Monday, October 31, 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Horror Tie-Ins

The Pit and the Pendulum by Lee Sheridan
Published by Lancer Books in 1961

A castle that torture built, whose dungeon walls still sweated blood... A family terrorized by the awful secret they shared - and the thing that shrieked in the night... A beautiful, young girl enslaved by unholy passions, snared in a net of evil... And the man who challenged a nightmare - and dared to face its horror, alone.

Here is the gripping film story of American-International's The Pit and the Pendulum, adapted from the bone-chilling tale written by America's master of shock literature, Edgar Allen Poe. Don't miss this thrilling movie, showing soon at your neighborhood theater!

Tales From The Crypt by Jack Oleck
Published by Bantam Books in April 1972

Trapped in catacombs that smelled of ancient death, five forsaken men and women poured out the foul secrets of their fetid souls to a strange, sinister, black-robed monk.

Maitland... forever doomed to a living, walking nightmare. Joanne... who wanted one thing from Santa Claus - murder. Elliot... this heartless young man received visitors from beyond the grave. Rogers... he treated the blind and helpless like dogs; they turned the tables with razor-sharp vengeance. Jason... returned and returned and returned - from the dead.

Young Frankenstein by Gilbert Peralman
Published by Ballantine Books in 1975 (first special printing)

In the beginning there was Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's monumental horror classic Frankenstein. Then there was Frankenstein (1931) and Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and Son of Frankenstein (1939) but never was there anything like Young Frankenstein. A terrifyingly funny movie from Mel Brooks the mad genius who brought you Blazing Saddles!

The Mummy by Carl Dreadstone
Published by Berkley Medallion Books in June 1977

What hideous crime had caused the Grand Priest, Imhotep, to be buried alive? Thirty centuries later, the answer remained a mystery. Yet somehow his deadly Scroll of Thoth retained its power, fatal to those who came in contact with it. There was beautiful Helen Grosvenor queen-like but somehow vulnerable. Muller, a man who understood the secrets of the ages and battled against them. Frank Whemple, the young archaeologist who loved Helen, and struggled with the fate that threatened to overwhelm them. And finally, the mysterious Ardeth Bey, forbidding, courtly and tinged with an ancient guilt.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Witchfinder General Blu-ray

I believe it was back in the Latest Acquisitions Video for August that I said I would go through the special features on the Witchfinder General Blu-ray and report on which titles are viewable with a Region A player. To be honest, I forgot all about it until I stumbled upon that flyer for the upcoming Vincentennial. The Odeon Entertainment release is marked Region A, B, C on the packaging, so the film is viewable, but most of the special features are in PAL, so if you won't be able to watch them on a standard Region A player.

Here is a complete listing of the special features:

Audio Commentary with Benjamin Halligan & Michael Armstrong
Theatrical Trailer
Alternate Open & Closing Credits (6 Mins)
Alternate Scenes from the Export Version
Vincent Price on Aspel & Company (10 Mins)
The Blood Beast: The Films of Michael Reeves (24 Mins)
Intrusion: Michael Reeves Short Film (10 Mins)
Intrusion Audio Commentary with Halligan & Armstrong
Bloody Crimes: Witchcraft (24 Mins)
Stills Gallery

So, what can you watch with a Region A player? Aside from the stills gallery and the feature with or without the commentary track, the Alternate Open & Closing Credits is the single special feature that you can watch. It is also the only special feature that is in HD, everything else is standard def and in PAL. Just remember, "there's lots of screaming when there's this much at stake!"

Saturday, October 22, 2011


While attending the screening of Creature from the Black Lagoon in 3D at the Music Box today, I came across this flyer for the Vincentennial coming up on October 30th!

There will be a 100th Birthday and Halloween tribute to Vincent Price at the Portage Theater in Chicago. Victoria Price, Vincent Price's daughter, will be in attendance for autographs and picture taking and a Q&A session with never before seen photos and videos! She will also be selling special Vincent Price memorabilia which might include the book she wrote about her father, Vincent Price: A Daughter's Biography.

The schedule is as follows:

2:00pm - The House on Haunted Hill
3:30pm - Q&A with Victoria Price
5:00pm - The Last Man on Earth

Tickets can be pre-purchased for $13 by clicking here. They may also be purchased for $15 the day of the show - Sunday, October 30th. The Portage Theater is located at 4050 North Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago, Illinois and is one of Chicago's oldest cinemas, having opened its doors in 1920.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Curse of the Phantom Shadow

I received an email from independent filmmaker Mark Ross this morning. He was writing to let all of you know about his latest project; it’s called Curse of the Phantom Shadow.
The year is 1948 and World War II has been won, but the United States has a new adversary in the guise of the Phantom Shadow. He plans to use a kidnapped scientist to launch atomic weapons on key locations within the U.S. Only Government Agent 236, along with the help of the beautiful Gas Pump Girl, can put a stop to the Phantom Shadow’s diabolical scheme!
Curse of the Phantom Shadow is a 24 minute short film that harkens back to yesteryear in the tradition of The Shadow, Dick Tracy, Spy Smasher and other pulp magazines, radio dramas and movie serials of the 1930s and 40s. It’s hoped that this proof of concept film with lead to a trilogy of movies featuring the adventures of Agent 236.
But before any features can be made, Curse of the Phantom Shadow must be finished, and here’s where you come in. The film is 75% complete, but the funds have run out. Visit the Curse of the Phantom Shadow Kickstarter Page and help these fine folks complete their project. They're offering incentives such as DVDs, movie posters, screen credits, t-shirts and more for contributing. With only 48 days remaining in their campaign, they’re still short of their goal.
Well, that’s enough of me telling you about how great this project looks (and it really does look like a lot of fun). After all, I just learned of it this morning. Why don’t you watch the promotional video below and let the cast and crew tell you all about it themselves. Check out their website and if you can, make a donation to help complete this project. 

And remember, “the weed of crime bears bitter fruit…”


Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Old Dark House

Halloween season is upon us and I've been in the horror movie mood. Here's a little interview with the late Gloria Stuart from issue #214 of Famous Monsters of Filmland.

Comments From Gloria Stuart
FM: Does The Old Dark House stand out from other movies that you've made in your career?
GS: Oh, absolutely. I consider it the best film that I've made, and of course James Whale the best director, and the cast the best cast I've ever worked with. They were all trained theater people, and I was really in A-1, very fast company.

FM: How old were you when you made that film?
GS: I was 22. I think I'd made two pictures before - the Kay Francis one at Warner Bros, Street of Women, and Airmail with John Ford. I think it was the third picture I made for Universal, in 1932.
FM: What was it like, being directed by James Whale?
GS: In the first place, James Whale had been an actor, and for an actor to be directed by an actor, at least you have the feeling that he knows what he wants and he knows how to tell you what he wants. Besides that, he had been a cartoonist and a set designer, so I felt that the set that he used, and the props that he used - for example, the finger shadow exercise that he gave me was pure James Whale... the passing of the potatoes, and finding the little black spots... the throwing of the bouquet by Mr. Femm into the fire - all of these were James Whale's inventions, they were not in the novel, they were not in the screenplay. And when you worked with a man who was so creative, and particularly creative as far as you were concerned.

He had exquisite taste, he was beautifully educated. He really was very special among directors at that time. Most of the directors I worked with had been silent film directors - they didn't know from the theatre, they didn't know from the human voice and so forth, so James was very special.

FM: It's interesting that today there's so much attention paid to sex in film, and yet the subject actually seemed a little bit more relaxed in the '30s. The films always had scenes for screen goddesses to seiche for the camera and the look was of trim figured women, usually braless, in form hugging gowns. Then here we have a "horror" film and your undressing scene is an attention getter in direct contrast to Rebecca's horrific monologue. How did that impact you as an actress at that stage in your career?
GS: Well, you know, whatever James wanted me to do, I did, because I trusted him implicitly. So, okay, I had to take my dress off and be in what we called "teddies," "teddy bears" in those days, but let me tell you something about doing that scene. I said to James, "I don't understand, James, why you put me in a pale pink bias-cut silk-velvet gown with pearls and earrings, when everybody else at dinner is in sopping wet dirty clothes! I don't understand it." I didn't say to him, "It doesn't make sense," because you don't say that to the director; I said, "I don't understand it." He said, "Look, Gloria, when Boris chases you through the halls I want you to look like a white flame!" and off we went. But photographically he wanted me to stand out when I was being threatened by Karloff. It's not legitimate, but it was very effective.

Besides that, you know, that really is a black comedy - it's not really a horror/murder mystery thing. It's so full of satire, it's so full of mean, funny things, you know. It really is in the black comedy genre.

FM: Yes, and I think that's one of the reasons it's held up. What was working on set like?
GS: The pervading atmosphere was of very elite British actors from the English theatre. They had elevensies and foursies every day, but they never asked Melvyn Douglas, who was an American, and me, who was an American, to share the tea with them. And so, they would gather in a circle at 11 and 4 and have their tea - it would be brought in from the commissary. And Melvyn and I were left unwanted, uninvited and ignored. But it worked very nicely, because during that time the Screen Actors Guild was being formed, and Melvyn and his wife were two of the leaders in forming it. They had come from the New York theater, where they had gone through that dreadful equity strike that really "killed" people, and so they were very much involved with that. So Melvyn and I were discussing the Guild movement. I always was way over on the left, liberal, and I was very interested in such matters. So they did us a great favor, without knowing it.

FM: How was Boris Karloff different when the cameras were rolling, compared to when the cameras were off?
GS: Oh, he was very quiet, very retiring, very modest. The whole English cast was very laid back. On most of the sets that I worked there was what we called fun-and-games, a lot of kidding around, a lot of dirty tricks, a lot of that sort of thing - very relaxed, very easy. This set was very, very different, and there wasn't any kidding around, there weren't any jokes, no byplay, nothing like that. So Karloff, along with Laughton and Lilian Bond and Thesiger and Eva Moore, all of them were very reserved and very apart.

FM: Famous Monsters is attracting a lot of youngsters again who have a fascination for these "newly discovered" treasures. Are you particularly surprised that The Old Dark House, The Invisible Man, Frankenstein and a lot of these old films are still revered after a span of some 60 years?
GS: Oh, yes, I am very surprised. I did a seminar in England at the county museum on Whale a few years ago, and a man in the audience said, "Tell me, Ms. Stuart, how did it feel making classics?" Well, we didn't know we were making classics, you know, we were making movies! I just got back from London, and I had a whole week of "stroking" over the fact that I worked with James three times and these films are classics. They're extraordinary, the English. They remembered more about all of these things than I did and they're very gung-ho as fans of Whale and of those kinds of films.

FM: The Old Dark House had been thought to be lost until a negative was found, we believe in 1968. Now with the incredible Image laserdisc release the film can be enjoyed closer to how it must have originally looked.
GS: Oh, yes. They had the absolute top negative, it's really beautiful - you can see a lot of detail in the set and it's gorgeous. I did a running commentary (on a special analog audio track) on all of the players and all of the scenes and what was involved and so forth. I'm very happy about these laserdiscs of the films. I was trying to analyze it for someone in London - I was on the BBC - and it suddenly came to me that all of my life I've had a thrust toward immortality - I wanted to be known forever. And I always was so frustrated, being an actress, because it's the most evanescent of all of the arts - you know, it's not painting, it's not photography, it's not writing, it's just one performance and it's gone. But now on laserdisc I have my lifelong wish! You're going to have to look at me for a lot of years from now on!

FM: And the pleasure, as they say, will be all ours.


Friday, October 7, 2011

Latest Acquisitions - September

Here's my second attempt at a video. While the video quality, and especially the audio, has been improved, it's not quite up to the standards that I'm looking for. I'll get it one of these days...

Monday, October 3, 2011

Horror on the Big Screen

For those in the Chicago area, the Music Box Theatre will be showing twenty six horror flicks for the Halloween season. First off is the Music Box Massacre 7, a 24 hour film festival of horror movie madness with special guest Herschell Gordon Lewis and dealer tables in the lobby!

The massacre begins at Noon on Saturday, October 15th and runs until Noon on Sunday, October 16th. 

12:00pm – Waxworks (Silent with live organ music)
1:30pm – Burn Witch Burn
3:05pm – Hour of the Wolf
4:45pm – The Abominable Dr. Phibes 
6:30pm – Wizard of Gore (with Herschell Gordon Lewis in Person)
8:45pm – Halloween 
10:30pm – Poltergeist 
12:45am – Pumpkinhead
2:30am – Gates of Hell
4:15am – The Vampire Lovers
6:00am – Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things
7:45am – The Sentinel
9:20am – From Dusk ‘Til Dawn

Ticket Info: 
$34 from 9/16 – 10/14 only 200 available at this price
$38 day of show only 100 available at this price

Next up we have Universal Horror, thirteen classics from Universal Studios running from October 22nd through the 27th. Although the showtimes have not been published yet, the films and dates will be:

10/22 Murders in the Rue Morgue
10/22 Creature from the Black Lagoon in 3D
10/23 It Came From Outer Space
10/23 The Invisible Man
10/23 The Invisible Man Returns
10/24 The Wolf Man
10/24 Captive Wild Women
10/25 Dracula
10/25 The Mummy
10/26 Frankenstein
10/26 The Bride of Frankenstein
10/27 The Black Cat
10/27 Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

All films in the Universal Horror and Music Box Massacre will be actual film prints, not DVD projections like the Monster Fests at the Portage Theater. Admission is $9.25 per showing, but you can save a little cash by purchasing the Music Box Discount Card of five admissions for $35.00.

The Music Box Theatre is located at 3733 North Southport Avenue in Chicago, Illinois. For those who are interested, the theatre was opened in 1929 as a counterpart to the movie palaces downtown. The main auditorium seats 800 and is the only one you want to watch movies in. The second screen was built in 1991 which converted a vacant storefront that was adjacent to the lobby. Some television sets aren't much smaller than the screen in there. The Music Box may also be haunted...

Old theaters have ghosts and The Music Box is no exception. “Whitey”, as was his neighborhood nick-name, was the manager of The Music Box from opening night 1929 to November 24, 1977. His wife was the cashier and they raised their family two blocks away from the theater. According to one of Whitey’s daughters and his daughter-in-law, he spent most of his time at the theater. Young people who grew up in the neighborhood tell tales of working for Whitey, being tossed out by Whitey and accidentally-on-purpose skinning their knee to get a free piece of candy from Whitey. Parents speak of the embarrassment of having their child’s instamatic photo in the cashier’s station “rogues gallery” of children not allowed back in the theater for any of a myriad of offenses. On Thanksgiving eve, 1977, Whitey returned to close the theater. He fell asleep on the couch in the lobby and never woke up.
Whitey is a tireless protector of The Music Box Theatre. He helps solve problems and has been known to express his opinion of a bad organist by causing the drapery to drop in both organ chambers simultaneously. He is a positive contributor to the audience’s comfort and enjoyment of his theater. He is sometimes felt to be pacing Aisle 4 (protecting the alley doors where kids used to sneak in). If you see him, be sure to say hello and thank him for his 48 years of care and operation of The Music Box and his continued service to the patrons. He is the Manager Emeritus.