Archive for the Horror Category

Castle Films No. 849

Posted in 8mm, Horror, Old School with tags , , on April 30, 2013 by monsterminions

A & C Meet Franky_8mm_CF#849

I couldn’t resist watching this little gem on Walpurgis Night.  I wonder how many people on any given night drag out an old Bell & Howell 8mm projector to watch A&C Meet Franky?  This is a terrific Castle Films edit approximately 9 minutes long, with dialogue card inserts.  Castle Film cuts right to the chase with Walter Lantz’s animated Bela-bat flying to the castle and Lenore Aubert’s Dr. Mornay working on the Monster.  I remember watching this at Shakey’s Pizza in Calumet City, Illinois (home of the Blues Brothers!).

8mm Frame_CF#849

Year’s ago in the 70′s my dad used to tell me that kids missed out on seeing the fun movies in a drive-in setting.  Before the days of video tapes we would pull out these old 8mm films or flag the TV guide for weekly gems on WGN’s Creature Features, Screaming Yellow Theater or, later Son of Sven. Man, those were wonderful times.  Now we have crap remakes of Evil Dead and Marvel superhero sequels.  Go Bela go.

Bela_8mm

Scott MacGillivray, 2004. Castle Films: A Hobbyist’s Guide. iUniverse, Inc.

Shakey’s Last Gasp

Shakey’s Commercial 1978

The Revived Monster Colorized

Posted in Horror with tags , on April 9, 2013 by monsterminions

Here’s colorized screenshot from The Revived Monster!

The Revived Monster (1953) Color

The Revived Monster (1953)

Posted in Horror with tags , , , on April 8, 2013 by monsterminions

You’ll live until I’ll live

Monster_Titles

Looking for a vintage, atmospheric horror film that you probably haven’t seen? Look no further than The Revived Monster (1953), also known as Monster and Il Mostruoso Dottor Crimen (Italian print reviewed here). This Mexican horror gem has it all:  romance, betrayal, a phantom-like madman, a creepy castle, a laboratory full of electrical apparatus and glassware, an ape-like monster in the basement, wax figures, graveyards, wind-swept coastal landscapes, howling wolves and a moody score.  Wow.

Monster is generally credited as being the film that kicked off the horror film cycle in Mexico in the mid-50′s. The film was co-produced by Abel Salazar (El Vampiro, 1957; El Barón del Terror, 1962) and comes from Churubusco Azteco studios, located in Mexico City, Mexico.  In the 1940′s, Churubusco attracted the attention of several prominent directors, including John Ford (The Fugitive, 1946), Don Siegel (The Big Steal, 1949) and Luis Buñuel.  Later, in the 50′s and 60′s this studio cranked out several effective and sometimes goofy horror films.

Miroslava

Monster was directed by Chihuahuan-born Chano Urueta, who helmed over 100 films, including several genre notables such as the wacky El Barón del Terror (The Brainiac)(1962), The Witches Mirror (1962), and the beautifully photographed crime-actioner The Magnifient Beast (1953).  Monster has been described by genre enthusiasts as Univeral-like, but to me, Urueta’s expressionist visual style reminds me more of Jacques Tourneur (Cat People, 1942) or Georges Franju (Eyes Without a Face, 1960).  However, there’s nothing Val Lewtonish about The Revived Monster.  We see grotesqueries very early on in the film.

Linares Riva_Dr. Ling

Looking for a story, sensationalist reporter Nora (played by Czech-born Miroslava*), responds to a mysterious advertisement from a wealthy man looking for companionship.  This is Dr. Herrmann Ling (José Linares-Rivas), a noted plastic surgeon and scientist who lives in a massive castle with his subordinant servant Mischa (Alberto Mariscal).  All of the mirrors in the castle are covered, and Ling wears a cloth mask and surrounds himself with his wax sculptures of beautiful women.  He reminds me a bit of Peter Lorre’s Dr. Gogol in MGM’s Mad Love (1935).

Nora meets Ling and travels back to his house.  She is touched by Ling’s sincerity and story how we was ostracized by his parents and later by his professional colleagues.  He retreated to his castle to conduct his research privately.

Dr. Ling's Creation

The bulk of Monster is filmed in the massive castle-set by cinematographer Victor Herrera (The Living Coffin, 1959; The Black Pit of Dr. M, 1959; El Castillo de los Monstruos, 1958).  The scenes are atmospheric, with contrasty compositions, slow pans, and weird angles of characters and props within the expressionist castle.  It reminds me of Baron Frankenstein’s house in Son of Frankenstein (DOP George Robinson). Wax heads are creepy.

Dr. Lings Masks

Nora of course confronts Ling to remove the mask.

Monster_Unmasked

And the response is similar to Mary Philbin’s in The Phantom of the Opera (1925).  Oddly, Nora responds moments later by kissing the pathetic Ling.  She loves Ling.  Or does she?

Dr. Ling Unmasked

The make-up is indeed clearly inspired by Lon Chaney’s phantom, with upturned nose, flared cheekbones and fleshy protruding lips.  For sake of surprise, I’ve deliberately omitted a closeup.  The makeup was effectively designed by Armando Meyer (The Curse of the Crying Woman, 1963), and appears to have been resued by Meyer in The Man and the Monster (El Hombre y el Monstruo, 1959), a film about a hiddeously deformed pianist (also worth a look).

Dr. Ling

The revived monster doesn’t actually refer to Dr. Ling.  He’s Dr. Frankenstein. The revived monster is a hairy humanoid that Ling experiments on in his lab.  These scenes remind me of  Universal’s Frankenstein (1931).  The Revived Monster is a fun hybrid film —Part Phantom of the Opera, part Island of Lost Souls, with a dash of Frankenstein.  The film holds up well today. Mexican horror fans with eat this film up with gusto.

Oddly, my DVD-R comes from an Italian print.  It’s sub-titled in English, but the dialogue/dub and titles are Italian.  It really doesn’t matter as this is a visual treat.

Monster in the Lab

*Actress Miroslava committed suicide in 1955, allegedly after her romance with bullfighter Luis Miguel Dominguin ended with Dominguin running off with actress Ava Gardner.

Life 1950_Miroslava

Book of the Dead

Posted in Horror, STOP-MOTION with tags , , on April 7, 2013 by monsterminions

Here’s some shots of the original “Book of the Dead” (Evil Dead) armature made by Tom Sullivan.

Book of the Dead_Evil Dead Museum

Book of the Dead_Back_Evil Dead Museum

Book of the Dead_Armature_Evil Dead Museum

Dracula Shots

Posted in Horror, Lee & Cushing with tags , on April 4, 2013 by monsterminions

Here are some more shots from the 2012 Hammer Dracula Restoration:

Dracula_Mina Scene 1

Dracula_Mina Scene 2

Face Claw_1

Face Claw_2

Dracula (Region 2 HD Blu-ray)

Posted in Horror, Lee & Cushing with tags , , , on April 4, 2013 by monsterminions

Dracula_Titles
Titles look different? The new DVD + Blu-ray Dracula (1958) 3-disc set from Hammer and Lionsgate is finally available. My copy arrived from Amazon UK this past week. The set is LOADED with extras that will take some time for me to get through, so this is a mini-review. I have not yet watched the Blu-ray disc. Peter Cushing_Van Helsing
Christopher Lee_Dracula Dracula_Face Claw Shot

DVD 1 includes the 2007 British Film Institute restoration and the 2012 Hammer restoration, which includes some of the “lost” Japanese reels footage, which includes the legendary “Face Claw” sequence during Dracula’s disintegration, and Dracula’s erotic seduction of Mina, also derived from the Japanese print.

Even more exciting, the surving Japanese reels 6-9 are included on the Disc 2 supplements. Be sure to watch these as you will notice that Hammer has not completely restored the 2012 print to include all of the Japanese footage (thanks Mike).

These reels were badly beat up, but select scenes were polished up and included in the 2012 restoration. Here’s a screen capture from the original (scratched) Japanese reels showing Dracula’s seduction of Mina:Dracula_Erotic Scene_Japanese Reel

The DVD also includes other features, including:

  • The original shooting script (PDF).
  • An Essay “First Blood – Hammer’s Dracula Begins” (Colorful PDF with nice images).
  • A new documentary “Dracula Reborn” (Highly recommended).
  • A documentary about the film’s 2007 and 2012 restorations and discussion on the Japanese Reels.
  • A documentary on the British censoring of the film.
  • LOADs of rare production stills and other images.
  • Other features that I haven’t gotten to.

The film looks superb and I can’t wait to see this on Blu-ray. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Dual Mono audio on the DVD seems also to be an improvement from the American Warner Home Video disc from 2002.

Plenty to watch the next few days!

Artwork by Michael Tanaka (1999).

Artwork by Michael Tanaka (1999).

