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Salem’s Lot (1979) – Episode 69 – Decades of Horror 1970s

“Open the window, Mark. Please! Let me in! It’s OK, Mark, I’m your friend. He commands it!” If a floating Glick boy ever says this to you, no matter what, don’t open the window!  Doc Rotten is off on assignment for this episode, but regular hosts Jeff Mohr, Bill Mulligan, and Chad Hunt are joined by Joey Fittos, the Thug with a Mug, as they travel to the not-so-quaint and disturbing New England village of Salem’s Lot to discuss the equally disturbing 1979 miniseries, Salem’s Lot.

Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 69 – Salem’s Lot (1979)

The literary juggernaut known as Stephen King had already made the book-to-movie transition with Brian De Palma’s Carrie (1976) when Warner Brothers Television decided to adapt ‘Salem’s Lot, King’s second novel, to the TV miniseries format. Horror icon Tobe Hooper was enlisted to direct as was Paul Monash to provide the screenplay adaptation of King’s novel for an all star cast that includes James Mason, David Soul, Lance Kerwin, Bonnie Bedelia, Lew Ayres, Reggie Nalder, Geoffrey Lewis, George Dzundza, Julie Cobb, Elisha Cook Jr., Marie Windsor, Fred Willard, Ed Flanders, Kenneth McMillan, and more. The result was Salem’s Lot, a now legendary, 2-part miniseries first broadcast November 1979 on CBS.

Each of this episode’s Grue Crew viewed Salem’s Lot during its premiere broadcast. Joey proclaims Salem’s Lot as one of his all time favorite horror films. Bill also loved it, but was a little put out by specific scenes present in King’s novel that are not included in the miniseries. David Soul (Starsky and Hutch, 1975-79) as the star gave Jeff some misgivings prior to seeing the film and he was annoyed at first by the changes made in the transformation of his beloved ‘Salem’s Lot (the book) into Salem’s Lot (the movie). It didn’t take long, however, for him to be won over by what was, in truth, an excellent horror film. Chad, along with Joey and Bill, in hindsight, saw definite similarities between Salem’s Lot and Fright Night (1985).

The film’s over 3-hour runtime is surprisingly even-paced and despite the length, the viewer is never caught wondering how much time is left. Scenes that have been frozen in your grue Crew’s nightmares are discussed, including, but not limited to, the floating Glick boys and Geoffrey Lewis in a rocking chair. The story is so well told, there are several unscary scenes that are memorable for their dialogue or visual impact alone. Salem’s Lot gets an enthusiastic thumbs-up from the whole Crew.

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 docrotten@decadesofhorror.com.

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Night of the Demon (aka Curse of the Demon, 1957) – Episode 28 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

“Please don’t treat me like a mental patient who has to be humored. I also majored in psychology.”  As a horror fan, how many times have you said those very same words? It gets old, doesn’t it? Erin Miskell is still on sabbatical binging on pizza with pineapple, but you can join guest host Jerry Chandler and the rest of your regular Grue Crew – Joseph Perry, Chad Hunt, and Jeff Mohr – as they attempt to hide behind a facade of sanity while, a little too gleefully, discussing one of Jacques Tourneur’s masterpieces, Night of the Demon (1957). Or is it Curse of the Demon? It’s hard to remember while faking sanity. We owe this selection to our faithful Patreon listeners who chose this film from a poll of six classic era titles.

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 28 – Night of the Demon (1957)

Directed by Jacques Tourneur. That statement, alone, should be enough to interest viewers in Night of the Demon. Written by Charles Bennett. That, too, should be enough for fans of early Hitchcock to perk up and take notice. Adapted from the M. R. James story, “Casting the Runes.” Now the interest of 20th century ghost story fans is peaked.

Night of the Demon tells the story of Professor John Holden (Dana Andrews), a hardline skeptic of the occult, as he does battle with the evil Doctor Karswell (Niall MacGinnis), the leader of a cult of Satan worshippers. Holden is joined in his fight by Joanna Harrington (Peggy Cummins), whose father was murdered as the result of a Karswell curse. The intrepid professor is also aided by Karswell’s mother (Athene Seyler) and fellow professional Mark O’Brien (Liam Redmond).

