HALLOWEEN SPECIAL: Karloff, Lugosi, Chaney, Lee, Cushing, and Price Talk Horror

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The following mock interview uses real quotes spoken by horror icons BORIS KARLOFF, BELA LUGOSI, LON CHANEY JR., CHRISTOPHER LEE, PETER CUSHING, and VINCENT PRICE.  The quotes and answers, therefore, are real.

My interview, obviously, is not.

That being said, I hope you will read on as I “interview” these horror stars with questions on their thoughts on horror.

boris-and-bela

Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff

MICHAEL ARRUDA:  Welcome to a special Halloween column.

Here with me today to discuss horror are six of horror movies’ biggest stars, BORIS KARLOFF, BELA LUGOSI, LON CHANEY JR., CHRISTOPHER LEE, PETER CUSHING, and VINCENT PRICE.  Thank you all for joining me tonight.

Let’s get right to it.  Your thoughts on the horror genre and horror movies.  Boris, we’ll start with you.

BORIS KARLOFF:  Thank you, Michael.

MICHAEL ARRUDA:  What does horror mean to you?

BORIS KARLOFF:  Horror means something revolting.

Anybody can show you a pailful of innards. But the object of the roles I played is not to turn your stomach – but merely to make your hair stand on end.

CHRISTOPHER LEE (to Karloff):  You’ve actually said you don’t like the word “horror.”  You’ve said the same thing, Lon.  (Chaney nods).  And I agree with the both of you.

MICHAEL ARRUDA:  They said that?

CHRISTOPHER LEE:  Oh yes.  Both Lon and Boris here don’t like the word “horror”. They– like I— go for the French description: “the theatre of the fantastique.”

LON CHANEY JR.:  But on the other hand, nothing is more natural to me than horror.

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Lon Chaney Jr. and Bela Lugosi

PETER CUSHING:  Strangely enough, I don’t like horror pictures at all. I love to make them because they give pleasure to people, but my favorite types of films are much more subtle than horror.

I like to watch films like BRIDGE OVER THE RIVER KWAI (1957), THE APARTMENT (1960), or lovely musicals.

VINCENT PRICE:  I sometimes feel that I’m impersonating the dark unconscious of the whole human race. I know this sounds sick, but I love it.

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Peter Cushing and Vincent Price

MICHAEL ARRUDA:  Second and final question tonight.  Your thoughts on the roles you have played?

BELA LUGOSI:  Every actor’s greatest ambition is to create his own, definite and original role, a character with which he will always be identified. In my case, that role was Dracula.

And Dracula never ends. I don’t know if I should call it a fortune or a curse, but Dracula ever ends.

CHRISTOPHER LEE:  There are many vampires in the world today – you only have to think of the film business.  (Everyone laughs)

Seriously, though, I’ve always acknowledged my debt to Hammer. I’ve always said I’m very grateful to them. They gave me this great opportunity, made me a well-known face all over the world for which I am profoundly grateful.

PETER CUSHING:  Agreed.  I mean, who wants to see me as Hamlet? Very few. But millions want to see me as Frankenstein so that’s the one I do.

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Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing

LON CHANEY JR.:   All the best of the monsters played for sympathy. That goes for my father,myself and all the others. They all won the audience’s sympathy.

The Wolf Man didn’t want to do all those bad things. He was forced into them.

VINCENT PRICE:  I don’t play monsters. I play men besieged by fate and out for revenge.

BORIS KARLOFF:  For me it was pure luck.

You could heave a brick out of the window and hit ten actors who could play my parts. I just happened to be on the right corner at the right time.

MICHAEL ARRUDA:  And often that’s really what it comes down to.  Being in the right place at the right time, and of course, being persistent.

Thank you gentlemen, for joining me this evening.

And thank you all for reading!

Happy Halloween!

—Michael

 

 

 

 

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IN THE SPOOKLIGHT: SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (1939)

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Here’s my latest IN THE SPOOKLIGHT column, available now in the February 2016 edition of THE OFFICIAL NEWSLETTER OF THE HORROR WRITERS ASSOCIATION, on the third Universal Frankenstein movie, SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (1939) starring Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi.

It’s my 150th IN THE SPOOKLIGHT column.

Enjoy!

—Michael

son of frankenstein poster

 

IN THE SPOOKLIGHT

By

Michael Arruda

Welcome to the 150th IN THE SPOOKLIGHT column!

To celebrate, let’s look at the Universal Monster classic, SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (1939).

SON OF FRANKENSTEIN is the third film in the Universal Frankenstein series.  It marked the third and final time that Boris Karloff would play the Monster, and while Karloff’s presence in this one is still key, really, the biggest reason to see this movie is to watch Bela Lugosi play Ygor, arguably his second best film role after Dracula.

SON OF FRANKENSTEIN takes place several decades after the events of THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935).  Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) has died, and his adult son Baron Wolf von Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone) returns home to his father’s estate along with his wife and young son, after being away for many years.

Wolf and his family are given the cold shoulder by the villagers, who remain scarred by memories of the Monster.  In fact, the local police inspector, Inspector Krogh (Lionel Atwill) even offers Frankenstein and his family protection from the villagers, an offer which the proud Wolf scoffs at.

While searching the ruins of his father’s laboratory, Wolf comes across old Ygor (Bela Lugosi), a man who had once been hung for the crime of stealing bodies but survived the hanging.  When Ygor learns that Wolf is a scientist like his father, he brings Wolf to an underground cave beneath the laboratory where he shows him the sleeping body of the Monster (Boris Karloff).

Intrigue, Wolf decides to bring his father’s creation back to full strength, which pleases Ygor, since he uses his “friend” the Monster to murder the members of the jury who had sent him to the gallows.

SON OF FRANKENSTEIN is the most elaborate of the Universal Frankenstein series and it’s also the lengthiest, clocking in at 99 minutes.  While it can be a bit talky, it does a terrific job developing its characters, as the three new characters in this film, Wolf Frankenstein, Inspector Krogh, and Ygor are among the series’ best.  It was originally going to be shot in color, but the decision was made to film it in black and white when initial screen tests of the Monster in color failed to impress.

