THE RAVEN, STARRING VINCENT PRICE AND BORIS KARLOFF. (1963) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

raven boysTHE RAVEN. (1963) AN AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL PICTURE. BASED ON THE POEM BY EDGAR ALLAN POE. PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY ROGER CORMAN. SCREENPLAY BY RICHARD MATHESON. MUSIC BY LES BAXTER. EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: JAMES H. NICHOLSON AND SAMUEL Z. ARKOFF.

STARRING VINCENT PRICE, PETER LORRE, BORIS KARLOFF, HAZEL COURT, OLIVE STURGESS AND JACK NICHOLSON.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This quaintly charming horror film is a marvellous example of the work that Roger Corman and Vincent Price did together for AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL PICTURES. With a little help, of course, from a certain sombre-faced writer who went by the name of Edgar Allan Poe, haha.

THE RAVEN begins- and ends- with beloved horror icon Vincent Price actually reciting Poe’s famous poem of the same name and he really does the grim but beautiful words justice. In fact, if you’re going to get someone to read Poe’s words, you really couldn’t do better than have Vincent Price do the job in his deliciously distinctive spooky voice.

My wee son does an impression of the late Vincent Price’s voice that’s so like him it’s uncanny. I really must record him doing it one day for posterity…!

Anyway, in the film THE RAVEN, a rather splendidly-dressing-gowned Vincent Price, playing the magician Erasmus Craven, is sitting about at home when an actual raven comes tap-tap-tapping upon his chamber door, believe it or not. In point of fact, the bird comes to the window but I don’t think that there’s any mention of that in the poem, haha.

The wise-cracking bird turns out to be none other than Peter Lorre under a spell or ‘enchantment,’ put there by an evil wizard called Dr. Scarabus. Some highly hilarious rooting about for ingredients from his dead scientist father’s old laboratory leads to Craven being able to release the Raven, aka Peter Lorre as a boozy second-rate magician called Bedlo, from the spell. The insanity does not, of course, end there…

Bedlo stirs the pot big-time by informing a shocked Craven that he’s seen Craven’s dead wife’s spirit hanging around this Dr. Scarabus’s gaff. Now, Craven still loves the deceased Lenore with every fibre of his being and he’s hell-bent on charging around to Dr. Scarabus’s place to see if what Bedlo says is true.

Also, Bedlo wants his magic-kit back from Scarabus’s house where Scarabus is apparently holding it hostage. The pair high-tail it there in a carriage, accompanied by Craven’s beautiful daughter Estelle and Bedlo’s handsome but rather clown-ish son Rexford, played by a really young Jack Nicholson, long before ever he flew over the cuckoo’s nest to land head-first in THE SHINING…

Horror legend Boris Karloff is magnificent as the aforementioned Dr. Scarabus, a wizard with powers far superior to Bedlo’s but about equal with Craven’s. He greets the deputation with a fake hospitality, feigning polite surprise at their various complaints.

A little display of Dr. Scarabus’s powers over dinner puts Bedlo firmly back in his box. Craven will not be so easy to outwit. But Craven is horribly distracted by the shocking return to life of someone he was sure was dead…

The duel between the two wizards is superbly done and hilariously funny. Vincent Price can be awfully mischievous when he wants to be. The fun and games are wonderful to witness, although the outcome of the duel is never really in doubt. Or is it…?

Hazel Court is fantastic (and delightfully booby-licious!) as the lady whose name we won’t mention for fear of spoilers. Suffice it to say that she also plays a beautiful but duplicitous wife in the excellent horror movie PREMATURE BURIAL starring Ray Milland, a story also based on a work by Mr. Poe. He surely wrote a lot of grim stuff, didn’t he…?

It probably goes without saying that the three leads, Messrs Price, Lorre and Karloff, more than justify their places at the top of the horror tree by turning in warm, passionate and deeply humorous performances. Vincent Price in particular is just marvellous to watch. He’s just having so much fun with it and you can really tell.

As always with AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL PICTURES, the settings, furnishings and costumes are lavishly-gorgeous and rich and gloriously-coloured, with the lovely russets, reds and orangey-browns coming to the forefront as always.

Dr. Scarabus’s castle exterior takes the form of a stunning-looking painting and the shots of the sea are just beautiful. The film is quite similar to another horror film about the spirit of naughty deceased wives called THE TERROR, also starring Boris Karloff and a young Jack Nicholson. If you haven’t already seen this one, it’s well worth checking out.

THE RAVEN is a terrific watch, anyway. You should put it on one dark windy night when you’re all on your own in the darkened house. That way, when something sinister comes tap-tap-tapping upon your chamber door, it’ll turn the blood in your veins to ice just to hear it, and isn’t it just delightful to be scared stiff…?

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

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

HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN/HOUSE OF DRACULA: A DOUBLE BILL OF HORRIFIC HALLOWEEN HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN. (1944) DISTRIBUTED BY UNIVERSAL PICTURES. STORY BY CURT SIODMAK. DIRECTED BY ERLE C. KENTON. STARRING BORIS KARLOFF, LON CHANEY JR., JOHN CARRADINE, J. CARROL NAISH, ELENA VERDUGO AND GLENN STRANGE.

