Sunday, July 23, 2017

This Week in Fright Film History July 23-29., 2017

The Maze (1953)  a 3-D horror film starring Richard Carlson and Hillary Brooke was released on July 26, 1953. This was to be the second 3-D film designed and directed by William Cameron Menzies.

The Amityville Horror (1979) released theatrically on July 27, 1979. The film which starred James Brolin, Margot Kidder and Rod Steiger was allegedly based on a true story.

White Zombie (1932) an  American  horror film directed and produced by brothers Victor Halperin and Edward Halperin and starred  Béla Lugosi, Madge Bellamy, Robert W. Frazer, John Harron and Joseph Cawthorn. White Zombie (1932) was released on July 28, 1932 and is considered the first feature length zombie film.

 Agnes Waterhouse  aka Mother Waterhouse, was the first woman executed for witchcraft in England on July 29,  1566.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Mark of the Vampire (1935)

Mark of the Vampire (1935) also known as Vampires of Prague, directed by Tod Browning and was essentially a remake of Browning’s earlier silent film London After Midnight (1927), which featured had Lon Chaney.  This 1935 retelling starred Lionel Barrymore, Elizabeth Allan, Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill, Jean Hersholt and Carol Borland.
Despite the financial fiasco of Freaks (1932), (the film was actually banned in the United States until 1963), MGM was more than willing to back Browning’s Mark of the Vampire (1935). The horror genre had proven financially successful for Universal and RKO,  and MGM was eager to get their  
share of the market. Browning on the other hand saw the film as an opportunity to vindicate his previous failure with Freaks (1932) and perhaps gain back some of the prestige that the film had cost him.
Mark of the Vampire (1935) is another one of Browning’s Freudian inspired melodramas, involving murder, vampirism and incestuous relationships. It is also incorporates one of the first known examples of the 'cat scare', in which there is a strong buildup of tension followed by a scare from a harmless cat which was a forerunner to the "Lewton Bus”.

 Lionel Barrymore who plays Professor Zelen, an expert on the occult and vampires, and Lionel Atwill who plays the police inspector, carry the bulk of the film.  In fact Bela Lugosi had more dialogue in the trailer than in the final film. Apparently Lugosi, still riding on the success of Dracula (1931), was hired for the publicity his name would bring to the film rather than his acting abilities.

Carroll Borland who played Luna in the film, has been accused by some film historians of exaggerating her relationship/friendship with Bela Lugosi. Of Lugosi she once said;

"Let me admit with no apology that to me Dracula is Bela Lugosi, and Lugosi is Dracula. There is no separation of the two. Many have donned his nocturnal cloak, and some, like Christopher Lee, have presented most creditable representations of the great undead Count - but can never be Dracula. If not for Technicolor, I could say they are only pale imitations."

The film was cut from its original 75 minutes down to 61 minutes by the studio. It is reported that this was due to incestuous overtones between Count Mora (played by Lugosi) and his daughter Luna (played Carol Borland). In the original uncut script it is explained that Count Mora’s head wound was a result of a murder suicide brought on by the incestuous relationship. However with those scenes cut and as a result there is no satisfactory explanation as to why Lugosi’s character has a bullet wound to the head.

Director Tod Browning deliberately kept the last scenes of the film a secret because he wanted authenticity from his actors. The actors believed that they were making a conventional horror movie, and were totally unaware of the twist-ending until the last few days of shooting. When Bela Lugosi discovered the deception, he reportedly begged Browning to change the ending to allow him and Carroll Borland to be real vampires.

Mark of the Vampire (1935) was released on April 26, 1935. The film was banned in Sweden and in Poland, and censors in Hungary removed the screams and shots of bats. Yet many American viewers were disappointed in the climax of the film when they learned that the vampires were actually actors hired by the police to help trap a murderer. There are some horror fans who debate whether or not Mark of the Vampire (1935) should be considered a horror film at all. Mark of the Vampire (1935) is one of Tod Browning’s better films and is a favorite with many of his fans. The film is noted for its haunting scenes and artistic camerawork, horror film are not Mark of the Vampire (1935) is certainly a film worth watching.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

This Week in Fright Film History July 16 -22, 2017

Frankenstein 1970 (1958) a science fiction /horror film directed by Howard W. Koch starring Boris Karloff and Don "Red" Barry was released on July 20 1958.  The film was shot in only eight days on a budget of $110,000.00. It was Boris Karloff's fifth Frankenstein movie, and the first time he actually played a member of the Frankenstein family.

James Whale best remembered for having directed such classics as Frankenstein (1931), The Old Dark House (1932),  The Invisible Man (1933), and The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)  was born on July 22, 1889.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

This Week in Fright Film History July 2 to 8, 2017

Day of the Dead (1985) written and directed by George A. Romero and the third film in Romero's Dead Series was released theatrically on July 3, 1985. The film was preceded by Night of the Living Dead (1968) and Dawn of the Dead (1978).

Blood Feast (1963) an American film directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis and produced by David F. Friedman was released on July 6, 1963. It is considered the first splatter film, and is notable for its groundbreaking depictions of on-screen gore.

