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

 

 

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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

HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS/ THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS: A FESTIVE DOUBLE BILL OF HOLIDAY FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

grinchgrinch

DR. SEUSS’ ‘HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS’ AND TIM BURTON’S ‘THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS’: A FESTIVE DOUBLE BILL OF HOLIDAY FILM REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

DR. SEUSS’ ‘HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS.’ (2000) BASED ON THE WRITINGS OF DR. SEUSS. DIRECTED BY RON HOWARD. PRODUCED BY BRIAN GRAZER AND RON HOWARD.

STARRING JIM CARREY, TAYLOR MOMSEN AND ANTHONY HOPKINS AS THE NARRATOR.

TIM BURTON’S ‘THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS.’ (1993) BASED ON STORY AND CHARACTERS CREATED BY TIM BURTON. DIRECTED BY HENRY SELICK. PRODUCED BY TIM BURTON AND DENISE DI NOVI. MUSIC BY DANNY ELFMAN FROM ‘THE SIMPSONS.’

STARRING CHRIS SARANDON AND CATHERINE O’HARA.

These are two festive favourites that strike me as being kind of similar, which is why I’ve decided to lump ’em in together in this steaming double helping of Christmassy film reviews. They’re both beautifully animated and they each have a strong iconic male character in the lead role.

Namely, the Grinch who tried to steal Christmas because he f***ing hates it and Jack Skellington from Halloween Town, the guy who is so enchanted by the new and novel idea of Christmas that he tries to, well, not so much steal it exactly but, shall we say, he attempts to appropriate it for himself and his fellow ghouls just for one holiday season to see how it goes.

I’ll be totally honest with you guys. I possibly would have hated ‘HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS’ if it hadn’t been for the presence in it of Jim Carrey. He bends over backwards to deliver a powerhouse performance as the lead character, the furry green and wrinkly fellow who lives on the outskirts of the mythical town of Whoville.

He lives as a cranky and Christmas-hating outcast, mostly by choice but also because the townspeople are afraid of the Grinch and hate his practical jokes and negative attitude towards Christmas, the holiday season they love more than any other.

They go way overboard themselves for Christmas, turning the little town of Whoville into a veritable winter wonderland of fun, feasting and festivities. And all the while, the Grinch sits alone in his cave muttering ‘Bah Humbug!’ at each fresh manifestation of the townspeoples’ festive excess.

The only person (or are they really people with their freakishly flattened ‘League Of Gentlemen’ snouts?) in town with any compassion for the Grinch is little Cindy Lou Who, played by Taylor Momsen with a couple of really big ugly fake front teeth shoved in her pie-hole.

She’s sorry for the hated creature, with whose pitiful backstory we’re fully au fait through a sequence of flashbacks. There are perfectly good reasons for his miserly Christmas-hating, it seems. This makes us sympathise with the Grinch rather than the mercenary townsfolk.

Cindy Lou is also worried sick about the way that Christmas in her town has become all about the presents, the excesses and the materialistic element of the festive season. Can she make her parents and the rest of the Whos of Whoville acknowledge that the true meaning of Christmas is the love we share with friends and family?

And, in the meantime, a thoroughly hacked-off Grinch is planning to steal the whole kit and kaboodle, just like Homer Simpson from THE SIMPSONS when he has to save Christmas for the people of Springfield by stealing everyones’ Funzo toys. Let’s see now. That makes four Christmases he saved, versus six he ruined, three were kind of a draw…!

The animation is gorgeous and the songs are all cleverly written. The film has a great message but I’m very much afraid that I hated all the Whos, even Cindy Lou, and I still think in all honesty that Jim Carrey is the best thing about the movie. It’s still makes for a good Christmas watch for the kids, though.

And watch out for that awards ceremony. It’s the funniest awards ceremony since Fr. Ted Crilly picked up his Golden Cleric in the Christmas Special of FATHER TED back in the late ‘Nineties.

THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, a stop-motion animation film, is just sheer perfection all the way through. Chris (THE PRINCESS BRIDE, FRIGHT NIGHT, DOG DAY AFTERNOON) Sarandon voices the lead character of Jack Skellington, a lanky skeleton with the fancy title of ‘the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town.’

Halloween Town is the marvellous creation of Tim Burton, a fantasy world peopled by the most adorable ghouls, goblins, vampires, werewolves, witches, trick-or-treaters, boogeymen and other such wicked little oddities. The imagination Tim Burton must have simply defies all logic.

Jack is in charge of organizing their annual Halloween holiday, which the creepy residents of Halloween simply live for, which is cute indeed considering that most of the little blighters are actually Un-Dead, haha.

When we come in, however, Jack is actually starting to get bored and fed-up with the same old rigmarole every year. He’s actually bored with Halloween, if you can credit that, and he yearns for a change.

When he accidentally stumbles upon the holiday of Christmas and decides that it might be a bit of a lark to take it over for once, the stage is set for some distinctly un-Christmassy activities…

The animation here is exquisite, as are all the delightfully spooky entities with which Tim Burton has peopled his magical fantasy world. The songs are all brilliantly written by Danny Elfman of THE SIMPSONS, and the character of Jack himself is just a delight to watch.

Look at the way he carefully researches the holiday of Christmas and tries to figure out just exactly what is the deal with the whole thing! It’s marvellous and heartwarming to witness.

Sally the Rag Doll-slash-amateur-toxicologist (wonder if any of the naughtiest of the wee gremlins have ever asked her for roofies for a bit of the old ‘in-out…?’) is kind of the Cindy Lou Who of this film.

She’s the only one who can see that Jack Skellington is possibly heading for the disaster of a lifetime, kidnapping Sandy Claws and taking over Christmas and everything. She’s also madly in love with Jack, of course. Will Jack, the silly sausage, work this out in time, or is he too busy unintentionally ruining Crimbo…? Well, you know what men are like…

On my 2008 SPECIAL EDITION DVD of THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, two wonderful short films by Tim Burton are also included. That’s why you should always check out the extra features, people. You can find some real gems nestling amongst them sometimes.

The first of these is VINCENT from 1982, in which horror icon Vincent Price narrates a grisly little poem about a boy called- you guessed it- Vincent, who might be a perfectly normal little boy in some respects but who really wants to be like his idol, Vincent Price.

Little Vincent Malloy likes to read the writings of Edgar Allan Poe and wants to immortalise people in his wax museum just like his idol did in that marvellously creepy film about, well, a wax museum.

Directed and written by Tim Burton, this six-minute treasure (there’s no other word for it) is the most exquisite piece of horror cinema you’ll possibly ever see. Vincent Price narrates with fiendish glee and it’s so nice to hear the familiar rich deep timbre of his voice reading the cleverly twisted rhymes.

The second of these short films is called FRANKENWEENIE (1984), which was recently (2012) made into one of those glossy big kids’ films for Halloween. It’s the story of a young boy called- believe it or not- Victor Frankenstein, who’s an American kid from the ‘Fifties who positively adores his dog Sparky.

When a tragedy occurs and Sparky is called away to Doggie Heaven, little Vincent takes inspiration from a school science experiment to help him bring the furry critter back to life, with mixed results.

The film is one of the purest tributes to the original FRANKENSTEIN movies from UNIVERSAL you’ll ever see, and it also features horror royalty Shelley Duvall, the mom from THE SHINING, as Victor’s mother. And watch out for the canine Elsa Lanchester, she’s a real hottie…!

THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS is probably the only film that so successfully manages to blend our two favourite seasonal holidays. I can’t even think of any others. It makes great viewing for either holiday. Enjoy the hell out of it, dear readers, and Happy Holidays to everyone out there in Internet Land! May we all have a delightfully fiendish and ghoulish 2017. (In a good way, of course!) xxxxxx

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.

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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

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.

Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.

She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor