Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Monday, October 28, 2013

Saturday, October 26, 2013

31 Days of Horror: Creepshow (1982)

Great stories by Stephen King, and great actors such as Leslie Nielson, Hal Holbrook, Fritz Weaver, E.G. Marshall as the stars. This also has a great comic book stylization for all of the stories that makes you think of the Tales from the Crypt comics, although there's no relation.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

31 Days of Horror: Mad Love (1935)

One of my favorites, Mad Love features Peter Lorre at his creepiest in his first American film role. Lorre plays Dr. Gogol, a surgeon obsessed with an actress who's married to famed pianist Stephen Orlac. When Gogol transplants a murderer's hands onto Orlac after his have been mangled in a train accident, Gogol uses this to try to drive Orlac mad in order to have Orlac's wife. After seeing this film, Charlie Chaplin called Peter Lorre "the screen's greatest living actor", and he certainly gives a mesmerizing performance as the brilliant but isolated and obsessed surgeon, particularly near the end when his madness has taken over and he believes he is close to achieving his goals.

Monday, October 14, 2013

31 Days of Horror: Twice Told Tales (1963)

Twice Told Tales is an anthology of Nathaniel Hawthorne stories that gives you more horror bang for your buck. Though the film contains three different stories (Dr. Heidegger's Experiment, Rappaccini's Daughter, and The House of the Seven Gables), there's a feeling of continuity throughout the film because Vincent Price stars in all three of the tales. You get everything with this film: a haunted house, murder, people returning from the dead, people turning to skeletons,'s all here! 

You van watch this classic on TCM on October 31st at 2:45 AM eastern

Sunday, October 13, 2013

31 Days of Horror: Nosferatu (1922)

Silent films aren't for everyone, but F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu gave the world the first image of the vampire, and it's certainly one of the scariest images for Halloween viewing! In this film, we get not only the first image of a vampire but we also get the first loose interpretation of Bram Stoker's Dracula. In fact the story was so close to Dracula that when Stoker's widow brought a suit against the film for copyright infringement she won and the court ruled that all copies should be destroyed. Of course not all copies were destroyed, otherwise we wouldn't be able to watch it today! Max Schreck's portrayal of Count Orlok is a frightening image that is the stuff of nightmares, and thankfully someone was wise enough at the time to defy the court order and saved a print that we are able to enjoy today.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

31 Days of Horror: The Black Cat (1934)

The Black Cat is next on my list for Halloween viewing. This film marks the first time that Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi were paired on screen and it also has the distinction of being the highest grossing film of 1934; a pretty big achievement when you consider that it only has a 65 minute run time! In those 65 minutes though, Edgar G. Ulmer packs in devil worship, torture, human sacrifice, murder, and a host of other items that would have caused the film to be banned if it had been released just a few months later when the production code went into effect. Besides a fantastic storyline, The Black Cat also has stunning visuals with a futuristic art deco set and lighting and camera angles that are reminiscent of German expressionist film. A unique and thrilling horror, The Black Cat should not be missed!

Friday, October 11, 2013

31 Days of Horror: The Body Snatcher (1945)

The crimes of the infamous murderers Burke and Hare were the basis for Robert Louis Stevenson's short story, later turned into a film, The Body Snatcher. Produced by Val Lewton and directed by Robert Wise, The Body Snatcher was one of RKO's great atmospheric horror films, providing chills more through suggestion than through the actual revelation of a monster. These atmospheric touches were the work of Val Lewton, who became famous for creating high quality horror on low budgets. When you have a story of grave robbing, spooky atmosphere, and Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi in their last screen pairing together, you get a creepy classic that, for me, has become a Halloween viewing tradition. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

31 Days of Horror: The Omen (1976)

One of my absolute favorites, you simply can't skip over The Omen when planning your Halloween viewing! It may sound a bit gruesome, but one of my favorite things about this film is the unique ways in which many of the characters die, and they're all in the guise of being accidents. The fact that many of the things that occur in the film can be passed off as coincidence or accident is perhaps one of the things that makes The Omen a classic and so memorable. Without an obvious presence of supernatural activity, it's very easy to believe that these things could really happen

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

31 Days of Horror: The Wolf Man (1941)

Released in 1941, The Wolf Man came to be known as the film that revived Universal horror. The Wolf Man is one of the few monster films where the source material isn't based on literature; it was also instrumental in contributing to the mythology and legend of the werewolf. The idea that a werewolf could be killed by silver, that a person would become a werewolf through a bite and change during a full moon all came from this film. Perhaps the most significant item to have come from this film is the oft repeated poem "even a man who is pure in heart may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright." Some people truly believe this to be gypsy folklore, but it was actually writer Kurt Siodmak who created it, along with the other werewolf "folklore". While this may not have been the first werewolf film, Werewolf of London has that honor, it is the most significant in contributing to the mythology for all werewolf films to follow.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

31 Days of Horror: Dead of Night

I just discovered this film and it's already one of my favorites! Dead of Night can best be described as a circular anthology; meaning that it ends up back where it started and it also contains different stories told by the visitors at a country house. There are five different stories, separate from the main story, and each one gets creepier as you go along. However, when you get to the fourth story it's a little more lighthearted, which sort of lulls the viewer into a false sense of security before the final tale involving a ventriloquist (played by Michael Redgrave) and his dummy, which is by far the creepiest and most memorable. Whenever this film is mentioned, the final tale is the most talked about and with good reason; Michael Redgrave's performance is quite honestly terrifying, and anytime you have a story involving a ventriloquist's dummy you just can't help but be creeped out!. And even when that story is over, the terror continues once we resume the main story, which ends up revisiting each of the separate stories that had been told. Dead of Night might not be one of the best known horror films, but it's a masterful tale of terror, expertly told, and should be on everyone's Halloween viewing list!