Frogs (1972)

Posted in Bad Films I Love, Horror with tags , , on April 1, 2013 by monsterminions

Frogs_Half Sheet US

During the opening 4 minutes of Frogs (1972), photo-journalist Pickett Smith (played by a nearly unrecognizable Sam Elliott) paddles about in a canoe and takes photos of a yellow ratsnake, a Tegu lizard, an alligator, a marine toad, a cottonmouth moccasin and a Tokay gecko. I find it interesting that Samuel Z. Arkoff and James H. Nicholson presented us with an obvious exploitation film about native species rebelling against polluting humans, when, 1) the species aren’t entirely native and, 2) the real ecological problem today in the Everglades isn’t pollution, but invasive species. Frogs was ahead of the curve in recognizing environmental disaster in the Everglades.

The Tegu lizard, Tokay gecko and Bufo marinus (the giant marine toad) are all exotic species released to south Florida largely through the pet trade. It is now estimated that 26% of all fishes, reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals in the Everglades are not native. Some believe the recent surge in monster pythons is due to zoological garden escapes rendered during 1995′s Hurricane Andrew.

I’m fairly certain Frogs, which BTW features toads, wasn’t meant to be a message film about invasive species. The animal wranglers who worked on this film decided on easy-to-handle animals that looked interesting and were relatively safe. That’s why we see Boa constrictors as venomous snakes in crappy films like the TVM Fer-de-Lance (1974)(ok, I liked this film about snakes on a submarine). However, Frogs also uses venomous snakes such as the Eastern diamondback rattlesnake and the Florida cottonmouth. This adds authenticity to the film, and as an observant 9-year old I damn well knew the difference between a harmless ratsnake and a pit viper.

Frogs_Cottonmouth

Frogs features one of the greatest advertising campaigns ever in the history of filmdom. This is the graphic render of a bullfrog clamping down on a dangling human hand. I thought as a kid —How big is this frog to have gulped down an entire body? This I have to see…

Frogs_Trailer

And saw it I did at a Drive-In theater in Northwest Indiana. I was floored. Reptiles, amphibians and spiders killing rude obnoxious people. This is the greatest film ever. I got the message too —Don’t mess with mother nature or the Frogs will get you. Ray Milland is especially good as a wheel-chair bound crotchety old patriarch to a disfunctional family of losers. One of his cronies suggests “pouring oil in the water to choke the frogs off”. Milland gripes that he doesn’t want his property smelling like a petroleum refinery. Just you wait, the Frogs are gonna get you buster…

Ray Milland as Jason Crockett

Frogs benefits from a likeable cast with Sam Elliott and Joan Van Ark. I also like Morio Tosi’s cinematography, which is eerie and captures the surreal landscapes of a spagnum moss-covered swamp. He went on to better work in Carrie (1976) and The Stunt Man (1980). I can almost visualize Frogs as a black and white Roger Corman film from the 1950′s. Frogs is a bunch of hokum, and absolutely ridiculous (how menacing can a bunch of toads be?), but it’s left an indelible mark on my memory and it’s still a lot of fun.

They don’t make ‘em like they used to.

Hurricane Andrew Released Aliens

List of Invasive Species

Everglades Invasives

Frogs_Italian

Squirmy Worms

Posted in Horror, Weird Science with tags on March 27, 2013 by monsterminions

20130327-223857.jpg

I just watched Squirm (1976). The title refers to marine bristle worms (Genus Glycera) that surface after being juiced by a downed electric power line. Along the way they chew up some hicks in Fly Creek, Georgia. The villainous annelids are real creatures. Check out the grabboids on these grabboids:

20130327-225531.jpg

Blood Worms

Worms as Bait

Harvesting Advice

The Mad Monster (1942)

Posted in Horror with tags , on March 18, 2013 by monsterminions

The Mad Monster_Titles

For some reason I used to get Lionel Atwill (allegedly a creep in real life*) mixed up with George Zucco. I’m not sure why. I guess it’s because both men came from the same eras and appeared in similar films, and were usually cast as villains. Zucco was particularly good as vengeful scientists or zealots, such as Professor Forbes in The Flying Serpent (1946), a short role as Lampini in House of Frankenstein (1944), as Andoheb the High Priest of Arkan in The Mummy’s Ghost and The Mummy’s Tomb (1944/1942), as Heinrich Hinckel in Sherlock Holmes in Washington (1943), and as Dr. Lorenzo Cameron in The Mad Monster (1942). In many ways, Zucco was typecast in the same type of roles that Bela Lugosi accepted with Monogram and PRC. The Flying Serpent is pretty much a remake of Lugosi’s vehicle The Devil Bat (1940).