While SON OF FRANKENSTEIN has a lot going for it, it’s nowhere near as good as the first two films in the series, FRANKENSTEIN (1931) and THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935).  That being said, it’s the one film in the series that is closest in style to the Hammer Frankenstein movies which were to follow twenty years later, as it spends more time on characterizations and less on the Monster, and it features opulent sets.

Even though director Rowland V. Lee does an admirable job at the helm, the film really misses the direction of James Whale, who directed the first two Frankenstein movies.  Those films were paced better and possessed a chaotic energy about them that really captured the persona of the Monster, and in both those films, Karloff’s performance as the Monster stole the show.

Here in SON OF FRANKENSTEIN, Karloff turns in his least effective performance as the Monster, mostly because he doesn’t have much to do. For reasons that are not explained, the Monster in SON OF FRANKENSTEIN no longer speaks.    One can infer that he may have suffered further brain damage in the explosion at the end of THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, which could have taken away his ability to speak.  Whatever the reason, without speech the Monster is a far less interesting character than when we last saw him in BRIDE.

Also, the Monster becomes a “patient” in this movie, spending lots of time lying on a lab table waiting to be energized by Doctor Frankenstein.  Unfortunately, this trend would continue as the series went on, with the Monster spending more and more time reclining on his back, rather than  moving around terrorizing people.  It’s also established for the first time in SON OF FRANKENSTEIN that the Monster cannot die, that Henry Frankenstein created him in such a way that he would live forever.  This would make it convenient for Universal to keep bringing the Monster back in subsequent movies.

Karloff’s best scene as the Monster in SON OF FRANKENSTEIN is when he meets Wolf Frankenstein for the first time.  As he gets right in Wolf’s face, easily terrifying the man, he seems to be thinking back to the man who created both of them, Wolf’s father, Henry Frankenstein.

Ygor and Monster

Ygor (Bela Lugosi) and the Monster (Boris Karloff) are up to no good in SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (1939).

But again, the best part of this movie is Bela Lugosi’s performance as Ygor.  He steals nearly every scene he’s in.  My favorite bits include his coughing on a jury member in a courtroom scene, and his answer to Wolf when asked if he killed their butler Benson:  “I scare him to death.  I don’t need to kill him to death!”  And then he laughs.  Of course, he’s also lying since the Monster did murder Benson.

Basil Rathbone is adequate as Wolf Frankenstein, though he does tend to ham it up a bit.  I definitely miss Colin Clive as Henry Frankenstein.  Of course, the writers went with the “son” story-line rather than another Henry Frankenstein tale because Clive had sadly passed away shortly after making THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN.  

Lionel Atwill also has one of his best roles here as Inspector Krogh, the one-armed inspector spoofed so effectively by Kenneth Mars in Mel Brooks’ YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974).  Krogh is a memorable character, with a great back story:  he has one arm because the Monster ripped it from its socket when he was a child.  Yikes!

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Inspector Krogh (Lionel Atwill) prepares to tell Wolf Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone) the story of his childhood encounter with the Monster.

The screenplay by Willis Cooper is definitely talky, but it does tell a good story and does a terrific job developing its characters.  SON OF FRANKENSTEIN also features arguably the best music score of the series, by Frank Skinner.

SON OF FRANKENSTEIN  is a fine third film in the series, not as effective as the first two, but definitely better than the films which would follow it, and its cast, which features Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Basil Rathbone, and Lionel Atwill is second to none.

The biggest of the Universal Frankenstein movies, SON OF FRANKENSTEIN is a well-made and worthy installment in the Frankenstein canon.

IN THE SPOOKLIGHT: THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935)

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Here’s my latest IN THE SPOOKLIGHT column, on the Boris Karloff classic THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935), published this month in the September 2015 HWA NEWSLETTER.

—Michael

 

IN THE SPOOKLIGHTbride-of-frankenstein-movie-poster-1935

BY

MICHAEL ARRUDA

September.

Time to put the frivolous films of summer aside in favor of the horror movie heavyweights, time for one of the most critically acclaimed horror movies of all time, THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935).

In the annals of mainstream cinema, there are very few horror movies which earn a four star rating. THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN is one of them.  Not only is it considered a better movie than its predecessor, FRANKENSTEIN (1931) but it’s widely viewed as the best FRANKENSTEIN movie ever filmed.  While it’s hard to argue against this assertion, I actually prefer FRANKENSTEIN over BRIDE since it’s a scarier film, but that doesn’t take away my appreciation for BRIDE.

THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN opens with a prologue in which Mary Shelley (Elsa Lanchester, who also plays the titled Bride of Frankenstein later in the movie) tells her husband Percy Shelley and fellow Romantic poet Lord Byron that her story did not end with the Monster perishing inside the burning windmill.  There’s more to the tale, she says.

The action then segues to just after the conclusion of FRANKENSTEIN, with the villagers watching the windmill burn to the ground, and we quickly see that the Monster (Boris Karloff) has survived the fire and escapes.  Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) survives as well, and he resumes his plans to marry Elizabeth (Valerie Hobson), but these plans are interrupted when he’s visited by his old professor, Dr. Pretorious (Ernest Thesiger) who tries to convince Henry to continue his experiments, but Henry is not interested.

Meanwhile, the Monster is loose in the countryside, inadvertently terrifying everyone he comes in contact with.  He’s hunted down and briefly chained in a prison before he escapes.  In the film’s most touching scene, he befriends a blind hermit (O.P. Heggie) who teaches the Monster how to speak and shows him considerable compassion, even prompting the Monster to shed a tear at one point.  But even this ends badly when two hunters happen upon the hermit’s cabin and “rescue” him from the Monster.

Eventually, the Monster crosses paths with Dr. Pretorious, who tells the Monster he wants to create a mate for him, but that he needs Henry Frankenstein’s help for the experiment to succeed.  The Monster agrees to work with Pretorious to compel Henry Frankenstein to make him a mate.

By far the best part of THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN is the development of the Frankenstein Monster.  The role is taken to a whole other level, and Boris Karloff delivers a brilliant performance.  This time around, the Monster is conscious of who he is and how he came to be.  When Pretorious asks him if he knows who he is and who Henry Frankenstein is, he answers, “Yes, I know.  Made me from dead.  I love dead.  Hate living.”

And of course the Monster learns how to talk in this movie, which is a huge development in the story and makes the Monster an entirely deeper character than he was in the first film.  Sure, it takes away some of his frightening brutality, but it also makes him much more interesting.

