a dour and forbidding-looking woman called Grace Poole…

No fewer than three actors appear here who have also popped up in the Basil Rathbone- Nigel Bruce SHERLOCK HOLMES movies (1939-1945). Henry Daniell is wonderful as the mean old Mr. Brocklehurst who runs the charitable institution of Lowood. He once played Moriarty to Basil Rathbone’s world-famous detective, even bearding him rather cheekily in his own den at 221B Baker Street.

This was in THE WOMAN IN GREEN, an utterly ‘mesmerising’ watch, heh-heh-heh. In the same film Hillary Brooke (Blanche Ingram) tried to hypnotise the great detective, with limited results, it must be said.

In SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE HOUSE OF FEAR, Aubrey Mather, in JANE EYRE a genial house-guest of Mr. Rochester’s and an uncle to Blanche Ingram, plays Alastair. He’s the only Good Comrade not trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the law (represented ably here by Dennis Hoey as Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard) by illegally profiting from the mysterious ‘deaths’ of his friends.

I feel all romantic and dreamy after watching this. Reality, sadly, is much less Gothically romantic, so I’m off now to see about the dinner and get some clothes sorted out for the week to come. Yes, yes, I know, boring…! Enjoy the film if you watch it. As an escape from the daily grind, you honestly couldn’t do better.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

jane eyre- wedding

 

Advertisements

THE RAVEN (1935) and THE BAT (1959): A DOUBLE BILL OF HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

bela lugosi the raven

THE RAVEN WITH BELA LUGOSI AND BORIS KARLOFF AND THE BAT WITH VINCENT PRICE: A DOUBLE BILL OF CLASSIC HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE RAVEN. (1935) DIRECTED BY LEW LANDERS. BASED ON THE POEM BY EDGAR ALLAN POE. STARRING BELA LUGOSI, BORIS KARLOFF, IRENE WARE, SAMUEL S. HINDS AND LESTER MATTHEWS.

THE BAT. (1959) STARRING VINCENT PRICE, AGNES MOOREHEAD AND GAVIN GORDON. WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY CRANE WILBUR. BASED ON ‘THE CIRCULAR STAIRCASE’ (1908 NOVEL) BY MARY ROBERTS RINEHART AND ‘THE BAT’ (1920 PLAY) BY MARY ROBERTS RINEHART.

These are two marvellous old horror films starring no fewer than three of the horror genre’s most iconic legends: Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff and Vincent Price. All we’re missing here is Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. If we had those two guys as well, we’d have ourselves a real horror party, haha.

Bela is absolutely magnificent in the deeply atmospheric gothic movie THE RAVEN as the demented Dr. Richard Vollin, a talented surgeon who’s obsessed with the writer Edgar Allan Poe. He adores Poe’s famous poem, THE RAVEN, but his main interest in the melancholy scribe is in the whole torture thing that Poe espouses in his grim writings.

Dr. Vollin, an expert on Poe, has gone so far as to recreate one of Poe’s torture chambers in his basement. It comes complete with its very own pit and pendulum, and Dr. Vollin is thrilled with himself at the thought of how state-of-the-art it all is. All he’s lacking, really, is a victim on whom to inflict all these delightful tortures…

His opportunity for victim-finding comes when he befriends the Thatcher family after saving the life of the movie’s eye-candy, Jean Thatcher. Judge Thatcher, Jean’s father, however, thinks that Dr. Vollin is stark staring mad and inappropriately in love with Jean, who’s engaged to a rather stodgy and dull but worthy chap called Jerry. The Judge doesn’t want Jean involved in any way with the rather odd Dr. Vollin. Quite rightly, says you. The man’s clearly a nutcase…!

Dr. Vollin invites Jean, her father, Jerry and a few friends to a get-together in his creepy old mansion in the countryside. A storm is raging outside as the mad doctor prepares to lure his guests to his evil torture chamber.

Don’t even ask me how he’s planning to get away with murdering a number of the town’s prominent citizens. Probably half the town knows they’re there, as well. This doesn’t seem to bother Dr. Vollin one iota. That’s what makes him a madman, see? Madmen don’t give a shit about piddly little trifling details like that. Details are for shmucks, haha. Madmen have their minds on higher things.

He’s particularly excited about torturing Judge Thatcher, who doesn’t think that he, Vollin, is good enough for his precious daughter. Bela is looking forward to scoffing down a nice dish of revenge, which we all know is best served cold, haha.

