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Night of the Living Dead (1968) – Episode 15 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

“They’re coming to get you, Barbara,” Johnny teases his sister. Things didn’t turn out so well for Johnny or Barbra. The horror community lost a giant when George Romero died July 16, 2017. Join the Decades of Horror: The Classic Era crew – Erin Miskell, Chad Hunt, Joseph Perry, and Jeff Mohr – as we pay tribute to Mr. Romero by taking a shot at his masterpiece, Night of the Living Dead.

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 15 – Night of the Living Dead (1968)

George Romero is co-writer (with John Russo), director, cinematographer, and editor of Night of the Living Dead. Made in the Pittsburgh area for only $114,000 in 1968, the film grossed $30,000,000 and established the rules of zombie behavior for many, many films to follow.

The story follows seven people – Ben (Duane Jones), Barbra (Judith O’Dea), Tom (Keith Wayne), Judy (Judith Ridley), Harry Cooper (Karl Hardman), his wife Helen (Marilyn Eastman), and their daughter Karen (Kyra Schon) – trapped in an isolated farmhouse, besieged by a growing legion of the living dead. Key supporting roles include Russell Streiner as Johnny, George Kosana as Sheriff McClelland, Bill Cardille as the field News Reporter, and S. William Hinzman (Bill Heinzman) as the first ghoul.

The Classic Era podcast crew marvels at the all around quality of Night of the Living Dead. They’re all impressed with how smart the script is, how well the actors portray their parts, and how truly disturbing and horrifying the end result is. It is so good, in fact, they all have trouble choosing a favorite scene, though they each take their best shot. One thing on which they all agree, none of them can shake the chilling, reverberant, mental images from the final shots of the film.

Your intrepid Grue Crew also ventures into a discussion of the cultural, sociological, and historical events coinciding with the making and release of the film and the effects they have on them as they rewatch Night of the Living Dead. A resounding cheer is heard for the recent 4k restoration of the film currently receiving a limited theatrical run, and for the possibility of a new 4k blu-ray release sometime soon.

Lastly, Jeff reads some listener feedback on Episode 14 – Bride of Frankenstein from Dave Johnston, and on Episode 11 – The Mummy from saltyessentials. Be sure to check out salty’s blog, Dead Man’s Brain.

We plan to release a new episode every other week. The next episode in our very flexible schedule is Jû jin yuki otoko (the original 1955 Japanese version, aka Half Human).

Please let us know what you think of Decades of Horror: The Classic Era and what films you’d like to hear us cover! We want to hear from you! After all, without you, we’re just four nutjobs talking about the films we love. Send us an email  (chadhunt@gruesomemagazine.com, erinmiskell@gruesomemagazine.com, jeffmohr@gruesomemagazine.com, or josephperry@gruesomemagazine.com) or leave us a message, a review, or a comment at GruesomeMagazine.com, iTunes, Stitcher, the Horror News Radio App, or the Horror News Radio Facebook group.

To each of you from each of us, “Thank you for listening!

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Count Yorga, Vampire (1970) – Episode 56 – Decades of Horror 1970s

“How’d you like to wake up with pieces of cat in your stomach?” Eww! So says one of the dubious, but fearless, vampire hunters in this episode’s featured film, Count Yorga, Vampire (1970). Doc Rotten is still on hiatus, diligently working on the next issues of the Gruesome Magazine quarterly print edition (You have yours, right?). In the interim, your regular hosts, The Black Saint and Jeff Mohr, are joined by the capable and knowledgeable Bill Mulligan, film director and bon vivant, and Chad Hunt, comic book artist/writer and host of Decades of Horror: The Classic Era podcast. Journey with this episode’s Grue Crew as they don their crushed velvet smoking jackets and channel the Count.

Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 56 – Count Yorga, Vampire (1970)

In Count Yorga, Vampire, Count Yorga (Robert Quarry) gives pseudo-séances while scouting women to victimize with the aid of his ghastly assistant Brudah (Edward Walsh). Paul (Michael Murphy) and Mike (Michael Macready) attempt to rescue the Count’s most recent victims, Donna (Donna Anders) and Erica (Judy Lang), with the help of Dr. James Hayes (Roger Perry).

