Monday, August 13, 2018

79 Days to Halloween- 1940 The Ghost Breakers

Over the next 100 days, I will present one movie of significances in horror, suspense or thrillers for each year from 1919 to 2018. The next film presented here is the 1940 horror comedy "The Ghost Breakers" starring Bob Hope, Paulette Goddard, Willie Best, and directed by George Marshall.




The Ghost Breakers (1940)
Dir- George Marshall

A woman inherits a mansion and plantation on a small Cuban island only to get a dire warning not to take possession of the property. She is joined by a radio broadcaster who is fleeing a mob boss and along with his servant only to find that something menacing may be afoot in the old house. One of the most famous early horror comedies, The Ghost Breakers was a huge hit for Bob Hope who is joined by Paulette Goddard, Willie Best, Richard Carlson, Paul Lukas, and Anthony Quinn. The movie would be remade with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis under the title Scared Stiff in 1953 and would be an inspiration to the Ghostbusters franchise of the 1980s. 

80 Day to Halloween- 1939 Son of Frankenstein

Over the next 100 days, I will present one movie of significances in horror, suspense or thrillers for each year from 1919 to 2018. The next film presented here is the 1939 horror film Son of Frankenstein starring Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Basil Rathbone and directed by Rowland V. Lee.


Son of Frankenstein (1939)
Dir- Rowland V. Lee

Boris Karloff's final appearance as the famed monster. In this sequel to the classic movie Bride of Frankenstein, we find Basil Rathbone playing the son of a famed doctor who happens to discover the still living monster in the ruins of the laboratory. Lugosi is perfect as Ygor, who has cared for the monster in time before his discovery. Great settings and an impressive score only help to make this movie a classic. This film was a huge success and helped to reinvigorate the market for monster movies after a brief hiatus due to issues with British censorship and the Hays Code.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

81 Days to Halloween- 1938 I Accuse

Over the next 100 days, I will present one movie of significances in horror, suspense or thrillers for each year from 1919 to 2018. The next film presented here is the French Anti-War film I Accuse (1938) starring Victor Francen and directed by Abel Gance.


I Accuse
Dir- Abel Gance

A scientist survives the horrors of the first world war and dedicates his time to developing a device that will prevent conflicts from being fought. Years later after he perfects the machine, he is then troubled by his Government wanting to use it against their potential enemy with World War 2 on the horizon. He then decides on an unorthodox method of convincing his government not to fight. This anti-war film draws on the horrors of the First World War to help show the audience that the grief and misery that motivate the main character are reflected by many and that making the mistake of waging another war will only bring more suffering and death. "I Accuse" is considered one of the most important anti-war movies ever made and comparable to Johnny Got His Gun and All Quiet on the Western Front.

Friday, August 10, 2018

82 Days to Halloween- 1937 Song at Midnight

Over the next 100 days, I will present one movie of significances in horror, suspense or thrillers for each year from 1919 to 2018. The next film presented here is the Chinese language film Song at Midnight (1937) starring Jin Shan, Gu Menghe, Zhou Wenzhu and directed by Ma-Xu Weibang



Song at Midnight (1937)
Dir- Ma-Xu Weibang

This adaptation of Gaston Leroux's Phantom of the Opera is the first horror movie made in China and puts more focus on local politics as a subplot. The story focuses on the disfigured Song Danping who was thought dead after he was left to die when the Opera house was burned down by the angry father of the woman he pursued. Years later he now occupies the rebuilt theater hoping to guide their new star. Song at Midnight is considered an important film in China and is listed among the top 100 best films in China by Asian film critics. The movie has been remade four times with the latest entry in 2005.