He’s going to need a bit of muscle, though, to carry out his fiendish plans. Enter Boris Karloff, who gives a wonderful performance as Edmond Bateman, the pitiful escaped killer who is unwise enough to let Dr. Vollin operate on his face. Bateman only wanted his face altered a little bit so that he could escape detection for a while longer.

The spiteful Dr. Vollin has other ideas, however. If Bateman wants Vollin to undo the terrible damage he’s done to poor Bateman’s kisser, Bateman will have to go along with Vollin’s plans for torture and revenge. Not to mention a little spot of… murder…

Vincent Price is suave, smooth and terribly sexy as yet another doctor in THE BAT, a fantastic black-and-white mystery thriller. He plays Dr. Malcolm Welles, a medic who’s conducting extensive research on… you guessed it, bats!

Could he also be the deadly murderer who’s terrorizing a small American town, the killer known as ‘The Bat’ because of the way he tears out women’s throats with his sharp claws? He’s certainly Suspect Number One, according to the local constabulary, anyway.

The film also stars Agnes Moorehead, an excellent actress still retaining here most of the gorgeous bone structure and beauty of her youth. She plays a murder mystery writer who’s staying in the town that’s currently going in fear of its life because of this so-called ‘Bat.’

She’s staying with her loyal maid Lizzie in the town’s most haunted old house and the fun really starts when ‘The Bat’ starts targeting the two game old gals personally. Is it really them he’s after, though, or could it be the missing million-dollar stash of bank securities secreted somewhere about the old house that’s drawing him ever nearer…?

Both films, especially the older one, are super-atmospheric. I think I have a soft spot for THE RAVEN in particular, though, simply because it’s so old, a mere four years older than the DRACULA movie that made Bela Lugosi’s name and cemented his place forever in horror movie history.

Boris Karloff, of course, made his name in horror when he did THE MUMMY in 1931. Vincent Price was already famous when he made those fabulous Edgar Allan Poe adaptations with Roger Corman for AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL PICTURES in the middle of the twentieth century.

THE RAVEN and THE BAT are two of my favourite old horror films from Lugosi, Karloff and Price. Hopefully, any of you guys who have yet to see them will feel the same about them after you’ve watched them.

And hopefully too, you’ll agree with me when I say that they just don’t make ’em like that any more. Let’s be thankful for these old cinematic treasures and continue to carefully preserve them. God knows, they’re worth their weight in old.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

 

 

DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE: THE 1931 AND 1941 FILM VERSIONS REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS.

fredric-marchDR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE: THE 1931 AND 1941 VERSIONS REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS IN A DOUBLE BILL OF CLASSIC HORROR. © BOTH BASED ON THE 1886 NOVELLA BY ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON.

DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE: A PARAMOUNT FILM. (1931) DIRECTED BY ROUBEN MAMOULIAN. STARRING FREDRIC MARCH, MIRIAM HOPKINS AND ROSE HOBAR.

DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE: A METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER FILM. (1941) DIRECTED BY VICTOR FLEMING. STARRING SPENCER TRACY, INGRID BERGMAN AND LANA TURNER.

These two films are screen adaptations of Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 novella, THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE. The later one is a direct remake of the first one. Though I prefer the earlier version, they’re both superb. Do you know the story?

There’s this attractive, highly eligible and mild-mannered Victorian doctor/scientist, right, and he has these theories about human nature that you might be interested in. His ideas that the evil in man can be separated from the good and manifested corporeally certainly baffle, bemuse and bewilder his friends, his faithful retainers, his colleagues in the medical profession and his beautiful girlfriend and her stern, staunchly conventional and oh-so-Victorian papa.

But he barrels ahead with his experiments anyway, so convinced is he of the rightness of his ideas. Believe it or not, he comes up with a potion that actually turns him physically into his evil alter ego, a hideously-visaged scoundrel called Mr. Hyde in whom the vein of cruelty and nastiness go all the way to the core of his being.

His ugliness has to be seen to be believed. Fredric March’s transformation in the earlier film is so wonderfully dramatic and frightening that you’re actually left wondering how the hell they managed it, all those years ago. Spencer Tracy’s transformation is less dramatic but it’s still good and well-acted.

Bushy hair, wild bulging eyes and sticky-out teeth are the order of the day as the evil in both men is made manifest and the devil known as Mr. Hyde dons his top hat and cape and goes out on the town…

Both versions are utterly shocking in the sense that Mr. Hyde’s abuse of the woman he meets in the city’s underbelly is openly referred to, even if we only see a small part of it ourselves. In both films, Hyde sets up a beautiful woman of the lower classes in a flat.