This episode’s Grue Crew universally loves Night of the Demon. They discuss the difference between the 95-minute U.K. version and the shortened 82-minute U.S. version, retitled Curse of the Demon, and which one they prefer. Hal E. Chester’s heavy-handed approach as a producer and its effect on Night of the Demon are also topics fcovered. You will also discover where each of them stand in the more demon vs. less demon debate. Which side are you on?

A bundle of listener feedback is also read this episode. A hearty handclasp and your loyal Grue Crew’s love go out to Symon O’Hagan, Daphne Monary-Ernsdorff, Aaron Albrecht, Rafael Fernandez, Leontyne Jacquart, and saltyessentials for your feedback and your time!

We plan to release a new episode every other week. The next episode in our very flexible schedule is Night of the Eagle, (1962), aka Burn, Witch, Burn, selected by our very own Joseph Perry.

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 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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The Blood Beast Terror (1968) – Episode 27 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

“Galvanism isn’t working. It needs nourishment.” “Blood?” “Yes, blood. Human blood.” “The blood of a young girl?” “That would do perfectly.”   Yup. That’s where they immediately went with no explanation, leaving your Grue Crew to wonder, “Why is it always the blood of a young girl?” Join this episode’s Grue Crew – Chad Hunt, Joseph Perry, Jeff Mohr, and guest host Mike Imboden – as they brave the film Peter Cushing considered to be the worst of his many films. The Blood Beast Terror (1968).

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 27 – The Blood Beast Terror (1968)

A Tigon British Films Production, The Blood Beast Terror is tells the story of a series of murders, the victims of which are mysteriously drained of blood. Inspector Quinnell (Peter Cushing) is on the case, with the help of the intrepid Sergeant Allan (Glynn Edwards), and soon crosses paths with Dr. Mallinger (Robert Flemyng) and his beautiful daughter Clare (Wanda Ventham). Mallinger, an entomologist, has discovered a way to transform humans back and forth between a giant death’s head moth and their human form. As Quinnell’s and Allan’s investigation progresses, the body count rises and the clues become more and more alarming. The cast is rounded out with a morgue attendant (Roy Hudd) providing comic relief, Mallinger’s manservant Granger (Kevin Stoney), and Inspector Quinnell’s daughter Meg (Vanessa Howard).

Your Grue Crew is unanimous in their opinion that the story has potential, but the film seems to be missing essential bits while at the same time, includes lengthy scenes with no apparent value. The Blood Beast Terror is directed by Vernon Sewell, known as a director of British B-movies, and written by Peter Bryan, who scripted such films as The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959), The Brides of Dracula (1960), and The Plague of the Zombies (1966). With those two filmmakers involved, it is difficult to see why the film feels so disjointed.

The saving grace of The Blood Beast Terror is Mr. Cushing’s acting and the film’s male and female versions of it’s monster. Jeff mentions that Mallinger’s manservant, Granger, looks more like a street thug than a butler and also wonders what’s up with the bird? According to Joseph, the entomological presentation Mallinger gives to his students is a spot on representation of a boring university lecture. Chad agrees that the low budget might have led to the missing chunks of the story. Even though the story seems to be missing pieces, Mike thinks the 88-minute run time feels much longer and points out the beginning of the film feels like three different movies, … and don’t forget the wiener dog. The entire Grue Crew thinks this film is ripe for a remake.

On this episode, the hosts also read listener feedback on the House of Wax (1953) episode from the Golden Age of Monster Movies FB Group: Steven Nevin, Leo Doroschenko, Viki Burns-Oexman, and Robert Browning; and the Horror News Radio FB Group: Albert Torres, Bill Gabriel, Jacob Allen, and John Slattery (for some reason, that name sounds familiar).

We plan to release a new episode every other week. The next episode in our very flexible schedule is Night of the Demon (1957), aka Curse of the Demon, selected by a Gruesome Magazine Patreon poll and hosted by Jeff Mohr, with guest host Jerry Chandler.

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 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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The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) – Episode 26 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

“I’ve harmed nobody, just robbed a few graves!” Right! What’s the harm in that? Especially if your name is Baron Frankenstein. Join this episode’s Grue Crew – Chad Hunt, Joseph Perry, and Jeff Mohr – as they celebrate the podcast’s first anniversary by taking on The Curse of Frankenstein (1957). It’s an episode of firsts. Besides their first anniversary, it’s their first Hammer film, first Peter Cushing film, and first Christopher Lee film. Well, it’s about time!

