Gothic films (2)

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Gothic films (2)

Aquest tema està marcat com "inactiu"—L'últim missatge és de fa més de 90 dies. Podeu revifar-lo enviant una resposta.

nov. 1, 2015, 8:04pm

I thought the thread was getting a bit long, so I've taken the liberty of beginning a new one.

It's frustrating that few of the classic films of the 30s and 40s are available on DVD or Blu-ray in the UK. I've managed to record some interesting films "off air" from TCM in the past - The Mask of Fu Manchu, The Unholy Three (the sound version), Dr Cyclops(which Denis Gifford in A Pictorial History of Horror Movies pegs as a remake of Devil Doll - but these days the channel seems to show nothing but Westerns during the day and Steven Seagal movies in the evening.

Anyway...I'd recommend Dead of Night. It's a portmanteau film (it was, in fact, a massive influence on Milton Subotsky of Amicus films, and that company's run of portmanteau fiilms in the '60s and '70s such as Dr Terror's House of Horrors, The House That Dripped Blood, and Tales From the Crypt). The Michael Redgrave story is the most celebrated segment but I certainly wouldn't disregard the others. The film as whole, I think, feels like a collection of "classic" English ghost stories whereas the contemporary films from the States feel more like realisations of the Pulps (that, to be clear, is a distinction about style not quality).

I have finally managed to see The Skull (1965) - and in a pin-sharp Blu-ray transfer. It's an Amicus film, and given the horrid '70s Stockbroker belt settings of many of the stories in their portmanteau films, the design and set dressing is a revelation. In some scenes it could almost be a page of Steve Ditko comic book art. Peter Cushing is terrific in this but the central scary image - the Marquis de Sade's stolen skull floating about (on sometimes-visible fishing line or wire) - depends, I think, on the viewer willing to be put into a suitably receptive mood. The British Board of Film Classification (they don't call themselves censors anymore) have given it a "12" certificate.

Fiend Without a Face is the one with the flying alien brains isn't it? That's another one I've yet to see.

It isn't Gothic - although it's got a superficial, slight David Lynch air about its depiction of Blackpool perhaps, but the film Funny Bones (from 1994? - I can't click away to check while I'm typing this) - might be a good one for interesting faces, as it features many middle-aged and elderly variety and music hall (i.e. Vaudeville) acts. There are some clips on Youtube although they tend to focus on Jerry Lewis and Oliver Platt, and Lee Evans. And then there's Toby Jones who was very good in Berberian Sound Studios a couple of years ago.

nov. 2, 2015, 11:01am

The Skull contains one of the most enjoyable Lee-Cushing collaborations, imo. You may be interested in the book by Jacques Chessex, Le dernier crâne de M. de Sade ("Marquis de Sade's last skull"), which reads like something inspired directly by the movie, down to the fiendish green glow that accompanies the article. (I can't remember now whether it glows in Robert Bloch's original story too: see The skull of the Marquis de Sade, and other stories).

Do you have a universal DVD player? I don't know what's happening with shipping these days, but North American Amazons seem to have frequent sales on oldies. I tend to buy mostly from Marketplace myself--frequently from sellers who state their address as the UK, oddly enough, given that they seem to stock Region 1 DVDs.

nov. 2, 2015, 2:52pm

>2 LolaWalser:

No, it's Region 2 only, sadly. I've managed to get some things from Spain and the Czech Republic via Marketplace...only one DVD had burned-in subtitles.

Apart from his early Cthulhu-Mythos stories, Bloch seems to be out of print in the UK (in fact, even the Mythos stuff I've only seen (in US editions) in Forbidden Planet). I've just had a look on AbeBooks and some fairly beaten-up old paperbacks are demanding quite high prices.

And Jacques Chessex - a name I was totally unfamiliar with - doesn't seem to be well represented in English translation. The couple of titles I saw on Amazon didn't mention the Marquis.

nov. 2, 2015, 11:56pm

By coincidence, I saw Tales from the Crypt on telly a few nights ago. I thought the segments were rather perfunctory - stories rather simple and rushed-through rather than allowed to develop and build up properly. Have to admit that I fell asleep before the end. I haven't seen Dead of Night for a long, long time, but I vaguely remember it as a much better film, and I'm certainly overdue a re-viewing.

After mistakenly mentioning Fiend Without a Face on the old thread, I watched some chunks of it on YouTube (the whole film is on there) ... a seriously daft film ...

As I said on the old thread, I'd meant Eyes Without a Face. That film was French; I'm pretty sure that as a youngster I saw a US remake of it, but I haven't been able to work out what that is - anyone know? Of course, I may merely be misremembering the French version, but I had it in my mind as a Vincent Price film - that might be faulty memory, too.

Incidentally, I may have watched the worst monster-movie of all time last night (or part of it, at least) - Sharkzilla aka Megalodon. I was held to the screen by a sort of bemused fascination with the (un)special effects - seriously cut-price CGI - but they were matched by some of the acting and the plot lines that I saw. Rivalled Ed Wood at his finest.

nov. 3, 2015, 2:16pm

>4 alaudacorax:

So far, I've been able to resist the allure of the Syfy Channel's monster movies!

Eyes without a Face was released in the US as "The Horror Chamber of Doctor Faustus" (thanks, Wikipedia) and the trailer's on YouTube. It seems to be aiming for "classy" despite the catchpenny retitling. I didn't see anything to suggest Vincent Price's involvement though, either there or on his IMDB page.

Looking through IMDB, I was surprised at how often Price appeared on British TV in the early Seventies, and not as an actor but as a "personality" - quiz shows, cookery programmes (I'd heard about Cooking Price-Wise, even seen a brief clip on a BBC4 documentary a few years back), but the real surprise was Religious variety show Stars on Sunday! - a programme which, if I ever watched it as a child, I've managed to wipe from my memory. There's an enjoyably acerbic review of it, by the way, on IMDB.

nov. 15, 2015, 8:42pm

In case anyone's interested, the UK channel 'Talking Pictures' (Sky Channel 343, Freeview Channel 81) is showing some very rare gothic shorts this week:

Tuesday 17th 1.15pm 'Cross-roads' (1955) starring Christopher Lee (in his first 'supernatural' role).

Weds 18th 7.15am 'Lock Your Door' (1949) Algernon Blackwood tells his gothic short story from the series 'A Strange Experience'.

Sat 21st 1.20pm 'Reformation of St Jules' (1949) Algernon Blackwood tells his gothic short story from the series 'A Strange Experience'.

'Talking Pictures' tv schedule is here:

Editat: nov. 17, 2015, 8:49am

>6 Rembetis:

Thanks for that, Rembetis.

I've been keeping an eye on 'Talking Pictures' (when I remember!) since it popped up on my telly recently. I've mourned - or moaned about(!) - the fact that there's this vast archive of old black & whites yet the multitiude multitude of Freeview channels we have (and Netflix) seem to bulk their schedules with modern, American, made-for-telly films (or other stuff so bad it went straight-to-video). 'Talking Pictures' looks a welcome attempt at filling an empty niche.

Those are three I'd definitely like to see, though the timings are a bit off - shades of the Horror Channel - I definitely need to get some sort of recording gizmo!

Editat: nov. 17, 2015, 8:50am

>5 housefulofpaper:

I'd intended to comment on that post and I forgot - sorry, houseful. Now I can't remember what I was going to write.

I'd blanked out 'Stars on Sunday' till I read that review you mentioned (good review - I'll read more of hers). Brought it all back - the show was a favourite of my mother. I viewed Yates with deep scepticism - wasn't at all surprised by his downfall - and could never understand how he got all the stars, many of whom you knew perfectly well weren't at all religious. It was a all very puzzling and, remembering the multiplicity of guests, I wouldn't attach any significance to Price's appearance.

I do remember him on British telly a lot at one period - don't know if he lived here for a while.

I remember one old UK show - and I can't, for the life of me, remember what it was - with Vincent Price, for some reason wearing a fluffy bunny hood - chasing a pretty, squealing starlet up and down the aisles through the studio audience, to a background of faux-creepy music.

ETA - Talking about restraint (see next post), I note that reviewer's restraint in not mentioning how Hughie Greene got a posthumous last laugh on Yates. I won't repeat scandal; anyone interested can google it.

Editat: nov. 17, 2015, 7:51am

>1 housefulofpaper:

I admire your restraint, houseful - resisting the temptation to go for 'Gothic films too', or 'Son of Gothic films'. 'Gothic films - the reincarnation!' just popped into my mind - perhaps with one of the Gothic fonts.

nov. 17, 2015, 7:17pm

>6 Rembetis: Wow, I'd overlooked that channel. "Recording gizmo" is set! Thank you!

I noticed that the schedule also includes two of the Children's Film Foundation ghost stories that the BFI released on DVD a couple of years ago. The Man from Nowhere is pretty much what you'd expect (handsomely done, though) but Haunters of the Deep (from the mid-'80s) is notably grittier. (The third film on the DVD was even more so).

>8 alaudacorax: As I understand it, Vincent Price didn't live here in the UK but did find a lot of work here. He was an Anglophile so was keen to come here, and Equity - unusually - didn't make a fuss.

I'm going to be wasting hours looking for that clip on YouTube, now!

nov. 18, 2015, 5:43am

>10 housefulofpaper: - Well, don't waste too much time - a lot of those types of shows were aired live and not recorded.

nov. 18, 2015, 6:43pm

>7 alaudacorax: >10 housefulofpaper: You're welcome for the info. 'Talking Pictures' is a really interesting channel. I'm enjoying the obscure old British films they're digging up. On Halloween they showed the 1949 British version of 'The Fall of the House of Usher' (originally released under the 'H' certificate for 'horror'). It was creaky but an interesting take on Poe (it's being repeated on Thursday 3rd December at 8.50pm).

nov. 18, 2015, 6:49pm

>10 housefulofpaper: I have that BFI dvd set, but only seen 'Haunters of the Deep'. You're right about it being gritty. I really loved the location footage around the old disused Cornish tin mines, and old Hammer stalwarts Andrew Kier and Barbara Ewing were great value in it.

des. 19, 2015, 6:59am

Been trying to catch up with a few more Gothic films recently. the British production The Ghoul (1936) I saw via a beautiful BluRay and the photography is wonderful, as is Karloff, in a performance that brings to mind his earlier role in The Mummy. When Boris is off-screen the film tends to work less well, bumptious leading man Anthony Bushell (later quite a well known director) really not helping matters.

A wonderful surprise was another British production, The Face at the Window (1939), starring hammy old Todd Slaughter, who made his name in the 1930s as the star of revivals of Victorian barnstormers. Backed by MGM, and with a visibly larger budget than anything else he worked on, this is a snappy, exciting chiller based on Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White.

Sadly, just as his film career reached this nigh point, World War 2 caused horror film production to be supressed in Britain, though Slaughter still toured his stage productions. His post-war productions, such as Curse of the Wraydons (1946) and The Greed of William Hart (a version of Burke and Hare made in 1948) saw Slaughter in greatly reduced circumstances.

des. 20, 2015, 7:14am

>14 IanFryer:

I've only just realised, reading your post and looking stuff up on IMDb, that The Ghoul (1936) is a completely different film to the The Ghoul (1975) - I'd been assuming they were two versions of the same story. Interesting back-story on the survival of the `36, too. Never seen it and, having read up on it, I've got to see it sometime soon.

It wouldn't have occurred to me to get a blu-ray of an ancient black-and-white, though - are you seeing a real improvement for the extra money? Er ... that question is giving me a real sense of déjà vu ...

Never seen The Face at the Window, either, and I have to confess that I've twice failed to finish The Woman in White. I'm not really that familiar with Todd Slaughter's stuff (that I remember, anyway) and feel I ought to be - he's such a well-known name (can I say 'iconic'?) - so I might invest in one of the box sets I see online (I already have a stack of unwatched DVDs waiting, so I feel a bit guilty about buying more).

des. 20, 2015, 11:11am

>15 alaudacorax:

Is the 1975 the one with Cushing a returned missionary from Asia? Pretty horrific, that one.

des. 20, 2015, 5:43pm

>16 LolaWalser: From the summary in English Gothic: Classic Horror Cinema 1897-2015 I'd say it is, but I haven't seen the film.

des. 20, 2015, 5:53pm

>17 housefulofpaper:

Been a while, but I'd say it's worth seeing. It has a very famous somebody in a small role... oh YES, John Hurt. Very creepy character.

des. 20, 2015, 7:05pm

The two Ghouls are indeed completely different stories. The quality of the BluRay is stunning, especially compared to the first time I saw the film, on an almost unwatchable VHS taken from a Czech print. A pristine camera negative was then found in a forgotten vault in Shepperton Studios.
Saw an interesting oddity last night in The Curse of the Fly from 1965, a gothic SF b movie raised to memorable status by atmospheric direction by Don Sharp. Star Brian Donlevey looks visibly drunk in some scenes.

des. 20, 2015, 7:35pm

>18 LolaWalser:

It's not currently available in the UK as a DVD or Blu-ray, and I feel fairly confident in saying that it hasn't been on terrestrial UK television this century. I'll keep my eye on the new Satellite/Cable channel Talking Pictures (see above, as they say), but a lot of their prints, especially of newer films funnily enough, are pretty crummy.

des. 21, 2015, 8:48am

>16 LolaWalser: Yes, that's the one.

des. 21, 2015, 9:04am

>19 IanFryer:

And now I've got a real yen to see 'The Curse of the Fly'. Never seen it and never heard of it, that I remember, but there are some enticing member reviews on IMDb. Reading the summary on there, it sounds more like a parody than a straight horror, which - sort of - adds to the interest for me, but that's probably just the writer being tongue-in-cheek.

Editat: des. 21, 2015, 9:18am

>20 housefulofpaper: ... and houseful's post has reminded me that Todd Slaughter's on Talking Pictures this evening - 'The Greed of William Hart' at 6:30. Graverobbing.

ETA - By the time I finish wrapping these damn Xmas presents I'll be ripe for some bloodshed ...

ETA, again - Note to self for Xmas 2016 - buy presents that come in simple-shaped boxes ... or books - they're easy to wrap ...

des. 21, 2015, 11:44am

Oh, I need to see The Greed of William Hart. You'll notice something weird about the soundtrack to the film (this isn't a spoiler). The British censor refused to pass the film, as although filmmakers were allowed to use Burke and Hare as subject matter, their real names were prohibited from use. Dylan Thomas's script The Doctor and the Devils - written in 1953 but not produced until 1985 - also had to use pseudonyms.

This meant that the producers of The Greed of William Hart had to have new names dubbed onto to soundtrack every time Burke or Hare's name was mentioned - a laborious and expensive process which meant there was no money left on the film's meagre budget to have a musical score. The redubbing is often hilariously obvious !

des. 21, 2015, 11:56am

>20 housefulofpaper: A DVD of the 1975 Ghoul is available but very expensive. I'd guess it's out of print. It is viewable online on Dailymotion. The film used to be shown on BBC television quite a lot but I haven't seen it for years.

des. 21, 2015, 12:39pm

>17 housefulofpaper:

Forgot to say, I must get that book, looks perf.

>25 IanFryer:

Yes! I do believe that's where I saw it.

>24 IanFryer:

Aw, that's so sad, it breaks my heart to hear of misuse of small resources. Why on earth were the real names off limits? Protection of family?

des. 22, 2015, 6:01am

>23 alaudacorax: - The Greed of William Hart' at 6:30.
>24 IanFryer: - Oh, I need to see The Greed of William Hart.

... and then I went and forgot all about it! Why do they schedule these things so early? 6:30pm is too early for telly-watching.

Editat: des. 22, 2015, 6:43am

>26 LolaWalser: - Why on earth were the real names off limits?

From the IMDb page's 'Trivia' section:

However, the British censors refused to allow the film's release because of national sensitivities toward the infamous "resurrectionists.

Translation: after seven years of war, there were a lot of 'officer class' chappies around. They'd got a taste of power and just wouldn't give it up. Bunch of middle-class twats who thought they had a god-given right to rule and regiment and prescribe for the broad mass of the people. These types blighted my teenage years once I'd become old enough to have some political awareness, and were probably directly responsible for the `60s counterculture - at least in the UK. I suspect most of them had done their war service in safe, administrative jobs, allowing them to transfer smoothly into civilian bureaucracy, where they interfered in everything.

So it almost certainly wasn't a case of 'national sensitivities' as much as some officious bureaucrats deciding what 'national sensitivities' 'ought' to be.

When society gradually started to wise up to these characters, the phrase 'little Hitlers' became popular in the media. Just about summed them up, really.

Did you know that, after the war, successive UK governments kept rationing going years after there was any need because they thought it would keep the population in a wartime mentality and, thus, make it more manipulatable? Drunk with power.

Sorry about the rant - must still have a lot of 'issues' from my youth ...

des. 22, 2015, 7:19am

The Todd Slaughter film wasn't the only one to be affected by the ban. The 1945 Val Lewton/Boris Karloff film The Body Snatcher had all mention of Burke and Hare removed during its original British release, which must have made for a very disjointed viewing experience.

The ban was certainly gone by 1960, when the British production Burke and Hare was released (which looks lovely in widescreen). Much censorship is random in nature - it's possible that the authorities wished to avoid creating folk heroes out of the Edinburgh body snatchers - I believe the ban extended to stage productions and may have predated the war. For the ban to have stretched to a period 120 years after the events concerned seems a mite excessive, though!

des. 22, 2015, 12:49pm

>28 alaudacorax:, >29 IanFryer:

What, 120 years, that IS long memory for a piece of legislature...

I have the Body Snatcher, I don't remember any mention of Burke & Hare (in-film) either. Didn't realise it did originally... There have been quite a few adaptations "based on", so I thought that was all this was.

The ban was certainly gone by 1960, when the British production Burke and Hare was released (which looks lovely in widescreen).

The flesh and the fiends! One of my favourite Cushings.

des. 22, 2015, 4:16pm

According to Karloff's official biographer, Stephen Jacobs, even the original British VHS release of Body Snatcher was from an edited print, which actually makes that release of the film quite interesting in its own right as a record of the censor cuts.

des. 30, 2015, 2:26pm

In another group I brought up the German Edgar Wallace films, produced mostly in the 1960s. I didn't think they'd be familiar to English audiences, but a few did have British actors (including Christopher Lee--twice or more) and, perhaps, English distribution?

I don't recall ever reading an Edgar Wallace mystery, so can't comment on the literary models for the stories, but the films worked hard on creating spooky atmosphere although they rarely involved the "real" supernatural. They are hardly high art, but to me seem charming in their own way.

Here's a recent blog write-up, if you're new to them: “Hello, this is Edgar Wallace speaking” – The Rialto Film Series

Oh, yes, one of the peculiarities of the series is that Klaus Kinski showed up in sixteen of the films! Speaking of spooky characters... :)

Editat: des. 30, 2015, 2:49pm

>32 LolaWalser: Here is IMDB's list: Edgar Wallace - The Rialto Film Series.

Some were dubbed for distribution in English and still show up on TCM. The British actors, Christopher Lee, Stewart Granger, Robert Morley and so on, do not dub their own voices, which makes it somewhat strange for Anglophone audiences accustomed to their faces.

des. 30, 2015, 3:16pm

>33 MMcM:

Not TCM in the UK, however. I've seen various articles about these films, but never any of the films themselves.

Editat: des. 30, 2015, 5:38pm

>33 MMcM:

Oh, wow, someone went to a lot of trouble... thanks for the link. Just for comparison--I hope it's all correct--the German filmography lists 38 movies through 1972, not counting various similar contemporary productions with similar style, actors and templates:

(Edited to add: I just noticed the list-maker added those by other companies to separate lists.)

The British actors, Christopher Lee, Stewart Granger, Robert Morley and so on, do not dub their own voices, which makes it somewhat strange for Anglophone audiences accustomed to their faces.

Gah, dubbing, it is the worst! I was hoping there might have been an original English soundtrack in those cases, especially in that movie with Morley and Granger--I see the IMDB list has it as "The Trygon factor", absolutely the first time I hear of that title...

Lee's German, otoh, is pretty neat, even though in one movie he plays a--Chinaman.

>34 housefulofpaper:

I've seen various articles about these films, but never any of the films themselves.

Pity, I think you may enjoy them. A few years ago I came across a channel on YouTube that had them, which prompted my collecting kick (I had seen only a handful as a kid, and as with Karl May's novels, thirsted for decades for more--must say they wore better than May did)--IIRC, there were a few with English subtitles. Could have been personal translations by the posters, of course...

des. 30, 2015, 9:08pm

All the links on a TCM page about a Retromedia DVD with Secret of the Red Orchid seem to be dead, so it's probably gone out of stock.

Mike Vraney had some on VHS back in the '90s. As you'd expect, they were pretty poor transfers. I doubt the DVD-R versions from what's left of Something Weird after him are any better.

des. 31, 2015, 7:38am

It's worth going onto and ordering some, as a large number of the excellent German DVD releases of these have an English soundtrack option - even with little or no German you should be able to work out which are the English-friendly releases.

Circus of Fear, directed by Englishman John Moxey, is part of the series, and turns up from time to time on UK television on the Movies4Men channel. The DVD quality is miles better, though.

des. 31, 2015, 11:45am

>36 MMcM:

Those are at least very good prices--my DVD collection cost me way more! But I guess cleaner copies may be worth the extra...

>37 IanFryer:

Completely forgot about the DVDs format being same in UK and Germany--yes, just checked, at least one of the boxes has subtitles--I would only urge caution on anyone before spending a lot of money if you've never seen them! My internalized grandpa still scoffs now and then about what ludicrous "Schund" I'm wasting good money and time on! :)

des. 31, 2015, 8:39pm

A bit of googling finds the whole of Das Geheimnis der weißen Nonne online, a rip from one of these German DVDs, I imagine. And, yes, the quality is clearly superior. Plus no dubbing and German Krimi dialog isn't particularly challenging.

gen. 1, 2016, 12:25pm

Thanks for the further information on the Edgar Wallace series. I did some investigation of my own last night and it's pretty confusing!

Searching online for Edgar Wallace films, what comes up first for me is a series of “Edgar Wallace Mysteries” made at Merton Park Studios in the early-mid 60’s. Merton Park in South Wimbledon was, Wikipedia tells me, home to many a second feature and ’60’s shot-on-film-in-hope-of-international-sales TV series.

This series is available on Region-2 DVD. The same company that has put the series out on DVD, has also released a number of other films with a connection to Wallace, some dating from before the Merton Park series (e.g. Flying Fifty-Five from back in 1939) and some released at the same time and probably hoping to be taken for either part of the UK series of films or the German “Krimi”. Circus of Fear, (which, I should mention, I have seen) is apparently one of these latter.

Looking beyond the UK, Dario Argento’s The Bird With the Crystal Plumage apparently counts as an Edgar Wallace adaptation, as does Jess Franco’s The Devil Came From Akasava. And then, stories by Wallace’s son, Bryan Edgar Wallace, were also adapted by the German studios, with little attempt to differentiate them from the main Wallace season.

Anyway, there’s a seller on Ebay offering (some, at least) of the German series in box-sets of 4 discs, and the description promises English subtitles. After checking the state of my post-Christmas finances, I may take a chance and buy one.

gen. 1, 2016, 1:24pm

>40 housefulofpaper:

Those Anglo TV productions are a separate thing. I think I started watching an episode or two but they didn't grab me at all--my feeling is that they were much more "straight" crime mystery (and with even lower budget, so lots of talking heads on sofas).

There were also Anglo and German pre-war (WWII) movies based on a few Wallaces--the English versions of the link I gave above and others are unfortunately incomplete, but you can ignore the text here and just note the title lists on bottom to distinguish the German productions (the individual pages seem to have English versions with, at least, English title versions and summaries):

I haven't seen most of the silent and pre-war stuff, English or German, so can't say anything much about it...

