IN THE SHADOWS: EDWARD VAN SLOAN

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Edward Van Sloan as Professor Van Helsing in DRACULA’S DAUGHTER (1936).

 

Welcome back to IN THE SHADOWS, the column where we look at character actors in the movies, especially horror movies.

Character actors add so much to the movies they’re in, it’s hard to imagine these movies without them. Never receiving the praise heaped upon the major actors and stars of the genre, these folks nonetheless are often every bit as effective as the big name leads.

Up today, an actor known to horror fans for three key roles in three classic horror movies, and that actor is Edward Van Sloan.

Edward Van Sloan played three similar roles in three of Universal’s best horror movies from the 1930s.  He played Professor Van Helsing in DRACULA (1931), Dr. Waldman in FRANKENSTEIN (1931), and Dr. Muller in THE MUMMY (1932).

As Dr. Van Helsing, a role he had played earlier on stage opposite Bela Lugosi’s Dracula, he’s one of the best.  While Peter Cushing is my all time favorite movie Van Helsing, Edward Van Sloan came closer to the Stoker interpretation than Cushing did, but even he deviated from the way Stoker wrote the character.  Probably the closest I’ve seen an actor capture the literary Van Helsing on-screen would be Frank Finlay’s performance as the vampire hunter/professor in the BBC production COUNT DRACULA (1977), starring Louis Jordan as the Count.

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Van Sloan and Lugosi square off in DRACULA (1931)

But for Edward Van Sloan, it’s all about presence and authority, something he definitely wields in DRACULA.  Bela Lugosi is absolutely mesmerizing as Dracula, and his performance dominates the movie.  Yet Van Sloan is up to the task of matching wits with Lugosi, and his Van Helsing is a worthy opponent for the vampire king.  The scene where Dracula tries to use hypnosis to overpower Van Helsing is one of the strongest scenes in the film, acted so expertly by Van Sloan, as you can see it in his eyes as he’s resisting Dracula’s powers, and for a split-second, Van Sloan’s eyes go blank, and at this instant the audience shudders, begging that he doesn’t succumb to Dracula’s powers, and when he rallies and resists Dracula, it’s a great moment in the movie.

As Dr. Waldman in FRANKENSTEIN, Van Sloan plays Henry Frankenstein’s former professor, who for most of the movie, acts as the voice of reason.  He tries throughout to talk sense to Henry Frankenstein and is constantly urging caution.  As Dr. Waldman, he gets one of the best lines in the movie, when he warns young Henry.  “Your success has intoxicated you!  Wake up!  And look facts in the face!—  You have created a monster, and it will destroy you!”

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Edward Van Sloan as Dr. Waldman in FRANKENSTEIN (1931).

Prophetic words.  Actually, they were more on the money regarding Waldman’s fate, because later in the movie, the Monster (Boris Karloff) kills the professor.  In fact, Professor Waldman’s death is one of the more shocking moments in FRANKENSTEIN, a film which contains more than a few of them, and it’s a testament to Edward Van Sloan’s screen presence.  Van Sloan was so effective as Professor Van Helsing in DRACULA, so convincing when he destroys Dracula, it strikes audiences as an absolute shock when he doesn’t do the same in FRANKENSTEIN, when in fact it’s the Monster who kills Professor Waldman, and not the other way around.

And Edward Van Sloan is one of only two actors— the other being Dwight Frye who played Renfield in DRACULA and Fritz in FRANKENSTEIN— to star in both DRACULA and FRANKENSTEIN.

In THE MUMMY (1932), Van Sloan plays Dr. Muller, a variation of his Van Helsing/Waldman characters.  This time, he’s an expert on Egyptology, and he matches wits with Boris Karloff’s Mummy, Imhotep.  THE MUMMY is an excellent horror movie, as good if not better than DRACULA and FRANKENSTEIN.  Once again, Van Sloan nails the role of the heroic professor and is completely believable as the knowledgable scholar who takes on the supernatural Imhotep.

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Edward Van Sloan takes on Boris Karloff’s Imhotep in THE MUMMY (1932).

As for the rest of  Edward Van Sloan’s career, here’s a partial look at his 88 screen credits, focusing mostly on his horror film roles:

SLANDER (1916) – Joseph Tremaine – Edward Van Sloan’s first film credit is in this silent movie from 1916, the only silent film Van Sloan made.

DRACULA (1931) – Professor Van Helsing – probably Van Sloan’s most famous role, and the role he is most remembered for.  Van Sloan’s work as Van Helsing in this movie is as memorable as Lugosi’s Dracula and Dwight Frye’s Renfield.

FRANKENSTEIN (1931) – Dr. Waldman – Another famous role for Van Sloan, this time playing Henry Frankenstein’s former professor and the man who tries to convince Frankenstein to destroy his creation.  We all know how that turned out.

BEHIND THE MASK (1932) – Dr. August Steiner/Dr. Alec Munsell/Mr. X – a crime drama marketed as a horror movie due to the presence of Boris Karloff in a small role.  Van Sloan plays the villain here, in a role that Karloff probably would have played had this movie been made a few years later.

THE DEATH KISS (1932) – Tom Avery – a comedy/mystery notable for reuniting three cast members from DRACULA:  Bela Lugosi, David Manners, and Edward Van Sloan.

THE MUMMY (1932) – Doctor Muller – takes on Boris Karloff’s evil Imhotep in this horror classic.

DELUGE (1933)- Professor Carlysle – early “disaster” film as New York City is threatened by an earthquake and tidal wave.

AIR HAWKS (1935) – Professor Schulter – weird hybrid of drama and science fiction. Ralph Bellamy plays the owner of an airline company who hires a mad scientist— played by Edward Van Sloan— to build a death ray to force down his competitors’ planes.

THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII (1935) – Calvus – Historical adventure set in the doomed Roman city, directed by KING KONG directors Ernest B. Schoedsack and Merian C. Cooper. With Basil Rathbone as Pontius Pilate.  A box office flop.

DRACULA’S DAUGHTER (1936) – Professor Van Helsing – reprises his Van Helsing role in this well-made sequel to DRACULA.  The movie starts right where DRACULA left off, and Van Helsing finds himself arrested for the murders of Dracula and Renfield.  Before he can be officially charged, however, the bodies disappear, whisked away by Countess Zaleska (Gloria Holden) who happens to be Dracula’s daughter, and who’s now in London with an agenda of her own. Smart horror film, well-written, acted, and directed.

