Sunday, August 20, 2017

This Week in Fright Film History August 20 - 26, 2017

The Seventh Victim (1943) starring Tom Conway, Jean Brooks, Isabel Jewell, Kim Hunter (in her first film), and Hugh Beaumont, directed by Mark Robson was released August 21,1943.

Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff (1949) a comedy/ horror film starring Abbott and Costello and Boris Karloff was released on August 22, 1949. The full onscreen title is Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff.

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The Student of Prague (1913), with a run time of 1 hour 25 minutes, is hailed as the first true feature length film in history. The film premiered on August 22, 1913. It is reported the some of the audience members actually screamed when the student’s image steps out of the mirror. Although this effect was achieved with the ever so common double exposure technique that effect had never been seen by the movie going audience at that time and it did make quite an impression.

Lon Chaney, known for his roles in such silent horror films as The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923), The Phantom of the Opera (1925) and London After Midnight (1927) died on August 26, 1930 from bronchial lung cancer, he was 47 years old.

The Head of Janus (1920) a German horror silent film directed by F. W. Murnau and written by Hans Janowitz . The film was an unauthorized adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's novel The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the German authorities did not recognize the source material due to the changes in the names of the characters. The director F.W. Murnau is best known for his film Nosferatu (1922) which was unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The film was released on August 26 ,1920

The Abominable Snowman (1957) was directed by Val Guest and released by Hammer Film Productions on August 26, 1957. The film is based on a 1955 BBC television play, The Creature, written by Nigel Kneale, who also wrote the screenplay adaptation for the film. The Abominable Snowman (1957) was released in the United States under the title of The Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas.


Sunday, August 13, 2017

This Week in Fright Film History August 13 - 19, 2017

H. G. Wells, an English writer known for his science fiction novels including The War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, The Invisible Man and The Island of Doctor Moreau died on  August 13, 1946 at the age of 79.

Bela Lugosi, famous for his starring role in the  Dracula (1931) and his various roles in other horror films,  died of a heart attack on August 16, 1956 in his Los Angeles home. He was 73.

Cry of the Werewolf (1944) aka Daughter of the Werewolf,  an American horror film starring Nina Foch, Stephen Crane and Osa Massen was released on August 17, 1944. The film is based on a story by Griffin Jay and was directed by Henry Levin.

The Man They Could Not Hang (1939) directed by Nick Grinde, and starring Boris Karloff, Lorna Gray, and Ann Doran was released on August 17, 1939.

 H. P. Lovecraft born was on  August 20, 1890 . He was a virtually unknown author during his lifetime and only published in pulp magazines while living in poverty. He achieved posthumous fame through his influential works of horror fiction and is now regarded as one of the most significant 20th-century authors in the horror genre.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

This Week in Fright Film History August 6 -12, 2017

Caltiki – The Immortal Monster (1959) Italian science fiction horror film directed by Riccardo Freda was released on August 8, 1959. Riccardo Freda claims that he abandoned the film so that future director Mario Bava would have a chance to direct. 

Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1953) a comedy/horror film directed by Charles Lamont and starring the comedy team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, and Boris Karloff was relased August 10, 1953.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941) an American horror film directed by Victor Fleming, director of Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz was released August 12, 1941.  This film version featured an all-star cast including Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman and Lana Turner. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde  (1941) was remake of the 1931 film of the same name, both movies were based on Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer acquired the rights to the 1931 film from Paramount Pictures.  To keep the 1931 film out of circulation, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer ordered every print of the 1931 film that could be located destroyed. The film was considered lost until a full version was found and was restored.

H. G. Wells, an English writer known for his science fiction works including The War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, The Invisible Man and The Island of Doctor Moreau died on  August 13, 1946 at the age of 79.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

This Week in Fright Film History July 30 - August 5, 2017

Invisible Agent (1942) the fourth film in the Universal Studios Invisible Man series, was directed by Edwin L. Marin, screenplay by Curt Siodmak, who had co-written The Invisible Man Returns in 1940. Siodmak, a refugee from Nazi Germany, gave the film a strong anti-Nazi tone.  Invisible Agent (1942 was a wartime propaganda production film meant to boost morale at the American home front was released on July 31, 1942.  The film starred Peter Lorre, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Ilona Massey and Jon Hall as Frank Raymond as the Invisible agent.

Mad Love (1935) a film adaptation of Maurice Renard's story The Hands of Orlac was directed by Karl Freund, and was Peter Lorre’s , American film debut. The film which also stars Frances Drake and Colin Clive was released on August 2, 1935.

White Zombie (1932) was released on August 4, 1932. This Pre-Code horror film was the first feature length zombie film which featured   Bela Lugosi and former silent film star Madge Bellamy.

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) the seventh installment in the Halloween film series was released on August 5, 1998.  The film was directed by Steve Miner and starring Jamie Lee Curtis, who had made her film debut in Halloween(1978).

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Tuesday's Fright Film Tidbit

To create make-up for The Mummy (1932) , Jack Pierce glued several layers of cotton onto Boris Karloff's face. After Pierce had finished applying the makeup. Karloff was unable to speak or move his facial muscles.

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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.