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 26 – The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)

Directed by Terence Fisher and written by Jimmy Sangster, both Hammer regulars, The Curse of Frankenstein is Hammer’s first outright gothic horror film and their first color film. With Peter Cushing as Dr. Victor Frankenstein and Christopher Lee as the Monster, co-starring for the first time, the die was set for many future Hammer film collaborations between the two. The cast is rounded out with Robert Urquhart as Paul Krempe, Victor’s mentor and partner; Hazel Court as Victor’s cousin and fiance, Elizabeth; Valerie Gaunt as Justine, the maid who is also having an affair with Victor; and Paul Hardtmuth as Professor Bernstein and the donor of the monster’s brain.

Under threat of lawsuit from Universal, the filmmakers made numerous changes to the classic story. The monster in The Curse of Frankenstein bears no resemblance to the Jack Pierce makeup Boris Karloff wears in Frankenstein (1931). Another major change depicts the Baron as a completely unsympathetic character, masterfully played by Cushing.

Jeff is surprised that Victor is engaged to his cousin, but admits social mores might have been a bit different in the nineteenth century.  Chad is genuinely angry with Victor’s total lack of moral character and how little regard he gives the other characters. Joseph points out how shocking the color and blood must have been in 1957. All three of them are wowed with the acting in The Curse of Frankenstein, especially that of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.

On the anniversary of their first episode, the Decades of Horror: The Classic Era Grue Crew take time to stress how thankful they are for their listeners and for Doc Rotten allowing them the freedom to do the podcast and for providing the structure to talk about what they love: horror films from the beginning of film through 1969.

They finish the episode by reading a listener comment from Saltyessentials about Episode 24 – Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956).

We plan to release a new episode every other week. The next episode in our very flexible schedule is The Blood Beast Terror (1968), selected and hosted by Joseph Perry.

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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House of Wax (1953) – Episode 25 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

“Everything I ever loved has been taken away from me, but not you, my Marie Antoinette, for I will give you eternal life.” A strange line indeed, especially when you discover Prof. Henry Jarrod is talking to a wax sculpture as if it is a living human being. Then you realize Vincent Price is the actor portraying Prof. Jarrod. The master of the macabre makes it all seem so much more normal. In this episode, your Grue Crew – Erin Miskell, Chad Hunt, Joseph Perry, & Jeff Mohr – wax poetic on the 3D groundbreaking House of Wax (1953).

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 25 – House of Wax (1953)

Directed by André De Toth and written by Crane Wilbur from a story by Charles Belden, House of Wax tells the story of Prof. Henry Jarrod, a brilliant sculptor whose works populate the wax museum he owns. Early on, his partner (Roy Roberts) burns down the museum in pursuit for ill gotten gains with Prof. Jarrod inside. Badly burned, Jarrod can no longer sculpt so he enlists the aid of two assistants (Charles Bronson, Nedrick Young) to create his wax statues in order to reopen the museum. His intent is to use two beautiful roommates (Carolyn Jones, Phyllis Kirk) as his “models” for Joan of Arc and Marie Antoinette. It seems, however, that Prof. Jarrod’s trauma has taken his artistic obsession to a new level and his plans are far more diabolical than they at first appear.

House of Wax holds the distinction of being the first major studio production filmed in 3D. Who can forget the paddle-ball-thumping barker in front of Jarrod’s museum for its reopening, repeatedly whacking the ball straight into the camera? Joseph proclaims his love for the 3D gimmickry of this era, various items thrown into the screen and all.

For Erin, this one is all about the actors, Vincent Price and Carolyn Jones in a supporting role, and she wonders if Price’s character is the protagonist or the antagonist. House of Wax is a remake of Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933) and Jeff discusses the difference in the way drug addiction is portrayed in the pre-code original and how alcoholism is portrayed in the 1953 version. Erin broadens the discussion of addiction beyond drugs and alcohol to include behavioral obsessions as depicted in the film. Chad carries that on to relate to the attachment that artists feel for their creations. Joseph admits yet another childhood trauma (remember Invasion of the Body Snatchers?) relating to mannequins as the result of House of Wax.

We plan to release a new episode every other week. The next episode in our very flexible schedule is The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), selected and hosted by Chad Hunt. Episode 26 will be our anniversary episode so we will also discuss the podcast’s first year.