THE PHANTOM CREEPS (1939) – Jarvis – Science fiction serial from Universal reunites Van Sloan with Bela Lugosi, as Lugosi plays a scientist hell-bent on taking over the world.

BEFORE I HANG (1940) – Dr. Ralph Howard – This time Van Sloan is reunited with Boris Karloff, as Karloff plays a doctor on death row for mercy killings, who injects himself with a serum that turns him into a Hyde-like villain.

THE MASK OF DIIJON (1946) – Sheffield – Erich von Stroheim plays a magician who uses his hypnotic powers to seek vengeance.

SEALED VERDICT (1948) – Priest – Edward Van Sloan’s final screen credit in a World War II war drama starring Ray Milland.

THE UNDERWORLD STORY (1950) – Minister at Funeral – Edward Van Sloan’s final film appearance, an uncredited bit as a minister at a funeral in this film noir crime drama.

There you have it, an abbreviated look at the film career of Edward Van Sloan.

Edward Van Sloan died on March 6, 1964 at the age of 81 in San Francisco, California.

While he enjoyed a long and successful career as a character actor in the movies, for horror fans, he will always be remembered for his roles in three of Universal’s best horror movies from the 1930s:  DRACULA, FRANKENSTEIN, and THE MUMMY.  Van Sloan made for a fine hero in all three of these films.

Edward Van Sloan -November 1, 1882 – March 6, 1964.

I hope you enjoyed this IN THE SHADOWS column.  Join me again next time when we look at the career of another notable character actor.

Thanks for reading!

—Michael

Books by Michael Arruda:

TIME FRAME,  science fiction novel by Michael Arruda.  

Ebook version:  $2.99. Available at http://www.neconebooks.com. Print version:  $18.00.  Email your order request to mjarruda33@gmail.com. Also available at Amazon.com.

IN THE SPOOKLIGHT, movie review collection by Michael Arruda.

InTheSpooklight_NewText

 Ebook version:  $4.99.  Available at http://www.neconebooks.com.  Print version:  $18.00.  Email your order request to mjarruda33@gmail.com. Also available at Amazon.com.

FOR THE LOVE OF HORROR, short story collection by Michael Arruda.  

For The Love Of Horror cover

Ebook version:  $4.99.  Available at http://www.neconebooks.com. Print version:  $18.00.  Email your order request to mjarruda33@gmail.com. Also available at Amazon.com.  

 

 

 

 

 

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IN THE SPOOKLIGHT: THE MUMMY (1932)

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the mummy 1932 poster

Here’s my latest IN THE THE SPOOKLIGHT column, on the Boris Karloff classic, THE MUMMY (1932), appearing now in the August 2016 edition of the HWA NEWSLETTER, and it’s a reprint of a column which originally appeared in those pages back in August 2009.

Thanks for reading!

—Michael

 

IN THE SPOOKLIGHT:  THE MUMMY (1932)

By Michael Arruda

“It comest to life!” screams its movie poster.  It’s a Universal monster classic from the 1930s, and it stars Boris Karloff, but it’s not FRANKENSTEIN (1931).  It’s THE MUMMY (1932).

THE MUMMY showcases a masterful lead performance by Boris Karloff as the undead mummy, Im-Ho-Tep, exceptional direction by DRACULA (1931) cinematographer Karl Freund, remarkable mummy make-up by Jack Pierce, and unlike FRANKENSTEIN and DRACULA, a music score.

The screenplay for THE MUMMY was written by John L. Balderston, no stranger to classic horror tales.  Balderston adapted the play used for the screenply for FRANKENSTEIN (1931), which of course was adapted from the Mary Shelley novel, and he also wrote one of the stage versions of DRACULA, which served as the model for the Universal Bela Lugosi movie DRACULA (1931).

THE MUMMY opens in 1921 in Egypt, where an expedition led by Sir Joseph Whemple (Arthur Byron) has just discovered the remains of an ancient mummy, Im-Ho-Tep (Boris Karloff).  Doctor Muller (Edward Van Sloan) warns Whemple and his young assistant Ralph Norton (Bramwell Fletcher) not to ignore the ancient curse discovered along with the mummy, but the young assistant is too eager, and as he reads from the Scroll of Thoth, behind him, the mummy awakes.

It is probably the film’s most famous scene.  As the words are read, the camera focuses on the dead mummy’s face, and ever so slowly, the eyes open, and then the arm slowly moves.  When the mummy takes the scroll, the young assistant bursts into uncontrollable mad laughter, and as we learn later, “he died laughing.”

The action switches to 1932 (which was present day when THE MUMMY was released).  Im-Ho-Tep has shed his bandages and is using the alias “Ardath Bey.”  The make-up here by Jack Pierce is superb.  Without his bandages, Karloff really does look like the walking dead.

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Jack Pierce’s haunting mummy make-up, turning Boris Karloff into the resurrected undead mummy, Im-Ho-Tep.

 

Im-Ho-Tep attempts to bring his long lost love, the princes Anck-es-en-Amon back to life.  He discovers that her soul is now in the body of Helen Grosvenor (Zita Johann), who happens to be in love with Joseph Whemple’s son, Frank (David Manners).  Im-Ho-Tep wants to kill her so he can resurrect her as an undead, but Frank Whemple and Doctor Muller stand in his way.

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Helen (Zita Johann) falls under the spell of Im-Ho-Tep (Boris Karloff) in THE MUMMY (1932).

In THE MUMMY, Karloff delivers another wonderful performance.  His mummy is much more evil than the later depictions of a mute bandaged monster lumbering around the countryside strangling people.  Yet, Karloff also makes Im-Ho-Tep a somewhat sympathetic character.  We feel for the guy, and his plight to get his long lost love back.

But the best part of THE MUMMY is the cinematography and direction by Karl Freund.  Freund does a more impressive job at the helm of THE MUMMY than either of his more famous counterparts, Tod Browning directing DRACULA and James Whale directing FRANKENSTEIN.

Freund creates an unforgettable opening sequence of the mummy resurrected, a haunting and dreamlike flashback sequence (the scene where the slaves get spears thrust through their chests still makes me wince), and he imbues the scenes inside the museum with creepy shadows and mysterious lighting.