The brainchild of writer/director Bob Kelljan and producer/actor Michael Macready, Count Yorga, Vampire was made on a skintight budget of $64,000 while having the look of a film with a much bigger investment. Robert Quarry gives an excellent performance as the Count and creates a vampire unlike any other in cinema. At one time, Quarry was thought to be a successor to Vincent Price, but events did not unfold as planned. Viewers will almost certainly recognize Roger Perry and Michael Murphy as accomplished, capable actors who plied their trade in film and television throughout several decades.

Count Yorga, Vampire has several iconic scenes that still haunt The Black Saint years after he first viewed the film as a seven-year-old. In fact, he places it in his top ten horror films of the 1970s. Bill Mulligan questions the filmmakers’ explanation of the kitten scene and thinks something a little more horrific might be closer to the truth – with the help of Brudah, of course. Jeff Mohr loves the film but questions whether an overdubbed, long walk through the city was an effective way for Paul and Mike to devise a rescue plan. In fact, Chad Hunt thinks they are the stupidest vampire hunters in the history of vampire films. The rest of the crew couldn’t disagree. Though there might be some holes in the plot, the hosts all highly recommend Count Yorga, Vampire for its production values, horrific and memorable scenes, and stylized vision of vampires.

We want to hear from you – the coolest, grooviest fans:  leave us a message or leave a comment on the site or email the Decades of Horror 1970s podcast hosts at theblacksaint@decadesofhorror.com or docrotten@decadesofhorror.com.

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Bride of Frankenstein (1935) – Episode 14 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

“Sometimes I have wondered whether life wouldn’t be much more amusing if we were all devils, no nonsense about angels and being good.” The Decades of Horror: The Classic Era crew – Chad Hunt, Jeff Mohr and Erin Miskell – are missing their fourth member, Joseph Perry, this week. Filling in for him is Horror News Radio (and Decades of Horror: the 1980s and Decades of Horror: the 1990s) host Thomas Mariani, as we discuss the 1935 gem Bride of Frankenstein.

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 14 – Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

After a mob attack upon himself and his creation, Dr. Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) is approached by former mentor Dr. Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger) to create a mate (Elsa Lanchester) for his Monster (Boris Karloff). The Monster, meanwhile, continues to elude angry townsfolk who want to destroy him before they get to know him.

A classic of the early horror era, Bride of Frankenstein features iconic performances by both Boris Karloff and Elsa Lanchester. Director James Whale – the same director that brought us Universal’s 1931 hit Frankenstein – returns to offer a continuation of a story of acceptance, loneliness, and creation.

Join our intrepid hosts and guest as we discuss our thoughts on Whale – the man, the myth and the legend – and the direction he decided to go with the sequel to his hit film. We also tackle the censorship issues encountered during the making of Bride of Frankenstein, as well as favorite characters and themes of loneliness, companionship, and morality. This episode’s Grue Crew also expresses their admiration for the score (Franz Waxman), photography (John J.Mescall), makeup (Jack P. Pierce), fantastic supporting cast (Una O’Connor, E.E. Clive, Dwight Frye, O.P. Heggie) and soon-to-be-famous bit players (Walter Brennan, John Carradine).

We plan to release a new episode every other week. Our upcoming and very flexible schedule includes Night of the Living Dead (1968), Jû jin yuki otoko (the original 1955 Japanese version, aka Half Human), and House on Haunted Hill (1959).

Please let us know what you think of Decades of Horror: The Classic Era and what films you’d like to hear us cover! We want to hear from you! After all, without you, we’re just four nutjobs talking about the films we love. Send us an email  (chadhunt@gruesomemagazine.com, erinmiskell@gruesomemagazine.com, jeffmohr@gruesomemagazine.com, or josephperry@gruesomemagazine.com) or leave us a message, a review, or a comment at GruesomeMagazine.com, iTunes, the Horror News Radio App, or the Horror News Radio Facebook group.

To each of you from each of us, “Thank you for listening!

