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LawrenceA

Recently Watched Horror

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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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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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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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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) - 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:

 

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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.

 

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In his introduction to Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970), Ben Mankiewicz said aficionados rate this movie as the second best in the Hammer canon featuring Christopher Lee, after the first, The Horror of Dracula from 1958.  I won’t go so far as to rate them, suffice to say that Taste the Blood of Dracula is very good, with clever camera movements, particularly the snake charmer’s mesmerizing dance in the brothel.  Indeed, the brothel sequence was quite stylish, while also offering sly commentary on the hypocrisy of Victorian morality.  And of course, there’s Christopher Lee as Dracula, who pops up sparingly, but in this case less is more. Filmed from a distance, with his imposing height, and that enveloping cape, Lee still looks menacing.  The supporting role that stood out for me was Ralph Bates as the libertine occultist who sets the plot in motion.  Bates’s performance veered into ham acting, but in a good way.  I also found him, ironically, the most sympathetic character.

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The Ghoul (1933) - British horror thriller that combines elements of earlier Karloff films like The Mummy and The Old Dark House, while essentially ignoring the source novel and play, from Gaumont and director T. Hayes Hunter. Karloff stars as Professor Morlant, a rich eccentric with a penchant for the occult and Egyptology. Dying of some unnamed disease, Morlant has ordered a special Egyptian-style tomb to be built on his property grounds. He believes that if he offers a fabulous jewel to the god Anubis, he will be granted life after death. However, when he dies and is buried according to his wishes, his family and associates gather at his estate for the reading of the will, which turns into a hunt for the jewel. Those in attendance include Anthony Bushell and Dorothy Hyson as the youngest surviving family members, weird manservant Ernest Thesiger, crooked lawyer Cedric Hardwicke, and new neighborhood vicar Ralph Richardson. Also featuring Kathleen Harrison, Harold Huth, and D.A. Clarke-Smith as Mahmoud.

There's too much talking here, and Bushell and Hyson make for unlikable leads. Thesiger is always a treat, and Hardwicke and Richardson are welcome additions to most movies. There are some very good, atmospheric shots scattered about, and one scene seems to have inspired that iconic shot from The Exorcist of the figure standing under a streetlight on a foggy night. Karloff's make-up is odd but effective. This was a re-watch for me, and I liked it a bit more this time, although I still wouldn't quite rank among Karloff's best. It certainly isn't his worst!  (6/10)

Source: MGM DVD.

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Amityville: The Awakening (2017) - Atrocious pseudo-sequel to the long-running series of horror films, based on a phony "true story" best seller, from Dimension Films, Blumhouse, and writer-director Franck Khalfoun. Teenager Belle (Bella Thorne) is a mopey goth chick whose twin brother James (Cameron Monaghan) has been in a vegetative coma for the past two years, kept alive by a ventilator and other devices. Their mother Joan (Jennifer Jason Leigh) moves them, along with lil sis Juliet (Mckenna Grace), to the infamous house in Amityville, New York. When James begins to inexplicably show signs of mental and physical activity, Joan thinks it's a miracle, but Belle begins to consider whether the house's sinister history may be the cause. Also featuring Jennifer Morrison, Thomas Mann, Taylor Spreitler, and Kurtwood Smith.

Shot in 2014 and held up in distribution hell for the next few years, this finally debuted in a handful of theaters this year to a dismal response. The filmmakers' decided to try and take a meta approach to the material, having the story set in the "real world" where the Amityville events are common knowledge and the movies are watched by the townsfolk. This doesn't really add anything to the story, in fact it just makes things even dumber in the end. The cast, led by the famous-to-teens Thorne, and including many TV performers who have done quality work in the past (Monaghan, Morrison, Smith), are blandly unexceptional. Leigh, the biggest movie star of the bunch, is downright awful, but the script and poor direction are most likely the culprits. This is the 18th (!!!) Amityville movie.   (3/10)

Source: Lionsgate DVD.