The look of the Monster is also unique in BRIDE, as make-up artist Jack Pierce singed the Monster’s hair and face to show that he had been burned in the windmill.

Colin Clive returns as Henry Frankenstein, and once again, he’s excellent in the role.  Clive broke his leg shortly before filming, which is why in the majority of his scenes in THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN he’s sitting down. Sadly, Clive died two years later in 1937 from pneumonia as a result of his alcoholism, and he never lived long enough to see or take advantage of his increasing fame through the decades as the iconic Henry Frankenstein in these two classic Frankenstein movies.

Stealing the show, however, is Ernest Thesiger as the evil Dr. Pretorious, in a role originally offered to Claude Rains.  Thesiger is a delight to watch, as he instigates Henry Frankenstein throughout, eventually teaming up with the Monster in order to force Henry to create the Monster’s mate.  Thesiger’s Pretorious is a nice precursor to Peter Cushing’s interpretation of Baron Frankenstein in the Hammer Films, although Cushing would take things a step further and make his Baron an even darker character.  It’s a shame Thesiger’s Dr. Pretorious only appeared in this one Frankenstein movie.

Ernest Thesiger steals the show as the conniving Dr. Pretorious in THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN.

Ernest Thesiger steals the show as the conniving Dr. Pretorious in THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN.

Dwight Frye, who famously played the hunchback assistant Fritz in FRANKENSTEIN after his even more famous role as Renfield in DRACULA (1931) appears in BRIDE as the grave robber/murderer Karl who assists Pretorious and once again has the distinction of being murdered by the Monster.  The original role of Karl was much bigger and included a scene where Karl murders his aunt and uncle and then blames the Monster for the crime, which is why at the end of the movie the Monster goes out of his way to kill Karl.  These scenes were cut prior to the film’s release.

The iconic Bride with the lightning-strike hair was played by Elsa Lanchester, who made such an impression with this role it’s easy to forget that she’s only in the movie for about five minutes, and that’s it!  Yet she hisses her way to infamy, prompting the Monster to complain, “She hate me!  Like others!”   Ah, the pains of dating!

Monster bound

The Monster (Boris Karloff) is bound by the angry mob.

Director James Whale, who directed FRANKENSTEIN, is at the helm once again for THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN and he does another masterful job.  He sets up several memorable scenes in this one, even making the Monster a Christ figure. When the mob binds the Monster and hoists him up on a huge pole where he hangs for several moments as they throw sticks and stones at him, the scene definitely brings to mind a crucifixion.  And in the sequence with the blind hermit, as the Monster sheds a tear, just before the camera fades to black, it focuses on a crucifix which illuminates and remains the sole image after the fade.

The scene where the villagers pursue the monster is shot with a moving camera, and it’s every bit as impressive as the chase scene at the conclusion of FRANKENSTEIN.  Henry Frankenstein’s lab is bigger in this sequel, and the bride creation sequence is more elaborate than the creation scene in the original, as this one includes flying kites high above the roof of the laboratory.

The one thing lacking in THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN that FRANKENSTEIN did better is scares.  The Monster in FRANKENSTEIN as played by Boris Karloff was a brutal unstoppable force that was frightening every time he was on screen, not because he was evil, but because he was tremendously strong and unpredictable, possessing raw incredible strength unchecked by learning or experience.  In FRANKENSTEIN, the Monster had no knowledge of life and death, right and wrong.  But in THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN the Monster does know, which makes him a much more fascinating character, and since he develops a conscience rather than become evil, he’s much less frightening.

The screenplay by William Hurlbut and a host of uncredited writers is thought-provoking throughout. THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN is critically acclaimed because it takes the infamous murderous Monster from FRANKENSTEIN and humanizes him, enabling him to reflect upon his existence, which ultimately causes him even more tragedy and pain.

THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN also contains a phenomenal music score by Franz Waxman.

Without doubt, THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN is one of the best horror movies ever made.  It was a hit and a critical success upon its initial release in 1935, and today, 80 years later, its reputation is even stronger.

Looking for first-rate horror movie fare this September?  Look no further than Boris Karloff and Elsa Lanchester in THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN.

It’s one wedding you don’t want to miss!

—END—

MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES: THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935)

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MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES:  THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935)bride-of-frankenstein-movie-poster-1935

By

Michael Arruda

 

 

Welcome to the latest edition of MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES, the column where we look at great quotes from even greater horror movies.  Today we look at quotes from one of the greatest horror movies of all time, THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935), James Whale’s sequel to his iconic original, FRANKENSTEIN (1931).

THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN is largely considered by critics to be even better than FRANKENSTEIN.  I’ve always preferred FRANKENSTEIN, mostly because it’s scarier and more of a horror movie, but this doesn’t take away my enjoyment and recognition that BRIDE is one heck of a movie.

While Boris Karloff returns as the Monster, and Colin Clive returns as Henry Frankenstein, a new character who largely steals the show in this sequel is the nefarious Dr. Pretorious, played by Ernest Thesiger, who does a tremendous job in a role that was originally offered to Claude Rains.  Some of the most memorable quotes in THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN are from scenes involving Dr. Pretorious.

Let’s look now at some memorable quotes from THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, screenplay by William Hurlbut.

In this scene, Dr. Pretorious (Ernest Thesiger) visits Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) for the first time and tries to convince the doctor to join forces with him so together they can once again create life.  Henry is not interested, but Pretorious is unceasingly persistent.  Let’s listen:

HENRY FRANKENSTEIN:  What do you want?

PRETORIOUS:  We must work together.

HENRY FRANKENSTEIN:  Never.  This is outrageous.  I’m through with it.  I’ll have no more of this hell spawn.  As soon as I’m well, I’m to be married.  Right away.

PRETORIOUS:  I must beg you to reconsider.  You know, do you not, that it is you who are responsible for all those murders.  There are penalties to pay for murder.   With your creature still at large in the countryside—.

HENRY FRANKENSTEIN:  Are you threatening me?

PRETORIOUS:  Don’t put it so crudely.  I have ventured to hope that you and I together, no longer as master and pupil, but as fellow scientists might probe the mysteries of life and death.

HENRY FRANKENSTEIN:  Never, no further.