After checking the state of my post-Christmas finances, I may take a chance and buy one

Don't rush! :) Some are considerably more entertaining than others, and with 40+ titles, even a choice of any four could be relative dud after dud.

I wish I could give more detailed recommendations but as I was buying those over several years and only seen each once (not counting the dimly-remembered ones from childhood), I'm far from even connecting all the titles to respective stories, plus with many shared actors, tropes etc. they tend to run together in my head.

What I would say, is that it is probably best to start with something you know already interests you, a known actor or a motif, say the movies with Kinski or Lee--or any with "monk" or "abbot" in the title!

gen. 1, 2016, 2:47pm

>39 MMcM:

Plus no dubbing and German Krimi dialog isn't particularly challenging.

Oh yes! These would be great for learning the language actually--plus one would end up with a particularly rich Gothic vocabulary--stun the natives by effortlessly reeling off observations on Corpses, Crypts, Hatchets, Habits, Hunchbacks, Murder, Strangling and Whipping...! :)

Not your dad's Linguaphone for sure...

gen. 1, 2016, 2:55pm

>41 LolaWalser:

Yes, it was clear just from the stills on the Network Distributing website that the Merton Park stuff was going to be much more straight-laced, but there does seem to have been some blurring of the distinction by the distributors. I've read in another context that this was fairly common when foreign films were bought for the German market, even to the extent of renaming characters as say "Dr Mabuse" or "Dr Frankenstein" to create spurious entries in popular film series.

>25 IanFryer:

I finally watched The Ghoul (1975 version) on Dailymotion over Christmas. I enjoyed it more than I expected to, given Jonathan Rigby's lukewarm opinion of it in English Gothic.

The John Hurt character was interesting, in that the sexual menace and the class politics he embodied, seemed peculiarly 1970s. Not that those things came and went in the 1970s, of course, but they seemed expressed in a particularly 1970s way. Perhaps it's a mixture of a response to post-Sam Peckinpah Westerns (sex and violence) and the political concerns or lived experience of writers and dramatists who remembered vividly at least one World War and the "Hungry Thirties" (for Britain, the Twenties were pretty hungry too, come to that), and had an outlet for their work on British television (not just the BBC but the various companies who held franchises under the independent television (ITV) network, as well).

The "reveal" of the Ghoul was shot in a curious way: it seemed more like a pastiche of a horror film in a trying-slightly-too-hard TV comedy sketch, than part of an actual film. Also, I never can separate the actor Don Henderson from his character Sergeant Bulman (XXY Man; Strangers; Bulman). My fault not his of course (though it's hard to see him as Peter Cushing's son). And mentioning Cushing, he did seem incredibly fragile in this. I was wishing for his sake he'd invested less emotional involvement in the role.

Anyway, I found this today and thought it might be of interest. It's the BBC continuity announcement for "closedown" 15 February 1986, including a little trail for The Ghoul over an old-style BBC photographic slide.

The bit right at the start is the final seconds of The Shuttered Room (1967).

gen. 2, 2016, 8:11am

I really like the Merton Park Edgar Wallace films, but their appeal is totally different to the Rialto-Film productions. Merton Park weren't about to make a version of The Gorrilla of Soho!

Thanks for the tip about The Ghoul - I need to watch it again and my budget doesn't stretch to buying more DVDs right now.

The music to the German Wallace films is amazing, BTW. I have the soundtrack CD.

Editat: gen. 2, 2016, 1:05pm

>44 IanFryer:

The music to the German Wallace films is amazing, BTW.

Oh, YES! Blesséd Martin Böttcher and other jazz aficionados of the sixties. I was just thinking of this the other day, how well the soundtracks sit too in comparison to something else I was (re)watching, Basil Dearden's "jazz Othello" story, All night long. I mean, the latter has fab music--and it's diegetic (the Rialto movies mostly go to cabaret and Schlager for in-story music) but it's somehow so... stilted... maybe I'm just incapable of buying Patrick McGoohan as a hepcat with a horn.

Ian, since you have a liking for this stuff, are you familiar with the sixties Pater Brown (yes, THAT Father Brown) films? It's one of Böttcher's best-known themes (and he re-used it for the 2000s Pfarrer Brown show with Ottfried Fischer):

Pater Brown Thema

gen. 2, 2016, 11:09pm

>45 LolaWalser: Patrick McGoohan as a hepcat with a horn

Drums, right?

I'm sure it's for the same reason that to me the shot of thunderclouds as Richard Attenborough gets out of his Bentley S1 at the party venue looks the same as the one just before The (soon to be) Prisoner zooms by in his Lotus Seven.

gen. 3, 2016, 12:43pm

>46 MMcM:

Heh, yes, I traded exactitude for the alliteration & allusion of a cheap cliché...

Never noticed that about the clouds, but I can easily believe they re-used shots in The Prisoner... still great fun to look at, no?

gen. 5, 2016, 10:25am

>45 LolaWalser: LolaWalser

"Ian, since you have a liking for this stuff, are you familiar with the sixties Pater Brown (yes, THAT Father Brown) films? It's one of Böttcher's best-known themes (and he re-used it for the 2000s Pfarrer Brown show with Ottfried Fischer)"

Not familiar with the Father Brown films, but I have a copy of the very CD that was used for that YouTube clip. Frankfurt used to have a big HMV Shop with an excellent film music section. Long gone now, alas.

gen. 5, 2016, 3:39pm

>22 alaudacorax:

In HMV this evening, I found a Box Set of DVD's that I think has been out since 2009: "The Fly 5 Film Collector's Set" comprising "The Fly" (Cronenberg); "The Fly II"; "The Fly" (original); "Return of the Fly"; "The Curse of the Fly". Each disc in its own slimline DVD case, no extras advertised for the last two discs, £11.99 the lot. Hopefully there are a few more copies of this set still around.

gen. 6, 2016, 5:29am

I watched Curse of the Fly - the only film in the series to be made in England - the other week. Really well directed by Don Sharp, on what was clearly a shoestring budget. Star Brian Donlevey (who I love in his two Quatermass films) frankly looks half drunk in some scenes.

From 1965, this is probably the last film ever shot in black and white Cinemascope - producer Robert L Lippert ran Fox's b-movie unit (which made more money than its A-picture operation in the sixties) so would have had access to a scope lens even for a cheapy like this.

gen. 6, 2016, 12:04pm

>50 IanFryer:

I've yet to see that one. Maybe this week, if I find the time for it while I marathon "Star Trek: The New Generation" before returning to work and (relative) sanity!

>49 housefulofpaper:

Dang, my box set is vintage only. I would have liked Cronenberg's remake too. (Although they included a fourth bonus disc--with extras you can probably find online...)

gen. 12, 2016, 11:04am

Prior to an upcoming rewatching of Witchfinder General I watched director Michael Reeves' previous film, The Sorcerers (1967) last night. Boris Karloff and Cathleen Lacey feature along with Reeves' friend Ian Ogilvy in a gripping narrative about a mind-control device. Karloff wants to use the device for good, while his wife Lacey gets hooked on having Ogilvy act more and more recklessly, feeling the same sensations he does.

The film is set in a spectacularly grimy London of seedy suburbs and bomb sites which was probably more like real life for much of the audience than the cliches of the summer of love. Thoroughly recommended.

gen. 12, 2016, 2:17pm

I saw that one yonks ago, really enjoyed Karloff and Lacey but it was also heartbreaking IIRC.

gen. 12, 2016, 2:42pm

>52 IanFryer:

Recommendation seconded! I first saw The Sorcerers when it got a late-night showing on the BBC sometime in the 1990s. I recently been able to upgrade from a off-air VHS recording to a Blu-ray copy.

The London the film depicts looks very familiar to me from childhood visits in the '70s. I had a Great Aunt who lived in a basement flat in (I think) pre-gentrification Notting Hill.

gen. 12, 2016, 3:38pm

>53 LolaWalser:

you're right, and that emotional wallop is one of the reasons the film made such an impression when I first saw it. I wasn't really a "Monster Kid" growing up and didn't have any references books or back issues of Famous Monsters, so the late night film was very much an unknown quantity for me. That meant that when a film made a particular impression, it felt like a personal discovery. The Sorcerers would be one such film (Off the top of my head, I think I'd also list The Seventh Victim; Herzog's Nosferatu; City of the Dead (a.k.a. Horror Hotel, for seemingly coming out of nowhere and its almost UV black-and-white photography (the BBC had a very good print)

gen. 13, 2016, 4:08am

>52 IanFryer: et al.

Don't remember ever hearing of or seeing that one - another one to look out for.

Suffering from yet another case of scrambled memory: I clearly remember seeing and thoroughly enjoying a film called The Sorcerors when I was a youngster; it starred Vincent Price and Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre (couldn't go wrong with a cast like that). Only I didn't - looking online now I see it was Roger Corman's The Raven and didn't even have 'The Sorcerors' as an alternate name is some other country. Can't explain that.

Editat: gen. 13, 2016, 4:17am

>52 IanFryer: - Prior to an upcoming rewatching of Witchfinder General ...

I suspect I've posted this here before, but I still find it astonishing that Shakespeare could have written all that wonderfully humanist stuff with a startlingly modern grasp of psychology, and be in his grave, before Matthew Hopkins was even born. It's like the world (or England, I suppose I should say) took a giant step backwards.

ETA - I know, I know - I'm taking separate things out of their contexts ...

gen. 13, 2016, 4:30am

>55housefulofpaper City of the Dead is a wonderful film with an interesting fact attached to it - it has exactly the same unusual and shocking plot structure as Psycho (I'll avoid spoilers, just in case), but was not a rip-off of the Hitckcock film.

The two films were being shot at the same time and went into general release within a month of each other.

gen. 13, 2016, 4:44am


Very true. It says a lot about the misuse of religion by zealots for personal aggrandisement which is more relevant than ever today.

Didn't finish it yet, but started watching Michael Reeves' first professional film as director last night, the She-Beast (aka Revenge of the Blood Beast). Made in Italy in 1966, this tale of honeymooning couple Barbara Steel and Ian Ogilvy in contemporsry Transylviania encountering an ancient witches curse is utterly daffy.

It was made on a shoestring, ut is still in anamorphic widescreen, and every now and again we see an unusual idea or visual flourish which suggests what Reeves proved capable of. At other points, it reminded me of Monty Python and the Holy Grail!

gen. 13, 2016, 4:44am

>15 alaudacorax: - I've only just realised, reading your post and looking stuff up on IMDb, that The Ghoul (1936) is a completely different film to the The Ghoul (1975) - I'd been assuming they were two versions of the same story. Interesting back-story on the survival of the `36, too. Never seen it and, having read up on it, I've got to see it sometime soon.

Oh ye gods have pity on me - I'm getting senile. Searching to see if I own a copy of The Raven (>56 alaudacorax:) in a box set (I don't), I find it actually includes the The Ghoul (1936). How could I have forgotten that.

I really have to put up more shelves - instead of keeping my DVDs in boxes in the spare bedroom. I shall have to make an 'Unwatched DVD' list, I suppose.

gen. 13, 2016, 4:46am

Life's too short, assuming your list will be as long as mine!

gen. 13, 2016, 4:52am

>59 IanFryer: ... She-Beast (aka Revenge of the Blood Beast) ...

Now, you see, that's just the kind of rubbishy film that would really appeal to me ...

gen. 13, 2016, 5:03am

It's very good fun. Try to track down the restored widescreen version, though. Some copies are almost unwatchable.

gen. 13, 2016, 1:19pm

>55 housefulofpaper:

I'm an impressionable wimp, so no horror for me either growing up... or even now. I watched "The orphanage" a few years ago on a bright Sunday morning, hoping to forget the worst by bedtime. (I didn't. Had to fall asleep with lights on. And that scene with Geraldine Chaplin's face falling open still haunts me.)

>58 IanFryer:

Weird, all I remember about City of the dead is that it has Christopher Lee in it. Must try to find it.

gen. 13, 2016, 3:35pm

>58 IanFryer:
I hadn't realised the films were in production at the same time. I wonder whether Milton Subotsky or George Baxt was responsible for the plot structure?

gen. 13, 2016, 3:47pm

I guess we've all seen Phycho, but I don't want to include any plot spoilers just in case.

gen. 13, 2016, 4:06pm

>66 IanFryer:

Shockingly I haven't seen it, not all the way through, but as for plot spoilers - for me, that boat sailed decades ago.

Editat: gen. 14, 2016, 6:38pm

I've moaned before about films that are unavailable on DVD in the UK, but sometimes they can be had from overseas. I've managed to get some through Amazon Marketplace

Trilogy of Terror (1975 TV Movie starring Karen Black) from Australia;
Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932) and The Creeping Flesh from Spain (the Spanish subtitles can't be switched off on Murders, alas);
Messiah of Evil from France (this is actually a film I know nothing about, but I took a punt after reading that David Pirie had praised in in The Vampire Cinema (mind you, his judgements aren't always sound, as he apparently hated the Phibes films).

Prompted by finally getting a copy of Murders, I looked at the BBC Genome website (in essence, a digital copy of TV schedules from the Radio Times) for that 1983 Horror double bill season where I first saw the classic Universal horrors. I'd forgotten that most of the films were separated by Cricket coverage and late news. I can remember, now, being both very tired and very impatient between each weeks' two films!

Edit - I can turn off the subtitles! Now I'll have to watch Murders in the Rue Morgue again. I love Lugosi's hammy, malevolent turn as a Caligari-type villain here.

Editat: gen. 15, 2016, 3:50pm

Anyone here a fan of Penny Dreadful? Someone told me not to give up before seeing at least the first four, but I'm dubious about continuing (I've seen three eps). I like Eva Green a LOT, I like Timothy Dalton, I like Billie Piper (although I'm not taken with her character here) but everything about how this is made goes against my taste. Annnd... there's so much gore.

gen. 15, 2016, 3:47pm

I feel the same about Penny Dreadful. I love the cast - it's especially nice to see Timothy Dalton get a really good role again.

gen. 15, 2016, 3:56pm

>70 IanFryer:

So you're watching, but not enthusiastically? I've heard the second season is better...

They crammed so much together, so many characters (well--ALL the characters) of Gothic legend, it feels very forced.

gen. 15, 2016, 5:23pm

I sort of preferred the steampunk TV version of Dracula with Jonathan Rees Mayers. It really tried doing something different with the old legends.

Editat: gen. 16, 2016, 7:30pm

>69 LolaWalser:

I love the cast but haven't been able to quite love the series. It's not the concept of using all the familiar characters that counts against it - I really enjoyed Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen graphic novels, and Kim Newman's Anno Dracula series - it might be that the pacing of the story, and character development, has suffered from the requirements of the format: "we'll commission six episodes and you might be back for series two, so build up to a climax but also leave things open-ended".

gen. 16, 2016, 4:55am

>69 LolaWalser: - and onwards:

I'm intrigued.

This has a very high rating on IMDb, but I usually ignore that as, for reasons I don't fully understand, TV programmes - especially 'cult' TV - seem to be consistently much more highly-rated than cinema - and than they deserve.

However, I've just realised that it has extremely high 'critics' ratings on rottentomatoes - in which I normally place a lot more faith than in IMDb's ratings. The trouble is, rottentomatoes hasn't being doing TV ratings very long and I haven't noticed whether it suffers from this 'TV inflation' factor.

On the third hand(!), it has an impressively long list of award nominations - and a Critic's Choice Award for 'Most exciting new series'.

Trouble is, I've watched the first quarter-hour or so of so much gawdawful cr*p lately that I've got a bit gun-shy and more or less decided that modern film and TV is not for grown-ups. Now I'm getting tempted back in ...

gen. 16, 2016, 5:24am

>74 alaudacorax: - ... and more or less decided that modern film and TV is not for grown-ups.

I apologise for that - unjustifiably unfair to young people.

I should have said '... not for anyone not capable of failing an IQ test ...'

gen. 16, 2016, 7:44pm

>71 LolaWalser: I gave up after the first two episodes on the first run, but months later, gave Penny Dreadful another try. The first season was ok, the second season was much better.
Episode 3 of the second series, 'The Nightcomers', was, for me, the best hour of genre tv last year. Most of the running time is a two-hander between Eva Green and Patti LuPone as the 'Cut-Wife' - with outstanding performances from both.

gen. 17, 2016, 12:37pm

>56 alaudacorax: and >60 alaudacorax:

I watched The Raven last night - thoroughly enjoyed it. Probably not the greatest film ever, and one or two of the special effects were rather cheesy, but something about it tickled my sense of humour - even the duff special effects - Scarabus's castle, anyone? I also got the impression that everyone involved was enjoying themselves (with the possible exception of Peter Lorre, who looked rather unwell).

gen. 17, 2016, 1:15pm

>77 alaudacorax:

I loooove The raven. Have you seen The comedy of terrors? IIRC, same cast, plus Basil Rathbone in a BRILLIANT turn.

>76 Rembetis:, >73 housefulofpaper:, >72 IanFryer:

I finished it; oddly enough, I thought it picked up in the episode where we get the story of Vanessa's betrayal of Mina, only to have it dwindle out again in the finale. As houseful noted, there's something off with characterisation of almost everyone--for me, Sir Malcolm suffers the most (and Vanessa is the most "detailed"). For instance (I'm going to spoiler this for Peter's sake, in case he decides to watch): did he or didn't he molest his daughter? I had assumed no; that Vanessa's rantings at the séance were just demonic tauntings, but then what exactly was HIS "betrayal" of Mina? The way he treated her mother and brother? That seems weak, and yet sexual abuse is probably too much if we're supposed to find him in the least sympathetic. Even more perplexing is the practically casual way he shrugged off all the angst about saving Mina in the finale--and for the sake of Vanessa, whom he said, just a little before, he'd sacrifice gladly for Mina! Suddenly he feels like he "already has a daughter", in Vanessa?!

That came out of nowhere.

>74 alaudacorax:

On the third hand(!), it has an impressively long list of award nominations - and a Critic's Choice Award for 'Most exciting new series'.

HMMMM. Honestly I don't know what to say... There's a lot of sex, I suppose that's exciting. :) It does occur to me--this is the only show I can think of in which ALL the main characters, minus the virginal doctor, have had "vertical sex". There, that should go into the "Trivia" section.

gen. 25, 2016, 3:26pm

Anyone UK-based and reading this, might like to know that all three seasons of Rod Serling's Night Gallery are now available on DVD (season one, with a bonus DVD of stories from later in the show's run, including the Clark Ashton Smith adaptation "The Return of the Sorcerer" - starring Vincent Price! - has been available for something like 8 years).

The film Munster Go Home is also available...

gen. 26, 2016, 8:42am

Oh that's brilliant! My favourite Night Gallery episode was They're Tearing Down Tim Riley's Bar, which had me in tears when I saw it as a kid.

TBH I'm a bit more 'meh' with regards to The Munsters!

gen. 26, 2016, 8:43am

Some good news, btw. My book contract came through last night. I'm writing a book about British horror movies!

gen. 26, 2016, 11:38am

Congratulations, Ian! Talk about combining the pleasant with the studious! :)

Do you have a title and when is it due?

gen. 26, 2016, 12:16pm

The research is great fun!

It's called The Film Fanatic's Guide to British Horror Movies - the idea is to have an equivalent of the For Dummies series for movie genres. Hoping to do Spaghetti Westerns after this one, which I hopefully will deliver to my publisher at the end of August.

gen. 26, 2016, 12:28pm

Looking forward to it! How many movies does that cover? And do you plan/need to see all of them?

Incidentally, I found (for the first time) Christopher Lee's Fu Manchu films online (the first two have some guest German actors from the Edgar Wallace franchise!)--would that kind of thing be included? I'm not sure how to classify them, maybe "thriller" is closer to what they are than "horror". And yet...

gen. 26, 2016, 12:43pm

It's the later Fu Manchu movies, directed by Jess Franco, that have German guest stars. The first couple were made in Ireland and have largely English casts (and conspicuously higher budgets!).

I might put them in, though they are closer to thrillers - certainly they're of interest as it's another Karloff role that Christopher Lee took on.

Not sure exactly how many movies to cover - the idea is to have a history of the genre in Britain, with sections reviewing key films and notable actors, writers and directors.

gen. 26, 2016, 12:53pm

>85 IanFryer:

I don't know about the later films but the two I saw--The Face of Fu Manchu (1965) and The Brides of Fu Manchu (1966) have Joachim Fuchsberger, Karin Dor and Walter Rilla (the first one) and Heinz Drache (the second one).

it's another Karloff role that Christopher Lee took on.

Ha, I was thinking the other day what connections can be made between various Sherlocks and Watsons and the actors who played them--Douglas Wilmer (Nayland Smith in The Brides of Fu Manchu) had played Holmes, while Howard Marion Crawford (Dr. Petrie) was Ronald Howard's Watson.

gen. 26, 2016, 5:26pm

I remember the first two or three Fu Manchu films used to turn up on TV in the same time-slots as a Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes or a Hammer Robin Hood adventure. I think that last one points up how these films were perceived: as a childrens' (specifically, boys') adventure to be shown during the school holidays.

The two Jess Franco-directed films are sadly much cheaper-looking (and The Blood of Fu Manchu has a bit of nudity and sadism); they'd only be screened by accident, I think. They've turned up on the Horror Channel in recent years.

I've looked on IMDb and sure enough the first two films are UK/West German co-productions. Actually, the last three had increasing numbers of co-producers from across the globe. Presumably producer Harry Alan Towers had to work ever harder to raise money.

>80 IanFryer:

I don't remember Night Gallery being shown regularly, or at a reasonable hour, on British TV. However, I learned about it and more specifically about "They're Tearing Down Tim Riley's Bar", from Marc Scott Zicree's Twilight Zone Companion around 1982. And then that episode turned up one weekday night - in the early hours of the morning, rather - shorn of titles or its accompanying story, on ITV. This is when they had begun broadcasting through the night and put the strangest stuff on (from The Hitman and Her and Get Stuffed! to mini-series (Levkas Man) to European dramas like Derrick and - I think - The Confessions of Felix Krull.

gen. 30, 2016, 7:33am

Apologies in advance – this is quite a long one.
As an interesting exercise this week, I watched Hammer's The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) followed by the Universal Pictures 1931 version starring Boris Karloff.
When Hammer were making their version, Universal's lawyers had their eyes on what Hammer were doing, as despite the original story being out of copyright, certain elements of their version, such as the monster design, were unique to their version.

It's fascinating just how much of a cold hearted psychopath Cushing's Baron Frankenstein (arguably the character is softened in many of Hammer's later sequels). In comparison, Colin Clive's Henry Frankenstein spends much of Frankenstein on the verge of hysteria, breaking down completely when his creation is brought to life.
The introduction of Karloff's monster is one of the all-time great movie entrances, a masterpiece of performance, lighting and editing. James Whale's film was made before sound films were given a music score as a matter of course, and the absolute silence the scene is played against is highly effective (the soundtrack on the DVD release has been amazingly well restored). One can imagine the gasps of 1931 audiences seeing this for the first time.

Terence Fisher's introduction of Christopher Lee's Creature in Curse is, to my mind, every bit as effective. This is partially as a result as of original publicity materials for the film (in the UK, at least). The trailer completely downplays the monster, who is barely seen at all, his face not seen and Christopher Lee not even mentioned (to be fair, Lee was just another tall supporting player at the time. This film was to bring him instant stardom – while Dracula was being prepared by Hammer he was cast opposite Karloff in Corridors of Blood in the major role of killer Resurrection Joe). While Lee is billed on the poster artwork, the Creature’s face is mainly obscured by his huge, claw-like hand.

This meant that when audiences first saw his face in Curse it would have been a real shock, played to the hilt by director Fisher and his cinematographer Jack Asher. The Creature tears the bandages from his face and the camera performs a fast zoom in (actually more likely it tracks in, aided by a bit of undercranking). Lee’s performance is outstanding, bringing both pathos and menace to the part in the same way that Karloff achieved over 25 years earlier. Compare this to Michael Gwynne’s performance in the sequel, The Revenge of Frankenstein and especially Kiwi Kingston in The Evil of Frankenstein and the difference is plain.

I think a great demonstration of how Hammer were really on to something which Hollywood studios didn’t get is the company’s TV pilot Tales of Frankenstein (available to see on YouTube). Columbia pictures simply used the Hammer name and none of the company’s ideas and the results are terribly dull and not frightening in the slightest.

I’d be interested in hearing other’s thoughts about the Frankenstein movies as I go through the rest of the Hammer sequence of films over the next week or so.

gen. 30, 2016, 1:32pm

>88 IanFryer:

It's been years since I last watched either of the movies you mention and you've given me a real yen to watch them again immediately. I haven't seriously compared the Hollywood Frankenstein movies with Hammer's ever; as a pure dilettante viewer I'm happy to enjoy it all more or less uncritically. Of course, this is made easier because the productions belong to such different eras that they are difficult to see as directly competing. (True I guess for all pre-WWII horror vs. the 1950s/60s/70s Hammer and Amicus and similar.)

Speaking of which, I gorged recently on Amicus horror anthologies I'd never seen before--still tremendous good fun.

Cushing's baron Frankenstein--yea, I remember being surprised by what an outright villain he is in at least one movie (the rape--is it in the very first one?), but it's a wonderful performance. Just recently I saw for the first time Frankenstein and the monster from hell (I think there's one more I'd never seen--Frankenstein created woman, I'm waiting for a set I ordered) and the character actually seems to me pretty consistent--a cold person fanatically devoted to his search for knowledge.

gen. 31, 2016, 8:14am

Sorry - another long 'un!

The rape scene is in Frankenstein Must be Destroyed, inserted at the insistence of the American distributors and, with grand irony, removed by the American censors on the film's original release!

Comparisons between movies from before roughly 1933 and the 1950s/60s era when censorship restrictions began to break down are especially interesting. Hailing from 1931, Frankenstein is from before the era of the Production Code, which imposed strict censorship on Hollywood movies for decades. Its depiction of horror and violence is therefore rather more graphic than say the Universal horror movies of the 1940s.

European producers began breaking these restrictions in the 1950s and 60s partially because they weren't aware of many of the fine details. My favourite example was that it was forbidden to show a character shooting at another, and that person being hit by the bullet in the same frame. The rule was broken mainly because nobody in Europe had noticed it and by the mid-1960s it was a pointless anachronism so the US censors didn't object.

Of all things, the film which finally broke the patience of the authorities toward movie censorship was MGMs Tarzan and his Mate, which features full-frontal female nudity in an underwater swimming scene (the scene is intact on the DVD release).

gen. 31, 2016, 1:07pm

>88 IanFryer:

I saw the Universal Frankenstein when I was 16. Hammer's The Curse of Frankenstein had to wait until I was in my 40s.

The earliest Universal horror films appealed partly through a kind of spurious antiquarianism: they were a bit creaky because sound was a new technology and technically and aesthetically the filmmakers were still learning how to use it. Plus, the look was heavily indebted to German Expressionism (indeed, the films were being made by German Expressionists such as Karl Freund).

I'm actually glad I didn't see the early Hammer films until later. Their look, storytelling style, pacing were very close to the kind of British melodramas that bored me as a child when they were shown on TV (usually on a weekend afternoon, as an alternative to sport). I developed an antipathy to films like that and I'm sure I needed time to dispel those feelings.

Plus, the Jack Pierce makeup had become the iconic image of the monster and was familiar, via any number of sources, from early childhood. any other version looked second-best (I had seen at least one still of the Christopher Lee make-up no later than 1976). However this is not to take away from Lee's performance. It's essentially a mime performance and he does something different from Karloff but just as poignant.

You're right, of course, about the difference between the two Baron Frankensteins. There isn't a rape committed by Cushing's Baron in the The Curse of Frankenstein, but he does get rid of his pregnant mistress by locking her in with the monster - leaving the viewer to imagine what happens next.

feb. 1, 2016, 5:35pm

I think the impact of the Jack Pierce makeup was somewhat blunted by over-familiarity by the late 1950s. There's something uniquely grungy and half-finished, genuinely horrific about Phil Leakey's Curse of Frankenstein makeup that Hammer never recaptured. Both makeup's allowed the performance to shine through, which is pretty remarkable.

Editat: feb. 1, 2016, 5:41pm

I don't know whether anyone will agree--I suspect not--but I think colour is at great disadvantage vis-à-vis black & white, in horror. Orrr, I don't know, maybe it's the impression period make-up leaves now, in my eyes. All that obviously fake blood, theatrical impasto on the faces...

feb. 1, 2016, 5:49pm

Oh, dear, just saw that Frank Finlay died. Amazing, only yesterday I watched The deadly bees and thought about how much I enjoy his work, although it's been years since I last saw any!!

Fine actor, great Van Helsing.

feb. 1, 2016, 5:49pm

Anyway, I've been meaning to watch some of the 1940's gothic melodramas made by Gainsborough pictures in England - Terence Fisher was one of the company's directors before its owners, Rank, closed the studio at the end of the decade.
I happened upon the amazing Madonna of the Seven Moons, one of at least the major productions in 1945 concerned with psychiatry and mental illness (the others being The Seventh Veil and Hitchcock's Spellbound).
It's a fascinating work, completely outlandish and aimed squarely at the female audience. Phyllis Calvert plays a woman, raped as a young women, who grew up in a convent and married a man she'd never met out of duty to her family. Outwardly happy, she has occasion mental breakdowns which cause her to change personality to Roseanna, a wild Gypsy woman in love with theif Stewart Granger.
Both men are deeply in love with Calvert and are shown being emotionally subservient to her, which makes an incredibly refreshing change for mainstream English-Language cinema. The film's theme of physical and mental transformation also echoes classic horror stories such as Jeckyl and Hyde and Wereworlf stories.
I really enjoyed watching this one. If you get the chance give it a try - the aforementioned Seventh Veil is also absolutely gripping.

feb. 1, 2016, 6:00pm

>93 LolaWalser: LolaWalser To me Hammer's use of colour in Curse of Frankenstein is interesting and well executed. Cushing is generally dressed either in a green frock coat or a grey lab coat which becomes increasingly filthy as the film continues and Frankenstein descends into Psychopathy. He only wears black indoors once as an adult, as he prepares to commit a particularly callous murder.

His lab is generally in quite dull tones, with bright colours used sparingly for details such as a red fire bucket or phials of chemicals. For what was quiteva low-budget film, the care and attention taken to the production of Curse is really admirable.

Editat: feb. 1, 2016, 6:04pm

> 94 LolaWalser Frank Finlay - what a wonderful actor! The last major role I saw him in was in The Pianist in which he lit the screen up. He'll be missed.

feb. 1, 2016, 6:21pm

>92 IanFryer:
Maybe the point about Jack Pierce's makeup design is that it's actually rather beautiful and leant itself to domestication in spoofs, toys, childrens' comics and so on. You can't say that about Phil Leakey's work (it was him, wasn't it?) on Curse.

>93 LolaWalser:
I used to think so, but it's too limited a palette. Imagine "Suspiria", or even the low-light autumnal colours used for the BBC's "Ghost Story for Christmas" replaced with black and white versions. The point about seeing the artifice is well taken though. In the restored version of "Nosferatu" you can sometimes see that Max Shreck is wearing a kind of skull cap and false ears instead of being a grainy thing direct from the land of nightmare! And the Video Nasty panic back in the 80s was possibly fuelled by the grainy smeary indeterminacy of the images on the tapes.

>94 LolaWalser:
Agree about Frank Finlay. He did relatively little genre stuff (there's "Lifeforce"...). I looked on IMDb and he played Dr John Dee in a BBC play in 1967. I bet that was taped over before the 60s were over. A shame.

>95 IanFryer:
I think I've got an off-air recording of "Spellbound" somewhere. I've have to see if I can find it.

Editat: feb. 1, 2016, 7:40pm

>96 IanFryer:

I do like the colour of Hammer movies--and that's a great point about something like Suspiria, housefulofpaper (or, for instance, my beloved Planet of vampires)--but it seems there's a difference in, how can I put it, the mode of horror imposed by colour vs. b&w. In colour, one is almost pushed to exploit gore, blood etc. whereas in b&w, psychological shock, suspense, dread must be stepped up precisely because colour is abstracted.

I could be blathering. The use of colour was probably just one of the many changes coinciding with a shift to splattery/slashery variety of movies.

In tribute to Frank Finlay, treat yourself to a "bees gone mad" Amicus production from 1966:

The deadly bees

It's on a channel that seems to be legitimate Paramount service.

feb. 1, 2016, 7:43pm

>99 LolaWalser:

Legitimate, but blocked in the UK, sad to say.

feb. 1, 2016, 7:44pm

Arghh! So sorry!

Hm, I don't get what's the point... I detest those artificial borders in virtual space more than the ones on the ground!

feb. 2, 2016, 6:46am

On this business of makeup and black & white and colour:

I've been noticing more and more, lately, the disservice done to old films by the increasingly high quality of our TVs and blu-rays and 'digitally remastered' releases and so forth. I suspect that sometimes I'm seeing makeup and such in even more detail than we would have in the original cinema showings - this must be a certainty with old TV programmes (and that's not to mention the less than perfect skin of some actors and actresses ...)

feb. 2, 2016, 8:19am

>101 LolaWalser: - I detest those artificial borders in virtual space ...

I don't understand how, in these days of practically worshipping the free market economy, they get away with such blatant price-fixing ... perhaps I'm misunderstanding something ...

I've gradually realised that when Amazon UK offers DVDs from US sellers, it will invariably describe them as Region 1 even when they're actually Region-free and, quite often, when they are region-free it's the devil of a job to find out so. So, my multi-region player died the night before last and, as far as DVDs go, it wasn't worth the money - it turned out I'd bought it (my 'best' DVD player had proved to be unhackable) to play just a small handful of DVDs.

To complicate things, it was also my VHS player. I'm thinking I might as well just bin all my VHS tapes and wait to see if I really miss anything before buying a DVD of it, but ...

... I'm now wondering whether I should be transferring all my favourite films to hard drive in anticipation of DVD and blu-ray players becoming obsolete ...

Editat: feb. 2, 2016, 12:08pm

I'd hate to have all my films on hard drives, despite the obvious savings in space (and remember how much space VHS tapes used to take up, never mind DVDs!). It's partly a generational thing about liking to have something tangible when I'm buying a film or music, but mainly a fear of being a hard drive crash away from having a marge part of my collection disappear.

>99 LolaWalser: I just remembered that I have a copy of The Deadly Bees, transferred from a VHS recording of a BBC screening.

I spent ages transferring off-air recordings so I could throw away my old and bulky tapes. So much good stuff used to show up on British TV in the 90s. I found things like 1940s Karloff B-movies made for Columbia which Channel 4 showed a season of. Happy days, not likely to return.

feb. 2, 2016, 2:07pm

>103 alaudacorax:, >104 IanFryer:

I prefer tangible stuff to "virtual" too. Yesterday I got a cheapie Christopher Lee "collection" with Satanic rites of Dracula (last Cushing-Lee Dracula collaboration, with Joanna Lumley in a very disappointing shrieking/fainting damsel in distress role--Lumley is a clever actress, capable of so much more, and here they knocked her out in a coma for most of her screen time), The horror hotel, which I had seen already as City of the dead, and Psycho Circus, the English-language version of the movie I knew as Das Rätsel des silbernen Dreiecks, one of those German-UK Edgar Wallace co-productions, with Lee, Kinski, Leo Genn, Heinz Drache etc.

I was really curious about the sound. It seems that most German actors dub themselves on the English version--I'm pretty sure that Kinski and Drache do. Leo Genn, thank heavens, can be heard in his own voice (in the German one he is evidently dubbed by somebody).

But Lee, curiously, dubs himself in English--with an "Eastern" accent! Lol! In the German version he speaks unaccented German!

This copy is otherwise very bad, blotchy, barely watchable. The Satanic rites are only okayish (no special cleanup but won't make your eyes bleed) and I haven't checked out The horror hotel yet.

Speaking of which, anyone familiar with Burn, witch, burn, with Peter Wyngarde (based on Fritz Leiber's Conjure wife?)

feb. 2, 2016, 2:32pm

"Psycho Circus" I know as "Circus of Fear" - the R2 DVD is pretty good from a technical angle, as far as I remember. I wasn't exactly blown away by the story.

"Satanic Rites of Dracula" isn't available on DVD here, although I've seen a Spanish edition available via Amazon. I've got a perfectly acceptable off-air copy from a late-night BBC showing. I have to admit to a fondness for this one despite the underwritten/underused Jessica van Helsing.

"Burn, Witch, Burn" is (minus a prologue added for the US) "Night of the Eagle". It's another film I like a lot, although I've a suspicion that (1) there was no educational establishment like that in the UK, at the time, and (2) the producers were hoping the film would be taken for a US-set feature (as being so much more glamorous than the UK)...right up until the story has to take to the road (driving on the left!) and go to Cornwall,

feb. 2, 2016, 2:50pm

>106 housefulofpaper:

Oh, so it's Night of the eagle originally... I found it on YouTube and watched just the beginning, looks good.

Wyngarde came up in one of the last places I'd have expected--J. G. Ballard's autobiography. He was interned for years in the same Japanese camp in Shanghai as the Ballards and the two boys (Wyngarde somewhat older) became friends. Later on, in England in the sixties, Ballard ran into him but the other one cut him dead.

feb. 2, 2016, 4:06pm

>107 LolaWalser:

Another Wyngarde fact - one I only found out about recently - is that he starred in production of Dracula that toured the UK in 1975.

feb. 2, 2016, 4:53pm

Ballard was also able to calculate how many years Wyngarde cut off his age for publicity purpose, as he knew they were the same age. When he made the TV series Department S in 1969 he was claiming to be in his mid-30s but looked a good ten years older. I seem to recall that Wyngarde, who was originally called something like Cyril Goldberg, tried out various posh-sounding stage names on him, too.

Editat: feb. 2, 2016, 5:13pm

>108 housefulofpaper: My.partner saw Wyngarde in a touring version of The King and I at about the same time at the Grand Theatre, Leeds.

>105 LolaWalser: The two-disc release of City of the Living Dead looks stunning and is miles better than the 'Public Domain' versions out there. I've just realised that both this and Circus of Fear have the same director, John Moxey. I have the German release of this, which has an English option on the soundtrack, though the film is far from being the best in the Edgar Wallace series.
A German co-director is credited, but I asked Moxey about this once in an on-line conversation and he'd never heard of the guy! Interestingly, Terence Fisher had a phantom co-director in the credits of his German film Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace, which he directed solo.

feb. 2, 2016, 5:08pm

>110 IanFryer:

I've seen a clip of his appearance on Russell Harty's chat show to publicise that.

feb. 2, 2016, 5:13pm

Cyril Goldbert, yes! It's funny how in the famous "hellfire" episode of The Avengers he looks much better and younger than he would only a few years later in Department S and Jason King. Again I blame colour! ;)

The seventies hair fashions did him no favour either.

feb. 2, 2016, 5:18pm

Rather an outlandish wig by this point. Apparently his coiffure on Department S was taking so long to get ready it was holding up production, so the producers insisted on a toupee. He still looks pretty good a couple of years earlier in the Checkmate episode of The Prisoner.

feb. 3, 2016, 6:02pm

Don't know if this post should be here or in the 'Gothic Music?' thread, but ...

Last night, I started to watch what looked set to be one of the most Gothic and entertaining films I've seen in a long time - Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

One of my favourite moans is that nobody knows how to start a film any more. I like to compare modern films with Casablanca, where you got a history lesson, shooting, pocket-picking, cheesy aeroplanes and the gods know what else crammed into the first five minutes - films really grabbed you by the scruff in those days - nowadays any TV cop show or soap does it much better than the average film. I've lost count of the number of films I've given up on after waiting vainly for twenty minutes or so for any sort of event or piece of relevant information.

Well, with this one last night, I was absolutely absorbed even by the opening credits - glued to the screen. And I was entranced just by the look of the thing.

Then, in the second advert-break, I closed my eyes 'for just a few seconds' ... and didn't wake up for hours. Very annoying - so annoyed I got straight online and ordered the blu-ray. Oh well.

feb. 3, 2016, 6:08pm

>88 IanFryer:
>114 alaudacorax:

I also ordered The Curse of Frankenstein so I can repeat your exercise (I already own the Karloff one but haven't watched it for a long time). I look forward to giving an evening to that.

feb. 3, 2016, 6:29pm

I've just subscribed to 'MUBI'. I won't go into details about that ...

... but their 'Film of the Day' today (which means that it will be available to watch for thirty days from today) - sounds really intriguing. It's Pere Portabella's Vampir (1970). MUBI describes it thus:

A film shot behind another! Everything is turned inside out behind the scenes of Jesús Franco’s 1972 mainstream horror film starring Christopher Lee, Count Dracula, as Spanish surrealist Pere Portabella turns on-set footage into an abbreviated, self-reflexive version of the Count’s story.

Unfortunately, since I've subscribed, the internet's been acting up round here - half the country was offline for hours yesterday and now it keeps dropping out for a minute or so every so often, which makes trying to watch anything online a really frustrating exercise. It seems I'm going to have to leave it for a few days to see if British Telecom get their act together.

feb. 3, 2016, 6:37pm

I managed to write all three of those posts before the internet connection went down again ...

feb. 4, 2016, 7:06pm

>116 alaudacorax: - '... Pere Portabella's Vampir.'

Um ...

Very strange film ...

Shot in grainy black & white - very grainy at times - often heavily contrasted - possibly sometimes with the infrared film we touched on in the previous thread. Shot as a silent film, but without the captions, I suppose it wouldn't make a lot of sense if you didn't know the basic Dracula story.

It had strange, often anachronistic juxtapositions: sometimes the crew would appear in shot, or the actors would be shown obviously out of character, or you'd see the rear of film sets; obviously set in Victorian times, he'd throw into the soundtrack the occasional sound of jet airliner, or speeding car. A few times the ominous soundtrack of long bass notes or wooden-sounding, repetitive percussion rhythms gave way to jarringly conventional light orchestral music. It was rather unsettling: for example, when I saw the backs of the film sets, I'd shortly before been thinking that some scenes were shot in some really beautiful old buildings - then, of course, I didn't now what to think. It was as if he was trying to see if he could keep you absorbed in the story while constantly reminding you it was all an illusion and play-acting.

It had a sort of odd fascination and I watched it all the way through, but I'm at a loss to say what I think of it. MUBI describes it as, "... both a horror film about the making of a horror film, and a ghostly, elusive political allegory." I have to say that the 'elusive political allegory' bit eluded me. I assume we're talking Franco's Spain, but ...

feb. 4, 2016, 7:26pm

>118 alaudacorax: - I now really want to see the relevant Jess Franco film but it's suprisingly expensive on DVD or blu-ray, and I don't feel like shelling out for it - been a bit extravagant lately.

feb. 5, 2016, 12:20pm

>119 alaudacorax:

If it's of any help, you can find it online. And not just on the video sites--in Canada it's available for streaming free through my library's arrangement with a digital service ( Perhaps there are such arrangements on your side?

feb. 5, 2016, 8:48pm

>118 alaudacorax:

Coincidentally, I very recently saw a short article about another veiled allegory from Franco's Spain, a 1972 short film called "La Cabina" (The Telephone Box). It looks as if it's been uploaded to Youtube (I didn't think to look until I started writing this!). I won't say what happens - now that it seems I have a chance to see the film, I wish the article hadn't giving away the whole story - but the writer makes the point that the film wasn't economically successful "people were frightened by the distressing subject, simply talking about it with a neighbour could have brought them problems".

I suppose, from within a situation/society like that, when there's a work of art, a drama, etc., that even indirectly refers to how things are, the implication is blindingly obvious to all. But encountering the same work from the outside, those points of reference may not be there for me (for example) and I may be taking the surface or literal meaning but missing the subtle implications.

feb. 6, 2016, 4:23am

>120 LolaWalser: - Interesting thought, Lola - thank you - I'll look into that.

Editat: feb. 6, 2016, 4:39am

>121 housefulofpaper: - An odd coincidence of my own:

On MUBI, I decided not to put Jean-Luc Goddard's Weekend on my watch list. I had some vague memory of long ago seeing it and finding it unpleasant and disturbing. Having read your post, it's dawned on me that I was for some reason confusing it with La Cabina ...

feb. 6, 2016, 4:51am

This is really not Gothic, but ...

... while we're on the subject of foreign-language films, I was saddened by the passing of Jacques Rivette a few days` ago. For some reason he chimed with my particular mental make-up.

Felt the need to mention that somewhere ...

Editat: març 4, 2016, 3:38am

>88 IanFryer:
>115 alaudacorax:

I watched The Curse of Frankenstein last night. I was intending to repeat Ian's exercise of watching it with the 1931, but I had the blu-ray release and got distracted by all the extras. There was a pilot for a TV series called Tales of Frankenstein, with Anton Diffring as F, and a film called Three Four Sided Triangle (which had no obvious connection to Frankenstein), both of which were reasonably entertaining, and several documentaries, including a rather moving one on Peter Cushing. And I never got round to watching it with the commentary.

I agree about the quality of this: I think one of the best of the Hammer Horrors - if not the best (not to take away from this, but one couldn't help noticing in one the documentaries that Hammer must have made some stinkers!) I totally agree on Christopher Lee's performance - something really special and at least as vital as Cushing's effort to the success of the film.

Nobody mentioned it in the documentaries (that I remember), but when we see the creature outside in the woodland, in that three-quarter length coat, is there a deliberate touch of Max Schrek in Nosferatu about him - not just the coat, but his bearing, as well, the way he holds himself, something about the hands?

Incidentally, when I saw the beginning of 'Sweeney Todd' the other night (>114 alaudacorax:), there was a noticeable nod to Nosferatu in the opening scene of a ship coming into harbour.

Edited for confused triangles ...

feb. 8, 2016, 7:16am

>125 alaudacorax:

I had seen it before - must have been decades ago. Oddly enough, it all came back to me on seeing Robert Urquhart.

Editat: feb. 8, 2016, 5:47pm

>125 alaudacorax:

Nobody mentioned it in the documentaries (that I remember), but when we see the creature outside in the woodland, in that three-quarter length coat, is there a deliberate touch of Max Schrek in Nosferatu about him - not just the coat, but his bearing, as well, the way he holds himself, something about the hands?

Could be, but like you, I don't recall seeing or hearing anyone make the connection. I have read that Christopher Lee was trying to suggest something marionette-like in the creature's movements. Also, somewhere (possibly the commentary you haven't listened to yet) the idea that the creature is suggestive of a casualty of the Napoleonic Wars is floated, implicitly contrasted with Cushing's Baron and bringing in an element of Class struggle/exploitation of the Working Class which runs through the Hammer films (and that echoes an earlier contrast between Lugosi's Dracula, all dressed up for the Opera, and Karloff's Creature dressed in rough working man's clothes - not an original observation of mine, I hasten to add, just another thing I've read but can't recall where, and can't give proper credit ).

feb. 8, 2016, 5:49pm

>125 alaudacorax: I've seen Tales of Frankenstein. A very frustrating experience for Hammer, as Columbia Pictures were dead set on using Hammer's name but none of its ideas. Anton Differing is well-cast as Frankenstein but the monster make-up Don McGowan is landed with is an awful takeoff of Jack Pierce's superb 1930s work with Karloff.
The great thing about this failed pilot is that Hammer prepared a set of scripts which became the basis of their subsequent series of Frankenstein horror sequels. Hammer wasted *nothing*!