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Let Us Prey (2014) - Flawed but entertaining British metaphysical horror from director Brian O'Malley. It's Rachel's (Pollyanna McIntosh) first night as a policewoman in a new town, and when a mysterious stranger (Liam Cunnigham) is brought into the police station, all Hell breaks loose, and the sins of the prisoners and the police officers come back to haunt them. Also featuring Douglas Russell, Bryan Larkin, Hanna Stanbridge, Niall Greig Fulton, Jonathan Watson, Brian Vernel, and Sophie Stephanie Farmer.

There's a lot of style on display, from the music to the moody widescreen cinematography. The performances from the leads, both of whom are currently featured on cable TV's biggest hits (Cunningham on Game of Thrones and McIntosh on The Walking Dead), are very good, and raise the material up a few points. The violence depicted is very graphic, almost to a comical degree at times, and the script could have used a little more polishing, as the mid-section, with frequent time-jumps and location changes, is disorienting. Still, this was better than many of the horror films of recent years, and I enjoyed the ending. Filmed in Scotland and Ireland.  (7/10)

Source: Dark Sky Blu-Ray.

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On 11/14/2017 at 6:15 PM, LawrenceA said:

Amityville: The Awakening (2017) - Atrocious pseudo-sequel to the long-running series of horror films, based on a phony "true story" best seller, from Dimension Films, Blumhouse, and writer-director Franck Khalfoun. Teenager Belle (Bella Thorne) is a mopey goth chick whose twin brother James (Cameron Monaghan) has been in a vegetative coma for the past two years, kept alive by a ventilator and other devices. Their mother Joan (Jennifer Jason Leigh) moves them, along with lil sis Juliet (Mckenna Grace), to the infamous house in Amityville, New York. When James begins to inexplicably show signs of mental and physical activity, Joan thinks it's a miracle, but Belle begins to consider whether the house's sinister history may be the cause. Also featuring Jennifer Morrison, Thomas Mann, Taylor Spreitler, and Kurtwood Smith.

Shot in 2014 and held up in distribution hell for the next few years, this finally debuted in a handful of theaters this year to a dismal response. The filmmakers' decided to try and take a meta approach to the material, having the story set in the "real world" where the Amityville events are common knowledge and the movies are watched by the townsfolk. This doesn't really add anything to the story, in fact it just makes things even dumber in the end. The cast, led by the famous-to-teens Thorne, and including many TV performers who have done quality work in the past (Monaghan, Morrison, Smith), are blandly unexceptional. Leigh, the biggest movie star of the bunch, is downright awful, but the script and poor direction are most likely the culprits. This is the 18th (!!!) Amityville movie.   (3/10)

Source: Lionsgate DVD.

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I know characters in horror films have to do stupid things or the movie would be over in ten minutes but who in their right mind would move into that house?

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1 hour ago, jaragon said:

I know characters in horror films have to do stupid things or the movie would be over in ten minutes but who in their right mind would move into that house?

That's addressed in the movie, and there are actual plot reasons behind them moving there, but they are stupid reasons.

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I watched The Autopsy of Jane Doe on Showtime2 last night and really liked it.  It had a lot of tension, scares and good performances by the two leads.  This is one of the best horror films of recent vintage and thanks for the recommendation.  If it wasn't for this thread, I probably would have missed it.

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I'm catching up on some more recent horror.  I saw Get Out on HBO last night  (again rewatched some parts of it tonight to see a few "clues" I missed on first viewing) and enjoyed the blend of humor, political satire and horror very much.  Well acted; I especially liked the subtlety of facial expression changes among the "Stepford-like" Black characters. 

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It's not recent but I saw it this weekend for the first time:  David Cronenberg's Rabid.  This is early Cronenberg in his "body horror" phase and it's pretty entertaining with a fair amount of gore.  It stars porn actress Marilyn Chambers with plenty of topless scenes.  She has experimental skin graft surgery after a motorcycle accident and the results aren't pleasant.  I've seen just about all of Cronenberg's horror movies but I had never seen this one which was on one of the premium cable stations.  Recommended.

