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

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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

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

WEREWOLF OF LONDON/THE WOLF MAN: A DOUBLE BILL OF HALLOWEEN HORROR FILM REVIEWS FROM SANDRA HARRIS. ©

wolf-manWEREWOLF OF LONDON/THE WOLF MAN: A DOUBLE BILL OF ‘UNIVERSAL PICTURES’ HORROR MOVIE REVIEWS FOR HALLOWEEN BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

WEREWOLF OF LONDON. (1935) DIRECTED BY STUART WALKER. STARRING HENRY HULL, VALERIE HOBSON, WARNER OLAND AND LESTER MATTHEWS.

THE WOLF MAN. (1941) WRITTEN BY CURT SIODMAK. PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY GEORGE WAGGNER. STARRING LON CHANEY JR., BELA LUGOSI, EVELYN ANKERS, CLAUDE RAINS AND MARIA OUSPENSKAYA.

These two fantastic old classic horror films were the first two ‘werewolf’ movies from UNIVERSAL PICTURES, which at one point back then was making a pretty healthy living from its series of monster movies.

Although the second film, THE WOLF MAN, was more commercially successful than its predecessor WEREWOLF OF LONDON, I think they’re both equally good and, if anything, I might even have a softer spot for WEREWOLF OF LONDON.

Warren Zevon wrote his famous song, WEREWOLVES OF LONDON, about the old movie in 1978 and I’ve always loved that song. It’s also just been a very dear film to me over the years, and I loved getting the DVD of it as a present from a friend a couple of Christmases ago.

WEREWOLF OF LONDON is the story of renowned English botanist Wilfred Glendon, who gets bitten by a werewolf in Tibet while on a mission to locate the elusive mariphasa plant. The plant is incidentally (but rather importantly) supposed to be an antidote to the bite of the monster so, when he returns to England to his beautiful mansion and his lovely wife Lisa, he gets pestered for it non-stop by the mysterious Dr. Yogami, who claims to have met Wilfred while in Tibet. Hmmm. How very odd…

In THE WOLF MAN, Lon Chaney Jr. as Larry Talbot, gets bitten by Bela Lugosi, of all people, as a gypsy/werewolf who can’t help his murderous impulses when he attacks a young girl whose fortune he’d been telling. In trying to save the girl, Larry gets bitten. Which is a terrible shame as he’s only just returned to his lovely ancestral home in Wales for the first time in twenty odd years to reconcile with his estranged Pops, played by Claude Rains. Some homecoming, huh…?

Anyway, both men do their utmost to stifle their newly-acquired lycanthropic impulses but once you’re cursed, you’re cursed. You can’t fight it. Come the full moon, they’re both growing hair on their faces and bodies where there was, shall we say, less hair before and prowling about the delightfully fog-wreathed streets of London, in Wilfred’s case, and the woods of Llanwelly, Wales, in Larry’s, searching for pretty young female victims to maul. Although any auld fella will do in a pinch…!

It’s such a pity as well, as both men are decent, noble honourable chaps at heart and they each suffer terrible agonies of remorse after they commit the gruesome crimes for which they’re really not morally responsible.

Well, I say they’re both decent chaps but Larry does engage in some rather deviant sexual practices, namely voyeurism, which is how he meets the lovely Gwen Conliffe, daughter of the local antique shop owner.

Well, I’m only kidding, of course, as the voyeurism was an accident and not deliberate at all, but it does bring about his meeting with Gwen who, even though she’s engaged to another man, quickly falls in love with the handsome and charming Larry and would go to the ends of the earth to save him from the curse if she could.

Wilfred Glendon is similarly blessed in his marriage to Lisa, but he’s forced to neglect her dreadfully while searching for a cure for his grievous affliction. And he’d better be warned, there’s an old childhood chum of Lisa’s waiting in the wings to snap her up if his neglect of his bright, lively sociable wife becomes too much to ignore. It seems that being a werewolf is somewhat detrimental to a fellow’s love-life…!

My favourite scenes in WEREWOLF OF LONDON involve Mrs. Moncaster and Mrs. Whack, two tipsy old biddies straight out of Dickens who rent a room to poor old Wilfred, who’s looking for a private place to wait out his ‘turning’ into a werewolf. Just like Christopher Lee as Dr. Charles Marlowe did in I, MONSTER in 1971, you might remember. It’s apparently standard practice for gents afflicted with occasional bouts of monsterism…!

Anyway, Mesdames Moncaster and Whack make a terrific double act as they try to work out what’s to be done about Mrs. Whack’s less than sociable tenant. Funniest scenes in the film, you mark my words, duckies…!