PRETORIOUS:  To reach a goal, undreamed of by science.

HENRY FRANKENSTEIN:  I can’t make any further experiments.  I’ve had a terrible lesson.

PRETORIOUS:  That’s sad, very sad.  But you and I have gone too far to stop, nor can it be stopped so easily.  I also have continued with my experiments.  That is why I am here tonight.  You must see my creation.

And a bit later:

PRETORIOIUS:  Our mad dream is only half realized.  Alone, you have created a man.  Now, together, we will create his mate.

HENRY FRANKENSTEIN:  You mean—?

  1. PRETORIOUS: Yes, a woman. That should be really interesting.

Pretorious also shares key scenes with the Monster (Boris Karloff), like in this scene where the two meet in a graveyard sepulcher.  Of course, this was a huge change in this sequel, having the Monster learn how to speak:

THE MONSTER:  You make man, like me?

PRETORIOUS:  No.  Woman.  Friend, for you.

THE MONSTER:  Woman— friend, yes,— I want friend like me!

PRETORIOUS:  I think you will be very useful, and you will add a little force to the argument, if necessary.  Do you know who Henry Frankenstein is, and who you are?

THE MONSTER:  Yes, I know.  Made me from dead.  I love dead.  Hate living.

Dr. Pretorious (Ernest Thesiger) schemes with the Monster (Boris Karloff) in THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935).

Dr. Pretorious (Ernest Thesiger) schemes with the Monster (Boris Karloff) in THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935).

  1. PRETORIOUS: You’re wise in your generation. We must have a long talk.  Then I have an important call to make.

THE MONSTER:  Woman— friend— wife.

Of course, one of the most famous scenes in THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, and certainly the most emotional, is the scene where the Monster is befriended by the Blind Man.  It’s the first time we see an adult actually treat the Monster with kindness and respect, without screaming in fear or trying to shoot, burn, or kill him.  They become fast friends, and it’s the Blind Man who teaches the Monster how to speak, among other things:

BLIND MAN:  And now, for our lesson.  Remember, this is bread.

THE MONSTER:  Bread.  (Takes huge bite from the bread.)

BLIND MAN:  And this is wine.  (Pours wine into mug).  To drink.

THE MONSTER:  Drink.  (Drinks wine)  (Smiles)  Good!  Good.

BLIND MAN:  We are friends, you and I.  Friends.

(Blind Man & Monster shake hands.)

THE MONSTER:  Friends.

(They both laugh happily.)

THE MONSTER:  Good!

BLIND MAN:  And now for a smoke.  (Lights cigar.)

(Monster growls in fear.)

(Blind Man laughs.)

BLIND MAN:  No, no.  This is good.  Smoke.  You try.  (Hands cigar to Monster.)

THE MONSTER:  Smoke.  (Smokes cigar.)  Good, good!  Good.  (Hiccups, looks faint for a moment.)

BLIND MAN:  Before you came, I was all alone.  It is bad to be alone.

THE MONSTER:  Alone, bad.  Friend, good.  Friend, good!  (Shakes man’s hand again, and they both laugh happily.)

BLIND MAN: Now, come here.  (They rise from the table and walk across cabin.  Blind man lifts a piece of wood.)  And what is this?  (The Monster growls and shakes his head.)  This is wood, for the fire.

THE MONSTER:  Wood.

(Blind Man leads Monster towards fireplace.)

BLIND MAN:  And this is fire.

(The Monster growls and retreats.)

BLIND MAN:  No, no.  Fire is good!

THE MONSTER:  Fire— no good!

BLIND MAN:  There is good, and there is bad.

THE MONSTER:  Good— bad.

Sadly, this scene ends badly when two men— one of them played by a very young John Carradine— happen upon the cabin in the woods, and seeing the Monster try to kill him.  In one of the cruelest lines in the film, one of the men tells the Blind Man who the Monster is, and he says this in front of the Monster.

MAN:  He isn’t human!  Frankenstein made him out of dead bodies!

The following sequence is one of my favorite scenes in the entire film.  Pretorious tries once again to convince Henry Frankenstein to work with him to create a woman, and when Henry again refuses, Pretorious brings in the Monster.  It’s the first time Henry has seen the Monster since the two fought in the fiery windmill in the conclusion of FRANKENSTEIN, and the first time Henry hears his creation speak.

When the Monster tells Henry Frankenstein to sit down, and motions for him to do so, it’s an exact mirror scene of the scene in the original when we first see the Monster, and Henry Frankenstein commands him to “sit down.”

It’s a neat scene.  Let’s listen in:

PRETORIOUS (to Henry Frankenstein):  Everything is ready for you and me to begin our supreme collaboration.

HENRY FRANKENSTEIN:  No, no. Don’t tell me of them.  I don’t want to hear.  I’ve changed my mind. I won’t do it!

PRETORIOUS:  I expected this.  I thought we might need another assistant.  (Approaches door.)  Perhaps he can persuade you.

HENRY FRANKENSTEIN:  Nothing can persuade me!

PRETORIOUS:  We shall see.  (Opens door, and the Monster enters.)

HENRY FRANKENSTEIN:  No!  Not that!

(Henry can’t even bring himself to say “not him.”  He calls his creation that.)

PRETORIOUS:  Oh, he’s quite harmless, except when crossed.

MONSTER (enters room):  Fran-ken-stein.

(Henry Frankenstein is surprised the Monster can talk.)

PRETORIOUS:  Yes, there have been developments since he came to me.

MONSTER:  Sit – down!

HENRY FRANKESNTEIN:  What do you want?

MONSTER: You – know.

HENRY FRANKENSTEIN (To Pretorious):  This is your work!

PRETORIOUS (smiles):  Yes.

HENRY FRANKENSTEIN:  I’ll have no hand in such a monstrous thing.

MONSTER:  Yes, must.

HENRY FRANKENSTEIN:  Get him out!  I won’t even discuss it until he’s gone.

PRETORIOUS:  Go, now.  Go!

MONSTER: Must do it!

HENRY FRANKENSTEIN:  Never!  Nothing can make me go on with it.

(Monster growls.)

PRETORIOUS (to Monster as he closes door as Monster leaves):  Now.

Which of course is the green light by Pretorious for the Monster to abduct Elizabeth in order to force Henry to conduct the experiment.