In The Mad Monster, Zucco is at his zaniest as a spurned scientist who injects a “catalytic agent” (aka wolf blood) into his simpleton gardener Petro (played by a pre-Frankenstein Glenn Strange).

Zucco and the Wolf

Zucco’s plan is utterly fantastic. At first he wishes to go to the War Department with a scheme to create an invincible army of wolf-men. I’m not sure if he wants to avenge himself and prove his theories are correct by having the wolf-men whip the Axis powers, but then as he hallucinates in front of a non-existent group of skeptical colleagues and scientists he changes his tune to world domination. Petro becomes his guinea pig.

The Mad Monster_Zucco and Strange

Petro Changes

The makeup and transformation dissolves are decent enough.

Look at Petro now…

Glenn Strange is perhaps best known as having played the Frankenstein Monster in three Universal films, but he was actually a veteran of over 300 film and TV appearances through a long and productive career. In Monster, Strange plays the role a lot like Lon Chaney, Jr. did as Lennie in Of Mice and Men (1939). He even sounds a bit like Chaney. Strange made a ton of films, especially westerns (he once rode as a stunt double for John Wayne), but I can’t remember him having as much dialogue as he had in this film. I think he probably made a better cowboy than a monster.

Of course Zucco uses the Mad Monster for his own vengeful purposes…

The Mad Monster_G Strange as Petro

And always check the back seat!

Always check the back seat!

Petro creeps around, and there’s a romance, and Zucco makes the Mad Monster Mad…

Ah…

They don’t make ‘em like they used to!

Footnote:

*Child actor Donnie Dunagan recalled a few years ago that he was advised to stay away from Atwill during the filming of Son of Frankenstein (1939).

The Monster Walks (1932)

Posted in Horror with tags , on March 11, 2013 by monsterminions

The Monster Walks_Titles

I pressed this earlier and for some reason it got trashed. Here I go again…

This low-budget old dark house thriller from Astor Pictures is so old it creaks. I found this one on a 100-disc Mill Creek public domain horror film collection. The print isn’t half bad for a film over 80 years old! The Monster Walks (1932) features Mischa Auer (You Can’t Take it with You, 1938) as looney-tunes Hanns; Sidney Bracey (a veteran of over 330 films!) as Herbert Wilkes; and mumbling funny guy Willie Best (as nicknamed, get this —Eat N’ Sleep) as chauffeur Exodus.

The Monster Walks features a somewhat familiar story, where a Chimpanzee named Yogi stalks a house full of stuffy guests and family members. Huh? Basically this is a rehash of The Cat and the Canary (1927) and there are plenty of better films of this nature to check out rather than this drawn out mess. Both The Cat and the Canary (1939) and The Ghost Breakers (1940) feature Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard, and the later also stars Willie Best. I also like James Whale’s The Old Dark House (1932).

The Monster Walks is pretty slow and not a good selection after the daylight savings time shift. Yawn.

Yogi's Hand?

Russian-born Mischa Auer is fun as the heavy, and he appears to be doing his best Frankenstein Monster walk in a few scenes. He’s good at playing loonies (just check out Capra’s You Can’t Take it With You).

The Monster Walks was directed by Frank R. Strayer (The Devil Bat, 1932; several Blondie films), who probably had his hands full with the chimp Yogi. Not much is showing with the actors.

Mischa Auer_Mad

Never trust a violinist…

Mischa Auer and Sidney Bracey

The Monster Walks_Mischa Auer

Willie Best is, as usual, terrific.

Wow, films have changed in the last 80 years. Some folks might take offense to the dialogue and portrayal of Willie Best’s character Exodus. Keep in mind this was how Willie Best established his career. Check out this exchange:

Willie Best_Surprised

Exodus (Willie Best), Looking at the caged Chimpanzee Yogi, then replying to Mr. Wilkes: Excuse me boss… But what’da they doing with them things around the house?

Herbert Wilkes (Sidney Bracey): Well Dr. Earlton was an exponent of the Darwinian theory.

Willie Best Sleep N' Eat_Double Take

Exodus: Huh?

Wilkes: He believed that they were our ancestors…

Exodus: You mean that he’s led to me?

Wilkes: Exactly!

Willie Best_On Darwinism

Exodus: Well… I donno I had a grandpappy that looked something like that but he wasn’t as active…

They don’t make ‘em like they used to!

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