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On 11/23/2017 at 2:27 PM, ChristineHoard said:

I watched The Autopsy of Jane Doe on Showtime2 last night and really liked it.  It had a lot of tension, scares and good performances by the two leads.  This is one of the best horror films of recent vintage and thanks for the recommendation.  If it wasn't for this thread, I probably would have missed it.

It was very creepy and I love the slow build up- the two leads Brian Cox and Emile Hirsh are excellent in it

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3 hours ago, ChristineHoard said:

It's not recent but I saw it this weekend for the first time:  David Cronenberg's Rabid.  This is early Cronenberg in his "body horror" phase and it's pretty entertaining with a fair amount of gore.  It stars porn actress Marilyn Chambers with plenty of topless scenes.  She has experimental skin graft surgery after a motorcycle accident and the results aren't pleasant.  I've seen just about all of Cronenberg's horror movies but I had never seen this one which was on one of the premium cable stations.  Recommended.

Have not seen this one either - Croneberg's is such a disturbing director

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15 minutes ago, jaragon said:

Have not seen this one either - Croneberg's is such a disturbing director

I hope you get to check it out.  Yes, his movies are disturbing and that's what makes them so good.  He's one of my favorites from that era.

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I'll be re-watching several horror titles over the next couple of days, starting with:

Doctor X (1932) - Really bizarre pre-code horror thriller from First National and director Michael Curtiz. A series of grisly murders involving strangulation and cannibalism have been terrorizing NYC. Wisecracking newspaper reporter Lee Taylor (Lee Tracy) is after the story, which leads to the intense Doctor Xavier (Lionel Atwill) and his institute staffed by equally eccentric scientists from many fields. Dr. Xavier agrees to work with the police to suss out the culprit, but his unorthodox methods may put everyone in peril, including the doctor's lovely daughter Joanne (Fay Wray). Also featuring Preston Foster, Robert Warwick, John Wray, Harry Beresford, Arthur Edmund Carewe, Leila Bennett, George Rosener, Willard Robertson, and Mae Busch.

Chiefly remembered today for it's cinematography in primitive Technicolor, this horror-mystery has a lot going for it. The cast of weirdo scientists is fun and serves up a lot of suspects. The crimes themselves are more horrific (even if just in description) than in most other horror films of the period. The romance between Tracy and Fay Wray is unobtrusive and naturally progressed. The "mad scientist" lab sets are a joy to look at. And the eventual revelation of the killer is wild and out of left field ("Synthetic Flesh!!!").   (7/10)

Source: Warner DVD, part of the Hollywood Legends of Horror Collection.

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This next one isn't really horror, more action/adventure, but it was included in the same DVD set, so here it is:

The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932) - MGM takes a stab at adapting the Sax Rohmer character to the big screen, directed by Charles Brabin. Boris Karloff stars in the title role, a Chinese scientist, warlord, and master criminal bent on world domination. He believes that if he can retrieve the long lost mask and sword of Genghis Khan he will be able to gather an army of followers with which to conquer the "white man's world". Out to stop him is the intrepid Sir Nayland Smith (Lewis Stone). Also starring Myrna Loy as Fu Manchu's cruel daughter, Karen Morley, Charles Starrett, Jean Hersholt, David Torrence, Lawrence Grant, Ferdinand Gottschalk, and Willie Fung.

Paramount had much success with a Fu Manchu series from 1929-1931 with Warner Oland in the lead. Those films are classier, and Fu Manchu is presented as more of a sympathetic character, seeking vengeance for the death of his family. In this version, Fu is just generically evil, more like a comic book villain. This outing has a lot going for it, though, like nice, large sets and elaborate costumes, ludicrously amusing torture devices, and ridiculous touches such as Fu Manchu's personal bodyguard squad consisting of large bald black men in loincloths. The plot is silly, and the racial stereotyping is both offensive and naively hilarious (apparently Chinese people literally worship Genghis Khan). One particular bit of business that I enjoyed in this was Fu Manchu's "box o' creepy creatures", a container he opens at one point that appears to hold snakes, large lizards, tarantulas and more, all just hanging out together in this box. 