The Mummy's Ghost (1944) was the sequel to The Mummy's Tomb was released on July 7, 1944.The film starred Lon Chaney, Jr. in the role of Kharis the mummy. 

The Raven (1935)  directed by Lew Landers and starring Boris Karloff and Béla Lugosi was released on July 8,1935.  Due to its storyline that contained elements of torture and revenge, the film did not do well at the box office during its initial release. Such themes were deemed too strong for the taste of the 1935 American audience.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

This Week in Fright Film History June 25 to July 1, 2017

Colin Clive was an English stage and screen actor. Although Clive appeared in over 18 films and numerous states place it is the role of Henry Frankenstein that he is best remembered for. Clive would reprise his role as Henry Frankenstein in the 1935 film The Bride of Frankenstein.  In his portrayal of Henry Frankenstein, Clive set the standard for the mad scientist role in films for decades to come.  Clive died on June 25, 1937 from complications of tuberculosis he was only 37 years old.

Peter Lorre, who appeared in several horror films including Mad Love (1935)  ,The Boogie Man Will Get You (1942) The Beast with Five Fingers (1946)  was born on June 26, 1904.


Dead of Night (1945) is a British horror film produced By Michael Balcon the individual stories were directed by Alberto Cavalcanti, Charles Crichton, Basil Dearden and Robert Hamer. The film stars Mervyn Johns, Googie Withers and Michael Redgrave. Dead of Night (1945) is noted for being one of a very few British horror films produced during the 1940’s. the film was released in the United States  on June 28, 1946.

The Jungle Captive (1945) was the sequel to Jungle Woman (1944), which was the sequel to Captive Wild Woman (1943). The Jungle Captive (1945) starred Otto Kruger who played Dr. Jeffrey Garth in Dracula’sDaughter (1936) and Rondo Hatton  as "Moloch". The movie was directed by Harold Young and was released on June 29, 1945.

Karen Black who appeared in in many horror films including Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses (2003) was  born on July 1, 1942.


Sunday, June 18, 2017

This Week in Fright Film History June 18 - 24, 2017

Them! (1954) a science fiction film about a nest of gigantic irradiated ants was based on a story treatment by George Worthing Yates, which was developed into a screenplay by Ted Sherdeman and Russell Hughes. Directed by Gordon Douglas, and stars James Whitmore, Edmund Gwenn, Joan Weldon and James Arness. Them! (1954) which is of the first "nuclear monster" movies, and the first "big bug" film, was released on June 19, 1954.

          Jaws (1975) directed by Steven Spielberg and based on Peter Benchley's novel of the same name. The film which starred Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw was released theatrically June 20, 1975. Jaws (1975) has been erroneous been
given the distinction of be the first blockbuster.At the time of Jaws (1975) a film that exceeded $100,000,000 in ticket sales was considered a “Blockbuster”.  Films such as Gone With the Wind (1939), Ben-Hur (1959) and The Sound of Music (1965) had earned well over 100,000,000. Jaws (1975) did encourage many Hollywood producers to make higher budget films with wide commercial appeal and promote these films with extensive advertising blitzes before their release, thus beginning what is known as the “Blockbuster Era” in Hollywood.

Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1955) directed by Charles Lamont and starring the comedy team of Abbott and Costello was released on June 23, 1955.

Irving Pichel an American film director and actor who played  Sandor, Countess Marya Zaleska’s servant in Dracula's Daughter (1936) was born on June 24, 1891.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

This Week in Fright Film History June 11 to 17, 2017

Brigitte Helm died  on June 11, 1996 at the age of 90. Helm made over thirty other films during her career including Metropolis (1927) and Alraune (1928). Helm was at one time considered for the title role in Bride of Frankenstein before Elsa Lanchester was given the role.

Rosemary's Baby  (1968)  a psychological horror film written and directed by Roman Polanski, based on  Ira Levin’s 1967 novel Rosemary's Baby  was arleased on June 12 1968. The cast includes Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon, Ralph Bellamy, Maurice Evans, Sidney Blackmer and Charles Grodin. Following the film inspired a string of other films involving  Devil worshippers and black magic, including The Brotherhood of Satan, Mark of the Devil, and Black Noon.

The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953) was a science fiction giant monster film directed by Eugène Lourié, starring Paul Christian, Paula Raymond and Cecil Kellaway, and with visual effects by Ray Harryhausen was released on June 13, 1953.

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello meet Frankenstein (1948), horror comedy film directed by Charles Barton and starring the comedy team of Abbott and Costello was release on June 15, 1948. This film is often referred to as simply Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein and was  the first of several films where the comedy duo meets classic characters from Universal's horror series .

On June 16, 1979, Son of Svengoolie debuted on WFLD, with Rich Koz in the title role.  The “Son of” was later dropped making the name of the program simply Svengoolie. Svengoolie a long-running local program featuring classic horror films in the Chicago area has become somewhat of a sensation after expanding nationally on Me-TV. The program airs Saturday nights at 9pm cst.