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Godmonster of Indian Flats (1973) – Episode 55 – Decades of Horror 1970s

“I’ve been following you since the glory hole!” No, not that kind of glory hole, though you couldn’t be faulted for going there. You never know what to expect in writer/director Fredric HobbsGodmonster of Indian Flats. For the next few episodes of Decades of Horror 1970s, Doc Rotten is on super, secret, special assignment (actually, it’s not that secret, but it is pretty super-special) putting the finishing touches on the second issue of Gruesome Magazine and getting a good start on Issue #3. By the way, if you haven’t purchased Issue #1 yet, what are you waiting for? In lieu of Doc, The Black Saint and Jeff Mohr are joined by Chad Hunt, co-host of Decades of Horror: The Classic Era and comic book artist/writer extraordinaire, and Bill Mulligan, film director/movie maven extraordinaire and fabricator of the title character of Christopher G. Moore’s award winning short film, Knob Goblins. Yes, it takes two “extraordinaires” to even attempt to make up for Doc!

Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 55 – Godmonster of Indian Flats (1973)

Godmonster of Indian Flats is unlike anything this episode’s Grue Crew has ever seen. Bill Mulligan gives a brilliant 90-second synopsis of what the film might be about. Ultimately, the nearly, nonexistent plot is undecipherable with equal parts western, corporate conspiracy, eco-horror, mutant livestock, local legend, archaeological science fiction, creature feature, and landfill apocalypse, with a dash of Valley of the Gwangi thrown in for good measure. Despite the result, Godmonster of Indian Flats is an ambitious effort and may well be exactly as Hobbs intended it to be.

The cast members are fairly inexperienced unknowns with a few exceptions. The Black Saint remembers Christopher Brooks, who plays Barnstable, from The Mack, a 1973 blaxploitation film. Stuart Lancaster, as Mayor Charles Silverdale, was a frequent performer in Russ Meyer films such as Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965) and later had bit parts in two Tim Burton films, Edward Scissorhands (1990) and Batman Returns (1992). The Sheriff of Silverdale is portrayed by Robert Hirschfield, who Jeff remembers for his 94-episode stint on Hill Street Blues (1981-1985). The Godmonster itself is indescribable and must be seen to believe. Starting life as a mutant-hybrid sheep embryo, it is nurtured to its full 8-foot height by Professor Clemons (E. Kerrigan Prescott) in his secret lab with the help of his assistant Mariposo (Karen Ingenthron), who seems to develop a strange relationship with the Godmonster.

Fredric Hobbs has been described as, “a freaky filmmaker who takes the art of bad and cheesy filmmaking beyond this world into another dimension. combining illogical writing, completely random plot development, B-movie horror, and cheese … Hobbs makes some of the most mind warping movies ever in the sense that your mind tries to run away from the black hole that is Fredric Hobbs, in any way possible.” The Grue Crew’s recommendations for this film are as inventive as the film itself but are also given with a strong warning. Watch Godmonster of Indian Flats if you dare!

We want to hear from you – the coolest, grooviest fans:  leave us a message or leave a comment on the site or email the Decades of Horror 1970s podcast hosts at theblacksaint@decadesofhorror.com or docrotten@decadesofhorror.com.

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The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) – Episode 13 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

“Du mußt Caligari werden! You must become Caligari!” Join the Decades of Horror: The Classic Era’s Grue Crew – Chad Hunt, Erin Miskell, Jeff Mohr, and Joseph Perry – as we attempt the cinematic version of Volkswagen stuffing, climbing into The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari together and locking the door behind us. We are a rather close group.

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 13 – The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

Sometimes referred to as the first horror film, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is also a crown jewel of German expressionism. Producer Erich Pommer (Metropolis, Faust) put together a crew that included production designer Walter Reimann, who gave the film its unique and unsettling look. Directed by Robert Wiene (The Hands of Orlac), the film tells the story of Dr. Caligari (Werner Krauss), a sideshow mesmerist, and his somnambulist Cesare (Conrad Veidt). Dr. Caligari uses his power over Cesare not only for sideshow performances, but to commit murders. Alan (Hans Heinrich von Twardowski), one of their early victims, is close friends with Francis (Friedrich Fehér) and Jane (Lil Dagover). After Alan’s murder, Francis becomes obsessed with exposing Caligari’s evil deeds while Jane begins to fall under Caligari’s spell.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is not, however, simply a slasher film.  The writers, Carl Mayer (The Haunted Castle, The Last Laugh) and Hans Janowitz (Der Januskopf), use personal experiences as the story’s foundation while interweaving several layers, leaving interpretation to the viewer.