The movie ran into trouble once the production code went into full effect, and heavily edited versions floated around for years, but the copy I watched was fully restored, even if some of the scenes looked to be in much poorer condition than others. This is amusing in a cartoonish, high camp way, and for fans of unusual production design.   (7/10)

Source: Warners DVD, part of the Hollywood Legends of Horror Collection.

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1 hour ago, LawrenceA said:

This next one isn't really horror, more action/adventure, but it was included in the same DVD set, so here it is:

The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932) - MGM takes a stab at adapting the Sax Rohmer character to the big screen, directed by Charles Brabin. Boris Karloff stars in the title role, a Chinese scientist, warlord, and master criminal bent on world domination. He believes that if he can retrieve the long lost mask and sword of Genghis Khan he will be able to gather an army of followers with which to conquer the "white man's world". Out to stop him is the intrepid Sir Nayland Smith (Lewis Stone). Also starring Myrna Loy as Fu Manchu's cruel daughter, Karen Morley, Charles Starrett, Jean Hersholt, David Torrence, Lawrence Grant, Ferdinand Gottschalk, and Willie Fung.

Paramount had much success with a Fu Manchu series from 1929-1931 with Warner Oland in the lead. Those films are classier, and Fu Manchu is presented as more of a sympathetic character, seeking vengeance for the death of his family. In this version, Fu is just generically evil, more like a comic book villain. This outing has a lot going for it, though, like nice, large sets and elaborate costumes, ludicrously amusing torture devices, and ridiculous touches such as Fu Manchu's personal bodyguard squad consisting of large bald black men in loincloths. The plot is silly, and the racial stereotyping is both offensive and naively hilarious (apparently Chinese people literally worship Genghis Khan). One particular bit of business that I enjoyed in this was Fu Manchu's "box o' creepy creatures", a container he opens at one point that appears to hold snakes, large lizards, tarantulas and more, all just hanging out together in this box. 

The movie ran into trouble once the production code went into full effect, and heavily edited versions floated around for years, but the copy I watched was fully restored, even if some of the scenes looked to be in much poorer condition than others. This is amusing in a cartoonish, high camp way, and for fans of unusual production design.   (7/10)

Source: Warners DVD, part of the Hollywood Legends of Horror Collection.

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This one is a lot fun and yes it's much more a serial than as typical horror film- there is a lot sexual kinkiness and I love Myrna Loy's as Fu Man Chu's daughter

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Mad Love (1935) - Feverish horror romance from MGM and director Karl Freund. When acclaimed concert pianist Stephen Orlac (Colin Clive) is in a terrible accident, his hands are crushed and must be amputated. His wife Yvonne (Frances Drake) appeals to the brilliant Dr. Gogol (Peter Lorre) to use his surgical genius to save Stephen's hands. Gogol accepts as he's madly in love with Yvonne, but instead of saving Stephen's hands, he replaces them with those from an executed murderer. Also featuring Ted Healy, Edward Brophy, Sara Haden, Henry Kolker, Billy Gilbert, Ian Wolfe, and Keye Luke.

This was Lorre's first American film, and one of his very best performances ever. He's at once menacingly creepy and pathetically sympathetic, a brilliant mind trapped in an ugly body, deeply in love with someone he can never have. I also really like Drake as the object of affection, beautiful, classy and empathetic. Lorre's costume late in the film is a visual highlight of 1930's film, and the moody cinematography is excellent. Recommended.  (8/10)

Source: Warners DVD, part of the Hollywood Legends of Horror Collection.