We're gonna need a much bigger boat


The Meg (2018)
Dir- Jon Turteltaub

It has been over 40 years since Jaws terrified the nation and pretty much-demonized sharks in the minds of most moviegoers. So, of course, you have to up the ante, and the logical step is to make the shark bigger, meaner and scarier. The Meg is based on Steve Alten's 1997 novel "Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror" yet the movie makes a few changes that don't really change too much of the story. Jason Statham is diving expert Jonas Taylor who was disgraced after a botched deep sea rescue leaves him to take the blame for events that were the result of an unknown attack on a damaged navy sub. Five years later he is brought in after a research team is stranded in a deep part of the ocean after an attack by a similar unknown creature. Hoping to vindicate himself he volunteers to assist despite finding out the doctor who deemed him crazy is part of the crew. What he discovers will put the lives of the research team at further risk as he is determined to destroy the creature that is putting all of them in peril. There is nothing profound or complicated in the plot of The Meg, its a conventional game of survival for a group of people who just happen to be in the path of the mega-sized shark. The Meg is a B movie with a big budget and star power that includes Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose, Li Bingbing, Winston Chao and Cliff Curtis. The creature effects and sets are impressive and make for a thrilling ride. The real problem that the audience will deal with is the PG-13 rating that tones the violence down, make no mistakes the film does have plenty of shark action and attacks, but we don't see the level of gore that was present in Piranha 3D or Shark Night. The other issue is the slower first half that sets the stage for a wild and exciting ending. The Meg will not win any Oscars for acting, but it will bring in the crowds, leaving them entertained and will make them once again feel that it was never safe to go back in the water.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

83 Days to Halloween- 1936 The Devil-Doll

Over the next 100 days, I will present one movie of significances in horror, suspense or thrillers for each year from 1919 to 2018. The next film presented here is the 1936 horror thriller "The Devil-Doll" starring Lionel Barrymore, Maureen O'Sullivan and directed by Tod Browning.


The Devil-Doll
Dir- Tod Browning

The Devil Doll focuses on a man who was sent to prison wrongfully and his desire to seek revenge on those he feels were responsible for framing him. He utilizes a shrinking formula developed by a scientist he befriended and when he gets back to his home he puts revenge scheme to work only to find that others may want the formula for their own purposes. The Devil Doll made effective use of camera tricks to simulate the smaller size of the characters showing techniques that were mastered by King Kong and The Invisible Man. The film was not a financial success but did get good reviews from the critics of the day.



Wednesday, August 8, 2018

84 Days to Halloween- 1935 Bride of Frankenstein

Over the next 100 days, I will present one movie of significances in horror, suspense or thrillers for each year from 1919 to 2018. The next film presented here is the sequel to Universal Pictures 1931 classic Frankenstein, The Bride of Frankenstein starring Boris Karloff, Elsa Lanchester and directed by James Whale.


Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Dir- James Whale

The monster having survived the fire in the mill that had supposedly killed him is taken in by a blind hermit.  He teaches him to speak and falls under the evil influence of another scientist who presses him to demand a mate from Dr. Frankenstein. A rare sequel that is better than its predecessor, the film marks the reappearance of Boris Karloff as the monster and Elsa Lanchester as both Mary Shelley and the classic bride we all remember.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

85 Days to Halloween- 1934 The Black Cat

Over the next 100 days, I will present one movie of significances in horror, suspense or thrillers for each year from 1919 to 2018. The next film presented here is the pre-Hays Code 1934 horror film The Black Cat starring Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff.


Black Cat (1934)
Dir- Edgar G Ulmer

A young couple on honeymoon in Hungary meets an older psychiatrist who they share a train compartment with. The doctor intends to visit an old friend he has not seen since the war and invites the couple to join when the young wife is hurt in an accident. When they arrive the couple learns that the two friends have unsettled business and that their lives may be at risk as their host has other intentions besides hospitality in mind. The Black Cat shares the name of an Edgar Allan Poe short story but not much else. The cast featured Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff in the first of many collaborations between the two horror icons. 

Monday, August 6, 2018

86 Days to Halloween- 1933 King Kong

Over the next 100 days, I will present one movie of significances in horror, suspense or thrillers for each year from 1919 to 2018. The next film presented here is the pre-code 1933 monster adventure King Kong starring Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot and directed by Merian C. Cooper & Ernest B. Schoedsack



King Kong (1933)
Dir- Merian C. Cooper & Ernest B. Schoedsack

King Kong will always be remembered as the monster on the rampage, but even more, it is a classic in every sense and will be known as an FX triumph. Fay Wray plays the fair maiden who soothes the giant ape as he is taken from his island home to New York where he escapes and climbs the Empire State building where he meets his sad fate. Tragic and Endearing, Kong is so convincing that the viewer forgets he is not real and sees him as a tragic victim of circumstance. Another classic that would be followed by inferior sequels and a number of big-budget remakes that failed to live up to this Hollywood classic.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

87 Days to Halloween- 1932 The Mummy

Over the next 100 days, I will present one movie of significances in horror, suspense or thrillers for each year from 1919 to 2018. The next film presented here is the 1932 Universal horror thriller "The Mummy" starring Boris Karloff and directed by Karl Freund.