He visits her here for the sole purpose of physically abusing her, mentally torturing and tormenting her and there are references to things the women cannot put into words, clearly indicating sexual domination and abuse as well.

Both women turn to Dr. Henry Jekyll, the doctor they hope can save them from the cruelties and vicious excesses of Hyde, each with horrific injuries incurred through the whipping of their bare flesh by Hyde. Both Miriam Hopkins in the 1931 film and Ingrid Bergman in the later film do a truly magnificent job of expressing the terror they feel at the thought of Hyde and his evil character.

The scene where both women are forced to sing, actually sing gaily in the midst of their fear, by the vicious Hyde is genuinely gut-wrenching. Their elation when they think they’ve seen the last of him is so sad because we the viewers have a pretty good idea what’s coming.

And check out the naughty scene in which a nudie Ingrid Bergman and Lana Turner are whipped by Spencer Tracy in his evil turning-into-Mr.-Hyde fantasy! I can imagine that there isn’t a man alive today who wouldn’t want those two naked beauties pulling his chariot for him…

The scene is so risqué I’ve always marvelled at the fact that the censors of the day deemed it fit for public consumption. Both films, in fact, go so far in their depiction of Hyde’s wickedness that they each have a 12s rating and are almost equally shocking (the earlier one has the edge) in their portrayal of the relationships between the two terrified, abused women and their so-called ‘protector,’ who can flash the cash to beat the band but who is otherwise merely a demon in a fancy suit.

I think the 1931 film is the better version, though they’re both excellent. Both have foggy dark nights and gas-lamps, splendid sets and interiors and terrific character actors in abundance, but Fredric March, who actually won an Oscar for his performance, is nothing short of a powerhouse as he takes us with him on his dreadful journey to the dark side of the human psyche. There are some great shots from March’s point-of-view as well that really add to the drama and tension.

He’s so incredibly handsome too, looking every inch the silent movie dreamboat (yes, I know this isn’t a silent movie…!) with his perfect features, shadowed eyelids and lipsticked mouth. His transformation into the monster, as I’ve already remarked, is decidedly more startling than Spencer Tracy’s.

And, forgive me, but I’ve always thought Spencer Tracy to be a little wooden in his acting style. I don’t feel his pain and suffering as much as Fredric March’s, if you know what I mean.

A big shout-out too to Rose Hobar and Lana Turner as the saintly girlfriends in both films who are prepared to do absolutely everything for the dashingly handsome Harry Jekyll but ask him straight out what the f**k he thinks he’s playing at with his constant disappearances and mysterious shenanigans. They each allow him to dance frustratingly around the subject with veiled references and half-truths in a way that one hopes wouldn’t be acceptable to modern women…!

And the faithful retainers in both films are wonderful actors (Edgar Norton and Peter Godfrey) who do a top job of portraying undying loyalty to their respective beloved masters. Dr. Jekyll’s relationship with both butlers (each called Poole) is a key part of each film version.

I have both these films in a two-disc box-set and I enjoy watching ’em back-to-back. There’s nothing like a good monster movie to get the hairs standing up on the back of your neck. And if they stand up anywhere else as well, well, I’d call that a result, wouldn’t you…?

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1925) /THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1943): REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

phantomoftheoperaposterTHE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1925)/THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1943): A DOUBLE BILL OF GRUESOME, GRISLY AND GROTESQUE ‘UNIVERSAL PICTURES’ HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. (1925) BASED ON THE NOVEL BY GASTON LEROUX. DIRECTED BY RUPERT JULIAN. PRODUCED BY CARL LAEMMLE.

STARRING LON CHANEY, MARY PHILBIN, NORMAN KERRY, ARTHUR EDMUND CAREWE AND CARLA LAEMMLE.

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. (1943) BASED ON THE NOVEL BY GASTON LEROUX. DIRECTED BY ARTHUR LUBIN. PRODUCED BY GEORGE WAGGNER.

STARRING CLAUDE RAINS, NELSON EDDY, SUSANNA FOSTER, EDGAR BARRIER AND MILES MANDER.

The 1925 film version of this creepy tale by Gaston Leroux is the first time the story was committed to celluloid and it’s widely regarded as one of the best horror films ever made, and certainly the best of the silent era. There’s something about a silent film that has the power to make a scary story even more frightening for the viewer, I always think.

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA is the story of a horribly deformed and disfigured man, whom it must be said the world has used most cruelly, who lives a solitary existence in the caverns deep down below the Paris Opera House in the early years of the twentieth century.