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Mark of the Vampire (1935) - Divisive horror/mystery from MGM and director Tod Browning. Somewhere in Eastern Europe, a nobleman is apparently killed by a vampire. His distraught daughter Irena (Elizabeth Allan) and police Inspector Newmann (Lionel Atwill) enlist the aid of noted paranormal expert Professor Zelin (Lionel Barrymore), who suspects that the culprits are the undead Count Mora (Bela Lugosi) and his daughter Luna (Carroll Borland). Also featuring Jean Hersholt, Donald Meek, Leila Bennett, Henry Wadsworth, Ivan F. Simpson, Holmes Herbert, and Jessie Ralph.

The "Scooby-Doo" ending of this movie seems to be a dealbreaker for many viewers. I don't mind it too much, especially on re-watching it. This movie was evidently edited down by 15 minutes or more by the studio, much of it comic scenes (rumors about scenes alluding to possible incest between Mora and Luna seem to be urban legend), and I think what's left has its tongue firmly in cheek. It's like Browning took many of the sillier touches of Dracula (1931) and exaggerated them even further, like the bats, possums and giant spiders roaming about the vampire's lair. The visual look of Luna (Borland) has proven to be the longest lasting aspect of the movie, as it's been cited as inspirations for TV's Vampira and Elvira, as well as The Munsters' Yvonne De Carlo. T-shirts and posters featuring her proto-Goth-girl look can still be found at shopping malls and online stores.   (6/10)

Source: Warners DVD, part of Hollywood Legends of Horror Collection.

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The Raven (1935) - Karloff and Lugosi team up for some more weirdness from Universal Pictures and director Lew Landers. Lugosi gets the bigger role as the brilliant surgeon Dr. Richard Vollin who is now in retirement to "conduct research" and indulge in his Edgar Allan Poe memorabilia hobby. He's brought back into the operating room to perform a delicate surgery on the beautiful Jean Thatcher (Irene Ware) who suffered neck injuries in a car crash. The surgery is successful, but the already unbalanced Vollin develops an unhealthy obsession with Jean, who is engaged to marry another. Vollin sees a chance at solving that problem when criminal Edmond Bateman (Boris Karloff) begs the doctor to perform plastic surgery on him so that he can start a new life. Instead, Vollin disfigures Bateman in an effort to blackmail him into killing Vollin's love rival. Also featuring Lester Matthews, Samuel S. Hinds, Spencer Charters, Inez Courtney, Ian Wolfe, Maidel Turner, and Arthur Hoyt.

The plot is goofy and convoluted, and neither Lugosi nor Karloff's characters make much sense. Lugosi has a basement full of torture devices that he's built because of his Poe obsession, including a pendulum blade. Bela gets to express a lot of emotion in this one, but he's not quite as convincing as he was in the previous The Black Cat. Karloff gets to be sympathetic again, although his makeup is silly rather than horrifying. I still enjoyed this one, but while it's played with a straight face, it's best not to take it too seriously.  (7/10)

Source: Universal Vault DVD.

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Werewolf of London (1935) - Stylish horror outing from Universal Pictures and director Stuart Walker. Henry Hull stars as Dr. Glendon, a botanist who travels to remote Tibet in an effort to find a near-mythical plant, but instead he's attacked and bitten by a mysterious beast. Back in London, he begins feeling peculiarly, and he's approached by Dr. Yogami (Warner Oland), who informs Glendon that the thing that attacked him was a werewolf, and that his condition has been passed on. As bodies begin turning up all over London, apparently killed by a wild animal, Glendon fears that he's the culprit. Also featuring Valerie Hobson, Lester Matthews, Lawrence Grant, Spring Byington, Clark Williams, J.M. Kerrigan, Charlotte Granville, Ethel Griffies, Zeffie Tilbury, and Eole Galli.

This is the fourth or fifth time that I've seen this, and I like it a bit more each time. Hull and Oland are both very good, and they have interesting dynamic. The make-up is terrific, and I like the primitive-yet-effective transformation sequences. Many viewers get turned off by the rather glaring comic relief provided by the two old landladies, but they're grown on me, and don't irritate me the way they used to. I was impressed by the quality of the remastering done, as well.   (7/10)

Source: Universal Blu-Ray, part of The Wolf Man Complete Legacy Collection.

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