If there are any flaws, it’s the ending, which is quick and shot in a choppy clumsy manner, not at all like the rest of the movie.

So, as we make our way through the lazy hazy days of summer, grab a beverage, dig your toes into the sands of the Egyptian desert, and welcome Im-Ho-Tep into your living room.  Just don’t say the words of that ancient curse too loud.

One guy dying laughing is more than enough.

—END—

 

THE HORROR JAR: The Universal DRACULA Series

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THE HORROR JAR:  UNIVERSAL DRACULA Series

Bela Lugosi as Dracula in DRACULA (1931).

Bela Lugosi as Dracula in DRACULA (1931).

 

By Michael Arruda

Welcome back to THE HORROR JAR, your home for lists of odds and ends about horror movies.

Up today, a list of the UNIVERSAL DRACULA movies, a series that began and ended with Bela Lugosi playing Count Dracula, but the rest of the movies in between, strangely enough, did not feature Lugosi.  And the fact that Lugosi is so identified with the character when he only played him in the movies twice is a true testament to his performance in the original DRACULA.  He’s pretty much remembered as Dracula based on his work in that film alone.

Unlike Boris Karloff, who played the Frankenstein Monster in the first three films of the Universal Frankenstein series, and then returned in HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1944) to play the evil Dr. Niemann, thus appearing in four of the eight Frankenstein movies, Lugosi only played Dracula on two occasions in the movies, and the second time was in the comedy ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948), yet he is just as readily identified as Dracula as Karloff is as the Frankenstein Monster.

Let’s look at the movies:

DRACULA (1931)

Dracula:  Bela Lugosi

Van Helsing:  Edward Van Sloan

Renfield: Dwight Frye

Mina:  Helen Chandler

Harker:  David Manners

Directed by Tod Browning

Screenplay by Garrett Fort, adapted from the play by Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston, based on the novel by Bram Stoker.

Running Time:  75 minutes

Released before FRANKENSTEIN (1931), this was the movie that began the Universal monster series of the 1930s and 40s.  Tod Browning’s masterpiece, the movie that made Bela Lugosi a star.  Silent star Lon Chaney was originally intended to play Dracula, but his untimely death from throat cancer paved the way for Lugosi ultimately getting the part.

At times talky and slow-paced, DRACULA nonetheless is full of hauntingly rich images. The decrepit Castle Dracula, Dracula walking the streets of London, and simply Lugosi himself all contribute to the iconic visuals found in this film.

Lugosi steals the show as the undead king of the vampires, but receives fine support from Edward Van Sloan as Van Helsing, Dwight Frye as Renfield, and Helen Chandler as Mina.  Indeed, Frye is every bit as memorable as Renfield as Lugosi is as Dracula, and if you’ve seen this movie, it’s hard to forget either one of them. DRACULA is chock-full of classic lines uttered by Lugosi.  A must-see at Halloween time.

“The blood is the life, Mr. Renfield.”

 

 

THE SPANISH VERSION OF DRACULA (1931)

Dracula:  Carlos Villarias

Eva:  Lupita Tovar

Directed by George Melford and Enrique Tovar Avalos

Screenplay by Baltasar Fernandez Cue, based on the screenplay by Garrett Fort, adapted from the play by Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston, based on the novel by Bram Stoker.

Running Time:  104 minutes

Back in the day, Universal used to film Spanish versions of their movies using an all-Spanish cast and crew on the same sets as the American version, and so as a result, we have this special treat of a movie:  an entirely different director, screenwriter, and actors using the same sets as DRACULA making an entirely different movie.

Technically, the Spanish version of DRACULA is superior to the Tod Browning version. There’s more going on with the camera and it plays much more like a movie than a stage play.  It’s also a more risqué production, as it highlights the sexual side of the story in ways the Browning version didn’t.

However, I won’t go so far as to call it a superior version of the tale for the simple fact that the Tod Browning version had Bela Lugosi, and he alone made the U.S. version the better movie.  Of course, I would have absolutely loved to have seen Lugosi star in this Spanish version.  Now that would have been one remarkable movie!

 

 

 

DRACULA’S DAUGHTER (1936)

Contessa Marya Zeleska (Dracula’s Daughter):  Gloria Holden

Jeffrey Garth:  Otto Kruger

Janet:  Marguerite Churchill

Van Helsing:  Edward Van Sloan

Directed by Lambert Hillyer

Screenplay by Garrett Fort

Music by Heinz Roemheld (uncredited)Dracula's Daughter - Poster

Running Time:  71 minutes

The first of two very underrated movies in the DRACULA series.  Evidently, back in 1936, the writers hadn’t figured out yet how to resurrect a vampire, and so Count Dracula remains dead in this one, as this story focuses on his daughter.  So, no Dracula and no Bela Lugosi, two strikes which have forever worked against this film.

That being said, DRACULA’S DAUGTHER is a very good horror movie, one of Universal’s best!  It has a solid story, immediately beginning right where DRACULA ended, and finds Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan) facing a murder charge for the death of Dracula.  He turns to his friend Jeffrey Garth (Otto Kruger) for help, who in turn becomes embroiled with Contessa Zeleska (Dracula’s Daughter), who unlike her father, seems uncomfortable as a vampire and wants to be cured.  Still, she’s every bit as deadly as her daddy!  Gloria Holden is very good as Dracula’s daughter, and it’s nice to have Edward Van Sloan back as Van Helsing, but it’s Otto Kruger and Marguerite Churchill who steal the show in this one, Kruger as the intellectual hero Jeffrey Garth and Churchill as his sassy secretary Janet.  These two share so much chemistry I wish they had returned to take on other Universal monsters.

 

 

SON OF DRACULA (1943)

Count Dracula:  Lon Chaney Jr.

Katherine Caldwell:  Louise Allbritton

Claire Caldwell:  Evelyn Ankers

Frank Stanley:  Robert Paige

Doctor Brewster:  Frank Craven

Lon Chaney Jr. as Dracula in SON OF DRACULA (1943).

Lon Chaney Jr. as Dracula in SON OF DRACULA (1943).