He covers his ugliness with a mask and, although no-one is supposed to know that he is there, the theatre staff are all uncomfortably conscious of an illicit presence in the opera house whom they have termed ‘the opera ghost.’

This ‘ghost’ falls in love with a beautiful and talented young opera singer called Christine, whose talent he wants to nurture and whose beauty he wishes to possess. He kidnaps this lovely but understandably terrified lady and takes her to his underground lair to live with him forever.

To say that she doesn’t exactly respond with: ‘Eeeeh, this is crackin,’ love, ‘ave you got a drawer where I can keep me smalls?’ is something of an understatement…

Above ground, Christine’s rather proactive lovers (Raoul the nobleman in the 1925 version and Anatole the baritone and Raoul the policeman in the 1943 film) have no intention of letting such an attractive and charming prize slip through their fingers.

The Phantom’s underground hidey-hole is about to become inconveniently overrun by irate beaux and, where there are irate beaux, can an angry, torch-wielding mob be far behind? Unfortunately for old Mask-Face, I very much fear that they cannot…

Lon Chaney (1883-1930) does a job of unparalleled excellence as Erik the Phantom in the 1925 silent movie. Everyone knows by now that he did his own make-up for the film, and it’s generally regarded even to this day to be one of the finest make-up jobs in film history.

Rumours abound about how much physical pain he put himself through to look the part but, regardless which bits are true and which are merely legends passed down by word of mouth, the fact remains that he did a wonderful job.

The ‘reveal’ of his hideously disfigured face is one of the scariest and most iconic scenes ever to be seen in any horror film ever. I can well imagine the women in the cinema audiences that year screaming, swooning and reaching for the smelling salts when his plug-ugly boat-race is uncovered by the dopey Christine who, let’s face it, had had about a million stern warnings not to, as it were, go there…!

The film as a whole is utterly magnificent. Everything, from the crashing of the massive opera chandelier to our first sighting of Erik’s underground lake and the coffin he sleeps in (yes, sleeps in!), to the wonderfully scary organ music he plays in the shadowy apartments in which he is doing little more than living in his own tomb, all combine to both unsettle the viewer and blow his/her mind with the stunning effects and scenery he/she is witnessing.

When Erik spectacularly appears at the Masked Ball as the Red Death, I defy you not to feel icy shivers from beyond the grave running up and down your spine…

There’s nothing negative I can say about this film. The first time I ever watched it was very late on a Saturday night/Sunday morning after a few glasses of wine and it was the most brilliantly surreal viewing experience I can ever remember having.

I’ve tried many times to recreate that experience but, even though the film will easily stand up to a million subsequent viewings, it would appear that that first time was a mind-blowing one-time offer…!

The 1943 film version is equally wonderful, but in a different way. It’s not remotely scary, it has to be said, plus it’s a musical version, if you please, which may annoy some people, but it’s still a terrific story well told.

The full-colour sets and scenery and costumes are absolutely fabulous, darlings, and the songs sung by Nelson Eddy are a joy to listen to. He’s extremely handsome as well, by the way, in his role as Christine’s would-be lover, Anatole.

There’s a running gag in the film involving Christine’s lovers. Anatole clashes, frequently and hilariously, with Raoul, the copper investigating the sinister Phantom-related goings-on in the Paris Opera House, over which of them is going to be Christine’s beau.

Christine, a sweet and pretty vision of loveliness in her beautiful dresses with her golden hair in saucy ringlets, is a naughty little minx who plays ’em both off against each other and greatly encourages their joint woo-ing of her. The little hussy…! A good spanking, applied by either or even both beaux-in-waiting, might not have gone amiss under the circumstances.

It’s the marvellous Claude Rains as the Phantom, however, who steals the show. He plays Erique Claudin, a violinist at the Opera House who loses his job and a valued concerto he’s written (and pretty much his lodgings as well) all in the same short space of time.

Add to this a tray of acid in the kisser and an enforced move to the underground caverns beneath the Opera House and you just might have yourself the worst run of luck since Adam and Eve decided that their diet was lacking fruit, haha. After that, Erique’s free to devote himself to stalking Christine full-time, but he’s got a lotta competition. Christine’s a popular lady…

Claude Rains had already become part of the UNIVERSAL PICTURE family of monsters when he’d starred in THE INVISIBLE MAN about a decade earlier. His excellent performance as the Phantom in this Oscar-winning, commercially successful version of Gaston Leroux’s tale guaranteed him a second and well-deserved place in that particular Hall of Fame.

