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Kyle Kersten was a true friend of TCM. One of the first and most active participants of the Message Boards, “Kyle in Hollywood” (aka, hlywdkjk) demonstrated a depth of knowledge and largesse of spirit that made him one of the most popular and respected voices in these forums. This thread is a living memorial to his life and love of movies, which remain with us still.

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Recently Watched Horror


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#1 LawrenceA

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Posted 21 October 2017 - 04:25 PM

The Bye Bye Man (2017) - Routine horror thriller from STX Entertainment and director Stacy Title, based on the novel The Bridge to Body Island by Robert Damon Schneck. College student Elliot (Douglas Smith), his girlfriend Sasha (Cressida Bonas), and his best friend since childhood John (Lucien Laviscount) rent a large, dilapidated house. Elliot discovers an end-table with some writing inside: "The Bye Bye Man". When he mentions this name aloud during a seance conducted by psychic friend Kim (Jenna Kanell), he unknowingly curses all four of them to death at the hands of The Bye Bye Man, a sort of ill-defined supernatural boogie man that causes anyone that hears his name to suffer gruesome hallucinations. Now Elliot and his friends must fight to survive until they can find a way to stop this unholy menace. Also featuring Carrie-Anne Moss, Michael Trucco, Erica Tremblay, Marisa Echevveria, Cleo King, Leigh Whannell, Doug Jones as the Bye Bye Man, and Faye Dunaway.

 

One would be forgiven for assuming that this was another Blumhouse production, what with the presence of Whannell and the film's attempt to create a new distinct-look bad guy, as in InsidiousSinisterThe Conjuring or any of their sequels. However, I guess we've reached the point where that company's product is being copied, which is strange since all of their films seem like rehashes anyway. The opening segment is eerie, and there are some creepy moments early on, but this runs out of steam really quickly and becomes a bore despite the increasing violence. By the time Moss shows up as a perplexed cop, or Dunaway in a pointless exposition cameo, I was long past caring about anything in the movie.   4/10

 

Source: Universal DVD.

 

bywbyefb.jpg


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#2 Swithin

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Posted 15 October 2017 - 09:40 AM

White Zombie (1932) - Prototypical voodoo zombie film from United Artists and director Victor Halperin. Madeline Short (Madge Bellamy) arrives on a Caribbean island, there to be married to local bank clerk Neil Parker (John Harron). However, Madeline comes to the attention of two bad men: sugar plantation owner Charles Beaumont (Robert Frazer), and sugar mill operator and voodoo master Murder Legendre (Bela Lugosi). Beaumont convinces Legendre to use his hypnotic voodoo skills to render Madeline a zombie, sapped of her own will and bound to Beaumont's. Legendre has an entire workforce of "living dead" zombies, and he agrees to Beaumont's terms. Also featuring Joseph Cawthorn, Brandon Hurst, George Burr Macannan, and Clarence Muse.

 

W.B. Seabrook's book, The Magic Island (1929) is a sensationalist (but fascinating) account of Voodoo and zombies in Haiti. It is the work that basically introduced zombies to America and inspired White Zombie and zombie movies that followedA more scholarly book is Voodoo in Haiti (1959), by anthropologist Alfred Metraux.

 

Here's an image from Seabrook's book:

 

magcislnd1.jpg


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#3 LawrenceA

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Posted 14 October 2017 - 09:58 PM

White Zombie (1932) - Prototypical voodoo zombie film from United Artists and director Victor Halperin. Madeline Short (Madge Bellamy) arrives on a Caribbean island, there to be married to local bank clerk Neil Parker (John Harron). However, Madeline comes to the attention of two bad men: sugar plantation owner Charles Beaumont (Robert Frazer), and sugar mill operator and voodoo master Murder Legendre (Bela Lugosi). Beaumont convinces Legendre to use his hypnotic voodoo skills to render Madeline a zombie, sapped of her own will and bound to Beaumont's. Legendre has an entire workforce of "living dead" zombies, and he agrees to Beaumont's terms. Also featuring Joseph Cawthorn, Brandon Hurst, George Burr Macannan, and Clarence Muse.