Professor Lazlo:  J. Edward Bromberg

Directed by Robert Siodmak

Screenplay by Eric Taylor

Music by Hans J. Salter

Running Time:  80 minutes

Another underrated Dracula film. Lon Chaney Jr. takes on the role of Count Dracula, and he’s actually quite good here.  In spite of the film’s title, he’s not really playing Dracula’s son— or is he?  He’s identified only as Dracula in the film, and there’s nothing in the story to indicate for a fact that he’s the son of Dracula other than the movie’s title. There is speculation among some of the characters in the film that he might be a descendant of Dracula, but another character states that he is the original Dracula.  I suppose, you could imagine him to be Dracula’s son, but since this isn’t ever clarified in the story, it would be purely speculation. Regardless, Dracula uses the name Alucard (Dracula backwards) in this movie, in order, I guess, to travel about incognito.

This one is steeped in atmosphere as it takes place in the Deep South of the United States, and you can also feel the humidity.  The atmosphere almost reminds me of an old zombie movie.  It also has a neat story where Dracula’s main love interest, the occult-loving Katherine Caldwell, has her own agenda and is more manipulative than Dracula here.

Chaney is quite good as Dracula, and he gives the role a completely different feel than Lugosi did.  It’s nice to see Chaney play evil, as opposed to sympathetic Larry Talbot aka the Wolf Man.  Chaney’s Dracula possesses an aura about him that immediately makes the characters around him uncomfortable and uneasy.  He’s less charming than Lugosi, less mysterious, but more in-your-face evil.

 

 

 

HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1944)

Dracula:  John Carradine

The Monster:  Glenn Strange

Doctor Niemann:  Boris Karloff

Larry Talbot/ The Wolf Man:  Lon Chaney Jr.

The Frankenstein Monster:  Glenn Strange

Daniel:  J. Carrol Naish

Directed by Erle C. Kenton

Screenplay by Edward T. Lowe, Jr.

Music by Hans J. Salter

Running Time:  71 minutes

Ah, let the Universal Monster Bash begin!  Yup, beginning with HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, Universal would make three straight movies featuring their three main monsters:  the Frankenstein Monster, Dracula, and the Wolf Man, all of this happening of course due to the success of their earlier hit FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN (1943).

John Carradine takes over the role of Dracula here, and finally, we get to see Dracula resurrected (it took the writers long enough to figure this out!) as we watch the nefarious Dr. Niemann (Boris Karloff) remove the stake from Dracula’s skeleton, and before our very eyes, Dracula materializes back to life.

HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN has a rather uneven plot.  The first third of the movie features Dracula, and once he is killed off, it morphs into a straight sequel to FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN as Dr. Neimann leaves Dracula behind and sets his sights on the Frankenstein Monster and the Wolf Man.

John Carradine is very good as Dracula, although I’ve always preferred Lugosi and even Lon Chaney Jr. in the role.  Carradine adds a sense of elegance to the Count, and he definitely has a presence about him, but to me, his performance has always had one major flaw:  I never found him scary in the role.

 

 

 

 

HOUSE OF DRACULA (1945)

Dracula:  John Carradine

Larry Talbot/ The Wolf Man:  Lon Chaney Jr.

John Carradine as Dracula.

John Carradine as Dracula.

The Frankenstein Monster:  Glenn Strange

Doctor Edelmann:  Onslow Stevens

Directed by Erle C. Kenton

Screenplay by Edward T. Lowe, Jr

Music by William Lava

Running Time:  67 minutes

All three Universal monsters return, and this time Dracula gets more to do and survives a bit longer than he did in HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN.  Unfortunately, HOUSE OF DRACULA isn’t quite as good as HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN.  Everything about this production seems rushed.  It screams for an additional twenty minutes or so.

Again, Carradine is respectable as Dracula, and again, he’s simply not all that scary.

 

 

 

ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948)

Dracula:  Bela Lugosi

The Frankenstein Monster:  Glenn Strange

Larry Talbot/ The Wolf Man:  Lon Chaney Jr.

Chick:  Bud Abbott

Wilbur:  Lou Costello

Directed by Charles Barton

Screenplay by Robert Lees, Frederic I. Rinaldo, and John Grant

Music by Frank Skinner

Running Time:  83 minutes

This was originally going to be called HOUSE OF THE WOLF MAN before Universal decided to add Abbott and Costello and turn it into a comedy.  Strangely, this decision, which many people including Lon Chaney Jr., hated, didn’t stop this movie from becoming one of the best in the Universal Monster series.

The big news here was that Bela Lugosi returned to play Dracula, a role he hadn’t played since the original DRACULA in 1931.  It still amazes me that these are the only two movies in which Lugosi ever played Dracula, although he did play a vampire in MARK OF THE VAMPIRE (1935) and THE RETURN OF THE VAMPIRE (1943).

ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN works so well for two main reasons.  One, it’s hilariously funny.  It’s one of Abbott and Costello’s best movies.  And two, the monsters in this film all have much bigger moments than they did in the previous two movies.

Lon Chaney Jr. has a major role.  As Larry Talbot, he’s involved in the hunt for Dracula, and he has lots of scenes as the Wolf Man.  Glenn Strange, reduced to having little more than a cameo as the Frankenstein Monster in the previous two movies, has lots of screen time here and even speaks lines of dialogue!

But it’s Lugosi who steals the show in his return as Dracula.  Other than Abbott and Costello, he’s the main character in this movie, as it’s his plot to take Lou Costello’s brain and put it into the skull of the Frankenstein Monster, in the hope that he’d be able to control the Monster better with Costello’s simple mind.

Lugosi has many fine moments.  He gets to be scary and he seems to be having a lot of fun.

Terrific movie, terrific performance, and a fine way to end the Universal Dracula series.

“Young people.  Always making the most out of life. While it lasts.”  — Bela Lugosi as Dracula in ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN.

 

 

Hope you enjoyed this edition of THE HORROR JAR, and I’ll see you again next time with more horror movie lists.

Thanks for reading!

—Michael

LEADING LADIES: HELEN CHANDLER

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helen chandler

Helen Chandler as Mina in DRACULA (1931), setting her hungry eyes on her fiance’s throat.

LEADING LADIES:  Helen Chandler

By Michael Arruda

Welcome to LEADING LADIES, the column where we look at leading ladies in horror movies, especially from years gone by.

First up, it’s Helen Chandler, who played Mina in the Bela Lugosi classic DRACULA (1931).