Listen as we discuss the answers to these questions: What is German expressionism? How did this moment in German history influence the film? Who faked insanity to get out of military service in WWI? Who was known as a Nazi sympathizer in later years? Who was strongly anti-Nazi? Who was one of Hitler’s favorite actors? To which famous director was the film first offered? How does the framing story change the film’s message? What should you do if you don’t like the score? How does The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari relate to the Batman TV-series of the 1960s (as all films must)?  What does the Babadook have to do with Dr. Caligari?

As always, if you’re paying attention, you’ll also hear which of us makes these comments:

  • “Or it could just be like a family sitting together at dinner and the father says to the mother, ‘So, we must become Caligari. When will we become Caligari?’ ‘It’s up to you. You’re the head of the house.’”
  • “We love everybody here at decades of Horror: The Classic Era.”
  • “My first time was on a family trip to Lake Tahoe, Nevada.”
  • “Chances are it would just be me, like screeching in this little high-pitched squeal that would attract ardent chihuahuas.”
  • “He is one creepy looking dude!”

We plan to release a new episode every other week. Our upcoming and very flexible schedule includes Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), Jû jin yuki otoko (the original 1955 Japanese version, aka Half Human), and House on Haunted Hill (1959).

Please let us know what you think of Decades of Horror: The Classic Era and what films you’d like to hear us cover! We want to hear from you! After all, without you, we’re just four nutjobs talking about the films we love. Send us an email  (chadhunt@gruesomemagazine.com, erinmiskell@gruesomemagazine.com, jeffmohr@gruesomemagazine.com, or josephperry@gruesomemagazine.com) or leave us a message, a review, or a comment at GruesomeMagazine.com, iTunes, the Horror News Radio App, or the Horror News Radio Facebook group.

To each of you from each of us, “Thank you for listening!

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Village of the Damned (1960) – Episode 12 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

“People, especially children, aren’t measured by their IQ. What’s important about them is whether they’re good or bad, and these children are bad.” Whether they’re bad children or the misunderstood vanguard of an alien race, the children of Midwich serve as the antagonists in Village of the Damned, a chilling tale of science fiction and horror. Join the Decades of Horror: The Classic Era’s Grue Crew – Chad Hunt, Erin Miskell, Jeff Mohr, and Joseph Perry – as we take a closer look at these odd children, their freakishly high foreheads, and their funky eyes.

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 12 – Village of the Damned (1960)

Based on John Wyndham’s novel, The Midwich Cuckoos (1957), Village of the Damned tells the story of the village of Midwich as it is beset by a series of strange, connected events. As these events unfold, every woman of a child-bearing age in Midwich gives birth to strangely similar children. As the children age at an accelerated rate, they develop strange powers and foster a growing sense of fear and foreboding within the village residents.

Directed by Wolf Rilla, who also co-authored the screenplay with Stirling Silliphant and Ronald Kinnoch (as George Barclay), Village of the Damned stars Barbara Shelley and George Sanders as Mrs. and Professor Zellaby, the lead couple. Their son David is played by Martin Stephens while all the children as toddlers are played by an uncredited Kim Clarke Champniss. Michael Gwynn as Major Alan Bernard, and Laurence Naismith as Doctor Willers, provide able support. There is also a brief appearance by Richard Vernon that holds special significance for Jeff.

Listen as we discuss the answers to these questions: Why do these odd-looking children elicit such horror from adults? What does A Hard Day’s Night (1964) or Fawlty Towers (1975) have to do with Village of the Damned? How does the film differ from John Wyndham’s book? What’s the connection between Village of the Damned and The Death Wheelers (1973) aka Psychomania (Decades of Horror 1970s – Episode 49)? How did the filmmakers find kids with such high foreheads? Once again, our film has a connection to the Batman and I Love Lucy TV-series. What are those connections this time? What are the two connections Ronald Colman has to Village of the Damned? Originally planned as a U.S. production, why was production switched to MGM British Studios? How does this 1960 production compare with the 1994 production directed by John Carpenter?