There’s one thing I always found funny, not to mention a tad incongruous, about the Lon Chaney version. Whose idea was it to bring a horse down to the underground caverns? It’s not like the Phantom, poor guy, ever really went anywhere. Why did he need transport?

Even when the horse carries his beloved Christine to the tomb that Erik intends to be her home for the rest of her life, all that the horse is really doing is getting her there slightly earlier. They’ve literally got the rest of their lives to hang out in the cave. Seems to me like walking there under their own steam might have killed a bit of time for the pair, who no doubt have a lot of boring times ahead of them in the bowels of the Opera House:

Erik: ‘What shall we do today, dear? Shall we take a walk around the cave after dinner?’

Christine: ‘We did that yesterday, why don’t you ever take me out on the lake any more?’

Erik, protesting: ‘We did that the other week, dear, when your mother came, remember?’

Christine, bursting into tears: ‘And that’s another thing. You’ve never liked my mother…!’

Erik, punching the wall of the cave in frustration: ‘Well, maybe if she didn’t keep calling me fucking Quasimodo every time she fucking lays eyes on me…!’

Oh, happy days, folks. Happy days indeed…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

DRACULA, DRACULA’S DAUGHTER and SON OF DRACULA: A TRIPLE BILL OF HALLOWEEN HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

bela-lugosiDRACULA, DRACULA’S DAUGHTER and SON OF DRACULA: A TRIPLE BILL OF BLOODCURDLING UNIVERSAL HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

DRACULA. (1931) BASED ON THE 1897 BOOK BY BRAM STOKER AND THE 1924 PLAY BY HAMILTON DEANE AND JOHN L. BALDERSTON.

DIRECTED BY TOD BROWNING. PRODUCED BY TOD BROWNING AND CARL LAEMMLE JR.

STARRING BELA LUGOSI, DWIGHT FRYE, EDWARD VAN SLOAN AND HELEN CHANDLER.

DRACULA’S DAUGHTER. (1936) BASED ON THE 1897 BOOK BY BRAM STOKER. DIRECTED BY LAMBERT HILLYER.

STARRING GLORIA HOLDEN, OTTO KRUGER, MARGUERITE CHURCHILL, NAN GREY, HEDDA HOPPER AND EDWARD VAN SLOAN.

SON OF DRACULA. (1943) BASED ON THE 1897 BOOK BY BRAM STOKER. DIRECTED BY ROBERT SIODMAK. SCREENPLAY BASED ON AN ORIGINAL STORY BY CURT SIODMAK.

STARRING LON CHANEY JR., EVELYN ANKERS, ROBERT PAIGE, LOUISE ALLBRITTON AND ETTA MCDANIEL (SISTER OF ‘MAMMY’ FROM ‘GONE WITH THE WIND.’)

Sometimes I thank all of our lucky stars that these three films were made. Three of the biggest and most popular films in the UNIVERSAL PICTURES horror movies canon of the 1930s and 1940s, they’re all based on characters and situations created by fellow Irishman Bram Stoker in his 1897 gothic novel DRACULA. It’s one of the most filmed books ever written.

Arthur Conan Doyle pulled off a similar coup with his SHERLOCK HOLMES stories, and I suppose J.K. Rowling to a lesser extent with her HARRY POTTER series of books. Other than these three books, surely only the Bible itself (or E.L. James’s FIFTY SHADES OF GREY novels…!) have ever been more popular or more widely read or filmed.

DRACULA (1931) is the role that made handsome Hungarian actor Bela Lugosi famous. It’s a straightforward enough interpretation of Bram Stoker’s story, in which the mysterious and charismatic Count Dracula comes to London, England from his native Transylvania to widen his reign of terror and find new necks to bite and nice new juicy bodies to drain of their blood.

Once there, aided and abetted by his estate-agent-turned-abject-slave Renfield, brilliantly played by Dwight Frye, he sets his sights immediately on the beautiful Lucy Weston and Mina Seward. The only person standing between him and city-wide domination is the intellectual giant and astute expert in the occult, Professor Van Helsing. Which of the two men will turn out to have the stronger will…?

Bela Lugosi was the first actor to portray Count Dracula as a suave, sophisticated and charming nobleman, as opposed to the claw-fingered, white-haired monstrosity of Bram Stoker’s novel. His superb performance brought him worldwide acclaim but he was only to reprise the role once more, and in a spoof movie at that, which seems strange given how utterly masterful he is as the Transylvanian vampire.