The Monster himself has some of the most memorable lines in the movie, like this one when the newly created Bride (Elsa Lanchester) hisses at him and makes her disdain for him clear.

THE MONSTER:  She hate me, like others.

Welcome to the world of dating, Frankie!

 

And of course, the Monster utters the most famous line from the entire movie, as he clutches the lever which will blow up the entire laboratory.  After letting Henry and Elizabeth Frankenstein go, he looks at Pretorious and the Bride, and with tears in his eyes, declares,

THE MONSTER: We belong dead.

Unfortunately for the Monster, he cannot die and four years later would be resurrected for the third film in the series, SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (1939).

But that’s a tale for another column.

I hope you enjoyed today’s Memorable Movie Quotes column on THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN.  Join me again next time for another look at memorable quotes from another great movie.

See you then.

Thanks for reading!

—Michael

CHRISTOPHER LEE – AN APPRECIATION

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CHRISTOPHER LEE – An Appreciation

Christopher Lee as Dracula in HORROR OF DRACULA (1958).

Christopher Lee as Dracula in HORROR OF DRACULA (1958).

By Michael Arruda

Christopher Lee has died.

Lee, the last of the iconic classic horror movie actors, passed away on Sunday June 7, 2015.  He was 93.

Lee belonged to a class of actors that simply doesn’t exist anymore:  the horror movie icon.  Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney Jr., Peter Cushing, Vincent Price, and Christopher Lee all made their living acting primarily in horror movies, and they endeared themselves to horror fans their entire careers.  You just don’t see that anymore.

Sadly, with Lee’s passing, these horror giants have all left us.

Lee enjoyed a long and prolific career.  He has an astounding 278 acting credits listed on IMDB, which is much more than Karloff’s 206, Price’s 197, Chaney’s 195, Cushing’s 132, and Lugosi’s 115.

In spite of his iconic horror star status, Lee did his best to distance himself from horror movies in the 1970s, as he starred as the villain Scaramanga in the James Bond movie THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN (1974) and appeared in other non-genre films like Richard Lester’s THE THREE MUSKETEERS (1973) and AIRPORT ’77 (1977).  Later in his career, at an age where most other actors slow down, Lee sped up, appearing in not one but two blockbuster series in the 2000s, starring as Count Dooku in the second STAR WARS trilogy, and as the villainous Saruman in Peter Jackson’s LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, as a result creating a new generation of fans.

Lee’s horror movie career began with his performance as the Frankenstein monster, or as he was called in the film, the “Creature,” in the first Hammer blockbuster THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957).  This was the movie that put Hammer Films on the map and also served to revitalize the classic horror movie industry.  It was England’s biggest money maker of the year.

The film’s main star was Peter Cushing, who played Victor Frankenstein.  Cushing had spent the early part of the 1950s becoming a household name on British television.  Signing him to play Victor Frankenstein was a major coup on Hammer’s part.  As expected, Cushing dominates throughout THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN and his masterful performance as Victor Frankenstein is one of the main reasons the film became an international success.

But another reason for the film’s success was the performance of an unknown actor named Christopher Lee who played the Creature.  It is largely believed and acknowledged by Lee that the only reason he got the part was because of his 6’5” height.

Early on, Lee was not recognized by critics for his performance as the Creature, which was viewed as inferior to Karloff’s iconic performance in the Universal Frankenstein movies of the 1930s.  But there’s much more to Lee’s performance than initially meets the eye.

It’s easy to look past Lee’s work in this film.  After all, the movie is largely dominated by Peter Cushing and his new villainous take on the role of Baron Victor Frankenstein.

Also, Lee had no dialogue as the Creature, and thirdly and most importantly, the Creature was not the main focus of THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN.  Unlike the Universal Frankenstein movies of the 1930s where the focus was on the monster, here in THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN it was on Cushing’s doctor.

christopher lee - creature in woods- curse of frankenstein

Christopher Lee as the Creature in THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957).

All this being said, Lee’s take on the Creature is actually very impressive.  With no lines of dialogue, he used his pantomime skills to a large extent in the role, especially in one of the film’s best scenes, where Cushing tries to show off his Creature’s intelligence, but the Creation looks more like a frightened obedient pet than a newly born genius.

Lee is terribly scary in the role.  Underneath Phil Leakey’s hideous make-up, Lee’s expressions are viciously frightening.  Lee also captures both sides of this Creature brilliantly.  While Lee’s Creature is less sympathetic than Karloff’s Monster, as Lee’s Creature is a psychotic murderer who kills without remorse for most of the movie, at times, as in the scene with the blind man, he acts like someone newly born and frightened.  Considering his minimal screen time, it really is an extraordinary performance.

There’s a funny story from the set of THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN.  Lee was upset that he didn’t have any lines of dialogue, until co-star Peter Cushing told him “You shouldn’t be.  You see, I’ve read the script!”  The two became lifelong friends and would go on to star in twenty-two movies together.

It would take one more movie for Lee to become a household name, and that film was HORROR OF DRACULA (1958).  Lee became an instant sensation as Dracula, the role for which he would become most famous, starring opposite Peter Cushing once again, as this time Cushing played Dr. Van Helsing.

HORROR OF DRACULA is widely considered to be Hammer’s best shocker.

horror-of-dracula-lee in coffin

Lee as Dracula reacting to the staking of his vampire bride in HORROR OF DRACULA (1958).

It’s another amazing performance by Lee.  Cushing again dominates this movie, but Lee matches his co-star’s intensity, which is even more remarkable when you consider that as Dracula he only has 13 lines of dialogue and is onscreen for something like 12 minutes.  Lee is so good as Dracula he remains in your head even when he’s not in the movie.

Though he resisted for many years, Lee finally agreed to play Dracula again in the Hammer sequel DRACULA – PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1966).  He would appear as Dracula in seven Hammer Dracula films.  The third film in the series, DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE (1968) remains Hammer Film’s biggest moneymaker of all time.

My personal favorite Lee roles and movies are THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, HORROR OF DRACULA, DRACULA-PRINCE OF DARKNESS, DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE, THE WICKER MAN (1973), THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN (1974), CORRIDORS OF BLOOD (1958), and THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES (1959).