We also read some feedback on Episode 8: Freaks (1932) from Saltyessentials (check out his blog, Dead Man’s Brain) and Mike Hatfield. Thanks so much to both of you for taking the time to comment!

As always, if you’re paying attention, you’ll also hear which of us makes these comments:

  • “De monical? Is that the thing Mr. Peanut wears on his eye?”
  • “Hey, I’ve watched wrestling enough to tell the difference between natural blondes and unnatural blondes.”
  • Maneater of Hydra screams, ‘Leeroy Jenkins!’ and goes dashing into battle when it comes to that particular crown (as strangest science fiction story ever told).”
  • “Creepy children are infinitely creepier when they’re in packs and when they have British accents.”
  • “They all look the same to me. They’re all blonde children with similar haircuts.”
  • “Wigmaster 2: The Weaving!”

We plan to release a new episode every other week. Our upcoming and very flexible schedule includes The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), and Jû jin yuki otoko (original 1955 Japanese version, aka Half Human).

Please let us know what you think of Decades of Horror: The Classic Era and what films you’d like to hear us cover! We want to hear from you! After all, without you, we’re just four nutjobs talking about thefilms we love. Send us an email  (chadhunt@gruesomemagazine.com, erinmiskell@gruesomemagazine.com, jeffmohr@gruesomemagazine.com, or josephperry@gruesomemagazine.com) or leave us a message, a review, or a comment at GruesomeMagazine.com, iTunes, the Horror News Radio App, or the Horror News Radio Facebook group.

To each of you from each of us, “Thank you for listening!

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The Mummy (1932) – Episode 11 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

“’Death… eternal punishment… for… anyone… who… opens… this… casket. In the name… of Amon-Ra… the king of the gods.’ Good heavens, what a terrible curse!” intones Sir Joseph Whemple as he translates the inscription found within the tomb of Imhotep in The Mummy (1932), one of Universal’s classic monster films. Join the Decades of Horror: The Classic Era’s Grue Crew – Chad Hunt, Erin Miskell, Jeff Mohr, and Joseph Perry – as we conduct our own “dig,” dusting off the artifacts we discover, inspecting them from every angle, and discussing what we find.

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 11 – The Mummy (1932)

Directed by famed cinematographer Karl Freund, The Mummy was Universal Studio’s response to the public’s apparent thirst for horror films while simultaneously taking advantage of the free marketing created by the discovery and archeological excavation of King Tutankhamun’s tomb. There had even been a story in the New York Times sensationalizing the tomb’s alleged curse by counting off fourteen associated deaths. Universal’s Carl Laemmle Jr. knew the foundation for a film legend when he saw one and he set writers Richard Shayer, Nina Wilcox Putnam, and John Balderston to work. Laemmle next paired Boris Karloff, fresh off Frankenstein (1931) and The Old Dark House (1932), with legendary Universal Studios makeup artist Jack Pierce; added the talented stage actor Zita Johann as the female lead; and rounded off the cast with supporting regulars Edward Van Sloan, David Manners, Noble Johnson, Arthur Byron, and Bramwell Fletcher. Thus a film icon was born.

Listen as we discuss the answers to these questions: How did Zita Johann and Karl Freund get along? How did the story morph from Putnam’s and Shayer’s vision of Allesandro Cagliostro to Balderston’s Imhotep? Why take a chance on first time director Karl Freund? What does Dracula (1931) have to do with The Mummy? For that matter, what does The Mummy have to do with 150 episodes of I Love Lucy (1951-56)?  Or Red Planet Mars (1952)? Or the 1961-64 seasons of Mister Ed? How does The Mummy’s classic poster rank historically?

If you’re paying attention, you’ll also hear which of us makes these comments:

  • “The voices and speech patterns of some of the other actors struck me as just this side of the helium tank at times.”
  • “Even without the mummified makeup he’s still a creepy-looking dude.”
  • “I’m not sure what you’re asking.” “Neither am I. You’re just supposed to come up with an answer.”
  • “He gives birth to one of the most unrealistic man-screams in the history of Hollywood.”