DRACULA’S DAUGHTER (1936) is a film of stunning beauty. I actually think it’s as good as the original Bela Lugosi film, or at any rate I love it equally, haha. It’s certainly every bit as foggy, mistily atmospheric and darkly mysterious as the 1931 film, and Gloria Holden is absolutely out of this world as the fabulous Hungarian Countess Marya Zaleska, who in reality is the titular Dracula’s Daughter.

This film actually continues on where the 1931 movie left off. Dracula has just been killed with the obligatory stake through the heart by the marvellous Edward Van Sloan reprising his role as Dracula’s nemesis, Professor Van (or in this case, Von!) Helsing.

The opening scenes in the police station are just wonderfully comedic and spine-tinglingly chilling as well. Coppers in these old classic horror films always do a terrific job of lightening the mood and warming the cockles of the viewers’ hearts.

Anyway, the beautiful but almost icily disdainful Countess desperately wants to be free of the curse of her vampire father. She wants distinguished London psychiatrist Dr. Jeffrey Garth to help her, but once he works out that the Countess is actually a fully-paid up, card-carrying member of the evil Un-Dead, he’s going to need quite a bit of persuading to have anything at all to do with her…

This is the film with the famously lesbian overtones, by the way. The scene between the Countess with her hypnotic powers and the impoverished young Lili is a thing of beauty indeed, the best of the whole film.

The Countess’s sinister servant Sandor must come in for some praise as well. His look is straight out of a ‘Twenties silent horror film. He looks like he should be turning levers in a mad scientist’s laboratory during a thunderstorm with a manic grin on his face, he’s so evil-looking.

SON OF DRACULA (1943) is set on a New Orleans plantation, so it’s as far from the fog-wreathed streets of Victorian London as it’s possible to get. For this reason, it’s maybe not as spookily atmospheric as its two predecessors, but it’s still a great film and Lon Chaney Jr. is coldly aloof and masterful as Count Alucard/Dracula.

He marries the beautiful Katherine Caldwell, whose mind (and plantation) he has already taken over, after he murders her elderly father. Katherine’s ex-fiancé Frank and a family friend called Dr. Brewster are deeply suspicious of the Count and his obviously underhanded motives.

Can they bring the brainwashed Katherine to her senses, with the help of the Transylvanian intellectual Professor Laszlo, or is she doomed to spend eternity by Dracula’s side as his Un-Dead bride? It’s touch and go for a while there…

These wonderful old classic horror movies never fail to cheer me up when I’m feeling fed-up. I highly recommend them as, say, a triple dose of medicine for the modern-day blues. Don’t take ’em internally, obviously(!), but watched as a triple bill of classic horror they’ll be the perfect cure for whatever ails you, I promise you. Sure beats Smedler’s Powder or Old Doc Washbourne’s Tonic any day of the week…!

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN. (1942) A HALLOWEEN HORROR FILM REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

ghost-of-franky

THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN. (1942) DISTRIBUTED BY UNIVERSAL PICTURES. DIRECTED BY ERLE C. KENTON. PRODUCED BY GEORGE WAGGNER.

STARRING LON CHANEY JR., BELA LUGOSI, CEDRIC HARDWICKE, EVELYN ANKERS, RALPH BELLAMY, LIONEL ATWILL, JANET ANN GALLOW AND OLAF HYTTEN.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is another monster-ific instalment from UNIVERSAL PICTURES, this time featuring Lon Chaney Jr. as Frankenstein’s Monster instead of Boris Karloff, whom you might be more used to seeing in the role.

Come to that, you might be more used to seeing Lon Chaney Jr. as the Wolf Man, another member of UNIVERSAL‘s little family of monsters. No Wolf Man in this picture, and no Count Dracula either, just Frankenstein’s big boxy-headed Monster and his minder, Ygor, played by a virtually unrecognisable Bela Lugosi.

I love Lon Chaney Jr. as the Monster, but there’s something very sad and moving about the Monster in every film in which he features, and this film is no exception. Mind you, he hasn’t exactly got much to smile about, has he?

Women run from him screaming in fear, he’s never more than six feet away from an angry mob wielding flaming torches and yelling blue murder and he’s stuck wearing his too-tight Communion suit for the rest of his life. Like I said, not much to smile about, is it…?

In this film, Ygor is eager (Ygor is eager, geddit…?) for Frankenstein’s Monster to be given a new brain to go with his big brawny body. The doctor he expects to perform this miracle of medicine is Dr. Ludwig Frankenstein, the son of the original Dr. Henry Frankenstein, the guy who brought the Monster to life in the first film.