I have to admit, in all the years that I’d watched and re-watched DRACULA, I never really paid much attention to Helen Chandler.  Obviously, I was mesmerized by Bela Lugosi, thrilled by Dwight Frye as Renfield, and equally impressed by Edward Van Sloan as Professor Van Helsing, but the two romantic leads, David Manners as “John” Harker, and Helen Chandler as Mina, I hardly noticed at all and dismissed them as the over-acting romantic lovers so often found in those early black and white movies from the 1930s.

But one day, about ten years ago or so, I focused on Chandler and noticed for the first time just how beautiful she was, and how sad a character she made Mina in this movie.  Suddenly, I was paying attention to her in her scenes, and I was hooked.

Helen Chandler made a bunch of movies, twenty-seven to be exact, but I’ll always remember her as Mina in DRACULA.

Chandler lived a sad life.  Early in her career, she enjoyed considerable success as a stage actress, but when she tried to make the jump to the movies, things didn’t work out as well, and she never became as popular in film as she was during her years performing on the New York stage.  She did make twenty-seven movies, her final one in 1938, a comedy/romance entitled MR. BOGGS STEPS OUT.

She was married three times, with two of the marriages ending in divorce.  Her acting career was derailed by alcohol and a sleeping pill addiction, and in 1940 she was committed to a sanitarium.  In 1950, she was disfigured in a fire, apparently the result of smoking in bed.  She died on April 30, 1965 from complications from surgery to repair a bleeding ulcer.

I’ve always thought that Helen Chandler would have made a fine Daisy Buchanan in THE GREAT GATSBY.  Interestingly enough, Chandler’s life shared parallels with GATSBY author F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife Zelda.  Both women were sent to sanitariums, Chandler for alcoholism and sleeping pill addiction, and Fitzgerald for mental health issues, and both were victims of fires while there.  In Zelda Fitzgerald’s case, the fire was fatal.  Both women died in tragic fashion.

In her early scenes in DRACULA as Mina, Helen Chandler is so full of life.  When you look deeply into her face, you’ll find an expression of playful mischief in her eyes, especially in her scenes with Lucy and at the concert hall when she is first introduced to Count Dracula.

These early scenes are juxtaposed perfectly to her later scenes after she has been bitten by Dracula.  In these, she appears distant, lost, the vibrancy and life which had been in her eyes is now gone.  She appears almost—dead.  Of course, this is spot on, since she’s on her way to being undead, and during these scenes she’s in a state somewhere in the middle. She captures the feelings of being lost, of not knowing what is happening to her, perfectly, and she slides effortlessly from lively Mina to near-undead Mina in a heartbeat.

It’s easy to overlook these subtleties in her performance because she’s playing in these over dramatic love scenes with co-star David Manners, who hams things up more than she does, so on the surface it looks like she’s just over acting, but if you pay close attention to her, you’ll find a lot more going on.

She’s much better than Mae Clarke as Elizabeth in the Boris Karloff version of FRANKENSTEIN (1931), and her performance as Mina continues to grow on me each time I watch DRACULA.  I really wish her film career had taken off and she had starred in some other major releases.  Some more horror movies would have been nice.

It’s too bad that instead of making horror movies, her life itself became a horror story and ended on such a depressing tragic note.

But by watching DRACULA we can forget all that and enjoy and appreciate a wonderful acting performance that remains with us, timeless, throughout the ages.  Sure, in DRACULA, Chandler is overshadowed by Bela Lugosi, Dwight Frye, and Edward Van Sloan, and rightly so, because all three actors are terrific in the film, but Chandler’s performance as Mina shouldn’t be overlooked.  There’s more going on there than what initially meets the eye, and in a very subtle understated way, Helen Chandler captures perfectly the character of Mina and her struggles with being under Dracula’s spell, a woman trapped halfway between living and being undead.  She does this as well if not better than the host of other actresses who have played Mina in the movies.

Next time you watch DRACULA pay particular attention to Helen Chandler as Mina, especially watch was she does with her eyes and her expressions once Dracula has mingled his blood with hers.  You’ll like what you see.

Helen Chandler.  February 1, 1906 – April 30, 1965.

Thanks for reading!

—Michael

IN THE SHADOWS: DWIGHT FRYE

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Dwight Frye as Renfield in DRACULA (1931).

Dwight Frye as Renfield in DRACULA (1931).

In The Shadows: DWIGHT FRYE

By Michael Arruda

Welcome to another edition of In The Shadows, that column where we honor character actors from the movies, especially horror movies.

Character actors add so much to the movies they’re in, it’s hard to imagine these movies without them. Never receiving the praise heaped upon the major actors and stars of the genre, these folks nonetheless are often every bit as effective as the big name leads.

Last time out we paid homage to one of my favorite character actors from Hammer Films, Michael Ripper. Today we look at one of my favorite character actors from the Universal Monster movies, the great Dwight Frye.

After a successful theatrical career in the 1920s, Frye hit it big immediately on the big screen with his groundbreaking performance as Renfield, the fly-eating madman in the Bela Lugosi version of DRACULA (1931). Other than Lugosi as Dracula, Frye steals the show, making Renfield the most memorable character in the entire movie.

Nearly every scene Frye has as Renfield is impressive. Who can forget his speech to Van Helsing about Dracula and the rats:

RENFIELD: A red mist spread over the lawn, coming on like a flame of fire. And then he parted it. And I could see that there were thousands of rats with eyes blazing red, like his, only smaller. And then he held up his hand, and then they all stopped, and I thought he seemed to be saying: Rats. Rats. Rats! Thousands! Millions of them! All red blood! All these will I give to you if you will obey me!

Frye immediately followed up his phenomenal performance as Renfield with another memorable performance, this time as Fritz, Henry Frankenstein’s hunchbacked assistant in the Boris Karloff version of FRANKENSTEIN (1931).

While Fritz is a smaller part than Renfield, Frye nonetheless makes the most of his scenes. Fritz plays an integral role in one of the major plot points in the film, when he mistakenly steals an abnormal brain from a college lecture hall for Henry Frankenstein to put inside the skull of the Monster.

As Fritz, Frye does a lot of little things in FRANKENSTEIN that really add depth to his character. When Henry Frankenstein sends him down the long winding stone staircase to see who is banging at their laboratory door, Fritz chatters all the way down, going on about how he doesn’t have time for this sort of thing, that he has too much to do, and at one point he stops on a step to pull up his socks.