Lee as Scaramanga in THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN (1974).

Lee as Scaramanga in THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN (1974).

I was fortunate enough to have met Christopher Lee once, at a horror movie convention in Baltimore in the late 1990s.  It was a wonderful convention, as not only did I meet Lee that weekend, but also Forrest Ackerman, Michael Ripper, Ingrid Pitt, and Veronica Carlson.

I bought Lee’s autobiography that weekend and stood in a long line to have it signed by him.  I looked forward with great anticipation at finally meeting him.  What happened when I eventually reached him was the worst case of being star struck that I ever suffered.

I had thought of all the things I wanted to say.

“Mr. Lee,” I wanted to say.  “I’m a great fan of yours.  I’ve seen all your movies and I want to write about your work one day.  The movies you made with Peter Cushing influenced my life.”

What did I really say?

Probably something like “Um— hello— er— um—.”  It was truly the most tongue-tied moment of my life.  However, I’m pretty sure I managed to say “thank you.”

But the better story came later.  Of all the celebrities there that weekend, Lee was the least accessible.  While other stars were around mingling, Lee never seemed to be separate from his entourage.  I never saw him outside his scheduled appearances, until—.

I had to use the rest room.  After washing my hands, I headed for the exit when the door burst open and several gentlemen the size of football linebackers rushed inside.  They scoped out the rest room, and deeming me not a threat, they called out “all clear!” and the next thing I knew two men, one on each arm, whisked Christopher Lee into the men’s room.

It was like a moment from a SEINFELD episode.  With my back to the wall, I watched as my movie hero Christopher Lee was led past me to the urinal.  Lee said something as he passed by, something to the effect of “I can take care of things from here,” and the men let go of him.

They may not have seen me as a threat, but they also didn’t want me sticking around, as their intense gazes communicated to me.  As I left the restroom, I found my uncle, his son, and my brother waiting for me. They had seen Lee enter the restroom.

My uncle laughed.

“What?”  I said.

“Now you can always say you peed with Christopher Lee,” he said.

That might be my claim to fame.

Of course the big news that weekend was that Lee announced he would be appearing in not one, but two major blockbuster productions.  He wasn’t at liberty to tell us the names of these movies, but the news still generated enormous cheers from the audience.  Of course, he was talking about the second STAR WARS trilogy and the LORD OF THE RINGS movies.

Lee as Count Dooku.

Lee as Count Dooku.

Christopher Lee has been an integral part of my entire life.  For as long as I can remember, I’ve been watching movies starring Christopher Lee.  In fact, he’s been part of my life even before I was born.  Huh?  See, my mother saw HORROR OF DRACULA at the movies upon its initial release in 1958 when she was a teenager, and so growing up, I heard all about that movie as being the scariest film she had ever seen.

I’ve seen so many movie images of Christopher Lee, I truly believe his likeness is forever etched in my subconscious.  I close my eyes and there is Lee.

The world has lost a major star with the passing of Christopher Lee.  For those of us who love horror, we have to wonder, will the world see his likeness again?  Will Karloff, Lugosi, Chaney, Price, Cushing and Lee ever be replaced?  Who working today may step into that role?

I don’t know.

Sure, for me, Peter Cushing has always been my favorite actor.  But Lee is right up there, and he and Cushing complemented each other so well because of their contrasting styles.  Cushing was an active actor, constantly moving around, often using props.  Watch enough Cushing movies and you realize he can’t seem to stay still in his scenes.

Lee is the opposite.  He believed less was more.  He didn’t want to call attention to himself in a scene.  His strength was that he did more with less, which is why he was so effective as Frankenstein’s Creature and as Dracula.  He’d appear in just a handful of scenes, and yet he’d knock your socks off and scare the living daylights out of you.

I will miss Lee tremendously.  Through the magic of movies, we can continue to enjoy Lee’s performances throughout the years.  But I am still saddened to know that he no longer is with us.

A legend has passed.  But like the undead king of the vampires he played so well, his memory and his work are eternal.

CHRISTOPHER LEE – May 27, 1922 – June 7, 2015

Thanks for reading.

—Michael

 

 

 

LEADING LADIES: EVELYN ANKERS

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LEADING LADIES:  Evelyn Ankers evelyn ankers

By Michael Arruda

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

Today we look at the career of Evelyn Ankers, the Universal starlet best remembered for starring opposite Lon Chaney Jr. in the classic horror movie THE WOLF MAN (1941).  She would go on to star in a bunch of horror movies in the 1940s, most of them with Chaney, and when the horror boom died down after World War II, Ankers’ career quieted as well.  In the 1950s, while only in her thirties, she “retired” from the big screen to raise a family with her actor husband Richard Denning [THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954)], although she continued to appear on the smaller screen of TV sets across the nation in guest spots on various television shows. She came out of retirement for one last movie role in 1960 co-starring with her husband Richard Denning in NO GREATER LOVE, a drama about Christian missionaries in Africa.

I’ve always enjoyed Evelyn Ankers’ performances in the Universal horror films from the 1940s.  She was particularly good as Gwen Conliffe in THE WOLF MAN, the woman who Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.) falls in love with.  The role of Gwen Conliffe was more than the usual standard love interest.  For starters, Gwen is engaged to be married to Frank Andrews (Patric Knowles) and so she has no business giving Larry Talbot the time of day, yet she does.  Further complicating matters is her fiancé Frank is the gamekeeper for the wealthy Talbots, and so he works for Larry Talbot’s family, a reminder that she— the daughter of a storekeeper— really isn’t supposed to be in the same social class as Larry Talbot.

For Larry, he’s taken with Gwen as soon as he lays eyes on her, and Gwen for her part is clearly interested in Larry, not enough to break off her engagement, but enough to take a moonlit walk with him to see the gypsy fortune tellers, a walk that directly leads to Larry’s being bitten by a werewolf.  In fact, Gwen is directly connected to Larry’s ill-fated destiny to become the wolf man.  She’s the first character to mention werewolves to Larry, citing the “even a man who is pure in heart” ditty.  She makes that walk with him to see the gypsy fortune teller, who unbeknownst to them is a werewolf.