Dr. Ludwig, played by the lovely old Cedric Hardwicke, is reluctant at first but, when Ygor threatens him with exposure (he’ll tell the villagers about Dr. Ludwig’s father, the original Monster-creator, in other words) he has no choice but to come round to the idea.

Dr. Ludwig wants to give old Frankie a good brain, specifically the brain of his own assistant, Dr. Kettering, who’s just been killed by the Monster. Ygor, however, wants his own warped, diseased brain to go into the Monster’s skull, thinking that with his evil smarts and the Monster’s strength, he could end up ruling the world. Well, I guess it’s possible…

Now all Ygor needs is to find a way to get this done. Could Dr. Ludwig’s other assistant, the disgraced Dr. Bohmer, be the weakest link in the chain and therefore easy pickings for the scurrilous Ygor? And if Ygor’s successful in his diabolical mission, is everyone in the village in the most terrible danger…?

The villagers, as always in these great old monster movies, are the very picture of outraged and exceedingly righteous fury as they demand justice from their law-makers. I particularly like Olaf Hytten, who appeared in minor roles in a few of the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce SHERLOCK HOLMES films of the 1940s. He plays the father of little Cloestine Hussman, the cute little girl who is the Monster’s only friend and the only person in the whole world who can make him raise a smile.

Evelyn Ankers, who’s played opposite Lon Chaney Jr. in THE WOLF MAN and who also appeared in one of the aforementioned SHERLOCK HOLMES films, is on duty here as the eye-candy, namely the lovely daughter of Dr. Ludwig whom the Monster strangely doesn’t fall in love with this time. Probably because he’s too busy abducting little girls with a view to having their brains removed and put into his own big boxy-looking head, haha.

Cedric Hardwicke is marvellous as the poor beleaguered doctor who just can’t seem to escape his tainted past, as is Lionel Atwill, also a HOLMES actor, as the easily corruptible Dr. Bohmer, and of course Lon Chaney Jr. is infinitely watchable as the Monster, though as I mentioned there’s something very sad and touching about his performance here. I wonder if he was happy in his real life when he made this movie.

The settings are, as always, nicely reminiscent of the ‘mid-European’ locations where the action is meant to take place and, overall, THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN is more than deserving of joining its UNIVERSAL brothers and sisters in the UNIVERSAL PICTURES Monster Movie Hall Of Fame, if there exists such a thing, haha.

It can hold its head up high amongst all the other monster productions of its parent company, in other words, and it’ll live as long as they do in our hearts and minds. Which, if the fans of old classic horror films have their way, will be forever…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

FRANKENSTEIN/THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN: A DOUBLE BILL OF HORRIFIC HALLOWEEN HORROR FILM REVIEWS FROM SANDRA HARRIS! ©

bride-of-frankyFRANKENSTEIN/THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN: A MONSTROUS DOUBLE BILL OF HALLOWEEN HORROR FILM REVIEWS FROM SANDRA HARRIS. ©

FRANKENSTEIN. (1931) DISTRIBUTED BY UNIVERSAL PICTURES. BASED ON THE BOOK BY MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT SHELLEY. DIRECTED BY JAMES WHALE. PRODUCED BY CARL LAEMMLE JR.

STARRING BORIS KARLOFF, COLIN CLIVE, MAE CLARKE, EDWARD VAN SLOAN, DWIGHT FRYE, FREDERICK KERR AND MARILYN HARRIS.

THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN. (1935) DISTRIBUTED BY UNIVERSAL PICTURES. BASED ON THE BOOK BY MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT SHELLEY. DIRECTED BY JAMES WHALE. PRODUCED BY CARL LAEMMLE JR. MUSIC BY FRANZ WAXMAN.

STARRING BORIS KARLOFF, ELSA LANCHESTER, COLIN CLIVE, VALERIE HOBSON, ERNEST THESIGER, MARY GORDON, UNA O’CONNOR AND DWIGHT FRYE.

Happy Birthday to Frankenstein’s Monster! By which I mean that Mary Shelley’s iconic horror novel, one of the first of its kind, pre-dating even Bram Stoker’s DRACULA, was written at the Villa Diodati two hundred years ago this year.

What a wonderful achievement. Two centuries later, we’re still reading the book and watching the many different film versions that have been made from it. Not bad going for a little woman, eh…?

Today we’re looking at probably the two best films ever made from Mrs. Shelley’s book. FRANKENSTEIN (1931) and THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935) are widely regarded both as two of the best films of all time and also two of the best horror films ever made.

The sequel is, if anything, even better than the original, and you can’t lynch me for saying that, haha, because I’m not the only one who thinks so, so there…!