Editat: feb. 8, 2016, 6:49pm

At the third time of trying I finally rewatched Hammer's 1960 film The Brides of Dracula this weekend. What a wonderful film! It's fascinating to see how a large part of the film works on the level of an adult fairy tale, and the twists that writer Jimmy Sangster performs on standard fairy tale tropes.

(This bit is somewhat spoilery so if you don't want to know the score, look away now - is there a way to hide spoilers on here?)

"The film's heroine Marianne is no screaming victim. She travels through the forest and is taken to a castle where she finds a handsome prince (Baron, actually) shackled by a golden leg iron.

Reversing convention, *she* rescues *him* from captivity, only to find that she's kissed a prince to find he's turned into a villainous frog". >

I also love the comedy Jimmy Sangster puts into these scripts - here the balance is about right, compared to The Revenge of Frankenstein, where it is somewhat overdone. Miles Malleson is terrific as a cheerfully mercenary quack doctor who becomes a sort of uncomprehending Watson to Van Helsing's Holmes for a while. This somewhat prefigures the touching relationship of Cushing's Frankenstein and Thorley Walters' Dr Herz in Anthony Hinds' script for Frankenstein Created Woman.

I could write about this film all day!

feb. 8, 2016, 6:28pm

>129 IanFryer:

"open angle bracket""spoiler""close angle bracket"your text"open angle bracket""/""spoiler""close angle bracket" should do it:


feb. 8, 2016, 6:36pm

Which is an angle bracket? Is it ? I've tried editing the oostingand can't get it to work

feb. 8, 2016, 6:42pm

>131 IanFryer:

Sorry, they won't show when I type them normally, and I don't know enough HTML to make them appear.

They're the "less than" and "greater than" symbols. They're above the comma and the full stop on my keyboard.

feb. 8, 2016, 6:50pm

Ah, thanks. I've sort of done it now. After a fashion. :-/

feb. 8, 2016, 8:38pm

I got the first season of Penny Dreadful.

I find myself rather at odds with some of you - I'm absolutely enthralled with it. I intended to watch the first episode tonight - I ended up watching four or five - and now it's 1:35 in the morning!

feb. 8, 2016, 9:33pm

>134 alaudacorax:

Ha! :) Well, I'm glad you enjoyed it. It's something that on paper I'd have wanted to enjoy more than I did. I'm looking forward to the second season nevertheless, as everyone seems to think it's an improvement.

I caught over the weekend The blood on Satan's claw. Quite impressive, stands out from the average mass of "demonic village" tales (I do love those, that's one of my favourite motifs).

Speaking of which, does anyone remember a George Sanders (I think, but it could be someone else of that type) movie, black and white, in which a city woman visits a village and is (unbeknownst to her) chosen to mate with a young idiot boy who is really the devil? She's supposed to get pregnant (I'm not sure but this may actually happen) and then the child is meant for a sacrifice.

I think the guy climbs into her bedroom on a full moon, it has to be a full moon. Pretty much the entire village is in on this and they keep hovering around the woman.

feb. 9, 2016, 3:08am

Don't know that one. Sounds interesting. I love Blood on Satan's claw, the last film of a favourite actor of mine, Patrick Wymark.

feb. 9, 2016, 11:01am

>135 LolaWalser: - Speaking of which, does anyone remember a George Sanders (I think, but it could be someone else of that type) movie, black and white, in which a city woman visits a village and is (unbeknownst to her) chosen to mate with a young idiot boy who is really the devil? She's supposed to get pregnant (I'm not sure but this may actually happen) and then the child is meant for a sacrifice.

I have a vague memory of some long ago UK television play with a plot something like that. I remember one scene where the boy was stamping his foot rather awkwardly and you suddenly glimpsed a cloven hoof.

feb. 9, 2016, 4:00pm

>135 LolaWalser:
>137 alaudacorax:

The television play is a Play for Today called "Robin Redbreast". The BFI put it out on DVD as part of their Gothic season. It was broadcast in colour, but only a black and white telerecording survives. The plot is pretty much as described although I don't remember the cloven hoof (there is a creepy dream sequence, though; it might occur in that). It would be the actor Bernard Hepton, rather than George Sanders. (Actually, I've remembered more of the play now, and the denouement is a bit different; there's a bit of a twist ending.)

I did wonder if it might be Eye of the Devil you were thinking of (David Niven rather than George Sanders this time!). Although there's a theme of ritual sacrifice (the film's something of a forerunner of The Wicker Man the plot summary on IMDb doesn't match up to your description all that well.

Actually, that plot description sounds a lot like a gender-reversed version of Algernon Blackwood's story "Ancient Sorceries" which was the ultimate source (so I gather) for Val Lewton's Cat People. Doesn't George Sanders' brother play the psychiatrist in that film?

Editat: feb. 10, 2016, 1:10pm

>137 alaudacorax:, >138 housefulofpaper:

Omg, guys you're amazing, you found it! Yes!--a television play, and now I know where to look for it! (A private account on YouTube with tons of old Brit TV--was active when I joined but went private ages ago... MUST be that.)

And who did I mis-remember as Sanders--Bernard Hepton, must be?! Some kind of "gentleman"--not a squire, I think, but defo not a peasant type/role.


feb. 10, 2016, 1:18pm

>138 housefulofpaper:

Huh, no idea about the Niven piece--I always picture him in light comedy... Sanders could very well be in the Lewton. Did he travel a lot between the US and the UK, I wonder? He was a Brit import to Hollywood, wasn't he, and then probably too big a star--but I'm very happy about the Midwich Cuckoos story he shot, whatever it was... The village of the damned. He was such a splendid villain I'm sorry he didn't do more of that in the UK, I mean for style's sake, and ambience.

Speaking of which--who should have done more villains--saw for the first time Blood from the mummy's tomb and James Villiers could have come back and done exactly the same any time he wanted, as far as I'm concerned. I read that his role was actually offered to Cushing first, but scheduling interfered. I have to say, much as I love Cushing, Villiers played so nicely it couldn't have been bettered.

feb. 10, 2016, 2:49pm

>140 LolaWalser:

I've checked - it was indeed George Sanders' brother, who acted under the name Tom Conway, in Cat People and some other Val Lewton films. Quite a life, looking at the IMDb biography. Actually, you could say that of both brothers.

I always think of James Villiers as a sinister presence in British film and TV, but principally in supporting roles: a hidebound or subtly obstructive senior Civil Servant with an undercurrent of sadistic malevolent, that kind of thing.

I'm reminded I saw him on stage once. My school organised a trip to Chichester for a production of The Way of the World, which we were studying for A level. Villiers played Petulant (again, a sort of minor villain).

feb. 10, 2016, 7:02pm

Guys, if you search for "Robin Redbreast" on YouTube you'll find there's an excellent copy posted, in public. Such great dialogue!

feb. 10, 2016, 7:03pm

And yes, now I remember "the twist" and it's great! :)

feb. 28, 2016, 11:54am

I must retract everything I said about Hammer's use of colour--having re-watched The curse of Frankenstein and Horror of Dracula for the first time in years, it's not at all as garish as I (thought I) remembered. It's probably the Roger Corman Poe movies with Vincent Price that left that impression more recently. The curse of Frankenstein especially looks positively beautiful.

I bought loads of Christopher Lee and Cushing movies. There's a very cheap 4-horror movie (on a single disc) offering from Warner Bros. which I got for The vampire lovers (expensive in other, individual issues), but be warned that something is wrong with the sound.

Finally found an affordable copy of Raw Meat (1973) (The death line being the original UK title?), with Donald Pleasence as the cop investigating disappearances in the subway. Chris Lee has a cameo... Terrific movie despite some rubbish young people acting.

feb. 28, 2016, 12:21pm

>144 LolaWalser:

The issue with colour on previous issues of Hammer films may be down to the quality of the prints or re-mastering (or whatever the equivalent term is for video) for previous releases- also, videotape never copes well with red. I've treated myself to the recent Blu-ray releases of quite a few Hammer films, including Curse.. and Horror.. (UK title just "Dracula")

Of course, things took a turn for the worse when Hammer moved production out of their own Bray studios and into Elstree. Scars of Dracula in particular looks pretty crummy (you could easily believe that the castle battlements set at film's climax had been put up in BBC Television Centre for a Morecambe and Wise sketch).

And yes, Death Line is the original, UK release title.

feb. 28, 2016, 4:03pm

>145 housefulofpaper:

Did you see it? Death Line/Raw meat I mean.

I've got Scars on Dracula on order from Amazon (ugh--but no other seller was advertising a reasonable price for new); in the meantime I caught up with Dracula, prince of darkness--so fine!--and Dracula A.D. 1972--ditto!

But the best was getting a really nice copy of Horror Express--loads of Cushing/Lee goodness, excellent scares, and a type of female assistant all too rare on screen, the no-nonsense, dependable, cigar-smoking Miss Jones. Of course they play her for jokes...

This is the movie with that immortal line (uttered by Cushing): "Monsters?! We're British!"

feb. 28, 2016, 4:49pm

>146 LolaWalser:

I've got Death Line on DVD but I don't seem to have added it to my other account yet.

It's a great little film, very '70s in its cynicism towards those in power.

Editat: feb. 28, 2016, 5:11pm

Oh, NICE. I've added you to my contacts for perusal.

I have a separate account for my music library (CDs, LPs, tapes--not scores or sheet music, which go with with the books), but for movies I only made a collection:

I see you added Deep Red recently; I've been meaning to get it for a while now. In the documentary about European horror I saw recently, Mark Gatiss mentions it as the rare instance (but he might have been talking only about one scene) where the slashee is a man and not the perennial bare-chested woman.

(Can't decide on how to emphasise film titles best--italic; underline or bold?

Maybe bold italic?

Deep Red

Deep Red

Deep Red

Deep Red

feb. 28, 2016, 5:38pm

>148 LolaWalser:

I quite like the underlining, I think. But the question has made me realise that Touchstones will never work because I've dutifully put "DVD" or "Blu-ray" in square brackets after each title!

I haven't watched that off-air recording of Deep Red yet. I might wait for the remastered Blu-ray that's due out (in the UK) in May.

feb. 29, 2016, 1:28pm

>145 housefulofpaper: >146 LolaWalser: Horror Express is a terrific picture - I remember it being on TV a lot when I was a kid, and my current DVD is a copy of an old VHS recording and still looks great. Spanish co-production, as I recall.

Scars of Dracula is sad to watch after Taste the Blood of Dracula - Hammer released the two films in the same year, which says volumes about how lacking in direction and inspiration they were at the time. It looks desperately cheap and tatty, and even has dialogue explaining why Castle Dracula looks so crummy (there was meant to be a fire or something).

Dracula AD 1972 had a poor reputation for years, but I think it's gained a sort of period charm. It's certainly a lot better than the two that followed it - haven't seen Satanic Rites of Dracula for a while, to be fair.

feb. 29, 2016, 4:14pm

I've always liked The Satanic Rites of Dracula (although that might be because it's a bit like an episode of The Professionals, a bit like a Jon Pertwee UNIT-era Doctor Who - I first saw it (on TV) a long time ago!)

However I've also seen a grotty print retitled "Count Dracula and his Vampire Bride" - I gather the film has ended up in the public domain in the US. I'd like to think I could see past the quality of the print, but I can't, and if that was the version I'd first seen I'd have a much poorer opinion of the film, I'm sure (I also couldn't get through the version of Dreyer's Vampyre that C4 screened in the '80s because of the quality of the print).

feb. 29, 2016, 4:34pm

>150 IanFryer:

Oh, glad to be reminded--I also saw Taste the blood of Dracula (only for the second time, and a long time since the first). Very enjoyable, the trio of jaded bastards conjuring Satan on a whim!

Pity to hear that about Scars of Dracula. I suppose it's evident in Dracula A.D. 1972 too that they weren't operating with the highest of budgets, but I thought that was pretty much standard for Hammer? And yet they managed some fine-looking stories.

>151 housefulofpaper:

I liked Satanic Rites of Dracula too--the sequence with the chained vampiresses was excellent, and Lumley made for one of the more interesting "brides" in the franchise, if only they didn't keep her unconscious for the best part of it. Compare to Barbara Shelley in Dracula, Prince of Darkness, how much more she was given to do.

Related, I caught Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter on Hammer's official YouTube site (I understand this is some new, American incarnation of Hammer? Did Americans buy it?), and thought it was a most interesting, original take on vampire lore. I understand it's widely derided, but what do I care... totally enjoyed it.

feb. 29, 2016, 5:07pm

>152 LolaWalser:

Apparently Hammer Film Productions is a subsidiary of this outfit:

As for Captain Kronos, I think it was only the then-Hammer management who didn't care for it.

març 1, 2016, 10:31am

>152 LolaWalser: I always loved Captain Kronos and used to get puzzled looks from other Hammer fans. It's from the Avengers team of Brian Clemens and Albert Fennell, who also did Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde for Hammer.

Hammer's budgets were under even more pressure in the 1970s because US co-production funds were drying up. Kronos was partially funded by the government agency the National Film Finance Corporation. This also explains the two Hong Kong co-Producitons they made around this time, Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires and Shatter (a tatty cop thriller with Stuart Whitman and Peter Cushing)

març 1, 2016, 6:26pm

Just rewatched Masque of the Red Death (1964), a wonderful Gothic horror movie with Vincent Price on peak form. Director Roger Corman tells the story with real verve and dazzling visuals, including a climax which eschews gore effects and instead uses dance techniques.

març 1, 2016, 6:57pm

Anyone here help me? I am sure I remember seeing on a friend's 16mm projector in the 1950s a b&w film about a killer moth(?) that was trained to attack people using a particular hair cream produced by the owner and handed out to his pals as a gift. It all sounds a bit like Blood Beast Terror with Peter Cushing and Wanda Ventham but that was late 1960s. I'd like to stop scratching this particular itch.

març 2, 2016, 4:45am

>154 IanFryer: - I vaguely remember Captain Kronos, but not enough to comment, but I seem to remember I thought Legend of the Seven Golden Vampire quite good. I must try to remember to keep checking the schedules on the Horror Channel - I rarely do.

>155 IanFryer: - Great film - now can't read the story without seeing Vincent Price (as with House of Usher/The Fall of the House of Usher).

>156 abbottthomas: - New one on me - sounds like one of those, possibly apocryphal, CIA plots against Castro. I do remember that 50s hair cream, though, a horror in itself when I think back.

març 2, 2016, 11:45am

març 2, 2016, 12:43pm

>156 abbottthomas:
>158 MMcM:

I think it's The Devil Bat - it's not a film I've seen (yet) but it certainly tallies with the plot synopses I've read.

març 2, 2016, 1:36pm

I must have seen The Devil Bat because it's included in the Tales of Terror 50-movie pack, which I have and have gone through systematically. But with so many bats and devils in my collection generally, it's getting mighty hard to remember the particulars...

>155 IanFryer:

I've yet to see that. The story itself left a very strong impression in my mind and I'm somewhat reluctant to associate Roger Corman's sensibility to it.

Anyone here familiar with The Chamber of Horrors, from 1966, with Colonel Pickering Wilfrid Hyde-White as one half of an amateur detective duo? It has an interesting premise--Hyde-White is a sculptor and crime hobbyist working in partnership with the owner of a wax museum--a GREAT villain (Patrick O'Neal, not an actor I know, giving a wonderful performance), nice sets, skilful dialogue, the usual shady babes and murders apparently too gory for its intended mission of getting a TV series going... so they made it into a movie--with a final hook for another episode, but to no avail... more's the pity.

març 2, 2016, 2:20pm

>158 MMcM: >159 housefulofpaper: >160 LolaWalser: Thank you SO much! Moth/bat, hair cream/after shave, same difference really. The poster on IMDb fits. Suzanne Kaaren was a real screamer - you can tell by her eyes ;-)

Editat: març 2, 2016, 3:36pm

>160 LolaWalser: Funnily enough, watching Corman's film (and I know what you mean about his sensibility) send me off to read the Poe stories Hop-Frog and Masque of the Red Death it was based on. Apparently it also takes elements from Auguste Villiers de l'isle Adam's Torture by Hope.

març 2, 2016, 4:28pm

Yes--I'm not a huge fan of Poe's (and I enjoy Corman's work a lot, as a thing of its own) but I'm glad my early readings of his stories were "untainted" by Corman's visions, they managed to leave impressions infinitely darker, creepier and scarier than what can be achieved in Technicolor!

març 2, 2016, 4:44pm

>160 LolaWalser:

I've read about Chamber of Horrors somewhere...I was intrigued enough by your post to see if it was available on DVD. It is - Region 2 from Spain (via Amazon Marketplace; can't be helped, I'm afraid).

I've got a lot of stuff as Spanish DVD's that I couldn't get otherwise: The Shuttered Room, the two Kolchak the Night Stalker TV movies, Trilogy of Terror, The Creeping Flesh...

març 2, 2016, 5:07pm

Has anyone seen Crimson Peak yet?

I enjoyed it, but I didn't find it as engaging or moving as Pan's Labyrinth (I haven't seen The Devil's Backbone yet). The story isn't as original as his Spanish-language films. An unfriendly critic could even say that it's composed of nothing but genre clichés (although del Toro, in his typically erudite commentary to the Blu-ray, says Crimson Peak is a very personal film to him, in the top three, I think he said).

Visually it's as opulent and (over?) designed as Coppola's Dracula.

març 2, 2016, 6:21pm

>164 housefulofpaper:

Oh, I shop from the Amazon Marketplace (various sellers), it's buying from Amazon direct that I'm trying to avoid. Kolchak--now there's that name again, someone mentioned it and I was able (ages ago) to find a blurry episode on YouTube, but it wasn't an experience conducive to seeking more. I think it's fair to say I don't really know what it's about--is it played for real, or is it comedy? How do you like it?

Haven't seen Crimson Peak--I gather we're talking about Guillermo del Toro, and, I hate to be that person but I guess I'm that person--if you liked Pan's Labyrinth, do try to see Victor Erice's The Spirit of the Beehive, if you haven't already! It's just that the older movie is so much better and yet many more people will have seen the del Toro.

It's not a remake, not exactly... but it copies so much from Erice it's somehow worse than a remake, because it supplants without homage.

març 2, 2016, 6:55pm

>69 LolaWalser:, >70 IanFryer:, >76 Rembetis:, etc.

Well, I have to say that I'm absolutely smitten by Penny Dreadful. I've watched the first two seasons twice.

I love the rich language (not talking about the effing and blinding, here, which, to be sure, a tad startles on times), and chunks of dialogue often like short strands from a chess game.

I love the murky, gas-lit - I suppose I have to say 'Gothic' - look of it. Even when it's outdoors in daylight it's snowing or stormy or something.

I love the fact that all the main characters are - shall I say 'morally dubious'. I love the suffusion of Decadence that runs through it.

I'm sure I see little nods and illusions to all sorts of classics of horror cinema, Gothic literature and beyond. I get the impression that someone - presumably John Logan - really knows the genres and is having fun with them - almost to the extent of gentle mickey-taking.

It's almost as if members of this group had a go at making a telly programme (it wasn't you lot and you haven't told me - was it?)

març 2, 2016, 7:01pm

>166 LolaWalser:

I know my film history well enough to have a vague idea about Spirit of the Beehive, but I haven't see it. I wasn't aware that Pan's Labyrinth was modelled on an earlier film, rather than (unconsciously or otherwise) having a background and themes in common. I'm guessing you might tend to see Crimson Peak as a bricolage of Henry James, Rebecca, Flowers in the Attic, Bluebeard,etc, etc.

Kolchak (played by Darren McGavin) was, to begin with, a well-received TV movies dating back to the early '70s. Produced by Dan Curtis who had been the guiding hand behind the supernatural day-time soap opera Dark Shadows, and around this time was doing TV movies with a supernatural theme - The Jack Palance Dracula, for example. (I should say that the movie was actually called The Night Stalker).

Kolchak was I understand an unpublished novel by - Jeff Rice? (yes - Touchstones work) which Richard Matheson and Curtis fairly heavily reworked to turn into a suitable screenplay. Down-heel-reporter investigates murders of call girls, dancers, etc in Vegas, finds out it's a vampire, disbelieved by authorities, has to deal with it alone, official cover up. all very gritty (for US network TV), all very Watergate-era. Good stuff.

There was a second TV movie, called The Night Strangler. Generally agreed to be good, but not quite as good. as the first one. Another city, another supernatural killer that Kolchak has to deal with. Credulity is beginning to stretch, not only because of the mere fact of Kolchak being in this kins of situation again, but he's been reunited with his old boss (played by Simon Oakland).

And then there's a series. A third city, working for Simon Oakland again, and by now it's essentially monster-of-the week. The tone of the thing is cosier (the interactions between the regulars, in the TV show when contrasted with McGavin, Oakland, the supporting cast of girlfriends, cops, etc.) is comparable, I guess, to the difference between M*A*S*H the film and M*A*S*H the TV series). Being a 1970s TV series, there is no character development, as of course once in syndication episodes could be shown in any order.

All that said, there are still a good handful of episodes that deliver quality B-movie type entertainment.

The TV movies haven't been shown on British TV for nearly 20 years (to be fair, no terrestrial channel programmes old US TV movies these days - not even Dual). The series was shown late at night in the late 90s, when The X-Files were in their pomp. What's annoying is that the TV series has been brought out on DVD here, but not the (superior) TV movies.

març 3, 2016, 10:33am

>167 alaudacorax:

Wow, I'm really glad it came up then, it's fun hearing how much fun you had with it, Paul (apologies for calling you "Peter" somewhere above--at least I remembered it's not "Mary"! :))

>168 housefulofpaper:

Found a sharp copy of the first episode of the TV show on DailyMotion (Episode One: The Ripper), but not the (apparently superior) movies. Not bad--keeping the monster mysterious was a good call and well done--but didn't really grab me.

març 3, 2016, 12:30pm

>157 alaudacorax: I have a real soft spot for 'Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires' (Cushing is excellent as ever, but the rest - including a Pantomime Dame Dracula courtesy of John Forbes-Robertson - is so bad that it's good). This was my first 'X' film at the cinema. I was 13 at the time, and, to try and look 18, I wore my dad's 'British Rail' duffel coat; platform shoes; and my elder sister pencilled in a 5 o'clock shadow on my face with black eyeliner (I kid you not). It worked a treat, which wasn't such good news when the trick worked again a few weeks later and I got into a re-issue of 'The Exorcist', then couldn't sleep for three weeks.

>165 housefulofpaper: I enjoyed 'Crimson Peak' but it was no where near the standard of 'Pan's Labyrinth' or 'The Devil's Backbone'. Although it was a visual feast, it simply wasn't scary, and the story was predictable.

Sometimes, don't you guys think the cinema audience adversely affects your viewing? When I saw 'Crimson Peak', the audience were very restless, shifting about in their seats, bored, a few chatting. A couple of mobile phones came on throwing small pools of light into the cinema (one of my pet hates). It was difficult to fully immerse myself in the film.

Talking about Del Toro, has anyone been watching his tv series 'The Strain'? 2 seasons have been aired so far. I am really enjoying it.

>167 alaudacorax: Glad you enjoyed 'Penny Dreadful'!

març 3, 2016, 6:08pm

>170 Rembetis:

It must be five years or more since I've seen a film actually in the cinema (it was Watchmen). That crowd wasn't too bad, apart from the person who felt moved to (loudly) proclaim his shock/disbelief/whatever whenever Dr Manhattan went full-frontal. It was well beyond a joke long before the films three-hour running time was up.

When nobody's ruining it, though, the experience of seeing a film in the cinema is (of course) better that watching it at home.