Monday, October 7, 2013

31 Days of Horror: King Kong (1933)

The original, and the best, King Kong is next on my list of  Halloween classics. This has always been one of my favorites for a number of reasons. First, it's an extremely unique story. When this was first released in 1933, no one had seen anything like it. True, there were several jungle adventure films at that time, but not one of them had a 25 foot gorilla as it's star! Then, there are the special effects. The realistic stop motion effects created by Willis O'Brien, combined with live action shots was an amazing achievement for that time. Most films today would rely on CGI to create their effects, but much like the Star Wars purists who prefer the original film where models were used before it was updated with computer effects, I prefer the artistry of stop motion effects and this film has some of the absolute best. I've been lucky enough to see this on the big screen and there's truly nothing like it, even when compared with the top of the line effects used in films today.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

31 Days of Horror: White Zombie

My favorite Bela Lugosi film next to Dracula! White Zombie is widely considered to be the first zombie movie, with Lugosi playing a charmingly evil voodoo master who creates his zombies from living victims. This is much more fascinating to watch compared to the recent run of contemporary zombie films that brings the dead back to slow-moving life. To me, the best part of this film is, of course, Lugosi. With his character Murder Legendre, Lugosi plays a Dracula type of character, commanding his helpless victims to do his bidding and enslaving a beautiful young woman, much as he did in Dracula. In White Zombie, Lugosi is at his evil best in the scene where he's talking with Beaumont, who he is slowly turning into a zombie, so that he's aware of what is happening to him. Even by today's standards, it's a frightening scene to watch!

You can catch this classic on TCM on October 26th at 12:30 AM eastern

31 Days of Horror: The Raven (1963)

One of eight Roger Corman films that's an interpretation on an Edgar Allan Poe story, The Raven is a great comedic take on horror films starring three notable horror actors: Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, and Boris Karloff. Like most films with Poe titles, the story really has very little to do with his writings. Price, Lorre, and Karloff play a trio of sorcerers competing to outdo each other, all in a very fun and lighthearted way. A great bonus is getting to see a very young Jack Nicholson before he became famous, playing Peter Lorre's son!

You can catch this classic on TCM on October 25th at 8:15 AM eastern

Friday, October 4, 2013

31 Days of Horror: House of Wax (1953)

A remake of Mystery of the Wax Museum from 1933, House of Wax is most notable for being the first color 3D release by a major studio (Warner Bros.), and for being one of the most successful films of 1953. House of Wax is the story of a wax sculptor who becomes disfigured in a fire that destroys his original wax museum. Unable to properly sculpt anymore, he starts to kill people and cover them in wax in order to create new figures to start a new museum. I've always loved watching Vincent Price and always thought that he brought a unique charisma to his roles. Price could easily be gentle one moment and menacing the next. I've only seen House of Wax in 2D, but the 3D effects are another thing I've always loved about this film. There are instances where it's clear a certain shot was for the 3D filming: the barker bouncing the paddle ball at the camera, or the wine bottle that comes flying at the screen during a fight scene help give you the feeling of 3D even if you're not actually watching it in 3D. Of course, with the recent 3D Blu-ray release just a few days ago to celebrate the film's 60th anniversary, people can now enjoy Price's macabre performance and the 3D effects in the comfort of their own home.

You can catch this classic on TCM on October 24th at 8:00 PM eastern

Thursday, October 3, 2013

31 Days of Horror: The Bride of Frankenstein

Four years after the success of Frankenstein, Universal released one of the rare sequels which has been said to be just as good if not better than the original: The Bride of Frankenstein. Like the original, this was also directed by James Whale, but with the sequel he had complete artistic control over the entire production and added a great deal of humor, a full musical score, and by having the monster speak we're also given a deeper look into the character and growth of the monster. Artistically and story-wise, this is a fantastic example of how to correctly do a sequel to a film that was already an established classic.

You can catch this classic on TCM on October 26th at 8:00 PM eastern

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

31 Days of Horror: Frankenstein (1931)

To follow the definitive vampire, Dracula, 31 days of horror continues with the definitive portrayal of Frankenstein's monster by Boris Karloff. Starring Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, and Edward Van Sloan, Frankenstein was Universal's follow up to their enormously successful version of Dracula. Frankenstein was to have originally been directed by Robert Florey and starred Bela Lugosi with a script that was very different from the one eventually used. Due to the rather one dimensional, robotic portrayal of the monster in the original drafts, Lugosi eventually quit the picture, and Flory was soon replaced by James Whale. Once Whale came on to the production, he greatly revised the script and cast Boris Karloff as the monster. Whale's new vision of the picture, combined with Jack Pierce's makeup and Karloff's sympathetic portrayal of the monster, gives us the image of what will always be first to come to mind whenever someone says "Frankenstein".

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

31 Days of Horror: Dracula (1931)

This month I'll be featuring a different horror film for everyday of the scariest month of the year. These aren't in any particular order, but are all perfect for Halloween viewing!

I'm kicking off 31 days of horror with the first "talkie" horror film: Dracula. Directed by Tod Browning and starring Bela Lugosi, Edward Van Sloan, and Helen Chandler, Dracula is most significant for shaping the modern image of the vampire. The look and sound of Bela Lugosi's portrayal of The Count became the standard for all that followed. Sorry, but the sparkly, brooding vampires of Twilight don't count.