The Mummy (1932)

Dir- Karl Freund

Boris Karloff once again sets the screen afire with yet another excellent performance as a classic monster. He portrays an excavated mummy who is brought back to life by a Sacred Scroll. Ten years later the mummy, who is now in the guise of a scientist seeks to return his beloved princess with whom another modern woman matches. All the elements are present in this beautiful classic horror film that would be followed by many inferior copycats, Hammer remake, and a few recent productions.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

88 Days to Halloween- 1931 M

Over the next 100 days, I will present one movie of significances in horror, suspense or thrillers for each year from 1919 to 2018. The next film presented here is the 1931 German Horror Thriller M  starring Peter Lorre and directed by Fritz Lang.



M (1931)
Dir- Fritz Lang

Set in a dark industrial world, M is the tale of a frightened city held hostage by a serial killer who is targeting children. The search is so intensive that the local crime organization joins in because the killer's reign of fear is bad for their business. Once identified with the eponymous M, the killer finds himself at the mercy of an angry mob out for revenge. M was an intense film for its time with a subject matter that was a warning to families about watching out for their children. The film also tackled the important topic of the crime and what sort of justice can be had if it's at the hands of an angry mob. A powerful German Crime/Drama that has great Horror elements and will remain a classic of all three genres. Peter Lorre's first film and one of Director Fritz Lang's greatest movies.

Friday, August 3, 2018

89 Days to Halloween- 1930 The Cat Creeps

Over the next 100 days, I will present one movie of significances in horror, suspense or thrillers for each year from 1919 to 2018. The next film presented here is the pre-Hays Code 1930 mystery thriller "The Cat Creeps" starring Helen Twelvetrees, Raymond Hackett and directed by Rupert Julian.


The Cat Creeps
Dir- Rupert Julian

A remake of the 1927 film "The Cat and the Canary" based on the story by John Willard, this version of the classic silent film featured sound and was one of the early horror films by Universal Studios. The movie is about a woman who stands to inherit a fortune unless she is found to be insane, this proves important as someone is plotting to drive her to insanity after the lawyer disappears under mysterious circumstances.  Unfortunately, "The Cat Creeps" is a lost film as no complete copy is available and only short clips remain to view. Despite this, "The Cat Creeps" featured a good cast and was directed by Rupert Julian who directed The Phantom of the Opera. The surviving clips of the film were made into a short film called "Boo!"

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

91 Days to Halloween- 1928 The Man Who Laughs

Over the next 100 days, I will present one movie of significances in horror, suspense or thrillers for each year from 1919 to 2018. The next film presented here is the 1928 American silent romantic drama The Man Who Laughs directed by Paul Leni and starring German actor Conrad Veidt


The Man Who Laughs (1928)
Dir- Paul Leni

A boy named Gwynplaine who was disfigured with a permanent smile after his Lord father was executed grows up working in the circus and finds love with a woman who is blind but true to him. Once his royal title is revealed he then must decide if he wishes to take his father's title or live the life of a commoner with the woman he loves. The Man Who Laughs is not really a horror story but like The Phantom of the Opera is a romantic tale that is best remembered for the disfiguring appearance of the main character. In a role created for Lon Chaney, German actor Conrad Veidt took up the task and created a character that would inspire one of the great comic book villains of all time The Joker. His role as Gwynplaine would be remembered for its freakish grin even if his name is not as well known as Lon Chaney.

92 Days to Halloween- 1927 London After Midnight

Over the next 100 days, I will present one movie of significances in horror, suspense or thrillers for each year from 1919 to 2018. The eighth film presented here is the 1927 American silent horror classic London After Midnight directed by Tod Browning and starring actor Lon Chaney. 



London After Midnight (1927)
Dir- Tod Browning

The sudden death of a wealthy man made to look like suicide sets into motion a mystery as to what may have lead to his death. A police inspector intends to uncover the truth of the suicide and will have each suspect undergo hypnotism to seek the truth while a mysterious man in a top hat accompanied by a thin woman seems to menace all the suspects. Lon Chaney appears in two roles as the Inspector and the mysterious man. It should be noted that this film was lost after the last copy was destroyed in a fire. Fortunately, a working film has been partially restored thanks to the effects of Turner Classic Movies.