 

This low-budget independent production manages to create a sufficiently creepy atmosphere. The sets, many borrowed from earlier Universal films, are very good, and there is a lot of good camerawork. The makeup by Jack Pierce is also excellent, both for the zombies as well as Lugosi's Legendre, with thick curling eyebrows and satanic beard. The role of Legendre is one of the very best for Lugosi outside of Dracula, and he seems to have fun with it. Co-stars Harron and Frazer are pretty terrible, though. This was a rewatch for me.   7/10

 

Source: Kino Blu Ray, featuring both a well-done restored version as well as a "raw" version that leaves all of the visual and audio damage in place, for those who feel that the low-quality of most previously available editions added to the film's appeal. There's also a short vintage interview with Lugosi made during the period when he was filming White Zombie.

 

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White-Zombie-1932.jpg


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#4 LawrenceA

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 07:46 PM

Despite hearing of it, and seeing variations of the story and the theme of a controlling figure over a younger artist, this was the first time that I've actually seen an adaptation of the original Svengali tale. I thought Barrymore's makeup had a bit of a Jewish caricature about it, but I wasn't sure if that was intended. It doesn't surprise me, as so many villainous and unscrupulous types were depicted that way at the time. I also wasn't aware that Trilby's author was Daphne Du Maurier's grandfather. 


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#5 Swithin

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 07:37 PM

Svengali (1931) - Supernatural thriller from Warner Brothers and director Archie Mayo, based on the novel Trilby by George L. Du Maurier. John Barrymore stars as Svengali, a composer and music impresario who teaches singing in hopes of finding the right talent to mold into stardom. He discovers it in pretty young woman Trilby (Marian Marsh), and sets out to harness her abilities, which also requires him to exert his supernatural ability to hypnotize and dominate the thoughts of others. This understandably upsets Trilby's suitor Billee (Bramwell Fletcher). Also featuring Donald Crisp, Carmel Myers, Luis Alberni, Lumsden Hare, Ferike Boros, and Paul Porcasi.

I like Svengali -- it reeks of antiquity, which is one of my favorite features of a movie. And I love the ending: the Jewish Svengali (so offensively depicted by du Maurier in the novel) gets the girl, in death. Great cast -- always love Paul Porcasi, often as an impresario. And I love the use of "Ben Bolt," a haunting song from the 19th century.

 

I'm not much of a book collector, but I have a first edition of George du Maurier's Trilby (1894), on which the film is based. The book of course is much more complex than the film. There's a lot more of Little Billee and Taffy. In fact, Little Billee dies. 

 

"...so dwelt the Laird upon the poor old tune " Ben Bolt,"

which kept singing itself over and over again in his
tired consciousness, and maddened him with novel,
strange, unhackneyed, unsuspected beauties such as he
had never dreamed of in any earthly music." 

 

Here's a version of "Ben Bolt," which is featured in the book and film:

 


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#6 LawrenceA

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 03:53 PM

Svengali (1931) - Supernatural thriller from Warner Brothers and director Archie Mayo, based on the novel Trilby by George L. Du Maurier. John Barrymore stars as Svengali, a composer and music impresario who teaches singing in hopes of finding the right talent to mold into stardom. He discovers it in pretty young woman Trilby (Marian Marsh), and sets out to harness her abilities, which also requires him to exert his supernatural ability to hypnotize and dominate the thoughts of others. This understandably upsets Trilby's suitor Billee (Bramwell Fletcher). Also featuring Donald Crisp, Carmel Myers, Luis Alberni, Lumsden Hare, Ferike Boros, and Paul Porcasi.

 

Barrymore, with a long pointed beard and heavy makeup, gets to glare about and look intimidating. The scenes showing his hypnosis, during which Barrymore wears white contact lenses, are effective, as is a scene with the camera swooping over highly-stylized rooftops to show his hypnotic pull over great distances. Marsh is pretty but unpolished, acting wise, but as she was just 17 at the time, it's understandable. There's a scene of her nude modeling for an art class that could only have been Pre-Code. While this film is generally categorized as horror, I wouldn't go in expecting much of the typical horror film elements. This earned two Oscar nominations, for Best Art Direction (Anton Grot) and Best Cinematography (Barney McGill).    7/10

 

Source: TCM.

 

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