In one of the movie’s more dramatic scenes, Fritz takes both a whip and a torch to the Monster (Boris Karloff) as he torments Frankenstein’s creation. Of course, this doesn’t end too well for Fritz, as he gets a little too close to the Monster, and in one of the film’s more chilling images, we see the shadow of Fritz’s dead body hanging from the ceiling, murdered by the Monster.

Unfortunately, for whatever reason, Frye’s genius and talent weren’t really recognized back in 1931, and what should have been a very successful film career never materialized. Sadly, after these two superb performances, Dwight Frye was forever typecast in small thankless roles as weirdoes and lunatics.

He also had the misfortune of having his roles in future Universal horror films cut. For example, his role as Karl in THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935) was cut significantly before the film’s release. Originally, Karl was to have been a much more important character to the plot, as he was supposed to have murdered his parents and then blamed the murder on the Monster, which is why at the end of the film, the Monster goes out of his way to kill Karl. In the final print, this subplot is gone, and Karl is little more than a grave robber who works for Dr. Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger), although we do get to see a flash of Karl’s menacing personality when he murders a young woman in order to supply Pretorius and Henry Frankenstein with a fresh heart.

His role in the third Karloff Frankenstein film, SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (1939) was cut entirely, and he doesn’t appear in the movie.

Tragically, Frye died of a heart attack on November 7, 1943 at the age of 44. While in life his career never materialized the way it should have, today, we can look back, appreciate, and enjoy his remarkable talent. Through the magic of the movies, Dwight Frye lives on.

Here’s a partial list of Dwight Frye’s 62 film appearances, concentrating solely on his appearance in horror movies from the 1930s and 1940s:

DRACULA (1931) – Renfield

FRANKENSTEIN (1931) – Fritz

THE VAMPIRE BAT (1933) – Herman Gleib

THE INVISIBLE MAN (1933) – Reporter (uncredited)

THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935) – Karl

THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN (1942) – Villager (uncredited)

DEAD MEN WALK (1943) – Zolarr

FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN (1943) – Rudi

These are the films in which I became familiar with Dwight Frye. Of course, he made many more movies than just these, appearing in 62 of them.

Dwight Frye made his mark early, in two powerhouse performances as Renfield in DRACULA, and as Fritz in FRANKENSTEIN. You can make the argument that other than the two leads in these movies, Lugosi as Dracula, and Karloff as the Frankenstein Monster, it’s Frye who steals the show, although in FRANKENSTEIN he does get some competition from Colin Clive as Henry Frankenstein, and Edward Van Sloan is also in both movies doing his professor shtick, but it’s Frye who creates two of the livelier characters in both films.

I also really enjoyed Dwight Frye as Herman in THE VAMPIRE BAT, in which he plays a simple-minded fellow who loves bats, and who unfortunately is blamed by the villagers for the vampire-like murders plaguing the community, and he’s hunted down and murdered. Of course, his death is all for not, as the true culprit in this one is the evil Dr. Otto von Niemann, played by Lionel Atwill.

It’s a shame Dwight Frye didn’t get to do more. He could have added so much to so many more movies. Don’t believe me? Check out his work in DRACULA and FRANKENSTEIN and you’ll be convinced.

Dwight Frye: February 22, 1899 – November 7, 1943

Thanks for reading everybody!

—Michael

MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES: FRANKENSTEIN (1931)

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The Monster doesn't say a word in FRANKENSTEIN, but Karloff's performance still speaks volumes.

The Monster doesn’t say a word in FRANKENSTEIN (1931), but Karloff’s performance still speaks volumes.

MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES:  FRANKENSTEIN (1931)

By

Michael Arruda

Welcome to another edition of MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES, that column where we look at memorable quotes from the movies, especially horror movies.  Today we look at the ultimate monster movie, the original FRANKENSTEIN (1931) starring Boris Karloff as the Monster and Colin Clive as Doctor Henry Frankenstein.

While the screenplay by Garrett Fort and Francis Edward Faragoh includes lots of memorable lines, none of them are spoken by the most famous character from the movie, the Frankenstein Monster, since the creature was mute in this film.

Speaking of the screenplay, FRANKENSTEIN had quite the cast of writers involved in the writing of its script.  Ready?  While Fort and Faragoh were credited for writing the screenplay, it was based upon the “composition” by John L. Balderston, which was adapted from the play by Peggy Webling, and included uncredited contributions from Robert Florey and John Russell, as well as work from scenario editor Richard Schayer.  And of course, all of it was based on the novel by Mary Shelley.

Okay, let’s move on to the quotes.

The most famous line from the movie comes from Henry Frankenstein in the creation scene.  It’s one of the most recognizable scenes in horror film history.  With the monster’s hand slowly rising from the lab table, exhibiting its first signs of life, Henry Frankenstein goes ballistic.

HENRY FRANKENSTEIN:  Look! It’s moving. It’s alive. It’s alive… It’s alive, it’s moving, it’s alive, it’s alive, it’s alive, it’s alive, IT’S ALIVE!

Before the movie starts, actor Edward Van Sloan who plays Dr. Waldman in FRANKENSTEIN, comes out from behind a stage curtain and gives a word of warning to the audience.

EDWARD VAN SLOAN:  How do you do? Mr. Carl Laemmle feels it would be a little unkind to present this picture without just a word of friendly warning. We’re about to unfold the story of Frankenstein, a man of science who sought to create a man after his own image without reckoning upon God. It is one of the strangest tales ever told. It deals with the two great mysteries of creation: life and death. I think it will thrill you. It may shock you. It might even horrify you. So if any of you feel that you do not care to subject your nerves to such a strain, now is your chance to, uh… Well, we’ve warned you.

Supposedly, this pre-credit sequence was supposed to match a similar scene from the end of DRACULA (1931) with Bela Lugosi.  At the end of DRACULA, there was a clip of Edward Van Sloan, who played Dr. Van Helsing in DRACULA, coming out from behind a curtain to argue the existence of vampires.  Since FRANKENSTEIN was to be playing as a second feature following DRACULA, the two Edward Van Sloan sequences were supposed to link the two films together.

As far as I know, the Van Sloan sequence from the end of DRACULA no longer exists.  I’ve never seen it, nor have I seen a still from it.

Just before he brings his Monster to life, Henry Frankenstein pauses to reflect on what he’s about to do. He looks at his unborn creation and turns to his assistant, Fritz (Dwight Frye.)

HENRY FRANKENSTEIN:  The brain you stole, Fritz. Think of it. The brain of a dead man waiting to live again in a body I made with my own hands!  With my own hands.

Right after the “It’s Alive!” line, Henry nearly collapses from all the emotion, and Dr. Waldman and Henry’s friend Victor Moritz (John Boles) rush to his aid.  This scene includes a line of dialogue by Henry Frankenstein that was cut from the original print because it was deemed too controversial.  It was only recently restored.  The scene itself was restored in video prints from the 1980s, but curiously, the line was not, as it was drowned out by a thunder clap.  It was fully restored in DVD prints in the 2000s, and so finally we can hear Henry’s line which was considered blasphemous, I guess.  Here it is:

VICTOR MORITZ:  Henry, in the name of God!

HENRY FRANKENSTEIN:  Oh, in the name of God!  Now I know what it feels like to be God!

Colin Clive’s best scene comes shortly after he has created the Monster, in a scene of dialogue between Clive’s Henry Frankenstein and Dr. Waldman.  As they converse in the lab, Waldman tries to warn his former student about the dangers posed by the Monster.

Let’s listen:

HENRY:  Oh, come and sit down, doctor.  You must be patient.  Do you expect perfection at once?

DR. WALDMAN:  This creature of yours should be kept under guard!  Mark my words:  he will prove dangerous.

HENRY:  Dangerous?  Poor old Waldman.  Have you never wanted to do anything that was dangerous? Where should we be if nobody tried to find out what lies beyond? Have you never wanted to look beyond the clouds and the stars, or to know what causes the trees to bud? And what changes the darkness into light? But if you talk like that, people call you crazy. Well, if I could discover just one of these things, what eternity is, for example, I wouldn’t care if they did think I was crazy.

WALDMAN:  You’re young, my friend.  Your success has intoxicated you.  Wake up!  And look facts in the face!  Here we have a fiend whose brain—.

HENRY:  Whose brain must be given time to develop.  It’s a perfectly good brain, doctor.  Well, you ought to know.  It came from your own laboratory.

WALDMAN: The brain that was stolen from my laboratory was a criminal brain.

HENRY (caught off guard, and looking surprised.):  Oh well.  After all, it’s only a piece of dead tissue.

WALDMAN:  Only evil can come of it.  Your health will be ruined if you persist in this madness.

HENRY:  I’m astonishingly sane, doctor.

WALDMAN:  You have created a monster, and it will destroy you!

HENRY:  Patience, patience.  I believe in this monster, as you call it. And if you don’t, well you must leave me alone.

WALDMAN:  But think of Elizabeth, and your father.

HENRY:  Elizabeth believes in me.  My father?  He never believes in anyone.  I’ve got to experiment further.  He’s only a few days old, remember.  So far he’s been kept in complete darkness.  Wait till I bring him into the light.

I’ve always really enjoyed this scene.  There’s something about Clive’s performance here which is somehow more personal and more alive than in his other scenes, especially in that sequence where he speaks about being called crazy if you care to dream, and how he wouldn’t mind being called crazy if he could accomplish just one of these things.  I suspect Clive brought something personal with him when he played this scene.  It’s his best in the film.

As I said, the Monster doesn’t speak in this movie, but this doesn’t take away from Karloff’s brilliant performance.  In fact, in the film’s scariest scene, the death of little Maria, the Monster doesn’t have to utter one word.

Little Maria is outside playing, when the Monster emerges from the woods and approaches her.

MARIA:  Who are you?  I’m Maria.

MONSTER (Silence)

MARIA:  Will you play with me?

(Takes monster’s hand and leads him to the water.)

MARIA:  Would you like one of my flowers?

(Gives the MONSTER a flower. He sniffs it and smiles, making a happy grunt.  They sit by the water’s edge. Maria picks more flowers.

MARIA:  You have those, and I’ll have these.  (Gives the MONSTER more flowers.)  I can make a boat.  (She throws a flower into the water, and it floats.)  See how mine floats?

(The MONSTER throws a flower into the water and it floats too.  He smiles.  He throws the rest of his flowers into the water and makes happy grunting sounds.  He looks at his empty hands, smiles, nods his head, and reaches for Maria.  He picks her up.

MARIA:  No!  You’re hurting me!  No!!

(The MONSTER throws her into the water.  She screams, and the MONSTER reaches into the water, and she drowns.  The MONSTER then flees, terrified and afraid.)

This is such a bold scene, so bold in fact I seriously doubt it would be filmed today.  I’m amazed they got away with this in 1931.  Of course, it was cut from the TV print, supposedly at the request of Karloff, who thought it portrayed the Monster as too dark.  I disagree.  You clearly see in this scene that the Monster’s intentions are innocent.  He just has no understanding of life and death.  Again, it’s a brilliant performance by Karloff.  He really plays the Monster as a being newly born, with little understanding of life, a baby in a hulk’s body.  This scene was restored in the 1980s as well.

There you have it.  Some fun quotes from FRANKENSTEIN.

Thanks for joining me today, and I look forward to seeing you next time on another edition of MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES.

Thanks for reading!

—Michael

CLASSIC HORROR MOVIE DOUBLE FEATURES TO WATCH ON HALLOWEEN

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HALLOWEEN HAUNTS:  Classic Movie Double Features for Halloween Night

By

Michael Arruda

 

 Curse Frankenstein Horror Dracula

Okay.

 

I love watching horror movies, that’s a given.  And what better time to watch them than on Halloween night?  Even folks who don’t generally watch horror movies indulge on Halloween. 

 

Some watch just one.  Others do marathons long into the night.  Still others hearken back to the days of the Creature Double Feature and settle in for a twin bill.  Yep, everybody loves a good double feature. 

 

So, for Halloween 2013, here’s a look at some awesome double features for you to enjoy after all the Trick-or-Treaters have come and gone.

 

Granted, I lean heavily on classic horror, but no worries, I’ve got some new ones here as well.  The bottom line is there are simply so many horror films worthy of your time, especially on Halloween night.  You really can’t go wrong.

 

Here we go:

 

Into the Universal classics?  Excellent!  They make great viewing on Halloween night, as they’re real mood setters.