That's a great story about sneaking into an 'X'...I was never that enterprising. Come to think of it I don't recall hearing of anyone I knew at school attempting it either. Maybe it was because video rental had come along by the time I was in my teens (I've said before my first "proper" horror film was The Lugosi/Browning Dracula, but it might actually have been about 20 minutes of The Omen.

My dad had borrowed a video recorder and some tapes, to "test drive" before deciding to buy one for the family (we got a Betamax!)

I haven't watched The Strain. I didn't bother with it because I really didn't enjoy the book (which del Toro co-wrote with someone...Chuck Hogan. Although as it was the style rather than the plot that I didn't like, I should have given series the benefit of the doubt, I suppose! I'll keep an eye out for it on satellite.

març 3, 2016, 8:44pm

>171 housefulofpaper: I go to the cinema about once a week, sometimes twice. The crowd is usually ok, however, I've had quite a few bad experiences. Recently, the worst was at an afternoon showing of the new 'Dad's Army' movie full of pensioners - lots of loud talking throughout!

I am often surprised with modern horrors how frightened young people get (e.g. lots of screaming during 'Annabelle' and 'Woman in Black - Angel of Death' - both mediocre films). I think I've seen so many horror films that, what might be fresh to young eyes, seems derivative to me.

Quite a few of my friends tried to get into 'X' films in the mid 70s, with varying degrees of success. The showing of 'Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires' was at Finchley Gaumont (a lovely long gone cinema) around 1976, in an entertaining double bill with 'Enter the Dragon'!

Video came a few years later for me. We got a Betamax machine too, around 1979 - you're right that video was a game changer!

I can't recall what my first horror film was - probably one of the Universal or Hammer horrors on tv in the late 60s or early 70s.

I'd recommend 'The Strain'. It has mixed reviews but I found it quite scary and exciting. David Bradley is so good in it.

Editat: març 4, 2016, 10:05am

Good news! An organisation in the next town to me wants me to do some talks about film.

Bad News: It's in a church so I can't do Gothic (or any other type of) horror.

març 4, 2016, 2:54pm

>173 IanFryer:

Congratulations! I'd be interested to know what subject you settle on.

març 4, 2016, 8:22pm

I don't suppose telly would work, but my first thought was All Gas and Gaiters. :)

Found the few remaining episodes in the usual place--wonderful stuff (William Mervyn, Derek Nimmo, Robertson Hare).

Editat: març 6, 2016, 6:50am

Sorry to keep harping on Penny Dreadful, but I have this itch I can't scratch.

Since first seeing the first episode, I've had this idea that I've come across the name 'Vanessa Ives' elsewhere. I have the suspicion that she's a 'borrowed' character, like Dr Frankenstein or Dorian Gray. But I can't, for the life of me, remember where I've seen it, and I can't find anything relevant online.

I suppose it's most probable that I came upon the Penny Dreadful character's name somewhere or other before the programme really registered with me, and that's what I'm really remembering - but I thought I'd ask here, just in case. Can anyone shed any light?

març 6, 2016, 7:16am

>176 alaudacorax:

Not to worry, I'm definitely interested. I keep trying to find the time to re-watch season one, and watch season two.

According to The Art and Making of Penny Dreadful, John Logan created the Vanessa Ives character.

He could have taken the name from elsewhere, consciously or unconsciously, I suppose. After all, there was a character named "Alan Partridge" in the '80s soap Brookside the best part of a decade before the Steve Coogan character was created. That said, A quick internet search didn't turn up any references to another literary Vanessa Ives.

març 6, 2016, 8:15am

No, quite a thorough internet search doesn't turn up anything, either, so I'm probably wrong about it - one of those tricks the memory plays on you.

març 6, 2016, 11:11am

It does sound like a name well-chosen for the period (and the character), for some reason, probably we tend to have similar associations. "Vanessa" is exotic, Renaissance-y (Italian), pre-Raphaelite--there we go, misty 19th century, and yet "Ives" (eaves, leaves, ivy, lives, eyes) renders it a touch modern, strong short name for a new woman (Vanessa Something-Somethingelse would easily be more "Victorian").

Funnily enough, my best childhood friend (until second grade, then we were just second-best) was called Vanesa (single s but same pronunciation) and a less ethereal, Renaissance, Victorian or pre-Raphaelite creature is hard to imagine... Until somewhat displaced by the impression of Vanessa Stephen/Bell (Vanessa Redgrave for some reason doesn't figure) a Vanessa was in my mind a jolly stocky blonde, no brains but terrific good cheer, who lived to eat.

Editat: març 7, 2016, 4:45am

>179 LolaWalser:

I was surprised to discover that the name 'Vanessa' was invented by Jonathan Swift.

On your mention of genres of painting, I've noticed that in some of Vanessa's 'at home' scenes her dress and posture are based on Victorian paintings (probably other scenes, too, and I just haven't noticed). I was intending to hunt some of them up, but I've decided I've become overly-obsessed by the series and that it's time to move on (at least until the third series is available on DVD!)

març 7, 2016, 1:12pm

>180 alaudacorax:

Damn, I knew that once--because of the butterflies...! But there is the similar, much older Italian "Vanna".

Hm, you really think they went to such pains to recreate paintings and whatnot in the TV show? Can't say it struck me as that much of an effort... Still, should try to get to the second season, before I forget everything about the first.

març 7, 2016, 2:52pm

I watched House of Dracula (1945), this evening.

In the immortal words of Graham Chapman, "TOOOOO SILLY!"

març 7, 2016, 3:27pm

>181 LolaWalser:

I should have said 'I suspect' they were based on Victorian paintings - they rang bells ... could be wrong - like the 'Vanessa Ives' name thing ...

març 7, 2016, 4:19pm

>182 alaudacorax:

What did you think of John Carradine as the Count?

I listened to a podcast last night which included a long discussion of various dramatisations of Dracula and of the actors who took the role.

They were very positive about Carradine - they even (heretical suggestion!) prefer him to Christopher Lee, at least in the first Hammer Dracula (Dracula/Horror of Dracula). "Too young, too urbanely normal" would sum up their verdict on Lee - the very characteristics that were singled out for praise in English Gothic.

març 7, 2016, 6:46pm

I like Carradine well enough as The Count, though I'm at a loss to explain his top hat. For me, he fatally lacks sex appeal, a vital factor in any cinema Dracuka. The same thing applies to Son of Dracula's Lon Chaney Jr.

març 7, 2016, 7:24pm

>185 IanFryer:

Funny you should say that. I was going to post that I'd never seen House of Dracula and that I always find it difficult even to recall Carradine's features--which I think may be connected to what you note. I know I've seen movies with him--very recently in The house of long shadows--but the second he's off screen my memory blanks him.

Maybe it's the American accents that don't work with fangs? ;)

Poor Lon Chaney Jr. For some reason whenever I watch his movies I get distracted feeling terminally sorry for him.

març 8, 2016, 5:03am

>186 LolaWalser: I know what you mean about Lon Chaney. My partner used to watch him in the TV show Hawkeye and the Last of the Mohicans in which the by now rotund and drink-affected white actor played Chingachgook. She just thought he was the cutest, cuddliest thing on TV - not what you need from a Dracula!

The long-faced, cadaverous Carradine actually comes across as quite a good fit for Stoker's conception of the character. He even wanted to sport a long moustache for the Universal films but the studio made him change it for an smaller, Errol Flynn type (or a Stan Ogden, for long-term fans of Coronation Street).

març 8, 2016, 5:08am

>184 housefulofpaper:

I don't think it was really much of a role for him to work with or for me to judge. I wasn't overly impressed, but I can't say I thought him bad, either. I suppose he had a sort of odd, elongated look to him that gave him a touch of other-worldliness.

Oddly, like >185 IanFryer: - though I don't know why - the top hat struck me as a bit incongruous as I was watching - though, as far as I remember, it worked well enough for Lugosi and Oldman - can't, offhand, remember Christopher Lee in a top hat. Perhaps it was just too much hat - as I was watching a line came to mind from a long-forgotten sitcom - 'What a lot of unnecessary hat!'

>184 housefulofpaper:

I grew up on Christopher Lee as Dracula, so I'm probably quite incapable of ever seeing Carradine as a better.

>186 LolaWalser:

I see what you mean about Chaney - there's a sad look about him. He does look quite a nice chap, too - which is possibly a detriment - he's rather lacking that touch of danger about him - or, at least, he was in this film.

Incidentally, I thought the bat was a lousy actor.

Editat: març 8, 2016, 5:15am

>187 IanFryer: - Ah, Ian got in before me with the bit about Lon Chaney looking 'nice'.

març 8, 2016, 9:56am

Yes, that's exactly it--he looks cuddly and NICE. At least, a lot of the times. I just thought of one movie where this is not quite true (I think...)--but, ahem... I don't remember the title...

Contemporary setting, 1950s/60s--and I think England (no explanation for Chaney's accent), so probably a British picture--Chaney's the head of a sinister family whose neighbours (the hero's people) had in the past caused the burning of one of Chaney-people as a witch--and Chaney et al. are raising her from the dead to wreak revenge.

Very effective graveyard scenes and excellent, truly scary witch.

març 8, 2016, 12:08pm

>190 LolaWalser: That'll be Witchcraft, from 1964. I'll have to put that on my To Watch list. Director Don Sharp did some very good work in the horror genre.

març 8, 2016, 3:20pm

Yesss--that's it--the Whitlocks and the Laniers, I recognise the names! Always the French newcomers against the ancient druidical Saxons...! Funny, for some reason I thought it would be unfindable.

març 8, 2016, 6:13pm

Carradine had the air of a riverboat gambler, something like that...he wore his top hat at a slightly jaunty angle, I seem to remember. For me, he was the "too normal" Dracula.

In later life he developed a very wrinkled, or rather seamed face (like W. H. Auden) and was quite a grotesque presence in things like The Sentinel (a Michael Winner film, I cannot recommend it).

Editat: març 9, 2016, 4:30am

>193 housefulofpaper: - ... (a Michael Winner film, I cannot recommend it).

Hah-hah! Love that little aside. I know what you mean - seen a few Winner films and they can be disturbing in quite a wrong way.

ETA - Personally, I found those insurance adverts of his a bit creepy, too ...

març 9, 2016, 5:49am

>193 housefulofpaper: >194 alaudacorax: Yes, Winner seemed to have a hot streak in the 60s and early 70s then become the worst director in the world. I finally saw his 60s war movie Hannibal Brooks recently, via a Korean DVD and it was *so* sloppily written and directed. Almost anyone could have done better!

The Mechanic (1972) starring Charles Bronson is pretty good - better than Death Wish, which could have been an incredible film in the hands of a half-decent director.

Sorry, rant over!

març 10, 2016, 8:26am

>180 alaudacorax:, >180 alaudacorax:

Sorry to be harping on about Penny Dreadful again, but:

Prompted by the new 'Gothic Artworks' thread, I've been looking at works by Caspar David Friedrich, and I came upon his Frau vor untergehender Sonne ... I'm going to believe that's definitely Vanessa Ives ...

Editat: març 10, 2016, 9:03am

On the subject of Caspar David Friedrich and telly, any fans of Lost Girl here?

The - I assume - tarot card used to represent Bo's (possible) father is clearly based on Friedrich's 'Wanderer above the Sea of Fog'. Just for my curiosity, does anyone know if this is a real tarot card and, if so, from which pack? It looks as if it ought to be, but any search I do just links to Lost Girl.

març 10, 2016, 11:35am

>197 alaudacorax: I have been using the well known Rider Waite Tarot pack for 30 years off and on, and The Wanderer isn't included, and I don't think it is included in the vast majority of tarot packs. However, I have seen one pack (the 'Wild Wood Tarot') which has 'The Wanderer' to represent 'The Fool' tarot card. The Wanderer card in the Wild Wood Tarot is a different picture to the one above - I don't know which pack that one is from, unless it was specially designed for the tv programme (which I haven't seen).

març 10, 2016, 3:17pm

>196 alaudacorax:

Great find!

>198 Rembetis:

'The Wanderer' to represent 'The Fool' tarot card

As an increasingly tired Wanderer, I feel that might be increasingly fitting. :)

març 10, 2016, 7:02pm

>199 LolaWalser: Haha! You and me both!

abr. 2, 2016, 8:29am

On the forerunner of this thread we had three or four posts on Douglas Wilmer as Sherlock Holmes ...

R.I.P. Douglas Wilmer ...

abr. 2, 2016, 8:35am

>201 alaudacorax:

And the box set is still languishing on one of my Amazon wish lists - trouble is, the lists have got so long ...

abr. 2, 2016, 9:56am

>202 alaudacorax: I have certainly enjoyed watching the performances again. Wilmer is just right even if Nigel Stock comes over as an old buffer. The sets show their age - look out for Holmes climbing over a 'brick' wall very obviously made of wood, and hollow. We were better at suspending disbelief in those days.

abr. 2, 2016, 10:03am

Oh, I'm sad. But glad he'd lived a nice long life and for that last involvement with Sherlock. That's a lovely tweet from Gatiss.

abr. 2, 2016, 10:14am

>201 alaudacorax:

Sad news about Douglas Wilmer. I've watched the Sherlock Holmes box set since those earlier posts and was really quite impressed. Despite the technical limitations of '60s TV (studio sessions short almost as live theatre with filmed inserts, exacerbated by what Wilmer (in the commentary tracks) criticised as a fairly chaotic production team behind the cameras. Wilmer's Holmes is impressive - commanding but, in the context of a TV production, believable and not over-theatrical. The availability of East End and Docklands location filming, when it still looked as it did in Victorian times, is a real asset to a couple of stories.

Particularly pertinent to this group is the treatment of the more Gothic stories. The back stories (for example in "The Copper Beeches") which after all can take up 50% or more of the screen time, are allowed to breathe and their "Gothicness" isn't reined in at all. I think I prefer the Wilmer version of The Copper Beeches to the Jeremy Brett one from 20 years later.

Looking back over those earlier posts, we'd mentioned Threads. I still haven't nerved myself up to watch but the screenplay was by Barry Hines, who also passed away recently.

Apparently the recent US paperback of A Kestrel for a Knave (from Valancourt Books) is its first publication in that country.

abr. 2, 2016, 10:35am

>205 housefulofpaper:

Have you seen him as Nayland Smith since we talked about the Fu Manchu movies? Very enjoyable. In one of them he has a double role as himself and Fu Manchu's agent who had been surgically modified to be his copy--absolutely my favourite instance of that trope.

abr. 2, 2016, 11:29am

>206 LolaWalser:

I haven't, but quite by chance The Vengeance of Fu Manchu is on (Satellite TV Channel) Talking Pictures TV tomorrow!

abr. 2, 2016, 11:32am

Ooh, don't miss it!

(I think they can still, ahem, be found on a certain video site... but best make sure you have an adblocker installed...)

abr. 18, 2016, 9:26pm

Anyone have any knowledge of Symptoms (1974)? Released in a week's time.

My fallible memory is really playing me up on this one. I have absolutely no memory of ever seeing it; at the same time, I seem to remember Angela Pleasence as a really powerful performer in some scary stuff back in the day - and at the same time as that, I can't, for the life of me, remember in what. So I suppose it's just possible that this scared the wotsits off me, long ago.

Editat: abr. 25, 2016, 5:16am

I could have sworn I'd read discussion of The Witches (1966) on this thread or its predecessor - apparently not.

That's rather derailed my post, now ...

I had meant to write a humorous little piece about how I really must re-learn sleeping at nights, and about Horror Channel's abysmal scheduling decisions, about how I sat down to watch it yesterday evening, noting at the time that I really don't like sitting down to horror films in daylight but that I'd make an exception in this case because you lot had been writing about it, about how, 'just after' thinking that, I woke up a couple of hours later with the film finished, about how there are two more showings scheduled for ten this morning and 1:00pm on Friday and how I'm damned if I'm going to watch telly that early in the day. I was going to write one ... I won't bother now.

Perhaps I'll write a post about resolving to NOT write too-long sentences ...

ETA - and then went and posted it on the wrong damn' thread ...

Editat: abr. 26, 2016, 2:03pm

>209 alaudacorax:

I missed your post, sorry...

I've never seen Symptoms; all I know about it is what I've read in English Gothic, and the BFI's online stuff about this upcoming release.

Angela Pleasance is in a segment of one of those Amicus portmanteau films, alongside her father (Donald Pleasance, of course) and Ian Bannen. She's very creepy in that. All three are.

abr. 26, 2016, 5:26am

>211 housefulofpaper:

Something wrong with your touchstone there, houseful - links to Jane Eyre.

I guess you're referring to English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema and you've reminded me that I really must get my own copy of that. It's really about time - I've had it on a wish list since you first referred to it on these threads way back in September '13.

The latest edition is a bit expensive - but then again it might have stopped me spending money on some pretty feeble DVDs. Nope - that doesn't pan out - it would probably have resulted in greater spending - but on better films. Anyway, I want it.

abr. 26, 2016, 7:13am

>212 alaudacorax:

Um - having hunted online, I think it's expensive because most sellers are awaiting a new print run and those who have some left are upping the price to take advantage. I can wait a bit longer, I suppose.

abr. 26, 2016, 11:04am

>209 alaudacorax:, >211 housefulofpaper:

That Donald + Angela Pleasence story, where they ensnare the married guy who (what was it, buys matches from Donald on the street?)--yes, superbly creepy!! I must get that.

I've been busy with stuff and thus ended my horror phase... have been watching David Attenborough's nature documentaries instead in a funereal mood...

Actually--there was one very enjoyable horror flick I saw recently--Monster Club! Vincent Price narrates the "frame" to three stories each about different type of monsters. Loved it. Donald Pleasence shows up in the second one, which has more of a comedic tone, but the first and the third story have great creepy atmosphere. The third one, dealing with zombies/ghouls, has a stronger sense of horror than any zombie movie I've seen except for the George Romero.

abr. 26, 2016, 11:43am

>-214 ... Monster Club!

That looks intriguing - if only for the cast - every British genre stalwart except Cushing and Lee seems to be in it. And that it's based on a book by R Chetwynd-Hayes who's played by John Carradine in the film - somebody had a playful sense of humour. I know the name, I'm sure - must have him in anthologies around here somewhere.

And having written that lot, I've just had a belly-laugh surprised out of me while looking for his books on Amazon: the title of his book of vampire tales - Looking for Something to Suck ...

abr. 26, 2016, 2:54pm

>212 alaudacorax:
>214 LolaWalser:

I was lazy. Didn't check the touchstone. I've fixed it now.

The film containing the Angela Pleasance segment is From Beyond the Grave, (1974). It was the last Amicus portmanteau film, apparently. The Monster Club was a Milton Subotsky film, but he had dissolved the partnership with Max J. Rosenberg, and had a different production company when he made it.

I remember that The Monster Club was quite heavily promoted in children's comics and so forth on its original UK release, but had been given an "AA" certificate (no one under 14 was allowed to see it - officially, at any rate). I didn't see it until years later and it looked quite old fashioned (especially the musical bits - the camera zooming in and out on B. A. Robertson, for example: Groovy, Man! - and the choice of acts wan't exactly "on trend", either. But the film's definitely grown on me over the years.

I haven't read great deal of his stuff (I've actually got, still unread, the Valancourt Books re-release of his collection entitled The Monster Club) but I know R. Chetwynd Hayes was an editor of short story collections as well as an author. He as took over the editorship of the "Fontana Book of Ghost Stories" series from Robert Aickman.

Editat: abr. 26, 2016, 9:39pm

>214 LolaWalser:, >215 alaudacorax:, >216 housefulofpaper:

After my last post, on an impulse, I downloaded The Monster Club to my Kindle (it was the cheapest of the two available) - and I've spent the whole evening reading the whole book, thoroughly absorbed. I really like this writer and I'll certainly read more of him.

I'm a little uneasy with the 'About the writer' section referring to his 'tongue-in-cheek' monster stories: that seems to suggest a certain distance from, or satirising of, the genre. In places there is affectionate and humorous parody of some tropes of horror literature and cinema, but I thought the stories quite committed with a strong chill factor balanced with - or more than balancing - the humour. There are some bits I have no idea whether to class as parody, black humour or surrealism and they give an intriguing oddity in places. Quite inventive writing.

I gathered from the Introduction that the film doesn't use exactly the same group of C-H stories as the book.

Oh - and the producer of the film, Milton Subotsky, appears in the book, in slightly anagramised form, as a vampire. Make of that what you will.

ETA - I suppose this post should have been on 'So whatcha readin', kids?' ...

abr. 27, 2016, 1:05pm

Huh, so Chetwynd-Hynes is a real author, that wasn't clear to me after the movie...

From Beyond the Grave! yes, thanks! Oh, look, available for a not-outrageous price... unlike The House That Dripped Blood and Dr. Terror's House of Horror (blast!-I must get that!-at some point! Cushing + Lee)

maig 16, 2016, 3:16pm

I should report that I've now seen Symptoms, but I feel at a disadvantage talking about it. Both articles in the accompanying booklet (an original essay and David Pirie's original review for "Sight and Sound" Magazine refer to Repulsion - which is yet another film I haven't seen.

What I can say is that it struck me as a companion piece to Vampyres, a more restrained tale, less lurid, the supernatural kept in the background, but with the same focus on two women in a large Gothic house.

Larraz concentrates on atmosphere here. The camera lingering on water (gentle, dappled reflections in a lake giving way to driving rain crashing against the windows of the house) and searching close ups of Angela Pleasance's and Lorna Heilbron's faces.

Editat: maig 17, 2016, 3:51am

>219 housefulofpaper:

I hadn't taken on board that it's by the same director as Vampyres.

I've been debating with myself the last couple of evenings: Vampyres Symptoms is £5-10 to watch on BFI, which seems rather expensive when you can buy the DVD for £12-odd. BFI is a hell of a temptation - lots of films I'd like to see - but all those £4s or £5s would soon mount up. Actually, I rather disapprove of BFI's mix of subscription viewings and individually purchased viewings - it seems very commercial and reminds me of Amazon or some such - a money-making venture - and then you log on and they ask for donations ...

maig 17, 2016, 6:25am

>220 alaudacorax:

Or a subscription to Sky, and paying extra for one-off's through Sky Box Office.

You have to assume that any money going to the BFI is being used for a better cause than that of one media mogul's global domination, though!

Editat: jul. 26, 2016, 9:19pm

>12 Rembetis:

I've just watched that 1949 version of The Fall of the House of Usher.

I assume your description, '... an interesting take on Poe ...', was either diplomacy or sarcasm.

I was so convinced that nobody in it except Gwen Watford was a proper actor that I checked on IMDb as soon as it finished - sure enough, everyone else had only that one screen appearance to their credit. I assume the director or whoever went to the nearest pub and asked if anyone wanted to be in a film. It looks like it didn't do poor Gwen Watford much good, either - her first ever screen appearance and she didn't get another for seven years.

And I was not at all surprised that neither of the screenwriters ever had another credit - they were lucky Poe's ghost didn't haunt them. The only ways to lift the curse off Roderick and Madeline are either to burn their mother's lover's head - or to kill Madeline!!! Eh? I played that bit over - didn't think I'd heard it correctly first time.

One thing puzzles me: Roderick and Madeline's mother - down in the cast list as 'The Hag' - is credited to Lucy Pavey; in at least two scenes, however, you can clearly see a very male-looking pair of shoes and trouser-bottoms peeping out from under 'her' skirts. Having said that, Gwen Watford went through the film in that shroud-like nightgown sort of affair, yet she always had a hefty pair of boots sticking out from underneath, too.

I've got to give a final mention to the gardener. Pair of wellies, kipper tie and a cloak?

Having said all that, it did have a sort of weird fascination. I didn't give up on it - watched right through to the end, albeit from between my fingers, sometimes (because of the 'acting', not the scariness).

ETA - In fact, they took so many liberties with the story that I became convinced that the 'hero' (you saw precious little of him) was going to ride off into the sunset with Madeline/Gwen at the end. I was a bit disappointed.

Editat: jul. 27, 2016, 5:57pm

>222 alaudacorax:

I recorded the film and sort-of watched/monitored to edit out the commercial breaks, intending to watch it properly later, so I didn't spot the footwear or weird deviations from Poe's story.

I did think that the "hag" was properly skin-crawling though - but that might just be in the nature of a full-face rubber mask. I never liked the "False Face" character Malachi Throne played in the Adam West/Burt Ward Batman tv series, for the same reason.

Edited to add: Jonathan Rigby notes (in English Gothic) that the film was shot at Netherwood in Hastings, whilst Aleister Crowley was living out his last days there.

Editat: jul. 28, 2016, 5:45am

>223 housefulofpaper:

Interesting edit - I was taken with the house. I was a little bemused by the pots of dried pampas grass or whatever it was (not really sure); they seemed very banal and everyday in what looked a quite atmospheric setting (not to mention possibly anachronistic) - made me think of rented seaside apartments of my 'fifties childhood. I'd have expected Crowley to have had something ... darker?

ETA - That's reminded me that I really need to read up on Crowley - know little about him and he keeps coming up in these threads and my reading.

jul. 28, 2016, 6:40am

>223 housefulofpaper: - ... Jonathan Rigby notes (in English Gothic) ...

I've been wanting that book for so long and the prices on the updated version are absolutely ridiculous for such a new book. And nothing's been written on the publisher's website for over a year. I've given up on it and ordered a second-hand of the older version from AbeBooks.

jul. 28, 2016, 2:46pm

>225 alaudacorax:

I've just taken a look on AbeBooks - those prices for the new edition are ridiculous!

jul. 29, 2016, 8:16am

>226 housefulofpaper:

Yeah - and what's more, I looked on US Amazon (sometimes you can get stuff a lot cheaper) and they started at around $600 and went up to $3,500-odd!

jul. 29, 2016, 11:51am

>222 alaudacorax: I'm sorry you were disappointed in 'Fall of the House of Usher'. My judgment can be inclined towards leniency sometimes! I watched it not expecting much of a 1949 zero budget quota quickie, so was surprised that I did enjoy it, notwithstanding the poor acting, and the liberties taken.

>224 alaudacorax: The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, in Boscastle, Cornwall, has a small section on Crowley, including his wand. It's a fascinating place to visit, in a beautiful village.

jul. 30, 2016, 5:44am

>225 alaudacorax: - The book is here already - Royal Mail must have taken to using a teleport.

>228 Rembetis: - I don't know if 'disappointed' is the right word - it had a sort of weird fascination.

>228 Rembetis: - Thanks for the link on the museum, I'd never heard of it. Something to keep in mind when I'm on my wanderings.

ag. 1, 2016, 4:30am

>223 housefulofpaper:, >225 alaudacorax:

Only 20-odd pages into English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema so far, but I've got to say that I'm finding it fascinating - I'm already seeing the beginnings of yet another 'want to watch' list ...

ag. 1, 2016, 4:49am

>230 alaudacorax:

My brain's managed to accumulate a hell of a lot of crossed wires over the years. English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema has a foreword by Barbara Shelley. I've realised that my mind has irretrievably confused Barbara Shelley, Ingrid Pitt and Barbara Steele. It's like some weird slot machine - put in a name and a completely random one of three pictures pops up in my mind's eye.

ag. 1, 2016, 5:35pm

>230 alaudacorax:

I'm glad the book didn't disappoint after I'd gone on about it so much; and it certainly led to me wanting to see, or see again, an awful lot of films (and TV).

Have you seen this? It's a compilation of moments from horror films, one for each year from 1895 to this year.

ag. 2, 2016, 6:19am

>232 housefulofpaper:

Liked that - though I had a little difficulty keeping up in places - a bit fast. I don't know whether to be scared or proud at how many of those films I've seen.

And, of course, it pointed a few more I'd like to see, just on the strength of the clips shown. Several are currently available to me - Netflix or whatever, so ...

I continue to be baffled by the reputation of The Blair Witch Project, though - to my mind, one of those most overrated films of all time. I was decidedly unimpressed by The Descent, too, which has similarly high critical ratings, according to Rotten Tomatoes - though I wasn't plain irritated by it as I was by The Blair Witch Project. Perhaps I should give both a second look.

ag. 3, 2016, 5:21am

Following from my reading of my new English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema, I tried to watch The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1926) on the BFI Player last night.

If I remember correctly, the BFI had specially commissioned the accompanying music for this restoration of the film. I can't imagine what possessed them - it was overdone and intrusive and distracting and, to me, had little relation to what was happening onscreen, and I just couldn't stick it. I gather from searching online that in big cities the cinemas might have sometimes had a 'small orchestra', but I'd bet they didn't play so constantly full-on as this lot. And the majority of people would have seen it to the accompaniment of just a piano or organ. Why couldn't they just recreate the majority experience?

So I turned the sound off. Then it just didn't sit right with me to be watching the film in silence. I tried playing an Erik Satie playlist on YouTube. It was better, but just didn't mesh with the film. I gave up half-way through - by that time I was really too obsessed with the sound track.

I'll try again tonight.

ag. 3, 2016, 2:08pm

>234 alaudacorax:

The Lodger is yet another film I've recorded off-air but haven't watched yet. I've put it on and I've listened to the first 15 minutes or so. The soundtrack (by Nitin Sawhney) is pretty full-on; and I agree that it seems to be swamping some of the scenes that I would have expected to be accompanied by something more...unobtrusive. In it's favour, it does seem (to me, anyway) suggest a musical counterpart to the expressionist style* of the opening titles and of the film itself (Hitchcock trained at UFA didn't he?).

*Ohh, I've just hit the song 23 minutes in...not sure about this at all...!

As a general rule, if a big film of the silent era premiered with a full orchestral accompaniment, I'm all for getting the equivalent with the film's (digitally restored) DVD or Blu-ray release. The Masters of Cinema Nosferatu has a recreation of the original premiere's musical score - an arrangement of various classical pieces scored for a full orchestra.

I have to admit that watching a whole film with only a piano or organ accompaniment can be a bit of a trial for me.

Editat: ag. 3, 2016, 5:02pm

Is that The Lodger with Ivor Novello? I'm happy to say I've seen it twice with tasteful live piano accompaniment.

Incidentally, have you seen the version with Jack Palance? That wonderfully sinister face. I remember I was struck by the incongruity of "the ingenue" being a high-kicking, bloomers-flaunting cancan girl.

ag. 3, 2016, 3:14pm

>236 LolaWalser:

Yes, it's the 1927 Hitchcock version starring Ivor Novello "under discussion" ;)

I'm not sure I even knew about the Jack Palance version. Looking on ImDB, this is listed as Man in the Attic and described as a remake (only 9 years later) of the version of The Lodger starring Laird Cregar - I'd like to see that one, actually; I liked him in Hangover Square (which, like The Lodger, was directed by John Brahm).

ag. 3, 2016, 4:49pm

>237 housefulofpaper:

Oh, yes, Cregar was wonderful in everything he made in his much-too-short life--I made an effort to track what I could after seeing him in This Gun For Hire. He played a marvellous Satan in Heaven Can Wait, and one of the most remarkable film roles by anyone I saw in I Wake Up Screaming. I got his The Lodger fairly cheaply in a set with Undying Monster and Hangover Square (

But the Palance version is well worth seeing. It was included in one of the 50-pack movie sets from Mill Creek Entertainment (zero clean-up and frills) which probably means it's out of copyright and findable online.

ag. 3, 2016, 4:59pm

Since we are on the Ripper theme, the other day I saw on YT the 1958(9?) Jack the Ripper with John Le Mesurier (the only actor known to me in the cast). There's a funny French-language interlude behind the burlesque stage when a bunch of women go bare-breasted--apparently that was OK as long as they spoke French and not English! :) (Actually, it seems the scene was cut for British distribution.)

ag. 3, 2016, 5:37pm

>239 LolaWalser:

It's more likely the topless scene was shot specially for the "international" (European and/or Japanese) version(s) of the film.

I've had a look an IMDb - I think I'd recognise George Woodbridge and Esma Cannon, maybe Ewan Solon too - from their Hammer and Carry on film work, if nothing else.

Editat: ag. 4, 2016, 4:40am

>240 housefulofpaper:

Esma Cannon - legend!!! Carry on Cruising was one of her finest hours ...

>239 LolaWalser:

Another new-to-me - somewhat to my surprise. Hunted it up on YT: shame about the picture quality - it looks quite stylish.

Editat: ag. 4, 2016, 2:35pm

>241 alaudacorax:

Yes, a better copy would be welcome, but it seems to be rare...

By the way, Paul--I finally saw the second season of Penny Dreadful and found it indeed better, more engrossing, than the first one.

Rembetis--I think you commented on this specifically--yes, that episode with Patti Lupone was stunningly good and my favourite!

The witches were terrific and Madame Kali an incomparably more interesting villain than the vampires of the first season. The twist concerning Billie Piper's character was a welcome "save"; and I enjoy Caliban a lot. Eva Green continues to steal every single moment she's on screen...

I must admit I struggle to like the "pretty boy" characters, first of all Frankenstein. He just looks twelve to me; can't take him seriously for a minute. Dorian Gray--eh, could have been a better actor, this one is so bland... Josh Hartnett delivers the rugged Wild West persona, I guess, maybe it's just that I find werewolves boring...

Also, regarding something I previously commented on so Sir Malcolm's choice of Vanessa was less random than I thought--but--does he KNOW she's really his daughter? I feel dense for asking but I only watched once and fast through it all...

Oh, btw, please no spoilers for the third season, I suppose y'all are already watching!

ag. 4, 2016, 8:31pm

>242 LolaWalser: Glad you enjoyed the second season of 'Penny Dreadful', especially that outstanding episode with Patti Lupone! Patti pops up again in season 3, playing a different character...

My take on the relationship between Sir Malcolm and Vanessa is that there is circumstantial evidence that he is her father (I wonder in particular, how long Sir Malcolm's affair with Vanessa's mother had gone on), but I couldn't see any confirmation that he was definitely her father. The strongest hint is perhaps at the end of season 1 when, just before he kills Mina, she pleads 'I am your daughter' and he responds “I already have a daughter.” Does he mean that he loves Vanessa as a daughter, or is he saying that Vanessa is actually his daughter?

I have seen Season 3 but will keep quiet, other than recommending it. Eva Green and Rory Kinnear (John Clare/The Creature) are excellent throughout. Kinnear is even better in the third season than he was in the previous two - what an actor!

ag. 5, 2016, 6:52pm

>239 LolaWalser:

to >241 alaudacorax:

I've seen Jack the Ripper (1958) now. I actually bought the DVD (Italian, via Amazon Marketplace). It seemed familiar...and then I realised I'd read about it: it didn't evade Jonathan Rigby's research of British horror films for English Gothic, and it has an entry in the book.

I'm a little dubious about films that make a big thing about revealing the Ripper's identity, and then offer an entirely fictional character (the Sherlock Holmes film, A Study in Terror does the same thing). To be fair it's the trailer (included on the DVD) that's the worst offender here - "You'll see his Crimes! You'll see his Face!"...

Still, there's quite a lot to like about Jimmy Sangster's script, although there are certain echoes of his Hammer Frankensteins (the social commentary of Revenge in the main, I think), and, as well, bits borrowed from elsewhere (Esma Cannon's character is pretty much Thora Hird's in The Quatermass Xperiment).

The "bare-breasted" French interlude is also explained: on the DVD this scene plays out in English, with the Can-can girls in the dressing-room moderately covered up. The DVD includes, as an extra, the scene again, from a different print and dubbed (this time) into Italian, with the majority of the girls topless (the same girls, "Ballet Montparnasse", who according to IMDb can also be seen in Carry on Cowboy - so is it always them when you see Can-can girls in a British film of the period, like it's invariably Charles Gamora in the gorilla suit, whenever there's a gorilla in a classic Hollywood film? ).

So, evidently, this scene was edited into the English-language version on YouTube (there are two more brief "continental scenes", when the two girls (oh dear, I've already forgotten the characters' names and can't work them out from IMDb) "entertain" the two swells, and the next scene.

I wonder if this film has influenced popular culture in at least a couple of ways:
"Is your name Mary?"

And Kim Newman's Anno Dracula (the first book in the series), where Dracula has beaten van Helsing et al, and at the book's opening Dr Seward is venturing forth from an East End hospital to kill vampirised streetwalkers. Nicknamed "Silver Knife", he's this world's parallel to the Ripper.

ag. 5, 2016, 7:31pm

>244 housefulofpaper:

That extremely creepy voice asking, over and over, "Are you Mary Clark?" gave it a touch of real chilling horror for me. I was sure it was Le Mesurier's voice, though.

Fun clip! 1964--just imagine, there were still people around who were alive when the Ripper roamed.

That 1973 series really drove home what miserable lives people led, how wretchedly destitute that whole neighbourhood was... and really, that MUST be the reason they never caught him--nobody gave a damn.

ag. 6, 2016, 6:21am

>242 LolaWalser:
Yes, I'm waiting for the third season, too - in my case the DVD set, out (supposedly) on October 24th, and then I'll probably wait a month or two for the price to come down.

>243 Rembetis:
I'd wondered if he was her father, but I couldn't make up my mind if the programme was addressing the possibility or not.

>244 housefulofpaper: - ... Italian, via Amazon Marketplace ...
There's something quite differently horrific about the Italian title - Jack lo Squartatore - it seems to reek of the slaughterhouse or butcher's shop.

>245 LolaWalser:
1973 series?

ag. 6, 2016, 7:29am

>246 alaudacorax:

"1973 series" - yes,sorry, it's something I mentioned in a message to Lola. The series featured (fictional) detectives Barlow and Watt (from BBC drama series Softly Softly/ Softly Softly Task Force re-opening the Ripper investigation.

Italian can sound absolutely gorgeous or utterly terrifying. Just as pure sound, the Italian translation of lines from Purcell's song "Fairest Isle" (as given in the CD Booklet of his Opera King Arthur (I think) ...lovely, sensuous, in a way the original isn't. I'll try to find the CD.

ag. 6, 2016, 7:58am

>247 housefulofpaper:

Yes, it's King Arthur; the 1992 DG Archiv set conducted by Trevor Pinnock.

John Dryden's libretto:
Gentle murmurs, sweet complaining,
Sighs that blow the fire of love;
Soft repulses, kind disdaining, Shall be all the pains you prove.

Italian translation ((c) 1992 Olimpio Cescatti):
Soavi sussurri, dolce lamento,
sospiri che soffian sull'amoroso fuoco;
tenere ripulsa, gentile disdegno-
sian queste le sole pene che proverete.

ag. 8, 2016, 5:12pm

>246 alaudacorax:

Yes, "squartare", literally "to quarter", is very much of the slaughterhouse in Italian; the nearest English comes to it is in the phrase "drawn and quartered".

I made a big mistake after viewing the excellent series Andrew recommended--I checked out Wikipedia's entry on Jack the Ripper and there is, unannounced, as you scroll for text, a contemporary photo of Mary Kelly's remains. I'd never seen it and now it haunts me at night! But, point is, "butchery" is truly the closest that describes what was done to her.

ag. 9, 2016, 5:36am

>249 LolaWalser:

Yes, that photo rather took me aback, too, coming upon it unexpectedly. Can't remember where I saw it, now - something to do with this thread and in the last few days. It brought up uncomfortable thoughts about the relationship between reality and horror literature/cinema ...

ag. 9, 2016, 5:48am

>248 housefulofpaper:, >249 LolaWalser: ... are making me feel a bit guilty - I was learning Italian, but I've let it slide. You can't listen to as much opera as I do without falling in love with the Italian language.

ag. 9, 2016, 3:04pm

>249 LolaWalser:; >250 alaudacorax:

I'd avoided that photo until it was used - gratuitously, I think - in The New Annotated Dracula.

And I have to confess that I don't speak or read Italian; a couple of hours a week at school between 11 and 13 left me with nothing more than an ability to 'sound out' a passage of Italian (not always accurately). I think the idea was that we would go on an exchange with an Italian family in the summer holidays, and if we survived we'd have picked up enough of the language to scrape through the "O'" level exam. But I didn't volunteer for that!

Editat: ag. 11, 2016, 5:37am

Sorry to be repeating myself, folks, but I've just got to re-emphasise how much I'm enjoying English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema.

A few days ago I was reading his chapter-section, 'A Trip to the Charnel House', where he deals with The Curse of Frankenstein (1956). It's basically a review of the film, plus the putting of it into its wider context. I felt rather envious - I'd really love to be able to produce pieces as good as that.

ETA - I'm not sure, but I think it was houseful's posts that put me on to this book, so, my thanks to houseful.

ag. 11, 2016, 6:09am

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ag. 11, 2016, 10:09am

>253 alaudacorax:

On the strength of what I've read of 'English Gothic ...', I've just pre-ordered Rigby's Euro Gothic: Classics of Continental Horror Cinema (being released in October so no touchstones yet). I thought I'd like to have it, and it seems fairly clear that Rigby's books sell out pretty quickly and then are only available at inflated prices. Hence, while I'd also like his American Gothic: Sixty Years of Horror Cinema, copies are rather beyond what I'm willing to pay.

Presumably nothing of these inflated prices finds its way into Rigby's pocket or his publishers'. So why doesn't Rigby go to another publisher - surely he could have a lot more sales if only enough new copies were available and surely he's a fairly safe investment for a publisher? For that matter, why doesn't his current publisher produce more copies?

ag. 13, 2016, 5:38am

Watched the Hammer, 1957 Dracula last night (or the 1958 Horror of Dracula, if you go by IMDb) - together with re-reading the relevant bits in English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema.

I find myself a little at odds with Jonathan Rigby's dismissive view of Michael Gough's abilities - he seems to have a certain antipathy to the actor. I can't say I noticed Gough as particularly good, but neither did I notice him as bad. And to be fair, it's a rather thankless role. Rigby himself alludes to the - presumably intentional - contrast between Dracula/Lee's 'unhealthy erotic magnetism' and the sexless, 'ineffectual' blandness of Mina's husband, but then criticises Gough for being too much so. And then the character has to contrast with Van Helsing's whatever is the opposite of 'ineffectuality' - Van Helsing doesn't even offer him first go at Lucy's stake.

If I had any criticism it would be that Gough was a little miscast. To me, he looked rather more formidable than the role he was given.

If Rigby wants to criticise anyone, re-visiting the film I found I'd managed to completely forget both John Van Eyssen and his role. That's got to say something.

Editat: ag. 13, 2016, 5:54am

>256 alaudacorax:

The final shots in the film seem to linger focus on Dracula's ring, left amongst in the dissolution of his body. In the light of some later films, which I can't bring to memory, I'm now wondering if that was done with an eye to sequels or just fortuitous.

ag. 13, 2016, 5:44am

>256 alaudacorax:, >257 alaudacorax:

Er ... should have said - good film, thoroughly absorbed by it.

Editat: ag. 13, 2016, 2:31pm

IIRC, Gough was quite dramatic in the role... maybe a shade over the top? I like him generally a lot, interesting face and especially voice. Excellent villain.

Have we mentioned The night of the demon yet? With Maurice Denham as the black magician. Great touches--Denham as a clown at a children's party, his dotty mother and friends starting a séance with rousing song, the evil magical wind... They had the inevitable American lead, Dana Andrews, but this once it didn't seem jarring, the role fit him well.

ag. 13, 2016, 5:12pm

>259 LolaWalser:

I can't remember if we've discussed it here, but Night of the Demon came into the discussion of "Casting the Runes" last year, over on The Weird Tradition group.

As mine often does, your memory's jumped a track: Niall MacGinnis played Karswell in the film, although Maurice Denham was certainly in it too (and indeed it's his lines - from the seance scene- that were sampled by Kate Bush for the start of "The Hounds of Love"; which is certainly the film's furthest reach into popular culture).

The screenwriter (Charles Bennett) has to take the credit for all those, as you say, great touches - eerie in a curiously English way, advancing the story and also developing character. I remembered reading that Bennett had written the scripts for some of Hitchcock's best films before he went to Hollywood. checking his IMDB entry to confirm my flaky memory (yes, The Man Who Knew Too Much, The 39 Steps, etc.) I see that after this film he almost exclusively worked for Irwin Allen. It must have been a bit of a come-down.

ag. 13, 2016, 6:29pm

>255 alaudacorax:

Just going back over recent posts...thanks for reminding me that "Euro Gothic" is being published soon.

I don't know what the economic arguments for and against reprinting Rigby's books might be. Maybe the capital requirements are so big for a small company (Just looked online. Flashpoint Media Ltd - capital at 31/12/15 = only £100. Ulp!) that they need to know the books will sell out quickly.

As Jonathan Rigby is an actor himself, on reading his books I tended to trust his judgements on film performances (one of the charming things in American Gothic is, where he tracks the careers of Lugosi and Karloff he's rooting for Lugosi as the underdog, and is clearly delighted when he can report an occasion when he's managed to outshine Karloff).

As an aside on the Hammer Dracula, I remember I was genuinely startled (sometime in the late 70s or early 80s, I suppose) when I learned that the novel has the Count coming to England). The influence of Hammer setting the whole story in Mitteleuropa (the Home Counties version of it, anyway) seems to have seeped into culture (I've said culture again, but I think it's actually Children's TV, impressionists and sketch comedians. It gave wide frame of reference, although partial and distorted. You'll remember Freddie Starr's Max Wall impression, and Syd Little doing Ben Turpin, for example).

ag. 14, 2016, 5:01am

>261 housefulofpaper: - The influence of Hammer setting the whole story in Mitteleuropa (the Home Counties version of it, anyway) ...

That was the one little bit that slightly jarred with me (just 'slightly') - especially with the solidly British domestic help and undertaker. At least they gave the border guard a funny hat. I was trotting along quite nicely until it came to a bit where they said something like, "If we hurry we can be in Carlsbad by nightfall"; I'm not sure if I realised they were not in England till that point - jarred a little.

ag. 14, 2016, 5:05am

>259 LolaWalser:, >260 housefulofpaper:

Not in these two threads, but we've definitely discussed Night of the Demon here, somewhere, because I can remember asking if Karswell was a parody or satire on Aleister Crowley.

ag. 14, 2016, 6:13am

>259 LolaWalser:, >263 alaudacorax:

This is so annoying - having said we discussed it in a thread, running a search of LT doesn't show up anything and now I've got a definite bee in my bonnet about it. I've been trying searching individual threads in this group for 'Crowley', but I keep forgetting what I'm doing and reading the threads, so it's taking ages ...

I suppose I'd better give up on it or the day will disappear ...

ag. 14, 2016, 8:13am

>263 alaudacorax:

All I can offer, is a vague recollection of cold water being poured on the idea that Karswell is a direct parody of Crowley, based on the date of original story publication against the dating of Crowley's rising notoriety, and on whether James and Crowley had actually met.

I can't remember where I saw this, however - the notes in the Penguin or Oxford collections of James ghost stories, perhaps?

Actually, as "Casting the Runes" was published in 1911, and W. Somerset Maugham had written an entire novel about him (as "Oliver Haddo", a name Crowley had actually used on occasion, I think) in 1904 (The Magician) he must have been sufficiently notorious seven years later ... maybe the argument was that by the time James wrote his story, the Crowley figure was becoming a generic type, or trope, or even a cliché?

ag. 15, 2016, 6:01am

>265 housefulofpaper:

Wish I could find that conversation. I can't remember, now, what in particular made me suspect a Crowley connection, and I can't remember if I was suspecting it about the film, the story, or both ... and I'm beginning to wonder if I've dreamed up the whole thing and we didn't really have the conversation at all!

Editat: ag. 15, 2016, 6:45am

>266 alaudacorax:

... and having written that, I found the conversation in just a few minutes. Don't know why searches didn't get me there yesterday.

It's in the Reading Group #12 (M. R. James' Birthday: 'The Mezzotint,' 'Casting the Runes,' 'Rats') thread, posts numbered 8, 31, 36, 37, 41 and probably 46. It was in James's original story, 'Casting the Runes', that I suspected satire on Crowley, and some other satire, and veilofisis had some interesting things to say about it.

ETA - In fact, the first connecting of Crowley with 'Casting the Runes' came from veil, in #8, and she expands on it in #37.

ag. 15, 2016, 6:52am

>267 alaudacorax:

I'd just signed out of the site when it occurred to me that, as the original discussion was about the original story, the last post was quite irrelevant to this thread ... oh well ...

ag. 15, 2016, 7:32pm

>268 alaudacorax:

Well, anyway, it's here now ;)

I've looked at the endnotes of my various James collections.

Here's the relevant note in the latest Oxford collection (it's the Collected Ghost Stories, 2011), edited by Darryl Jones:
"it is often assumed that Karswell is based on the notorious occultist, sex magician, and dissident member of the Order of the Golden Dawn, Aleister Crowley, the self-proclaimed 'Great Beast'. Although Crowley was a student at Trinity College Cambridge, in the 1890s, there is no evidence that MRJ knew anything about him, let alone based the character upon him."

However, in 2005, S.T. Joshi's note to the story in the Penguin Classics Count Magnus and Other Ghost Stories reports that writer Ron Weighell is for the attribution in an early issue of Ghosts & Scholars, while Michael Cox expresses doubt in his notes to the earlier Oxford collection, Casting the Runes and other Ghost Stories, 1987. However, Joshi does qualify Cox's reasoning, by noting that Crowley was the model for Maugham's Oliver Haddo in The Magician, "so the identification is at least conceivable".

Actually, Michael Cox doesn't ignore the existence of Maugham's novel and, whether he was right or not to doubt the attribution, he provides the most information:
"it is sometimes assumed that Karswell is based on the self-styled 'Great Beast', the occultist Aleister Crowley (1875-1947), though on what authority is not clear. I cannot find that MRJ ever mentioned Crowley or his nefarious activities either publicly or in private, although Crowley went up to Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1895 and might conceivably have come to the attention of MRJ, who was then Dean of King's and had many friends in Trinity. The first number of Crowley's 'Magickal' periodical The Equinox appeared in 1909, and the previous year Somerset Maugham had cast him as Oliver Haddo in his novel The Magician."

- Oh, Wikipedia says The Magician was published in 1908, too. Where did I get 1904 from? Never mind...

"On the other hand," {Cox continues} "Crowley did not come to prominence as 'the wickedest man in the world' until the 1920s, and there is no direct evidence to support the claim that Karswell is based on Crowley. In a cancelled MS passage Karswell is described as 'formerly a Roman {Catholic}...thirsting I believe for recognition by the literary and scientific world.'"

Crowley was raised as Plymouth Brethren, not as a Catholic.

In conclusion? I think these learned gentlemen leave us (or me, rather) where I was at >265 housefulofpaper:.

ag. 15, 2016, 8:51pm

>269 housefulofpaper: Don't know if this adds much, but in Tony Earnshaw's excellent book 'Beating the Devil - The Making of Night of the Demon', he gives a potted history of Crowley's activities, including his Cambridge Education, his membership, in 1898, of an occult society, 'The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn' (other members included W.B.Yeats, Algernon Blackwood and Constance Wilde), and his expulsion in 1900 for 'offending the Order's leaders with his homosexual experiments and magical experiments'. Earnshaw also describes Crowley's epiphany in 1904 which resulted in his 'The Book of the Law' (published in 1904 - co-incidentally, supposedly the earliest possible date that James wrote 'Casting the Runes'). Earnshaw concludes:

"It is easy to make comparisons between the real life Crowley, and James's fictional creation, Karswell. The similarities are obvious, and the inability of scholars to be certain of the timescale involved in penning 'Casting the Runes' means that, potentially, James may have been influenced by reports of Crowley and his reputation."

ag. 16, 2016, 6:12am

>269 housefulofpaper:, >270 Rembetis:

So, an open question, and, quite possibly, unanswerable at this late date - still a fascinating subject to play around with, but I suppose that's as far as we get.

Editat: ag. 18, 2016, 12:58pm

>260 housefulofpaper: et al.

Niall MacGinnis played Karswell in the film, although Maurice Denham was certainly in it too

Yes, sorry, for some reason the misremembering of this particular role is firmly stuck in my mind, it's not the first time I make this mistake...

Does anyone recall the version made for a "Play of the week" television series, with Ian Cuthbertson in the Karswell role? It had a great oppressive atmosphere, as only the depressing, drab seventies aesthetics could (inadvertently, mostly) achieve.

ag. 18, 2016, 5:57pm

>272 LolaWalser:

Re. Maurice Denham...maybe because he had the right sort of face for horror? Niall MacGinnis was sort of round-faced but Denham was more angular...a work colleague was trying to describe him (in relation to his role in Porridge) but didn't know his name, so he called him "that actor who looks like Gargamel!" (from The Smurfs cartoon, rather than Rabelais....)

Anyway, yes, I didn't see this version of "Casting the Runes" when it was broadcast but it was released on DVD a few years ago. It's updated (to 1979) which I thought weakened it a little, when I first saw it, but I've just watched it again and those qualms have pretty much gone. There is a very '70s downbeat (but logical)"nobody wins" ending.

I think a big part of the seventies aesthetic is down to the picture quality. A lot of this one is shot on film but there are some sequences shot on videotape. It's an awkward mix that apparently television professionals had a name for: "piebald" (although they apparently also told themselves that non-TV people wouldn't notice!). On top of that the film sequences always look soft and washed out

This evidently wasn't the camera crew's fault. Where original film components have been available for restoration, the resulting DVD or Blu-rays look far better than they did on original transmission.

set. 13, 2016, 8:02am

Couple of nights ago watched The Most Dangerous Game (1932). I'd watched it long, long ago and was obviously impressed as it's stuck in my memory down the years. This time round, not so much - the DVD cover makes a feature of it being by the same people who made King Kong, but it's not really in the same league. There were a few incidents where I felt the internal logic of the film broke down, which disrupted my enjoyment, and, of course, there wasn't the spectacle. It was entertaining enough to keep me watching, but I wouldn't praise it any higher than that.

However, I have a question. Zaroff, the bad guy, has a habit of stroking a head scar at tense moments - the implication is that the brain injury he got in a difference of opinion with an African buffalo has rather unhinged him. Now, I'm sure this gesture of stroking the scar is a bit of a screen cliché - I'm sure I've seen it many times, but I can't, offhand, remember any other instances of it. Anyone know any screen bad guys who do this? Also, was this film the original instance?

set. 13, 2016, 4:20pm

>274 alaudacorax:

Short answer - I don't know! I've been trying to think of some examples though. Plenty of screen villains with scars (even if you limit it to Bond villains) but I haven't brought to mind any scar-stroking examples.

I can recall an actor stroking his (unscarred) temple - Otto Preminger, when he took over as Mr Freeze on the 1960s Batman tv series.

Leslie Banks (Zaroff) did have genuine facial scarring, from WWI. That might add weight to the possibility that he created the gesture - on the other hand, it could have been a venerable bit of theatrical "business" even back in 1932. Like I said, I don't know.

set. 14, 2016, 3:42am

>275 housefulofpaper: - Vaguely remember the Batman series but I don't remember Mr Freeze - not sure about that. Does Mike Myers do it in one of those Austin Powers films? I've never seen one but I seem to remember it in the odd clip and advert. Which would suggest that it's a well-know trope that he's parodying.

set. 14, 2016, 4:03am

Last night, I watched Dead of Night (1945).

Obviously a period piece (I was going to say 'showing its age', but I don't think that phrase does it justice), but I thought it was excellent.

I have to take issue, a bit, with Jonathan Rigby in English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema who says the comic, golfing segment was 'ill-advised'. I thought the ending to it was a little weak - I'll give him that - but the quality of it doesn't seem to be his objection, rather the presence of it in the film at all. I don't see this - the comic interlude has a great tradition from Shakespeare tragedies to grand opera where everyone dies in the end. In this case, it does a good job of lulling you into a sense of false security before the film hits you with the genuinely creepy, final, 'ventriloquist' segment. I think the contrast is important.

set. 14, 2016, 4:11am

Just spotted this on IMDb while looking for a link for the my last post: Greg McLean's Top 10 Horror Movies of All Time. I'm an absolute sucker for lists. Apparently he's the director of something called The Darkness, which I've never seen.

Yet again I find myself baffled by the inclusion of The Blair Witch Project (let alone that he includes that over the original The Haunting, which he only gives an 'honourable mention'). I'm really going to have to watch that again, aren't I? And I really don't want to - but it's starting to bug me.

set. 14, 2016, 6:15pm

>276 alaudacorax:
I did consider Myer's Dr Evil character. I haven't rewatched any of the films but googling his picture, I think maybe he does that signature coy/coquettish little-finger-to-the mouth-gesture instead.

>277 alaudacorax:
I'm sure I read a recent robust defence of the golfing story, not just in terms of its place in the overall structure of the film but on its own merits. I think it also said the film's initial US release cut the story entirely - too dirty in its implications, apparently!

>278 alaudacorax:
I'm sure The Blair Witch Project only really works if you have no idea what's coming next, that - as the cliché has it - your imagination creates something worse than anything on screen. It evidently had a powerful effect on its first audiences, but by the time I saw it, the "spoilers" about what it did (or didn't) lead up to had done the rounds. The idea that it's all build up and no payoff (even though that's an unfair assessment) was enough to blunt the film's impact for me.

Thinking about it a bit more, maybe some anticipation would help prime you to be scared; perhaps it would be possible to work out the optimum amount of pre-publicity for a film relying on suspense (and now I'm thinking about the indirect way films like Psycho were publicised...

set. 15, 2016, 5:49am

>279 housefulofpaper:

Of course, you're right about Dr Evil - I haven't seen either of the films and I was misremembering the clips I'd seen. Still, I've seen that gesture elsewhere somewhere ...

'... too dirty in its implications ...'
Back to Jonathan Rigby's book again: I find it fascinating and a little bemusing that there was a push at the time to have the whole film banned. Probably says a lot more about the state of the UK at the time than of the film ...

My main memories of The Blair Witch Project are finding it quite unconvincing and - and this is rather unusual in my film-watching - irritating - I was constantly irritated, even exasperated, by the characters and their behaviour and probably only watched it all the way through because of the ... reputation? ... hype? ... furore? As I said, I think I'm going to have to see it again, just for my peace of mind.

I've just remembered that I found that hand-held camera business a pain, too. I think TBWP had such an impact on me from that point of view (er ... no pun intended) that I now assume that any hint of 'found footage' means a crap film and automatically switch off.

What you say about anticipation is interesting. What ever the effect it has, it probably follows that the reputation of a 'classic' film must have a similar one. It raises a whole can of worms about how we bring an unbiased judgement to film watching.

Why 'can of worms'? Is wonder if that is supposed to be a slightly horrific image or is it to do with fishing bait?

Um ... this is getting close to 'stream of consciousness' writing - better stop.

set. 15, 2016, 6:08am

>280 alaudacorax: - As I said, I think I'm going to have to see it again, just for my peace of mind.

Damn! Just been ambushed.

As I was writing that last post, the thought occurred to me to search online for a Roger Ebert review of TBWP - on the whole I find him a pretty good guide to what's worth watching. So - if he praised TBWP I'd watch again, if he didn't I wouldn't have to. I have to admit I was half-expecting to read that it was overrated and over-hyped.

He said it was '... an extraordinarily effective horror film ...'

set. 15, 2016, 4:57pm

>281 alaudacorax:

Just watched The Blair Witch Project again ... it's still crap ... seventy-seven minutes of my life and £1-49 rental gone for ever ... can't imagine what got into Roger Ebert ...

Where do I start?

I stopped the film at least three times to see how much more I had to sit through.

I didn't find the forest at all convincing. Given that they were talking about a legend going back umpteen generations, large parts of the supposedly haunted woodland were composed of trees that looked little older than saplings. I know woodland less than twenty years old that is comparable to most of it. On top of that, in several scenes where they were supposedly lost deep in the woods, it looked to me suspiciously like the edge of the trees was within a couple of hundred yards.

I found the characters totally unsympathetic and unappealing. I didn't think the film provided anything like enough justification for the hysteria and breakdown the characters so quickly descended into. Their reactions and responses seemed unbelievably extreme and over the top, and really got up my nose. I've been around a long time and I know perfectly well that there are some unbelievably stupid people in the world - but it seemed a bit too much of a coincidence and rather unfair to be lumbered with three of them at once (or four, according to my misconception of the film - see next paragraph). I don't think I was supposed to be rooting for them to come to sticky ends, but - well before the end of the film - I was.

I found the hand-held camera business so confusing that for a lot of the film I had no clear idea which of the males was talking - in fact, I found it so confusing that I watched the film through under the impresson that there were three males, not two.

To sum up: a confusing, irritating, unconvincing mess.

Editat: set. 20, 2016, 7:48am

>14 IanFryer:, >15 alaudacorax:, >60 alaudacorax:

I finally got round to watching The Ghoul (the Boris Karloff one) last night. It wasn't what I expected.

I was entertained, but it wasn’t at all scary - there seemed no attempt at sudden scares or build up of tension. In fact, there was rather a lot of comedy moments. Indeed, it had some similarities to a farce – as in Brian Rix’s ‘Whitehall Farces’: you had all sorts of different people turning up with hidden agendas, and people going and coming about the house apparently unaware of others going and coming in the same spaces.

And Boris Karloff’s character resurrected was not a ghoul; though the strange walk was a gesture to something supernatural, it’s difficult to say what.

On a side point, watching some of these old films, I'm starting to realise what a good actor Ernest Thesiger must have been.

I always struggle for words to describe my enjoyment of a good horror film – if something scares the wotsits out of you, you can hardly call it ‘good fun’. I can honestly say this was good fun - I'm not sure what that says about the film.

ETA - Talking of comedy moments, that unibrow they made him wear brought Boris Karloff perilously close to some ...

Editat: set. 26, 2016, 12:53am

I watched Jean Rollin's Fascination (1979) last night.

Yes, I found it fascinating. French cinema version of Gothic, erotic horror, it kept up a sort of tension and suspense till the end and kept me absorbed. The ending was oddly abrupt - at least in the BFI website's version, but the denouement was there, so I don't suppose anything was missing.

I don't know that it was good enough to stand up to repeated viewing, though.

I've been trying to think of a good, descriptive sentence for it - imagine a French version of the classic Hammers, made by a director who'd been watching some Ingmar Bergman lately - not that I'm saying it reaches quite the heights of Bergman or the best Hammers.

set. 26, 2016, 6:28pm

>283 alaudacorax:

Love Thesiger. A nose to die for. He's one of several actors on whose names I regularly search for good old stuff in preference to lead-actor names, others including Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet, Basil Rathbone, Sara Allgood etc. Thou shalt know a worthwhile movie by its character actors!

Editat: set. 27, 2016, 11:43pm

I've been having a bit of a 'Jean-Rollin-Fest' - watched Lips of Blood and The Living Dead Girl last night. BFIPlayer has Rollin's Fascination as his 'best-known film' and I'm a little surprised - I thought both these were rather better.

I'm not sure how much of a 'horror' Lips of Blood really is - I'm tempted to call it a 'Gothic love story', 'Gothic mystery' would be a good description, too.

I find I'm getting rather prosaic in my old age: while I'm happy to look at shapely young women in very diaphanous next-to-nothings, I found all the nudity distracting for quite the wrong reason: the film gave a cold impression, a lot of it being shot outdoors on windy nights and in dank-looking places, and I found myself regularly fretting over whether the actresses got chilled.

I thought it got a bit weak in places at the end, though, after what was going on was finally revealed.

The Living Dead Girl was the other way around. It started of like a typical cheesy horror - dead woman gets resurrected by toxic spill. The title didn't help - I have little or no French but I'm sure the 'Girl' on the end wasn't necessary to translate La morte vivante. There were some cack-handed moments - in one scene of bloodshed I spotted the apparatus for making the blood spout and there were some 'night scenes' quite obviously shot in bright daylight. But then it developed into quite a powerful tragedy, and as horrific as you'd wish for.

oct. 1, 2016, 6:39pm

>286 alaudacorax:

Thirty-odd years ago I had a copy of David Pirie's The Vampire Cinema and that's where I first read about Jean Rollin (the book also reproduced a handful of black and white stills). It was a good ten years before one or two of his films became available on VHS or the occasional showing on terrestrial television. I've been able to see a handful more in the last decade mostly on satellite TV.

I think I'd agree with you about Lips of Blood (which I think got an airing on the Horror Channel a few years back). Have you seen Shiver of the Vampires yet? When I first saw it, the soundtrack (Rock, but somehow feeling distinctively French, like Serge Gainsbourg's Histoire du Melody Nelson) and hippy fashions were more upsetting than the horror (Dracula a.d. 1972 had a similar effect. I should say my aesthetic taste has changed since then, to the extent that I've begun to envy Johnny Alucard his flat!)

oct. 1, 2016, 11:58pm

>287 housefulofpaper:

Funny you should ask that - I've been watching Jean Rollin on the BfiPlayer and I was just checking, in response to your post, what I've seen and haven't seen, and I find that Shiver of the Vampires has just been added. Also on there, I've got The Grapes of Death, Night of the Hunted, The Iron Rose and Requiem for a Vampire still to see (I think I've seen that last one not too long ago, but I'm struggling to remember). They're going to have to wait, though, as I'm on my travels again and Wi-Fi is somewhat limited where I am.

Night before last I watched The Nude Vampire - a film with somewhat less nudity than others of his I've seen. I can't put it better than the BFI's blurb has it ... "... a mesmerising, artful horror that’s short on dialogue and logic but steeped in gorgeously sensual imagery." I like it though I can't say it made a whole lot of sense to me. Very sixties and hippyish - 'there's a new world coming'.

I feel fairly sure that Kubrick saw this at some point before he made Eyes Wide Shut - though I disliked that and I liked this. I find myself much more comfortable with Rollin's attitude to women.

oct. 2, 2016, 12:03pm

I received my UK set of The Wicker Man yesterday. It's Sunday, it's raining, I've got the flu--what could be more perfect for a viewing.

oct. 2, 2016, 2:20pm

>289 LolaWalser: - Edward Woodward or Nicolas Cage?

oct. 2, 2016, 2:44pm

Omg Woodward of course. :)

It's so watchable, it's amazing how quickly it goes.

What next?

I have a 3-movie Rollin set of which I've seen only one, IIRC. But that must wait for the darrrrrk...

Maybe I'll stagger out for a bottle of vino, I suspect Rollin will profit from, erm, heightened mood.

oct. 3, 2016, 9:44pm

When I was a little kid, we had a great-aunt who, when we had colds or flu, used to give us a glass of rum and hot water with a spoonful of sugar in it. Didn't cure the flu but we probably felt a lot better about it ...

Editat: oct. 3, 2016, 10:33pm

Great woman, your great-aunt. :)

Unfortunately I didn't feel up to going out and even crashed in bed before nine... but before that I discovered a 1970s series called Ace of Wands on YT, obviously made with kiddies in mind, but just the speed for a flu'd individual. I presume you know all about it? I managed one story, Mr. Peacock or something like that.

P.S. Terrific actor, whoever played him, I'll have to go back and see--fantastic eyes.

oct. 4, 2016, 12:27pm

>293 LolaWalser:

Hope you feel better soon. Flu's horrible...

Regarding Ace of Wands, "Peacock Pie" is probably the best story (well, the best of the third series, but the first and second series no longer exist).

Brian Wilde played Mr Peacock - he was Foggy in Last of the Summer Wine and Mr Barrowclough in Porridge, but more pertinent round these parts, he played the cultist Rand Hobart in Night of the Demon.

oct. 4, 2016, 1:14pm

"Peacock Pie" is probably the best story

Then my love of Thomas Love Peacock served me well here--I chose it over "Deadly Sisters", also a compelling title, just because of the name. That's sad about seasons missing. I love seeing all the background of that era, the streets, cars, fashions...

oct. 9, 2016, 5:39pm

It never ceases to amaze me, the things one can pick up online. I've managed to pick up Lola's flu, I think.

oct. 9, 2016, 6:00pm

>196 alaudacorax:
Good grief, will I be able to avoid it? I hope it's not too severe and you recover soon!

Editat: oct. 10, 2016, 5:54am

>297 housefulofpaper: - Actually, probably not flu - I don't really feel ill this morning - just a sore throat (and deep, sexy voice) and sniffles ... the internet distance between me and Lola must have been a bit too much for it ...

I tried to watch Jean Rollin's Requiem for a Vampire last night and Saturday night and fell asleep both times ...

Don't really think this is a reflection on the film - I was enjoying it both times, but probably watching too late in the evenings.

It has a sort of engaging 'amateurness' to it - though 'amateurness' doesn't really express what I mean ... 'earnestness'? ... that's not right, either. I think I mean that it gives the impression that Rollin's intentions were always to make an artwork (however offbeat) not a big profit.

ETA - Forgot to mention the great locations and photography (though they're a bit of a Rollin trademark).

... and while I'm ETAing, I've just read online that Rollin's films are known for their poetic dialogue ... which makes me sad that I never did much work in language classes at school ...

oct. 10, 2016, 8:05pm

>298 alaudacorax:

Yep - senility's definitely setting in. Whatever I'm been trying to watch for the last two nights wasn't Requiem for a Vampire. I've just watched Requiem for a Vampire and not only is it a different film, and not only have I seen it previously, but I've been remembering it under the impression it was a Jess Franco film. To be honest, it's a bit crass in places.

Looking at the descriptions on the BFI site, my previous post is probably about Rollin's Shiver of the Vampires. I'll watch it properly in a night or two.

oct. 10, 2016, 8:14pm

I watched Thunder Rock (1942) earlier tonight.

I don't know if it was strictly speaking Gothic, but it was quite a powerful piece - good acting, and delightfully idealistic.

oct. 11, 2016, 9:48am

Discussion of Jean Rollin prompted me to get the DVD of his first film Le Viol du Vampire. Pretty much everything is already there (not least the locations of a ruined castle and that beach - it's at Trouville, apparently).

I seem to have got the last copy on Amazon of a "collectors edition" from 2007. There's a reminiscence by Rollin in the accompanying booklet and "amateur" is absolutely correct to describe the genesis of this film: the opportunity to make it was a happy accident (an American distributor had a 45-minute American horror film and wanted a film of equal length to make up a feature length bill - Rollin's film was boosted to feature length after the first half had been completed), it was the first film for almost everyone involved - cast and crew, crew doubling up as cast members, scenes improvised because scripts had been lost; but with a late-60's twist there's also an involvement with Felix Guattari and anti-psychiatry.

oct. 11, 2016, 11:13am

>296 alaudacorax:

The internet flu! Spooooky...

I haven't been horrified recently--am I running out of good old scares? Oh--the Armchair Thriller's The Quiet Nun conjured some shivers.

oct. 12, 2016, 11:34am

>301 housefulofpaper: - ... Le Viol du Vampire ...

I admitted up in >286 alaudacorax: that I have little or no French ... I've just been checking on IMDb, confidently expecting a film about a cursed stringed instrument. Well, you never know with Rollin - he could've made one!

oct. 12, 2016, 7:38pm

>303 alaudacorax: Yes, the English titles' pretty ugly (though I assume it wouldn't have struck quite so hard 50 years ago).