It’s also wonderful to see Bela Lugosi, star of the UNIVERSAL PICTURES DRACULA movie of 1931, as the gypsy/fortune-teller/werewolf in THE WOLF MAN. He plays the son of Maleva, a gypsy woman who has had to come to terms with the fact that her beloved son’s life has, of necessity, to be a painfully difficult one. Poor Bela! Sometimes I feel sad when I think about him and his wonderful old movies.

The settings are all deliciously misty, atmospheric, mysterious and gothic and the special effects are fantastic for their time. All you lovely horror fans out there could do a lot worse than watch these two marvellous old films back-to-back as a sort of UNIVERSAL PICTURES Halloween spooky movie marathon. Much as I have just done myself, haha. But always remember:

‘Even a man who is pure of heart, and says his prayers by night;

May become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright…’

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

BRIDE OF THE MONSTER/THE APE MAN: A DOUBLE BILL OF HALLOWEEN HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

bela-brideTHE BRIDE OF THE MONSTER/THE APE MAN: A MONSTROUS DOUBLE REVIEW OF BELA LUGOSI HORROR FILMS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

BRIDE OF THE MONSTER. (1955) WRITTEN, PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY EDWARD D. WOOD, JR.

STARRING BELA LUGOSI, TOR JOHNSON, TONY MCCOY AND LORETTA KING.

THE APE MAN. (1943) BASED ON THE STORY ‘THEY CREEP IN THE DARK’ BY KARL BROWN. DIRECTED BY WILLIAM BEAUDINE.

STARRING BELA LUGOSI, HENRY HALL, MINERVA URECAL, LOUISE CURRIE AND WALLACE FORD.

For me, these two Bela Lugosi sci-fi/horror B-movies were an absolute joy to watch back-to-back recently, despite the fact that neither film had been remastered or restored and the dialogue was almost indecipherable at times. And there were no subtitles…! Haha, yeah I know, what is this, the flippin’ Dark Ages?

Oddly enough though, even when I could barely make out what the characters were saying, the crackling in the background indicating the sheer age of the films and the fabulous old settings more than compensated for a few missed words of dialogue.

Both films are positively chock-a-block with creepy olde-timey atmosphere and they’re actually quite similar to each other, which is why I’ve chosen to review ’em together.

First, a word about the wonderful Hungarian-American actor Bela Lugosi (1882-1956). His portrayal of Count Dracula in the 1931 UNIVERSAL horror movie DRACULA is one of the four great screen portrayals of Bram Stoker’s legendary vampire in cinematic history. Period, as the Americans say.

Now I suppose you’ll be wanting to know what the other three greatest screen portrayals are, you nosy readers, you! Well, there’s Max Schreck in F.W. Murnau’s NOSFERATU (1922), and then there’s Klaus Kinski’s performance in Werner Herzog’s re-make of NOSFERATU in 1979. Last but not least, we have the handsome and charismatic Christopher Lee in the HAMMER version of the story, namely, DRACULA (1958). Did I leave anyone out…?

Those are in no particular order, by the way, as the lovely Dermot O’Leary might say when he’s announcing who’s going home and who’s survived to sing another week on X FACTOR. All of these guys are equally good and equally deserving of their place on the list.

But I definitely maintain that any list that doesn’t contain Bela Lugosi is not complete. Some critics have sneered at what they call the ‘hamminess’ of his performance in the 1931 film but you know critics. They’ll sneer at their own mothers for giving birth to them. ‘Four hours in labour? That’s nothing! Come back to me when you’ve done the full eighteen hours, WITHOUT drugs…!’

Don’t get me started on critics. All pricks, the lot of ’em, haha. Anyway, to the films now. Finally, says you. In each film, Bela plays a mad scientist who’s up to no good. In BRIDE OF THE MONSTER, he’s trying to create a race of super-people and uses folks he’s abducted from Lake Marsh, where he lives, to experiment on.

He still has amazing eye-power, just like he did in DRACULA, and he can hypnotise people using both his peepers and his long elegant hands, just like in DRACULA.

Anyway, in THE APE MAN, he’s only gone and turned himself partially into a gorilla by accident, the silly sausage. You know the way that happens…

In both films, he’s got a super-strong sidekick to do his dirty work for him and strong-arm people and stuff. In BRIDE OF THE MONSTER, this sidekick is the mute giant Lobo, played by Tor Johnson. In THE APE MAN, it’s an actual real giant ape. Well, it’s a man in an ape-costume, obviously, but you know what I mean. There weren’t too many real apes involved in the Actors’ Union back in the ‘Forties.

Whenever Bela’s character is in trouble or being threatened by people who object to being killed, as people sometimes do, the sidekicks creep up on the aggressor from behind and give ’em the old strangulation treatment. Problem solved.