HOUSE OF DRACULA. (1945) DISTRIBUTED BY UNIVERSAL PICTURES. DIRECTED BY ERLE C. KENTON. STARRING LON CHANEY JR., JOHN CARRADINE, ONSLOW STEVENS, MARTHA O’DRISCOLL, JANE ADAMS AND GLENN STRANGE.

These two brilliant old horror romps from UNIVERSAL PICTURES are direct follow-ons from each other, but of course Dopey here watched them in the wrong order. Not that it makes much difference one way or the other, really.

Both films are completely bonkers (I say that with complete affection) and you could actually play ’em both backwards and you’d still know about as much as someone who’d watched ’em normally…!

They’re each what you’d call ‘crossover’ movies, featuring Count Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster and the Wolf Man all in the same film at the same time, if you get me. It’s like when they put Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees in the same film nowadays and get ’em to knock seven bells out of each other. I quite like when film-makers do that, though I guess it entirely depends on whether or not you dig the characters involved.

If you like horror movie crossovers, you’ll most likely love these two. They’re mad at times, baffling, bizarre, surreal even and chock-full of unlikely coincidences and strange occurrences, but they have a five-star cast of horror royalty the likes of which you wouldn’t really see any more and they all play their roles with love and panache.

I especially love Lon Chaney Jr. as Lawrence Talbot, otherwise known as the Wolf Man. I never really noticed it before but he’s extremely attractive with his nice solid body in his dark werewolf-appropriate shirts-and-slacks combos and his thick, slicked-back dark hair, not to mention the tortured expression on his handsome face.

He hates turning into a werewolf whenever the moon is full and being consequently filled with the urge to kill the nearest human being, but I wouldn’t shed too many tears over him, dear readers. In every film, the prettiest girl falls in love with him and vows to stay with him no matter how hairy his feet and back get when the moon is full.

In THE WOLF MAN (1941), it was the beautiful and charming Evelyn Ankers as shop assistant Gwen Conliffe who was first in the queue to soothe his hairy brow. In HOUSE OF DRACULA, it’s Dr. Edelmann’s pretty nurse Milizia he’s got his eye on, and in HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN it’s a gypsy dancer girl called Ilonka who drops Boris Karloff’s hunchbacked (and lovelorn) assistant Daniel the second she claps eyes on the Wolf Man. No wonder they say women are fickle…

Will we take a peep at the two plots, just for ha-has…? Hell yeah, we will! In HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, Boris Karloff plays an evil genius, Dr. Niemann, who is desperate to revive the frozen body of Frankenstein’s Monster so that he can wreak a terrible revenge on the meanie townspeople who put him in prison for fifteen years.

Along the way he thaws out the Wolf Man and causes much havoc among the villagers in the gorgeous little town which houses the ruins of the old Dr. Frankenstein’s castle. The setting is very similar to the mythical ‘mid-Europe’ ones that HAMMER FILMS would later create for their own marvellous DRACULA and FRANKENSTEIN films. With the mountains in the background and the magnificent ruins of the castle in the foreground, the visuals are breath-taking in both cases.

Dr. Niemann’s travelling horror show, the one he steals from George Zucco, is so in keeping with a great old horror film’s element of mystery, the occult, the bizarre and the downright sinister. The old gypsy caravans too are a delight to see, as well as the traditional old gypsy dance performed by the fickle Ilonka. You definitely get the feeling, looking at the settings, that the shadow of the Carpathian mountains can’t be too far away…

HOUSE OF DRACULA is probably my favourite of the two films. There are definite elements of comedy as John Carradine’s Count Dracula and Lon Chaney Jr.’s Wolf Man both turn up at Dr. Edelmann’s magnificent old cliff-top mansion, each demanding to be cured of their separate afflictions.

I’m telling you, it’s like rush-hour at the flippin’ surgery. I hate the way you can’t even get a same-day bloody appointment any more at those places. And yet, when the sun is splitting the rocks, isn’t it funny how many people suddenly forget about their ingrown toenails or itchy rash and go off to work on their tan…!

Anyway, mustn’t grumble. Dr. Edelmann has it much tougher as he tries to help Dracula and the Wolf Man, all the while keeping his pretty nurses in check, handling the terrified villagers and trying to revive Frankenstein’s Monster while under the malign influence of Count Dracula…! Things get very busy indeed over at the surgery. No wonder one of the nurses permanently has the hump…

These films will do perfectly for a nice spooky Halloween double feature, complete with popcorn, peanuts and maybe a drop or two of something nice and liquidy, haha. They won’t scare you in the slightest, but they’ll leave you with a lovely warm fuzzy feeling in your mid-section.

Yes, sure, that could be the booze, but even without the booze these are two great feel-good films that’ll fill you chock-full of a wonderful nostalgia  for the days of UNIVERSAL PICTURES and the black-and-white logo at the start of the films that had the old-fashioned little aeroplane circling the globe while that great old familiar music played. Job done!

house-of-frankenstein

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

FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR… BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

fifty really random horror film reviews to die for...
A veritable lucky dip of horror movie reviews, covering everything from old favourites and iconic titles to obscure and forgotten horror films and cult classics. Do you dare dip YOUR hand into this mystery bag of evil, demonic possession and bone-chilling terror…? You do…? Then on your own head be it… MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OV9EKG6

FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR… THE NEW BOOK BY SANDRA HARRIS!!!

fifty really random horror film reviews to die for...

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OV9EKG6