>302 LolaWalser: Nothing really scary here either, but I have got (on a Spanish 2-DVD set) the six hour-long Inner Sanctum films that Lon Chaney Jr made for Universal in the '40s. They're more psychological murder-mysteries than either horror or gothic proper, and show their origins in the radio drama series of the same name* (particularly in Chaney's whispered inner monologue, a device liberally used in the three stories I've watched so far).

* Although Simon & Schuster get credited in the titles - it seems the name Inner Sanctum was used for their line of mystery novels before it was borrowed for a radio series.

oct. 17, 2016, 6:14pm

>305 housefulofpaper:

Kubrick's The Shining was cut from 144 minutes to 199 minutes for its European (UK and mainland Europe) theatrical release, and this shorter version is the only version I've ever seen on TV or cable/satellite, or video/DVD/Blu-ray release.

The longer version's now come out, as an "extended edition", in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. What's new (to me)? - mainly scenes are longer, I think; but Danny's first meeting with the Grady twins isn't in the version I'm familiar with, or the foreshadowing of Jack Torrance's appearance in the 1920s photo at the end (when he says he feels like he's been at the Overlook before).

oct. 18, 2016, 4:34am

>305 housefulofpaper:

Another of those really famous films that I've never seen. I really don't know why - something else I must get round to some time or other ...

oct. 18, 2016, 7:14am

I thought the fault lines in Jack's personality and the build up of his 'insanity' were more subtle and believable in the full length version. The key scene (for me) was the one where a nurse attends Danny (before they get to the hotel) and it's revealed that Jack had injured Danny in a violent rage. So Jack is quite sinister before he even gets to the hotel.

I read the film was cut because Warner Brothers thought the original was too long and ambiguous! Not the first time that studio screwed up (their worst desecration is what they did to Judy Garland's 'A Star is Born').

oct. 18, 2016, 11:44am

>307 Rembetis: Jack was an alcoholic with anger issues, particularly when drunk. He wasn't "sinister," he was a guy with problems.

oct. 18, 2016, 7:31pm

I thought the longer version was less ambiguous, if anything. Roger Luckhurst, in his short "BFI Film Classics" book about the film, makes this observation about the shorter cut (prompted by the first "missing" scene - the doctor attending Danny after his seizure): "Left in, the scene {...} makes more sense of the sullen and suppressed self that Jack is struggling to maintain with his family and the world: he has been forced to be on his best behaviour. With the scene edited out, the film becomes more enigmatic. It decisively shifts focus {...} towards Jack's struggle with his parental authority over the incomprehensible beings of wife and child. {...} the film becomes a more abstract and mythic grid of possibility."

oct. 18, 2016, 8:18pm

>308 .Monkey.: I accept that Jack was 'a guy with problems', but 'sinister' (in the sense that he might do something threatening or harmful) is quite an apt description for him, as Danny had already been physically harmed by Jack in a drunken rage before they get to the Overlook (Danny's arm was torn out of its socket, if I recall correctly - haven't seen the film for about 15 years).

Must admit, I am bringing some of my own baggage to this, as my dad was a heavy drinker with anger issues. About once or twice a year, right through my childhood, the anger became rage and he was physically violent to mum for no discernable reason. Don't underestimate what it's like living in a house with 'a guy with problems'. 'Sinister' doesn't begin to describe it - more like 'terrifying'.

oct. 19, 2016, 4:11am

I'm not saying it makes it okay for him(/anyone) to harm others (physically or emotionally), I'm saying he was just a regular ol' human, he wasn't evil; he didn't intend to hurt anyone, and he was a recovering alcoholic - he knew the alcohol made him do awful things and he regretted it and quit drinking. That's what the Overlook was supposed to be about, moving forward with their lives, no more drunk Jack being awful to anyone, he got a new job, and, there was not even a possibility of having any alcohol and getting into any drunken rages, as the bar was empty for the wintering over period. So no, he wasn't perfect, but he was merely a guy with some problems that he acknowledged and he was trying to do right. It wasn't until the hotel sunk its claws into him and provided him alcohol that he turned evil and sinister. Non-drunk Jack had posed no threat.

oct. 19, 2016, 11:58am

>311 .Monkey.:

I think one can legitimately find a character to be sinister without implying one thinks it's eeeevil incarnate. To me it's really more of a subjective impression--like finding this one or that one attractive or repellent. It can also be circumstantial, not necessarily a constitutive feature of a character.

Editat: oct. 19, 2016, 12:32pm

I don't remember whether I mentioned this before, William Castle's Macabre impressed me with some unexpected goodies, for instance, the brilliant character of the rich blind girl. I can't gush about her without spoiling, so I'll just say she's amazing. Not for the first time the humble B (C? D?)-movie production comes up with something truly original (yet authentic, in that true-to-life sense), outside the reach of the play-it-safe, stereotypical formula factories. Even if it's just a fragment, i.e. one character.

Macabre is good fun. Any movie that begins with the theft of a child's coffin (empty!) has promise.

On to find more William Castle...

oct. 19, 2016, 4:43pm

>313 LolaWalser: I've found a reasonably priced Region 2 DVD (Italian) on Amazon Marketplace...well I hope I have. All the reviews refer to a 1980 film of the same name about a severed head in a fridge.

Editat: oct. 19, 2016, 5:01pm

>313 LolaWalser:

This one? - Macabre (1958)

ETA - Slightly odd picture on the DVD case (original film poster?) - why has the woman at the centre apparently got a badly sunburnt nose?

oct. 19, 2016, 5:01pm

>314 housefulofpaper:

Oooops, I hope you'll find the expense worthwhile... Watch for crazy credits at the end. :)

>315 alaudacorax:

That one! I found it online uploaded in two parts but in excellent shape.

oct. 20, 2016, 7:32am

'Macabre' is indeed good fun (especially the eerie graveyard scenes and the funny end credits!) I think Castle shot his films very well for the money put into them - I particularly admire his use of light and shade to accentuate atmosphere.

I can recommend 'The Tingler' (with Vincent Price), 'Homicidal', and 'Strait-jacket' (with a performance so outrageous from Joan Crawford that it makes Bette Davis in 'Baby Jane' look subtle). It's also worth seeking out the documentary 'Spine Tingler - the William Castle Story', not least because of all the stories about his infamous gimmicks.

oct. 21, 2016, 5:07am

>317 Rembetis:

I have a vague memory of seeing The Tingler when it was first released. Wasn't there a gimmick where you got a special pair of glasses on entry to the cinema, so you could see the creature? I've got a memory of cardboard things with one lens blue and one red, probably coloured cellophane. It might be confusion with something else, though - IMDb doesn't mention such a gimmick, neither does Wikipedia, so it's probably another crossed wire in my memory.

oct. 21, 2016, 2:08pm

>318 alaudacorax:

You're right about it being a William Castle film, but it was another called '13 Ghosts' - see IMDB trivia here:

The gimmick for 'The Tingler' was a hidden buzzer under some of the seats in the theatre which were activated during the part of the film when 'The Tingler' is let loose in the cinema (what larks!) The Scala cinema in London (the best independent cinema in London back in the day) recreated this effect for a special showing of 'The Tingler' in the late 70s/early 80s, using a mild electric shock instead, if I recall correctly! The Scala also showed 'The House on Haunted Hill' in 'Emergo' (a skeleton came out from behind the screen into the audience on wires.) Sadly, the Scala closed after it showed a bootleg screening of the then banned 'A Clockwork Orange' and Kubrick got wind of it and sued them through the Courts. The resulting costs threw them out of business.

oct. 22, 2016, 5:00am

>319 Rembetis:

No memories of 13 Ghosts itself, but it was fifty-odd years ago - the memory gets a bit scrambled.

Exploring from your link, and reading between the lines, what a sad life-story William Herbert must have had - tragic, really.

oct. 22, 2016, 6:18am

>320 alaudacorax: I'm not surprised you can't remember '13 Ghosts'. Usually, Castle's films have some memorable aspect to them, but that's one of his weakest.

I agree about William Herbert. So few child stars make the successful transition to become adult stars (and I note its not uncommon for even successful child stars to turn to drugs - e.g. Drew Barrymore, River Phoenix). The pressure on Herbert must have been particularly intense as he was the main breadwinner for the family before his career stalled.

oct. 26, 2016, 9:31pm

Do you ever find yourself hitting a brick wall part-way through a film or television programme and being unable to watch further because of one scene that you just can't swallow? The only word I can honestly use for what I'm thinking of is 'embarrassment'.

I've just given up on my fourth attempt to watch Jean Rollin's The Iron Rose.

The stumbling block is the incident at the wedding reception shortly after the start of the film where the young man suddenly decides to get up and recite a gloomy poem. I can't tell you any more because that's as far as I ever get. I mean, can you believe it - apart from the idea that a young man would have the nerve to do it, can you believe the other guests would shut up and listen? In my experience of weddings he'd have been lucky to escape a cry of, "Sit down, you silly sod!"

Perhaps I'm displaying a very British sensibility - perhaps it would be viewed differently in other countries?

oct. 27, 2016, 3:43pm

>322 alaudacorax:

I don't know, I've never been to a French wedding.

I've been working my way slowly through a collection of Maupassant short stories, though (it's in my desk at work) and I can't see his peasants putting up with any poetry!

p.s. Jonathan Rigby's Euro Gothic has been published - I saw a copy in Waterstones today. But I had to keep my hands off it because I've pre-ordered from Amazon. Grrr!

oct. 28, 2016, 4:41am

>323 housefulofpaper:

Perhaps our copies are on the way - I've previously had pre-ordered stuff delivered before Amazon's release date.

oct. 29, 2016, 9:29am

>324 alaudacorax: - Yup - just had the 'dispatch' email ...

oct. 29, 2016, 1:36pm

I've located The tingler in the net-space. Going through one of my lists on Amazon I see I had put in once a William Castle box set priced at about fifty, which now can't be had for under ridiculous hundreds, BUT there's also a cheapo set from MillCreek with five overlapping titles, minus Zotz!, Strait-Jacket, The Tingler. Who knows what the quality's like, though...

oct. 31, 2016, 6:36pm

>313 LolaWalser:

Just watched Macabre - thanks for bringing it to my attention. As a real bonus, the Italian DVD (marked "special edition") includes the entire William Castle documentary mentioned in >317 Rembetis:.

Those end credits are really strange, given the context - sort of pretending the preceding overstrung drama was a St Trinians film!

nov. 1, 2016, 1:39pm

>327 housefulofpaper:

You're welcome, I hope I didn't oversell it. The blind girl and the sheriff especially seemed so fresh compared to the usual cardboard cutouts in this kind of movie.

I watched The Creeping Flesh, had to have something with my boys Lee and Cushing... it finally registered that I'd seen the woman who plays Cushing's daughter in Blake's 7. I'm slow but I get there...

nov. 1, 2016, 6:29pm

>328 LolaWalser:

Lorna Heilbron - yes, she's in Symptoms (>219 housefulofpaper: etc.) too. I don't re-watch Blake's 7 often (I bought it on VHS in the '90s). I wouldn't have remembered her in that episode, but with a little nudge from ImDB I did recall the episode itself.

I recognised Ellen Corby (Grandma Walton) in Macabre, and an uncredited Robert Colbert (the sobersides in a Norfolk jacket from The Time Tunnel), but I never recognise Jim Backus. There's a part of my brain that refuses to accept the voice of Mr Magoo doesn't look like Mr Magoo.

nov. 2, 2016, 5:56am

>329 housefulofpaper: - Another of the odd ways my memory lets me down: I clearly remember Jim Backus as a favourite of my childhood, but, looking at his IMDb page, I can't for the life of me remember where I used to watch him.

nov. 3, 2016, 10:03am

>329 housefulofpaper:

That was a GREAT B7 eppy she was in.

I like her husky voice, quite distinctive.

nov. 16, 2016, 12:34pm

It! (The Curse of the Golem), with Roddy McDowall, is very entertaining.

nov. 17, 2016, 3:05am

>332 LolaWalser:

That looks fun. Didn't think I'd seen it, but looking at the stills on IMDb I vaguely remember the golem - I think. Actually, he looks a bit like an ent.

Editat: nov. 19, 2016, 3:01am

Aquest missatge ha estat suprimit pel seu autor.

Editat: nov. 19, 2016, 4:28am

I wanted to investigate web series and the obvious starting point for a member of this group seemed to be Carmilla on YouTube on KindaTV's channel - three seasons and a Christmas special between seasons 1 and 2. Has anyone seen it? I found it absorbing and good fun.

It's very firmly based on the novella: it includes most of the characters in updated form - Laura and Carmilla are students in a modern university - albeit a rather odd one - 'Silas University' in Styria, Austria - and takes the plot as its background-stroke-starting point. It gleefully subverts the popular lit-crit idea of Le Fanu's Carmilla as a coded lesbian who gets punished for transgressing the mores of heterosexual, partriarchal society.

Most of it is shot with a single, stationary camera, supposedly a webcam, so they pretty much have to reverse the old writers' dictum of 'show, don't tell'. Despite that, it works really well, courtesy of some high-quality writing and performances.

It reminded me strongly of listening to the old BBC radio series of fifty, sixty years ago - a continuing stream of cliffhanger endings, for instance. What's very different was that as the episodes were being released there was a lot of additional stuff around it, on YouTube and social media - there seems to have been a lot of interaction with the audience. I found I didn't have the inclination or patience to explore this stuff, though (I was obviously not the target audience).

Though quite humorous, it does, when you think about it, tick most of the Gothic boxes ('comic-Gothic'?). It can be quite moving, and even horrific, when it needs, though.

I was struggling to sum it up when a sort of kinship with Northanger Abbey dawned on me. Like that, it's firmly rooted in the Gothic but not quite of it, affectionate of it while gently sending it up - perhaps a sort of fan-tribute to the Gothic. I highly recommend it.

nov. 19, 2016, 11:07am

Thanks bunches, Paul, looks perfect for a Sunday afternoon!

nov. 20, 2016, 3:25am

>336 LolaWalser:

Be aware it's terribly addictive - like those boxes of biscuits people give you at Christmas. Because the episodes are only five minutes or so long, you keep thinking 'I'll watch just one more ...' Next thing you know, hours have passed by.

nov. 20, 2016, 3:38am

On the subject of Le Fanu's version of Carmilla, it's such a key work that it's a bit of an omission that it doesn't have its own thread here - as Wikipedia says, '... the original prototype for a legion of female and lesbian vampires.' So I'm going to make one.

nov. 21, 2016, 11:44am

>337 alaudacorax:

You were not kidding! I watched the first and second season almost back-to-back... If it hadn't been for a dinner date, I'd have seen "zero" too. :)

Did you see "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"? On the off chance that you didn't--if you liked this, I suspect you'd love Buffy. By the way (the way of building up its Gothic cred) Edward Gorey was a huge fan. Used to tape episodes. I always get sad when I remember he died before it was over.

Grant me a pause, Death! My TV show's NOT DONE.

nov. 27, 2016, 4:32pm

>339 LolaWalser:

Oh, I quite liked Buffy - I thought there was very often more depth and quality in the writing that the vast majority of telly. How often do you come across the use of allegory Buffy was prone to? People are so blinkered - put actors in period costume and you can convince people the soapiest, ropiest old scripts are quality TV; but if it's fantasy, sci-fi or horror it must be 'rubbish'.

nov. 27, 2016, 4:42pm

>1 housefulofpaper: - ... depends, I think, on the viewer willing to be put into a suitably receptive mood.

It's astonishing the difference one's mood can make to start with (for me, at any rate - perhaps I'm going bonkers). I tried to watch The Skull quite a while back and couldn't make it all the way through - just had no interest in it. I decided to give it another go tonight, and I've just sat through it totally absorbed - the tension was almost unbearable at times. A cracking good film.

I do have to admit, though, that my suspension of disbelief rather faltered a bit with that floating skull passage just before the end - that could definitely have been a bit better done.

des. 3, 2016, 9:58am

I'm going to spend the evening reading ...

I have subscriptions to Netflix, MUBI and BFI Player. It's got to the stage where I can spend all evening just trying to make up my mind what to watch.

But when my parrot takes to making the sound my remote control makes when I'm flicking through dozens - hundreds, probably - of films, it's definitely time to hit the books.

des. 3, 2016, 6:09pm

Prompted by Euro Gothic I've seen the following films in the last month or so:

Nightmare Castle/Amanti D'Oltretomba
Castle of Blood/Danza Macabra
Terror-Creatures from the Grave/5 Tombe per un Medium
Werewolf Shadow/ La noche de Walpurgis (also known as "The Werewolf and the Vampire Woman"
Black Sabbath/I tre Volti Della Paura
I Vampiri
The Church/La Chiesa

I was surprised I could find Touchstones for them all!

des. 7, 2016, 3:24am

>343 housefulofpaper:

Never seen, or heard of, any of them as far as I remember. I haven't started Euro Gothic yet, still haven't finished English Gothic, and that's given me a long list of films I 'really have to' see ...

des. 7, 2016, 4:29am

>335 alaudacorax:

I found another web series, this time a straight-up creepy one - Haunted or Hoax - Grantham House

It's a slightly unfortunate title in that I passed over it several times as some rubbishy reality show (it is fictional). I'd been looking at other stuff by the makers of Carmilla for anything interesting and there was nothing that appealed to me, but this kept popping up; the only connection, as far as I can tell from IMDb, being the presence of Natasha Negovanlis, who played Carmilla in the web series (and that both series seem to be made by lesbians for lesbians, but they're so much better than the average horror that they transcend such boundaries).

A couple of young women set up a website - or vlog, or whatever - about investigating a supposedly cursed, remote, Victorian house. So they come to stay in the place along with the owner, another young woman, slightly weird (Negovanlis), who doesn't live there and seems to be scared of the place, and is only involved because she needs the money they're paying her. And then it gradually becomes clear that there is something supernatural in there ...

It's basically a traditional haunted house story, with a stiff dose of detective story thrown in.

It's a little less webcam-bound than the last one - there's at least one more camera angle used - and there is a little more in the way of special effects. It still depends somewhat on telling as opposed to showing, and, except for an outdoor introductory scene, it all takes place in one big room, but it really works, courtesy of good acting, writing and directing.

There was quite a strong 'creep factor' all the way through and at one or two key moments I genuinely did find the hairs on the back of my neck rising - absorbing and scary.

I can't find anything online about the budgets and profits for these series. I guess they have a fraction of the budget of the broad mass of straight-to-video horror one finds on Netflix and so on, or even episodes of most TV shows, but they're done so much better. I can't help but wonder what the creators could do if they got their hands on a lot more money. I suppose the gay element to some extent precludes that. Compared to so much of that stuff, though, I find it rather sad that Carmilla has had less than half a million views and this one only 121,000-odd. They really deserve to be more widely-known.

des. 7, 2016, 7:20pm

>344 alaudacorax:

The first three titles are Italian black & white films from the mid-60's starring Barbara Steele. Watching the three in quick succession (they're all on one region-free Blu-ray) gives an appreciation of how the Italian film-makers were adapt at taking what were really stock genre situations and clichés - here Gothic (more than Horror, I think) - and creating something distinctively different in tone from what had gone before even if the plotting and storylines can run along familiar grooves. The comparison with the Spaghetti Westerns is a valid one, I think. You'll also spot that the English titles are rarely translations of the Italian originals.

Werewolf Shadow is an early entry, and apparently one of the best, in a series of Spanish films written and starring Paul Naschy as Polish werewolf Valdemar Daninsky (apparently General Franco did not permit the idea that Spain might have werewolves among her fauna to be aired). Naschy was a big fan of the Universal horror cycle and this film at least plays like a sexed-up and bloodied-up retread of one of the later, pulpier films in that series. It's nicely photographed though with some effectively creepy scenes (although the werewolf make-up here looks pretty much just like hair stuck all over the actor's face).

Black Sabbath is the film Mario Bava made after Black Sunday (English title trying to cash in on the earlier films success to the extent of being the same title!) - Black Sunday being the film that turned Barbara Steele into a horror icon, with the pre-credit scene where before being burnt as a witch, her character has a spiked mask hammered onto her face - strong stuff for the early '60s. Anyway, Black Sabbath is a portmanteau film with three separate episodes introduced by Boris Karloff - two set in present day ('60s) Italy and the middle one set in rural 19th Century Russia, an adaptation of "The Family of the Vourdalak" by Alexis Tolstoy. Karloff stars in this segment - the vourdalak ("wurdalak" in the film) is closer to the vampires reported by the likes of Dom Augustin Calmet than most literary vampires - peasant class, preying on his close family, almost feral. The only other one I can call to mind is Alfie Bass in Polanski's The Fearless Vampire Killers.

I Vampiri is reportedly Italy's first vampire film. As Jonathan Rigby points out, so many horror films from mainland Europe centre on a woman's search for a lost youth or lost beauty. This is one example, playing out against a La Dolce Vita background.

The Church is a much later (1989) film and despite there being much to enjoy about it - in many ways it's richer than most of the other films I've described here - on a first viewing I found it a little disappointing. It may well be because the first third or so of its running time it sets itself up as an intellectual puzzle and has the "quality" look to back this up (it's clearly influenced in its visuals - and in one case even the casting - by the film version of The Name of the Rose). I got this abiding impression despite such setpieces as the graphic slaughter of a whole village in the Middle-Ages-set opening scene. However, ultimately, the story takes a back seat to the spectacle and I couldn't avoid feeling just a bit short-changed. and even the spectacle side of the film felt a little blunted by virtue of being too polite or classy, in some way, compared to comparable films of earlier decades. However, I might feel differently about the film the next time I watch it. These are the sort of impressions that can be totally different on each viewing of a film.

I've still to watch those two series on Youtube, but I did see a late work by Jean Rollin that's currently uploaded in its entirety there - La Nuit des Horloges. It's not quite his last film but it feels like it, looking back as it does at themes/images that run throughout his work, even cutting in clips from his old films, and casting actors from them - middle ages or elderly now. There's no English subtitles but you can certainly get the gist of what's going on. I enjoyed The Iron Rose a lot, incidentally; I was able to get past the poetry recital at the start (and doesn't, anyway, set the boy up as someone who poses as a sensitive soul merely as a seduction technique?)

des. 8, 2016, 3:16am

>346 housefulofpaper: - ... (they're all on one region-free Blu-ray) ...

Just been searching for that and can't find it - any more info?

des. 8, 2016, 5:57pm

>347 alaudacorax:

Look for "Nightmare Castle" Blu-ray from Severin films. It's a US disc but available from Amazon UK.

des. 8, 2016, 9:51pm

>348 housefulofpaper:

Ah! Sorry - I misunderstood. I was looking for Werewolf Shadow, Black Sabbath and I Vampiri on one Blu-ray ...

des. 9, 2016, 2:19pm

>349 alaudacorax:

Sorry I wasn't clearer - I think I was writing that post after midnight. I Vampiri is a bonus feature on the Black Sunday Blu-ray, incidentally.

gen. 3, 2017, 8:24am

Sitting here feeling miserable and sorry for myself, totally bunged up with the annual Xmas cold or flu or whatever, I finally gave up trying to carry out New Year's Revolutions and curled up in the chair clicking through what Netflix has to offer.

I'm a bit gobsmacked to be honest. I've just happened upon a 2016 film called Howard Lovecraft & the Frozen Kingdom. Yes, it is that Howard Lovecraft. And would you believe it's 'for ages 5 to 7'?

Just yesterday or the day before I was checking to see if the World Fantasy Award has the new trophy yet. The makers of this film obviously didn't know he's not PC anymore. What amused me, though, was the idea of anything Lovecraftian popping into the minds of children's film makers.
En/na Gothic films - part three ha continuat aquest tema.