 

Look no further than the best of the best:  FRANKENSTEIN (1931) followed by its sequel THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935).  FRANKENSTEIN is my personal favorite of the Universal monster movies.  Boris Karloff’s Monster is the perfect mix of uncontrollable brutality and infant innocence.  He’s as sympathetic as he is terrifying.  Its sequel, THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN is considered by many to be the best horror film of all time.

 

Not into Frankenstein?  Rather watch vampires?  Then check out DRACULA (1931) and allow Bela Lugosi to mesmerize you as the king of the undead.  Follow it up with its effective sequel, DRACULA’S DAUGHTER (1936).

 

More into werewolves?  Then watch THE WOLF MAN (1941) followed by its exciting sequel, FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN (1942).

 

Simply want more monsters?  Then indulge in these Universal monster parties, which include Dracula, the Wolf Man, and the Frankenstein monster, HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1944) starring Boris Karloff as an evil mad scientist, rather than as the monster, and its companion piece HOUSE OF DRACULA (1945). 

 

Not into monsters but want a classic flavor?  Then check out this Boris Karloff/Bela Lugosi double bill:  THE BLACK CAT (1934) and THE RAVEN (1935).   Other than their signature roles as the Frankenstein monster and Dracula, Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi probably turn in their best performances in these two movies.  They complement each other so well.  Karloff and Lugosi made several movies together.  These are two of their best.

 

In the mood to mix frights with laughter?  Then settle in and watch ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948) and Mel Brooks’ YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974), two of the funniest horror movies ever made.

 

Moving onto to Hammer Films, while there are so many to choose from, it’s Halloween, so go with the best:  THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957) followed by HORROR OF DRACULA (1958).  Watch Peter Cushing give the performance of his life as the relentless Baron Victor Frankenstein, creating one of the most hideous monsters ever to grace the big screen, Christopher Lee’s Creature, in THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN.  Then, watch HORROR OF DRACULA and witness Christopher Lee’s insanely frightening and sexy performance as Dracula, matching wits against Peter Cushing’s energetic and dynamic Van Helsing. 

 

Into Vincent Price?  Check out this early double bill, HOUSE OF WAX (1953) followed by this other “house” classic, HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1959).

 

Want later Price?  Then check out these campy classics, THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES (1971) followed by THEATER OF BLOOD (1973).  Murder has never been so much fun!

 

Into giant monsters?  Invite these behemoths into your home:  KING KONG (1933), the classic monster movie that remains one of the best movies of all time period!  It’s truly the Eighth Wonder of the movie world.  And follow it up with the campy Japanese classic bout, KING KONG VS. GODZILLA (1962).  It’s silly, it’s goofy, and King Kong looks like a stuffed gorilla toy accidentally run through the wash, but it’s oh so fun.

 

Speaking of Godzilla, if you want to be scared by a giant monster, then kick off this frightening double bill with GODZILLA, KING OF THE MONSTERS! (1956).  Godzilla’s first foray into the movies is his most frightening ever, a very intense film, nothing at all like the lightweight Godzilla movies from the 1960s and 70s.  Follow this with one of the best horror movies of the 21st century, J.J. Abram’s CLOVERFIELD (2008).  If you don’t think giant monsters can be scary, you haven’t seen these two movies.

 

You prefer your giant monsters silly and campy?  Then look no further than these wild rides from Japan’s Toho Studios:  FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD (1965), featuring a giant Frankenstein Monster who battles a colossal reptile, followed by THE WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS (1966) which in Japan was the sequel to FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD.  But here in the United States, all references to Frankenstein were removed from GARGANTUAS.  Still, it’s one of my favorite Toho movies, and once you’ve seen the good gargantua and the bad gargantua, you won’t forget them.

 

Looking for some 1950s science fiction to get you in the Halloween spirit?  Then kick things off with George Pal’s colorful and explosive THE WAR OF THE WORLDS (1953).  You’ll forever marvel at those Martian machines.  Follow this with a different kind of space invasion, INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1956) one of the scariest science fiction movies ever made.

 

Jumping ahead to the 1970s, how about these devilishly good haunts to scare you this Halloween, THE EXORCIST (1973) followed by THE OMEN (1976).  Heads will spin, beds will rise, and 666 will be flashing on your speed dial.

 

Okay, let’s get modern and look at some more recent haunts.

 

Want brutal and intense?  Then go with 30 DAYS OF NIGHT (2007), a story about vampires loose in an Alaskan town just before the sun sets for a month.  Follow this with THE CRAZIES (2010) an excellent remake of George Romero’s original about a small town overrun by a disease that turns people into crazy murderous beasts.

 

Speaking of remakes, watch the better than average remake THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (2009) about parents getting the chance to avenge a brutal rape of their daughter.  If you like family tales of a different nature, follow this up with ORPHAN (2009) a story that will make you think twice about adopting.

 

Feel like spying on people in their own homes and watching them terrified by spooks and demons?  Then watch PARANORMAL ACTIVITY (2007) followed by PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 (2010).    

 

In the mood for a modern take on classic monsters, in colorful productions that honor the Universal and Hammer styles?  Then go with ABRAHAM LINCOLN:  VAMPIRE HUNTER (2012) and follow that up with the remake of THE WOLFMAN (2010).  Both these movies have some serious bite.

 

For me, the most fun horror film I’ve seen in the past few years has been INSIDIOUS (2010).  When I saw this in the theater, people were screaming left and right.  It was one of the most fun times I’ve had at a horror movie in years.  So, start off with INSIDIOUS, guaranteed to freak you out, and follow it up with another fun horror movie, this one very new, MAMA (2013).

 

What will I be watching this Halloween? 

 

Well, for me, it varies from year to year.  This year I’m going with a classic, an oldie-but-a-goodie double bill:  John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN (1978) followed by its sequel, HALLOWEEN II (1981).  HALLOWEEN is a classic of horror cinema, one of John Carpenter’s best movies.  Its sequel, HALLOWEEN II, is not, but it’s still an entertaining follow-up.  You’ll also have fun with John Carpenter’s memorable music score stuck in your head for the rest of the night.

 

You can’t go wrong with any of these double bills.  And of course, there are many, many more horror movies not mentioned in this column.  Feel free to come up with your own double feature.

 

This Halloween, after the Trick-or-Treaters have come and gone, sit back and relax and enjoy one of these Halloween double features.

 

Happy Halloween, everybody!

 

—Michael