Important film critics and suchlike all seem to agree on this one, although there’s no denying that the original film is still superb. I honestly think that there’s just even more to love about the sequel.

FRANKENSTEIN tells the story of the handsome and wealthy Dr. Henry Frankenstein, the man whose burning desire to create life out of re-animated body parts takes over his life and his mind and nearly gets him killed into the bargain.

With the help of his hunchbacked assistant, Fritz, he robs graves and cobbles body parts together good-style until he’s created his famous Monster, magnificently played in both films by Boris Karloff. The Monster’s clothes are ill-fitting (he’ll have you in ‘stitches’ with his home-made get-up…!) and he’s bothered, bewildered and bemused by the strange and hostile world he’s been thrust into.

Dr. Frankenstein, as much as we like him, doesn’t give much thought to what’s supposed to happen to his poor Monster after he’s been brought to life. Let’s face it, Henry’s just playing God, isn’t he? He has no plan for his Creation for after it’s been re-animated and, therefore, you could say that he’s pretty much to blame for the disasters that happen from then on.

We all remember the scene where the Monster unintentionally drowns a little girl and draws the wrath of the entire village down upon his big boxy-looking head. Angry mob ahoy, haha. And who’s to blame? The Monster who didn’t ask to be born, or the scientist who wanted to feed his own ego by playing God and creating life out of the saddest, most pathetic body parts imaginable? You tell me…

I’ve always preferred the sequel, as I’ve already said, though it’s no less violent, heartbreaking or gory than the original film. The Monster, still on the run from those meanie townspeople, finds a friend in a blind hermit who teaches him to communicate verbally. He also instils in him a liking for booze and fags, incidentally, which is hilarious and is obviously the first step on the slippery slope towards complete and utter depravity, haha.

Not unnaturally, we’ve got several changes of personnel in this second film, my favourite of which is the introduction of Ernest Thesiger as Dr. Septimus Pretorius, a mad scientist who makes Dr. Frankenstein look like a well-adjusted human being. The scene where he shows Henry his collection of miniature ‘people’ is mind-bogglingly bizarre and freaky.

He wants Henry to go in with him on creating a ‘bride’ for Henry’s Monster out of yet more dead body parts. Henry is against this idea at first. He’s had enough of playing God. Maybe the abduction of his lovely fiancée Elizabeth (whom he still hasn’t married, by the way. I’m just saying, is all!) will help him to smarten up his ideas a bit…

My favourite scene in this whole film, apart from the ‘reveal’ of the beautiful bride herself, is the one where Dr. Pretorius is dining alone in the vaults, his food and drink spread out on an old tomb.

He’s not at all fazed to have the Monster join him for a tipple, and they have a lovely chat in which it’s established that the poor old lonely Creature is well aware of his miserable origins. Aw. It’s so sad, the way he’s just abandoned by his Creator like that and left to fend for himself.

Dr. Henry has been beyond irresponsible, I’m sorry to say, to so thoughtlessly do what he’s done, although I’ll forgive him much on account of his easiness on the eye and, like Lenny Leonard in THE SIMPSONS, I know eye-ease…!

The opening scenes in particular are just marvellous. Elsa Lanchester plays Mary Shelley as well as the Bride, and she’s utterly beautiful as she recounts the sequel to her famous horror tale to her hubby Shelley and a foppish Lord Byron.

Of course, it’s as the Bride that we’ll always remember her, with her white dress and the outrageous hairstyle with the lightning streaks that has passed into legend and popular culture without any difficulty whatsoever. She is an icon of pure classic horror, every bit as much as Karloff’s magnificent but tragic Monster or Bela Lugosi’s Dracula or Lon Chaney Jr.’s Wolf Man.

The ending to this one is electrifying. It’ll rock you to your very foundations, as it were (not to give anything away, haha!).

The ‘mid-European’ settings are all breath-takingly beautiful and the musical score captivating.

And just to add as well that Una O’Connor, whom you might remember as the shrieky landlady in THE INVISIBLE MAN (1933), does a terrific job in this film as the surprisingly bloodthirsty, s**t-stirring little house-servant, Minnie.

Will you join me now, my horror friends, in raising a glass to Frankenstein and his tragic Monster on the auspicious occasion of their bicentennial?

We’ll drink to Mary Shelley and her little book that went on to take its place alongside DRACULA and DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE as one of the most legendary horror novels of all time. Kudos to you, dear Mrs. Shelley, and Happy Halloween to the rest of us. We all are creatures of the night. What music we make…!

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor