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

Sunday, May 14, 2017

This Week in Fright Film History May 14 - 20, 2017

Margaret Hamilton was an American film character actress best known for her role as Miss Almira Gulch and the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz (1939) and 13 Ghost (1960). She died in her sleep following a heart attack on May 16, 1985, in Salisbury, Connecticut.

She-Wolf of London (1946)  released by Universal Studios on May 17, 1946. The film was directed by Jean Yarbrough and starring Don Porter and June Lockhart, best known for her role on the TV series Lost in Space.

The Black Cat (1934) which was the first of eight movies to pair actors Béla Lugosi and Boris Karloff was released on May 18, 1934. The film was retitled for its British release to "The House of Doom" because in Britain, black cats are seen as lucky. Black cats are sometimes given in token form to British brides on their wedding day. The Black Cat (1934) was Universal Pictures' biggest box office hit of the year.

Fright Night II with William Ragsdale, Roddy McDowall and Traci Lind was released on May 19th 1988. Soon after the film’s release, Roddy McDowall and Fright Night creator Tom Holland were scheduled to meet with Live Entertainment chairman Jose Menendez to discuss the possibility of making a third film, but the plans were cancelled when Menendez was murdered by his two sons.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

This Week in Fright Film History May 7 - 13, 2017

Val Lewton  an American film producer and screenwriter, noted for a series of low-budget horror films he produced for RKO Pictures in the 1940s. was born on May 7,1904 in Yalta, Imperial Russia.  He is noted for creating  the "Lewton Bus” technique.  The "Lewton Bus” is  a scene that slowly builds tension and then gives the viewer an unexpected jolt with something that turns out to be completely harmless. The Lewton Bus was first used in Cat People (1942) and is a technique that is still used today, especially slasher films such as the Friday the 13th and the Halloween series films.

The Corpse Vanishes (1942) an American horror film starring Bela Lugosi, directed by Wallace Fox, and written by Harvey Gates was released on May 8, 1942. Lugosi plays a deranged scientist who murders virgin brides and injects their fluids his wife (Elizabeth Russell) in order to preserve her beauty.
Bedlam (1946) directed by Mark Robson, starring Boris Karloff, Anna Lee, and Billy House was released on May 10 1946. Bedlam  was the last in a series of horror films produced by Val Lewton for RKO Radio Pictures.
Jesús "Jess" Franco a Spanish film director, writer, cinematographer and actor noted for such films as  The Awful Dr. Orloff  (1962), Necronomicon (1967), Ninety-Nine Women (1968), The Bloody Judge (1969), Count Dracula (1969) and Vampyros Lesbos (1971) and  was born on May 12th  1930.
Werewolf of London (1935) an American horror movie starring Henry Hull and directed by Stuart Walker was released on May 13, 1935. Werewolf of London (1935) is credited with being  the first Hollywood werewolf movie.

Bride of the Monster (1955) starring Bela Lugosi, along with Tor Johnson, Tony McCoy and Loretta King Hadler was released on May 11, 1956. It was produced, directed and co-written by Edward D. Wood, Jr. and would be Lugosi last speaking role, Plan Nine from Outer Space (1956) would be his final film appearance.

Revenge of the Creature (1955) was the sequel to Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) and was the only 3-D film to be released in 1955 and the only 3-D sequel to a 3-D film. The movie was released May 11, 1955 and was Clint Eastwood’s first screen appearance in an uncredited role .

Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Student of Prague (1913)

The Student of Prague (1913) also known as A Bargain with Satan  rocketed legendary horror actor Paul Wegener to stardom making him the world’s first horror star.   Wegener not only starred in this 1913 silent film he also co-directed it with Stellan Rye. The Student of Prague (1913) was a classy retelling of the tried but true “deal with the Devil” story.  In this case a young poor student falls in love with a beautiful countess after rescuing her.  The student then make a deal with a sorcerer named Scapanelli, (who is none other than Satan himself) who in exchange for the student’s reflection gives him anything he wants.  As the student pursues his heart’s desire he finds that his doppelganger (an exact double) is following him. The doppelganger frightens the countess and then kills her fiancé' in a duel.  In the climatic ending the student takes a gun and shots the doppelganger but it is the student who is wounded by the gun shot and dies. The devil reappears, tears up the contact and then scatters the pieces over the student’s body.

With a run time of 1 hour 25 minutes, The Student of Prague (1913) which is hailed as the first true feature length film in history, 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 made quite an impression.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

This Week in Fright Film History April 30 - May 6, 2017

Black Sabbath (1963) Italian horror anthology film directed by Mario Bava. The film is centered around three separate tales that have an introduction and conclusion from Boris Karloff.  The film was released in the United States on May 6 1964. The heavy metal band Black Sabbath appropriated their name from the title of the film.

The Hands of Orlac (1924) an  Austrian silent horror film directed by Robert Wiene and starring Conrad Veidt, Alexandra Sorina and Fritz Kortner was released on May 6, 1924.

Vampyr (1932) was a French-German horror film directed by Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer was released in Germany on May 6, 1932. The film was written by Dreyer and Christen Jul based on elements from J. Sheridan Le Fanu's collection of supernatural stories In a Glass Darkly. Vampyr was financed by Nicolas de Gunzburg who starred in the film under the name of Julian West. Vampyr was Dreyer’s was first sound film and had to be recorded in three languages. To overcome this, very little dialogue was used and much of the story is told with silent film-styled title cards.  Vampyr opened to generally negative reception from audiences and critics. At a showing Vienna, audiences demanded their money back. When the theater manager refused, a riot broke and the police were called to restore order.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

This Week in Fright Film History April 23- 29, 2017

Night of Terror (1933) an American  horror film directed by Benjamin Stoloff and starring Bela Lugosi, Sally Blane, Wallace Ford, and Tully Marshall was released on April 24, 1933. Bela Lugosi was working a heavy schedule during this time in an attempt to get himself out of debt, including filming International House (1933) by day and Night of Terror (1933)  by night.

Invisible Ghost (1941) released by Monogram Pictures, starring Bela Lugosi, Polly Ann Young and directed by Joseph H. Lewis was released on April 25,1941. This would be Polly Ann Young’s last film.

Mark of the Vampire (1935) an American horror film, starring Lionel Barrymore, Elizabeth Allan, Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill, and Jean Hersholt was released on April 26, 1935. The film was directed by Tod Browning and is a remake of his silent film London After Midnight (1927) with the characters' names and circumstances changed. 

Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (1956) Japanese American science fiction film. It is a re-edited Americanized version of the Japanese film Godzilla (1954) , which had previously been shown subtitled in the United States was released in America on April 27, 1956

The Thing from Another World (The Thing),  a 1951 RKO Pictures film based on the 1938 novella "Who Goes There?" by John W. Campbell (writing under the pseudonym of Don A. Stuart)  was released on April 29,1951. The film stars Kenneth Tobey, Margaret Sheridan, Robert Cornthwaite, Douglas Spencer and James Arness as The Thing

Sunday, April 16, 2017

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

The Lady and the Monster (1944) is a film based on the novel “Donovan's Brain” by Curt Siodmak, who is known for writing such horror classics as The Wolf Man (1941) Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man (1943) and The Beast with Five Fingers (1946). The film was directed by George Sherman and written by Dane Lussier and Fredrick Kohner. The Lady and the Monster (1944) which starred Vera Ralston, Erich von Stroheim, and Richard Arlen was released on April 17, 1944.

After suffering several strokes Bram Stoker, the author of DRACULA died on April 20, 1912. His death would go virtually unnoticed by the world, overshadowed by the sinking of the Titanic which dominated the headlines that week.
Supernatural (1933) an American horror film directed by Victor Halperin starring Carole Lombard and Alan Dinehart was released on April 21, 1933.

Bride of Frankenstein (1935) the first sequel to Frankenstein (1931). Bride of Frankenstein was directed by James Whale and stars Boris Karloff as The Monster, and features Elsa Lanchester in the dual role of his mate and Mary Shelley was released on April 22, 1935 in Los Angeles California.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

This Week in Fright Film History April 9-15, 2017

House of Wax (1953) starring Vincent Price was released on April 10, 1953 . It was a remake of Warners' Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933) and was directed by André de Toth. It is perhaps the best-known film from the 3-D film craze. House of Wax (1953) was one of the biggest hits of 1953, earning an estimated $5.5 million in North American alone.


House of 1000 Corpses (2003) written, co-scored and directed by Rob Zombie, and starring Chris Hardwick, Rainn Wilson, Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Sheri Moon Zombie ( Rob Zombie’s wife), and Karen Black was released on April 11,2003.

Dr. Cyclops (1940)  directed by Ernest B. Schoedsack, starring Thomas Coley, Victor Kilian, and  Janice Logan was on April 12, 1940. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects (Farciot Edouart, Gordon Jennings). Dr. Cyclops (1940) is the first American science fiction film to be made in Technicolor.

The Monster Maker (1944) was originally titled: "The Devil's Apprentice." J. Carrol Naish, Ralph Morgan, Tala Birell, and Glenn Strange starred in this ultra-low budget horror film which was released on April 15, 1944. The film earned a B rating from the Legion of Decency for "excessive gruesomeness." 


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Tuesday's Fright Film Tidbit

The Blair Witch Project (1999) written and directed by Eduardo Sánchez and Daniel Myrick. was film in only 8 days with a budget, according to Sánchez, of between $20,000 and $26,000. To date the film has grossed close to 250 million.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

This Week in Fright Film History April 2 - 8, 2017

Dark Shadows the American Gothic soap opera which aired weekdays on the ABC television network, ended  its run on television on April 2, 1971

Roger Corman an Academy Award winning American film producer, director and actor best known for his low-budget B movies including a cycle of films adapted from the tales of Edgar Allan Poe was born on April 5,1926.

Kane Hodder, known for  portraying Jason Voorhees in several of the Friday the 13th films was born on April 8, 1955.