Bela certainly seems to enjoy savagely whipping each of his loyal sidekicks, or maybe he just enjoys whipping, heh-heh-heh. Plenty of people do, after all.

In both films, he’s being stalked by nosy female reporter-types who endanger themselves terribly by snooping round Bela’s gaff. Silly girls. They certainly have it coming.

And what I find funniest about each film is that both young ladies, Janet Lawton the reporter from BRIDE OF THE MONSTER and Billie Mason, the stunning photographer with the razor-sharp cheekbones from THE APE MAN, are each threatened with a spanking by the men in their lives for foolishly and thoughtlessly putting themselves in harm’s way.

Whether Janet’s boyfriend Dick (now there’s a great manly ‘Fifties name!) or Billie’s concerned co-worker Jeff ever do take the young ladies in question over their respective knees and give ’em a sound thrashing on their tight-skirted behinds, well, sadly, we’ll never know.

It’s just a shame that we weren’t treated to the delectable sight of a couple of on-screen spankings, which by the way weren’t exactly unheard of back in the day. The minxy Billie Mason in particular actually smirked when she was threatened with a good old-fashioned paddling. Maybe she wasn’t at all averse to the idea, who knows…?

There’s a great scene in BRIDE OF THE MONSTER in which Officer Dick (Haw-haw, Officer Dick…!) is trapped in the swamp and being menaced by a genuine alligator. There’s also a giant octopus in the film who reminded me fondly of that media squid who was supposed to be able to predict the results of the Euros or the World Cup or something. Meh. Predicting the Lottery numbers, now that’d be worth something…!

My favourite character in THE APE MAN, aside from Bela Lugosi himself, was Bela’s sister Agatha Brewster, a ghost-hunter and expert in the paranormal. What a game old gal, going round the world inspecting old graveyards and haunted houses and publishing her findings in her books!

With a name like Agatha Brewster (even her real name of Minerva suits her right down to the ground), this feisty dame could’ve been a writer of mystery novels (like her namesake Ms. Christie) or even of torrid paperback romances, revealing the existence of a romantic and tender heart beating wildly beneath that flat sensible bosom.

She also would’ve made a great suffragette. I can just see her grappling with the chin-strapped bobbies and threatening ’em with all sorts (and not the liquorice kind, either!) if they don’t immediately unhand her person like a good fellow.

The end of Bela’s life was sad and you might just feel a hint of that sadness in both of these films,  especially in BRIDE OF THE MONSTER which was one of his last ever movies.

But they’ll leave you with a nice warm fuzzy feeling in your insides too, and the feeling that someday, sometime, maybe when you’re old yourself, you’ll want to watch them again.

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 CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON/THE INVISIBLE MAN: A DOUBLE BILL OF HALLOWEEN HORROR FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

creature-from-the-black-lagoon1THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON/THE INVISIBLE MAN: A BONE-CHILLING DOUBLE HORROR FILM REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON. (1954) DIRECTED BY JACK ARNOLD FOR UNIVERSAL STUDIOS. STARRING JULIE ADAMS, RICHARD CARLSON, RICHARD DENNING, ANTONIO MORENO, BEN CHAPMAN AND RICOU BROWNING.

THE INVISIBLE MAN. (1933) BASED ON ‘THE INVISIBLE MAN’ BY H.G. WELLS. DIRECTED BY JAMES WHALE FOR UNIVERSAL STUDIOS. PRODUCED BY CARL LAEMMLE JR.

STARRING CLAUDE RAINS, GLORIA STUART, WILLIAM HARRIGAN, UNA O’CONNOR, DUDLEY DIGGES AND E.E. CLIVE.

Now this is the stuff. This is the real thing. This is what I call horror. Ladies and gentlemen, here we have two superb examples of classic UNIVERSAL horror/sci-fi films that will stand the test of time even if the earth and the film industry survive for another millenium.

Do I sound emphatic? Damn straight! You won’t find better examples of the classic monster/sci-fi/horror genre if you search for the rest of your lives. You don’t have to search at all, though. You don’t have to look any farther than these two wonderful movies. Let’s take a closer look. We’re going deep underwater now so goggles on, people…!

THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON is the story of a sort of half-man, half-fish creature whose quiet existence in his Amazonian lagoon is shattered when a bunch of nosy marine biologists and geologists show up looking to capture him, dead or alive.

These fancy-pants scientists are a disgrace. Tossing cigarette butts into the beautiful lagoon, strutting around half-naked on their boat THE RITA in their pristine ‘Fifties bathing suits and terrorising the Creature, who doesn’t seem to have really killed or hurt anyone until the scientists showed up.