She’s also the last person to see Larry before he turns into a werewolf for the first time, and he gives her the pendant he received from Maleva (Maria Ouspenskaya) so she can protect herself from the werewolf.  And if there’s any doubt about her true feelings towards Larry, at the end of the movie, she’s searching the fog filled woods for Larry, which puts her directly in the path of Larry’s murderous alter ego, the Wolf Man.

Gwen Conliffe is a complicated female lead, and Ankers nails Gwen’s character completely.

Ankers also starred as Dr. Ludwig Frankenstein’s (Sir Cedric Hardwicke) daughter Elsa in THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN (1942) in which Lon Chaney Jr. played the monster, and she also starred as Claire Caldwell opposite Lon Chaney’s Dracula in the underrated SON OF DRACULA (1943).  She’s very good in both these movies.

Here’s a partial look at Ankers’ 62 screen credits, concentrating mostly on her horror film roles:

FORBIDDEN MUSIC (1936) – A Lady of the Court – Ankers’ first film role, uncredited.

MURDER IN THE FAMILY (1938) – Dorothy Osborne – Ankers’ first credited role in a feature-length film.

HOLD THAT GHOST (1941) – Norma Lind – stars opposite Abbott and Costello in this comedy in which Bud and Lou spend time in a haunted house.

Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.) and Gwen Conliffe (Evelyn Ankers) on their fateful moonlit walk through the fog shrouded woods.

Larry Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr.) and Gwen Conliffe (Evelyn Ankers) on their fateful moonlit walk through the fog shrouded woods.

THE WOLF MAN (1941) – Gwen Conliffe – Ankers’ signature role, and the role she’s most remembered for today.  She’s more than just Larry Talbot’s love interest in this film.  For starters, it’s a forbidden love, since she’s engaged to another man, and secondly, she’s instrumental in leading him towards his fate of becoming the wolf man, introducing him to the idea of werewolves and being with him on the fateful night when he was attacked and bitten by a werewolf.

NORTH TO THE KLONDIKE (1942) – Mary Sloan- co-stars with Lon Chaney Jr. and Broderick Crawford in this adventure about settlers tangling with outlaws in the Klondike.  This was actually shot before THE WOLF MAN but released after it, making it the first time she co-starred in a movie with Lon Chaney Jr.

THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN (1942) – Elsa Frankenstein- again co-starring with Lon Chaney Jr.  Ankers plays Elsa Frankenstein, the daughter of Dr. Ludwig Frankenstein, while Chaney plays the Monster, taking over the role from Boris Karloff.  Bela Lugosi’s second stint as Ygor is the best part of this movie, while Chaney’s Monster lacks all of Karloff’s nuances and emotion.  Ankers is OK as Elsa Frankenstein, but the role is rather standard.

SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE VOICE OF TERROR (1942) – Kitty – meets up with Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) and Dr. Watson (Nigel Bruce) as they take on the Nazis.

CAPTIVE WILD WOMAN (1943) – Beth Colman – Universal monster movie where mad scientist John Carradine turns a female gorilla into a human woman.

SON OF DRACULA (1943) – Claire Caldwell – Once more Ankers plays opposite Lon Chaney Jr., this time going up against him as he plays Count Dracula.  Her role in this one is rather peripheral, as the main heroine in this underrated thriller from Universal is Louise Albritton as Claire’s mysterious sister Katherine who loves the supernatural and actually allows Dracula to make her a vampire so she can in turn make her true lover Frank (Robert Paige) immortal and ditch Dracula!  Take that, Drac!  I told you this one was underrated.  I actually really like Chaney’s interpretation of Dracula.  While it’s not Lugosi, it is a far cry from his sympathetic Larry Talbot, and it’s nice to see Chaney play a true evil character.

THE MAD GHOUL (1943) – Isabel Lewis- another mad scientist movie, this one with George Zucco, Robert Armstrong and Turhan Bey, about a scientist who turns a student into a ghoul.

WEIRD WOMAN (1944) – Ilona Carr- Back with Lon Chaney Jr. again, Ankers plays a woman suspicious of Chaney’s new wife, who has an island native heritage and is mixed up with voodoo.  She’s one weird woman!

JUNGLE WOMAN (1944) – Beth Mason – it’s the return of the ape woman from CAPTIVE WILD WOMAN, this one with J. Carrol Naish.

THE INVISIBLE MAN’S REVENGE (1944) – Julie Herrick – The third film in the INVISIBLE MAN series, none of them direct sequels, follows a fugitive Robert Griffin (Jon Hall) who becomes invisible and then exacts revenge on a family he believed had cheated him.  Ankers’ Julie is the daughter of the couple Griffin terrorizes, and she’s also the object of his affection, although she is not interested in him.  Smart girl!

THE PEARL OF DEATH (1944) – Naomi Drake – back with Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) and Dr. Watson (Nigel Bruce) again, this time in a tale about murder and a valuable pearl.

THE FROZEN GHOST (1945) – Maura Daniel – Ankers co-stars with Lon Chaney Jr. for the last time in this thriller about a mentalist (Chaney) who feels his powers are to blame for a man’s death and decides to get away from it all by hanging around a mysterious wax museum.  Hmm.  I think he needs a better travel agent.  Ankers’ final genre film.

BLACK BEAUTY (1946) – Evelyn Carrington – co-stars with her husband Richard Denning in this horse drama.

TARZAN’S MAGIC FOUNTAIN (1949)-  Gloria James Jessup – Tarzan film written by THE WOLF MAN screenwriter Curt Siodmak starring Lex Barker as Tarzan in a tale involving the fountain of youth.

NO GREATER LOVE (1960) – Evelyn Ankers’ final film appearance, co-starring with her husband Richard Denning in this tale about missionaries in Africa.

While I’ll always remember Evelyn Ankers for her role in the classic THE WOLF MAN, she added a lot of class to a lot of other movies as well, especially horror movies from the 1940s, and I certainly enjoyed her performances in such films as THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN and SON OF DRACULA.

Evelyn Ankers passed away on August 29, 1985 from ovarian cancer.  She was 67.

Evelyn Ankers.  August 17, 1918 – August 29, 1985

Thanks for reading!

—Michael

IN THE SHADOWS: VALERIE GAUNT

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Valerie Gaunt as Justine in THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957) prepares to search Victor Frankenstein's (Peter Cushing) laboratory, and come face to face with Christopher Lee's Creature.

Valerie Gaunt as Justine in THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957) prepares to search Victor Frankenstein’s (Peter Cushing) laboratory, but what she finds is Christopher Lee’s murderous Creature.

When I wrote this column in 2015, Valerie Gaunt was still with us.  She recently passed away, on November 27, 2016 at the age of 84.

R.I.P. Valerie Gaunt.

This column is dedicated to her memory.

—Michael 11/30/16

 

In The Shadows:  VALERIE GAUNT

 By Michael Arruda

Welcome back to IN THE SHADOWS, that column where we look at character actors in the movies, especially horror movies.  The subject of today’s column, Valerie Gaunt, compared to other actors we’ve visited in this column, did not amass a great number of screen credits.  In fact, she only has four screen credits, but two of them happen to be in two of the most memorable and influential horror movies of all time, Hammer’s THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957) and HORROR OF DRACULA (1958).

If you’ve seen these movies, then you definitely will remember Valerie Gaunt, because she makes quite the impression in both movies.

In THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, she plays Justine, the servant in the Frankenstein household.  Now, in the Mary Shelley novel, the character of Justine is rather innocent, which makes her horrific fate all the more tragic.  The Creature murders Victor’s younger brother William, and then he frames Justine for the crime.  As a result, Justine is wrongly hanged for the murder.

In THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, Justine’s not so innocent, but she still meets a tragic end.  Justine in THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN is having an affair with Victor Frankenstein (Peter Cushing), even while Victor is engaged to his cousin Elizabeth (Hazel Court).

Valerie Gaunt is exceedingly sexy as Justine, and you can easily see why Victor Frankenstein is so interested in her.  And in THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, Gaunt gets to appear in two of the more memorable scenes in the movie.

The first is when she tells Victor she’s pregnant with his child, to which he coldly responds, “Why choose me as the father?  Pick any man in the village.  Chances are it will be the right one.”

Justine begs Victor to marry her, because he promised her that he would, and when he refuses, she threatens him, telling him that she’ll go to the authorities and tell them what he’s been doing in his laboratory.  Victor tells her that she’ll need proof, to which she replies, “I’ll get proof!”

Poor Justine.  You should have left that house while you had the chance.

Which brings us to the second memorable Justine scene in THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, when she decides to search Victor’s laboratory for evidence to bring to the police.  It’s one of the more suspenseful and scary scenes in the film.

We see Victor leave the lab, and then Justine sneaks inside, poking around the lab as James Bernard’s thrilling music plays in the background, and as she looks at some mice in a cage, Terence Fisher’s camera pans behind her where we see the shadow of the Creature’s hand reaching upwards.  As Justine turns and sees the Creature (Christopher Lee), she screams and runs for the door, but Victor is there, and he locks her in, to be murdered by his insane creation.

It’s a terribly frightening sequence.

There’s a still where we see Justine standing in front of the door with the Creature walking towards her, but this shot doesn’t exist in the final print, as the scene is shot from the point-of-view of the Creature as he closes in on Justine.

Gaunt returned in the next Hammer hit, HORROR OF DRACULA where she played the Vampire Woman who lives in Dracula’s castle, and she’s just as memorable here as she was in THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN.

Who can forget her first appearance as she silently approaches Jonathan Harker (John Van Eyssen) inside Castle Dracula, wearing that long flowing white gown?  When she asks Harker for help, for him to rescue her from Count Dracula (Christopher Lee) what man would be able to resist?  (Okay, Peter Cushing as Van Helsing might have resisted, but really, who else???)

And Gaunt is involved in two of the more violent scenes from HORROR OF DRACULA as well.  The first is when she tries to bite Harker, and suddenly Christopher Lee’s Dracula explodes onto the scene, hissing, with his bloodshot eyes and bloody fangs.  It’s the first of many shots of Lee snarling as Dracula and it’s pretty much the first time in horror movie history that a vampire was portrayed this way, this violently.  Supposedly, for those who saw HORROR OF DRACULA at the movies back in 1958, this was the scene that got the ball rolling, that let them know that what they were seeing was different from the horror moves which came before it.  In short, it scared the heck out of them!

The second scene finds Valerie Gaunt’s vampire woman lying in her coffin, when Jonathan Harker makes the fatal mistake of driving a stake through her heart first rather than Dracula’s, giving Dracula time to make his escape.  Some have written that Harker staked the vampire woman first because she had attacked him, and for Harker, staking her first was personal.  I suppose that could be true.  Personally, I think the opposite was true, that Harker felt bad for her since she had asked him for help, and he let his emotions get the better of him and decided to free her first before destroying Dracula.  Either way, it was a bad decision.

In the shot afterwards where we see that the vampire woman has aged after Harker has driven a stake through her heart, that’s not Gaunt in make-up, but an entirely different actress, an elderly woman who famously fell asleep while lying in the coffin in between takes.

And here’s an interesting tidbit of a possible “in-joke” that I’ve noticed on my multiple viewings of HORROR OF DRACULA.  In the scene where Harker finds Dracula and the Vampire Woman in their coffins, if you pay attention, you’ll notice James Bernard’s music playing a theme from THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, as if to say, here’s Christopher Lee and Valerie Gaunt together again.  You just saw them last year as the Creature and Justine.

Bernard does this again a short time later when Peter Cushing’s Van Helsing finds Jonathan Harker in the same crypt, another possible in-joke since Cushing also played Victor Frankenstein.

Valerie Gaunt appeared in just two Hammer Films, but these two appearances were enough to make a lasting impression.  Here are her two Hammer Film credits:

THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957) – Justine –  has an affair with Peter Cushing’s Victor Frankenstein, and then makes the ill-fated decision to search his lab in search of evidence to force him to marry her.  The only evidence she finds is Christopher Lee’s homicidal Creature.

HORROR OF DRACULA (1958) – Vampire Woman – begs Jonathan Harker to rescue her from Dracula’s castle but rewards him with a bite on the neck.  She’s eventually attacked by Dracula (Christopher Lee) and then gets a stake in the heart from Jonathan Harker.

Valerie Gaunt –   July 9, 1932 – November 27, 2016.

 

Hope you enjoyed this edition of IN THE SHADOWS, and I’ll see you again next time when we look at another character actor from the horror movies.

Thanks for reading everybody!

—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.