For What It’s Worth Dept.:

  • Hear our second reference to The Honeymooners and our second reference to Iron Maiden.
  • Hear Chad say Ankh-es-en-amon at least 6 times without stumbling once.

We plan to release a new episode every other week. Our upcoming and very flexible schedule includes Village of the Damned (1960), The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), and Jû jin yuki otoko (original 1955 Japanese version, aka Half Human),

Please let us know what you think of Decades of Horror: The Classic Era and what films you’d like to hear us cover! We want to hear from you! After all, without you, we’re just four nutjobs talking about thefilms we love. Send us an email  (chadhunt@gruesomemagazine.com, erinmiskell@gruesomemagazine.com, jeffmohr@gruesomemagazine.com, or josephperry@gruesomemagazine.com) or leave us a message, a review, or a comment at GruesomeMagazine.com, iTunes, the Horror News Radio App, or the Horror News Radio Facebook group.

To each of you from each of us, “Thank you for listening!

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The Last Man on Earth (1964) – Episode 10 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

“You’re freaks! I’m a man! The last man…” Thus screams Dr. Robert Morgan at the vampires of the post-pandemic world depicted in The Last Man on Earth (1964). Join the Decades of Horror: The Classic Era’s Grue Crew – Chad Hunt, Erin Miskell, Jeff Mohr, and Joseph Perry – for our somewhat historic 10th episode as we suit up alongside Morgan to do battle against the vampiric horde. Unfortunately, Erin Miskell, the glue that holds The Classic Era’s Grue Crew together, is on special assignment investigating Dr. Caligari’s cabinet … from the inside, and was not able to join us in this battle.

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

Episode 10 – The Last Man on Earth (1964)

Based on Richard Matheson’s classic, dark, science fiction novel, I Am Legend (1954), The Last Man on Earth is a joint Italian-U.S. production, filmed in Italy and distributed by American International Pictures. Directed by Sidney Salkow on a shoestring budget, The Last Man on Earth follows Dr. Robert Morgan (Vincent Price) as he goes about his daily life as the titular character. By day, his time is spent scrounging for supplies and searching out, killing, and burning the infected vampires. By night, he fends off the still shambling remnants of the population or listens to jazz records backed with the weak cries from his infected, former colleague to “Come out Morgan … come out Morgan.”

Listen as we discuss the answers to these questions: Did the filmmakers construct a believable post-pandemic world? Since the story takes place in Los Angeles, how did they manage to create a piece of California in Italy? How does Price’s performance as Morgan in this low budget, Italian collaboration compare to his other roles? Exactly who the the heck is co-writer Logan Swanson? What did Richard Matheson think of The Last Man on Earth? How closely does this adaptation follow the plot of Matheson’s novel? How does The Last Man on Earth rank compared withThe Omega Man (1971) and I Am Legend (2007), the other adaptations of Matheson’s novel, I Am Legend? What happened to the script Matheson wrote for Hammer Films in the late 1950s? Why does The Last Man on Earth (1964) remind us so much of George Romero’s Night of the LIving Dead (1968)?

If you’re paying attention, you’ll also hear which of us makes these memorable comments:

  • “I never turn down a stake.”
  • “It’s not the garlic keeping them away; it’s the dirty underwear.”
  • “We’re coming to get you Morgan.”
  • “Everybody knows Vincent Price has Tyrannosaurus Rex hands.”

We plan to release a new episode every other week. Our upcoming schedule includes Village of the Damned (1960), Viy (1967), and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920).

Please let us know what you think of Decades of Horror: The Classic Era and what films you’d like to hear us cover! We want to hear from you! After all, without you, we’re just four nutjobs talking about the movies we love. Send us an email  (chadhunt@gruesomemagazine.com, erinmiskell@gruesomemagazine.com, jeffmohr@gruesomemagazine.com, or josephperry@gruesomemagazine.com) or leave us a message, a review, or a comment at GruesomeMagazine.com, iTunes, the Horror News Radio App, or the Horror News Radio Facebook group.

To each of you from each of us, “Thank you for listening!

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The Queen of Spades (1949) – Episode 9 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

“This is a very rare book. I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. … Who knows what you may learn from it. You might end up by gaining a fortune or losing your precious soul.” So said a wizened, antique bookseller (Ivor Barnard) to Captain Herman Suvorin (Anton Walbrook) as he sold him a tome of supernatural secrets. Join the Decades of Horror: The Classic Era’s Grue Crew – Chad Hunt, Erin Miskell, Jeff Mohr, and Joseph Perry – as they journey back to 1949 and take a gamble on The Queen of Spades.

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 9 – The Queen of Spades (1949)

Is The Queen of Spades the best horror film of 1949? It is according to Bloody Disgusting and Rotten Tomatoes. The film was thought to be lost until 2009 and when Jeff noticed it was now available for streaming, he excitedly added the film to the schedule as his next pick. The Queen of Spades tells the story of a young countess who strikes a Faustian bargain with the devil and exchanges her soul for the ability to gamble and win at Faro. Years later, a lower class, army officer, who resents the aristocracy and is obsessed with gaining comparable status in society, stalks Lizaveta Ivanova (Yvonne Mitchell), the ward of the now elderly Countess, to gain access to the secret of the cards. In the process, he causes the death of the Countess and finds himself haunted by the woman’s spirit.

After viewing The Queen of Spades, your intrepid Classic Era Grue Crew couldn’t agree on whether it was a horror movie or not. Erin, Joseph, and Chad questioned its horror bonafides while Jeff stuck with the hand he dealt himself and played his “deal with the devil” and “evil haunting” cards. After all, it was the best horror film of 1949, right? However, Joseph is quick to point out the competition in 1949 was as thin as a playing card, causing us all to question the value of it being referred to as the “year’s best.”

If you have not heard of the 1834 Alexander Pushkin story on which the film is based, you will find yourself in the same boat as we did when we were surprised to learn there had been over twenty adaptations of the story over the years. It’s also likely you have not heard of the film’s director, Thorold Dickinson. You will be shocked to learn what Martin Scorsese has to say about Dickinson in general and The Queen of Spades specifically. Even Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel) has something interesting to say about this film.

We also discuss the answers to these burning questions. Does the performance of Dame Edith Evans, as the elderly Countess Ranevskaya, live up to her reputation as the greatest actress on the English stage in the 20th century? Why did Anton Walbrook flee Germany? Where have I seen Ronald Howard, who plays Suvorin’s aristocratic friend Andrei, before? Which of these actors played Sherlock Holmes in the 1950s? What does Mary Poppins have to do with The Queen of Spades? Which of the film’s actors also appeared in a Hammer film? What was used for the snow to depict the Russian winter?

If you’re paying attention, you’ll also hear which of us makes these memorable comments:

  • “I am down with the young people!”
  • “There are many old bitty horror films … you know, that’s a subgenre, I’m not being mean.”
  • “The higher the hair, the closer to God.”
  • “At first I thought it was film grain, but I think there were actual bees flying in and out of that thing.”
  • “Because I’m anal.”

If you’d like to listen to the “The Queen of Spades” radio episode of Mystery in the Air, starring Peter Lorre and first aired in 1947, you can check it out here.

We plan to release a new episode every other week. Our upcoming schedule includes The Last Man on Earth (1964), Village of the Damned (1960), Viy (1967), and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920).

Please let us know what you think of Decades of Horror: The Classic Era and what films you’d like to hear us cover! We want to hear from you! After all, without you, we’re just four nutjobs talking about the movies we love. Send us an email  (chadhunt@gruesomemagazine.com, erinmiskell@gruesomemagazine.com, jeffmohr@gruesomemagazine.com, or josephperry@gruesomemagazine.com) or leave us a message, a review or a comment at GruesomeMagazine.com, iTunes, the Horror News Radio App, or the Horror News Radio Facebook group.

To each of you from each of us, “Thank you for listening!

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Freaks (1932) – Episode 8 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

“Gooba gobble, gooba gobble, one of us, one of us. We accept her, we accept her, one of us, one of us…” Easy for them to say! Join the Decades of Horror: The Classic Era’s Grue Crew – Chad Hunt, Erin Miskell, Jeff Mohr, and Joseph Perry – as we make a trip to the circus and take in Tod Browning’s legendary film, Freaks (1932).

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 7 – Freaks (1932)

Loosely based on “Spurs,” a short story by Clarence Aaron ‘Tod’ Robbins, Freaks is the embodiment of the adage, “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” all the way from its advertising taglines to the appearance of the film’s actors. Throughout the filming, Browning leans heavily on his experiences working in a carnival and exhibits a genuine affection for the title characters of Freaks.

The blatantly exploitative taglines – “The Love Story of a SIREN, a GIANT, and a DWARF!” and “Can a full grown woman truly love a MIDGET?” –  are so misleading as to constitute outright lies. Yet another tagline – “‘We’ll Make Her One of Us!’ from the gibbering mouths of these weird creatures came this frenzied cry… no wonder she cringed in horror… this beautiful woman who dared toy with the love of one of them!” – has nearly nothing to do with the film and only works to entice the audience with the supposed luridness of a freak show using phrases like “gibbering mouths,” “weird creatures,” “frenzied cry,” and “cringed in horror.”

Despite their abnormal bodies, the title characters of Freaks are the beautiful ones, exuding love and caring for one another in this traveling community. On the other hand, Cleopatra (Olga Baclanova), the beautiful siren; and Hercules (Henry Victor), the handsome strongman; turn out to be ugly beyond redemption, as they conspire to destroy Hans’ (Harry Earles) relationship with Frieda (Daisy Earles) and murder him in order to steal his inheritance. Throughout Freaks, these two villains pepper the sideshow community with derisive and disparaging insults, treating them as if they are less than human.

Hans and Frieda are supported throughout Freaks by their loving, understanding, and loyal friends in this big-hearted family – the half woman-half man (Josephine Joseph), the Siamese Twins (Violet and Daisy Hilton), the Armless Girl (Frances O’Connor), the Human Skeleton (Peter Robinson), the Living Torso (Prince Randian), the half-boy (Johnny Eck), Angeleno (Angelo Rossitto), Schlitze and too many others to list. Two normal-bodied members of their freakshow family are Phroso the Clown, played by consummate character actor Wallace Ford, and Venus, played by Leila Hyams.

Freaks is about that age old love-versus-greed conflict and in this case, love triumphs while the characters motivated by greed suffer hideous consequences. It’s unfortunate that the powers that be chose to pitch Freaks as the beautiful Cleopatra and handsome Hercules falling victims to a gibbering gang of weird creatures.

There’s some question as to whether or not Freaks is a horror film, but without a doubt, there are some horrifying scenes, especially in the last ten minutes. However, the horror is not in the appearance of the title characters as implied by the advertising taglines, but in what they do to Cleopatra and Hercules in return for the horrifying treatment the couple inflicts on them, especially Hans..

If you’re paying attention, you’ll hear which of us makes these memorable comments:

  • “… you can just kind of picture us bouncing in our seats right now.”
  • ‘“From the gibbering mouths of these weird creatures came this frenzied cry!” … Actually our gibbering mouths were probably worse at the beginning of this episode.’
  • “I cry like every five minutes in this movie.”
  • “Tell me what you can do with your eyebrow.”
  • “I would’ve smiled and then just spiked Cleopatra’s drink with as many laxatives as I could get my hands on.”

We plan to release a new episode every other week. Our upcoming schedule includes The Queen of Spades (1949), The Last Man on Earth (1964), Village of the Damned (1960) and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920).

Please let us know what you think of Decades of Horror: The Classic Era and what films you’d like to hear us cover! We want to hear from you! After all, without you, we’re just four nutjobs talking about the movies we love. Send us an email  (chadhunt@gruesomemagazine.com, erinmiskell@gruesomemagazine.com, jeffmohr@gruesomemagazine.com, or josephperry@gruesomemagazine.com) or leave us a message, a review or a comment at GruesomeMagazine.com, iTunes, the Horror News Radio App, or the Horror News Radio Facebook group.

To each of you, a great big “THANK YOU FOR LISTENING!” from each of us!