Yes, I’m totally on the side of the Creature. He just wants to be left alone, or to maybe kidnap a beautiful woman with pert ‘Fifties bosoms and spirit her away to his underwater lair to possibly attempt some sort of fishy sexual congress with her. That’s not too much to ask. How dare those pushy scientists come to the Creature’s home and start shoving him around? It’s simply not on.

Mark and David, the two male leads, both look like they’re auditioning fot the part of Sean Connery in the role of James Bond. With their broad hairy chests, muscular hairy thighs and snug-fitting briefs encasing their pert ‘Fifties buttocks, they’re pure ‘Fifties beefcake, each of them struggling to be the Alpha Male in the situation.

And if they’re the beefcake, Julie Adams (playing Kay) in that marvellous white one-piece swimming cossie is surely the cheesecake. The scene in which the smitten Creature swims directly underneath Kay, looking up in wonder at her while she pirouettes and undulates gracefully in the water, blissfully unaware of his presence, is definitely my favourite one.

Kay also spends much of the film turning round suddenly and shrieking her lungs out when she spots the Creature looming towards her. The poor Creature must have been half-deafened by the end of the film.

The Creature, or the Gill-Man, is now as iconic a UNIVERSAL HORROR monster as Frankenstein’s Monster or the Wolf-Man. He’s a miracle of modern costume-making. I sincerely hope that his wonderful body-suit is hanging in a museum of cinematic memorabilia somewhere, preserved for all eternity. (Like the cane from CITIZEN KANE…!)

I love the Creature. The film’s ending is too, too sad. Damn you, sexy ‘Fifties science-type persons…! I hate you all so much.

THE INVISIBLE MAN couldn’t make a more impressive entrance if he tried for a month of Sundays. Wandering through the tiny Sussex village of Iping in the middle of a snowstorm with his head swathed in bandages and dark glasses, he cuts an unforgettable figure as he enters the Lion’s Head Inn and demands food and shelter.

Of course, the good people of the Lion’s Head haven’t a clue that Dr. Jack Griffin is a (literally) mad scientist who has discovered how to make himself invisible through the use of certain dangerous drugs.

Now, unkowingly driven insane by these drugs, he plans a ‘reign of terror’ over an unsuspecting world. He wants his fellow scientist Dr. Arthur Kemp to help him kill, steal and generally wreak havoc undetected purely, it would seem, for the sheer hell of it but the good doctor sensibly doesn’t want anything to do with such an insane plan.

Dr. Kemp calls the cops and reports The Invisible Man for, well, being The Invisible Man. As Griffin already has a rap sheet, as they call it, for killing a copper, the bobbies come on the run.

There ain’t no bobby like an English bobby. The good solid old-fashioned English bobby, with his helmet and his chinstrap and his thick luxuriant moustache that simply screams reliability, is a staple of these old classic horror films and, truly, the films wouldn’t be the same without him.

The coppers in THE INVISIBLE MAN are an absolute joy to watch as they set about questioning the villagers and trying to capture The Invisible Man. The Invisible Man, meantime, is dancing down country roads maniacally singing ‘Here We Go Gathering Nuts In May’ while his own- nuts, that is- are clad only in a pair of trousers…

Yes, there are some terrifically funny (and technically astonishing and ground-breaking) scenes as The Invisible Man, who can only be seen when clothed, takes pleasure in freaking out everyone he meets by partially appearing and then disappearing altogether while moving various objects around the place willy-nilly just for kicks.

He’s mischievous, malicious and hell-bent on mayhem while under cover of his veil of invisibility. The bobbies have their work cut out for them trying to bring this nudie Invisible Man to justice. Even if they do catch him, they’d better be careful which body part they grab hold of. Maybe they should be wary of anything that’s sticking out…

Second only to The Invisible Man for sheer entertainment value is Una O’Connor playing Jenny Hall, the hysterical landlady of The Lion’s Head. She gives a magnificent performance, conveying mostly in shrieks her displeasure at the continuing presence in her respectable establishment of the decidely un-respectable Invisible Man. Gawd love her, she’s a decent woman, she is. She don’t need no Invisible Men cluttering up the place and giving it a bad reputation. Lawks-a-mussy and all that…!

Claude Rains, in his first American screen appearance, excels as the Naughty, Nudie Invisible Man. Gloria Stuart is on duty as the dreamy-eyed ‘Thirties beauty who has zero luck in trying to convince Jack Griffin to renounce his evil ways. This film is wickedly funny, whereas I personally find THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON very moving and sad.

Have I convinced you to watch (or re-watch) these marvellous films from a bygone age? If I have, great. If not, I might just set the Creature or his buddy The Invisible Man on you. You’ll never see ’em coming…

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