Psycho (1960) directed by Alfred Hitchcock starring Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, John Gavin, and Janet Leigh. The film was written by Joseph Stefano, the screenplay was based on the 1959 novel of the same name by Robert Bloch which was  inspired by the crimes of murderer and grave robber Ed Gein. Psycho (1960) was released on June 16, 1960.

Mesa of Lost Women (1953) directed by Ron Ormond and Herbert Tevos. The film, which featured Jackie Coogan best remembered as Charlie Chaplin's sidekick in The Kid (1921) and Uncle Fester in 1960s sitcom The Addams Family. This low-budget science fiction film was released on June 17, 1953.

The Terror (1963) a low budget horror film produced and directed by Roger Corman and starred Boris Karloff and Jack Nicholson was released on June 17, 1963. The film was also released as Lady of the Shadows, The Castle of Terror, and The Haunting.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

This Week in Fright Film History June 4 - 10, 2017

Revolt of the Zombies (1936) an American horror film directed and produced by the Halperin Brothers was released on June 4, 1936. The film stars Dean Jagger and Dorothy Stone. It is one of the earliest zombie films was released on June 4, 1936. Although he received no credit for the film, Bela Lugosi's eyes do appear in Revolt of the Zombies.

The Unknown (1927) an American silent horror film directed by Tod Browning and featuring Lon Chaney as Alonzo the Armless and Joan Crawford  was released on June 4, 1927. Movies critics have often cited Chaney's performance as one of the best ever on film. Joan Crawford said that she learned more about acting from working with Chaney in this movie than from everything else in her career.

Damien: Omen II (1978) directed by Don Taylor, starring William Holden, Lee Grant, and Jonathan Scott-Taylor was released on June 9, 1978. William Holden was the original choice to star in The Omen (1976), but he turned it down.  After The Omen (1976) became such a huge hit,  Holden made sure he got a part in the sequel.

Poltergeist III  (1988) the third and final entry in the original Poltergeist film series was released on June 10, 1988. The film was directed  by Gary Sherman and starred  Tom Skerritt,  Nancy Allen, Heather O'Rourke and Zelda Rubinstein.  O'Rourke and  Rubinstein were the only original cast members to return for this final installment of the trilogy.  The film was dedicated to O'Rourke who died four months before the film was release.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

This Week in Fright Film History May 28 to June 3, 2017

James Whale best remembered for having directed such classics as Frankenstein (1931), The Old Dark House (1932), The Invisible Man (1933) and Bride of Frankenstein (1935) committed suicide by drowning himself in his swimming pool in Hollywood, California on May 29,1957, he was 57 years old.

Jungle Woman (1944) released by Universal Pictures on June 1, 1944. The movie a sequel to Captive Wild Woman( 1943) The film features Evelyn Ankers, J. Carrol Naish, Samuel S. Hinds, , and Acquanetta.  Acquanetta was nicknamed "The Venezuelan Volcano" for her exotic beauty. 

Revolt of the Zombies {1936) an American horror film directed and produced by the Halperin Brothers was released on June 4, 1936. The film stars Dean Jagger and Dorothy Stone. It is one of the earliest zombie films. Although he received no credit for the film, Bela Lugosi's eyes do appear in Revolt of the Zombies (1936).

Sunday, May 21, 2017

This Week in Fright Film History May 21 - 27, 2017

Quatermass 2,  U.S. title  Enemy From Space (1957) a British science fiction/horror film starring Brian Donlevy, Jack Warner, Richard Wordsworth and Margia Dean was released on May 24, 1957. Quatermass 2 (1957) was a sequel to The Quatermass Xperiment (1955).

Dawn of the Dead (1979) written and directed by George A. Romero, the second film in Romero's Living Dead series was released May 24, 1979.

 Body SnatherThe Body Snatcher (1945) directed by Robert Wise, based on the short story The Body Snatcher by Robert Louis Stevenson.  The Body Snatcher (1945) the last film to feature both Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi was released on May 25, 1945. The Body Snatcher (1945) is based the short story The Body Snatcher (1884) by  Robert Louis Stevenson which was based loosely on the Burke and Hare murders also known as the West Port murders. Burke and Hare were accused of committing a string of murders in Edinburgh, Scotland over a period of approximately ten months in 1828. William Burke and William Hare reportedly sold 16 corpses to a Doctor Robert Knox for his anatomy lectures. When faced with a shortage of suitable corpses, Burke and Hare began murdering people and selling the bodies to the unsuspecting Dr. Knox.

The Gorilla (1939) an American comedy/horror film starring the Ritz Brothers, Lionel Atwill, Bela Lugosi, and Patsy Kelly was released on May 26, 1939.

Peter Cushing was born on May, 26 1913. He is known for his many appearances in Hammer Films, in which he played the Baron Frankenstein, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Van Helsing. He appeared as Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars (1977) and Dr. Who in Dr. Who and the Daleks (1965) and Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D. (1966).

Christopher Lee. known for appearing as Count Dracula in a number or Horror films, Francisco Scaramanga in the James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), Saruman in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy (2001–2003) and The Hobbit film trilogy (2012–2014), and Count Dooku in the final two films of the Star Wars prequel trilogy (2002 and 2005) was born on May 27, 1922