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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Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) – Episode 24 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

“I’ve been afraid a lot of times in my life. But I didn’t know the real meaning of fear until… until I had kissed Becky.” Have you ever kissed someone and realized they weren’t who they were? That’s the horror Miles Bennell is describing in this episode’s quote. Join Erin Miskell, Chad Hunt, Joseph Perry, and Jeff Mohr as they harvest the paranoia binbuster known as Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), Don Siegel’s classic, black and white, science-fiction shocker. They had to hurry before they fell asleep and became …, well, someone who wasn’t them.

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 24 – Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers is ably directed by Don Siegel (The Beguiled, Dirty Harry, The Shootist, and Escape from Alcatraz) and adapted by Daniel Mainwaring from Jack Finney’s novel The Body Snatchers. The film tells the paranoiac story of an alien invasion that consists of giant pods that take over people’s memories and replicate their bodies, all while they sleep. No one will ever be the wiser! Well, almost no one. Talk about a good motivation for insomnia. In fact, one of the films working titles was Sleep No More.

Including a cast of topnotch, veteran, character actors – Kevin McCarthy (Dr. Miles Bennell), Dana Wynter (Becky Driscoll), King Donovan (Jack Bellicec), Carolyn Jones (Theodora Bellicec), and Larry Gates (Dr. Dan Kaufman) – the film delivers what it’s selling. Coming on the heels of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s communist witch hunt and even though Finney and Siegel claimed no hidden, political message, the Invasion of the Body Snatchers resonated with the public’s fear of unfair prosecution and the resulting drive for conformity. It is an example of a perfect synergy between a film and the time in which it appeared in history.

Each of the Grue Crew was affected by this film in their “formative” years and have carried some image or theme from the film throughout their lives, Joseph Perry shares an especially personal story of how the film affected him and his nightmares. When it comes to the rules of the “science” in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Chad Hunt points out some contradictions, but in the end, agrees they don’t detract from the impact of the film. Jeff Mohr wishes the studio hadn’t added a narration and changed the ending with the addition of a prologue and an epilogue, but still considers the film to be one of his favorites of the 1950s. Being a product of its time, Erin Miskell points out the homogeneity of the people and pod people populating the story and laments the problem still existing to some extent today.

We plan to release a new episode every other week. The next episode in our very flexible schedule is House of Wax (1953), selected and hosted by Erin Miskell.

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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The Ship of Monsters (1960) – Episode 23 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

“For all they’ve tried, the Mexicans haven’t been able to destroy it,” says the electronic voice of the Venusian’s computer when describing Mexico in The Ship of Monsters (1960), aka La Nave de los Monstruos. Our very own Joseph Perry was so enamored with “Tiki Brain Guy” and Cyclops in Santo and Blue Demon Against the Monsters (Episode 19), he decided to take us back in time to 1960 to experience their earlier roles as Tagual and Uk, respectively. Ride along as this episode’s Grue Crew – Joseph Perry, Chad Hunt, Jeff Mohr, and special guest host Kieran Fisher – take an interplanetary voyage on The Ship of Monsters!

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 23 – The Ship of Monsters (1960)

In The Ship of Monsters, the female population of Venus is in desperate need of men for the purposes of procreation and the survival of their race, To that end, the Venusians organize a mission whereby a rocketship and its crew will embark on a voyage to various planets to retrieve the best men from each and bring them back to repopulate Venus. The ship’s crew, Gamma (Ana Bertha Lepe) and Beta (Lorena Velázquez), start their mission suitably clothed for space travel in their one-piece swimsuits.

By the time they get to Earth, they’ve acquired several male specimens: Tagual, Prince of Mars; Uk, a slobbering cyclops from the Red Planet; Utirr, a half-tick, half-spider creature with telescoping appendages from the fire planet; Zok, a sabre-toothed primate skeleton creature; and Tor, a robot from a barren planet whose population had long gone extinct. They are, indeed, a ship of monsters when they land on Earth and encounter the best male Earth has to offer, Lauriano (Eulalio González, aka Piporro), a tall-tale-telling cowboy with a decidedly comedic bent. Throw in an incognito vampire’s plot to take over Earth and an interspecies love story or two and you have the ridiculous, but hilarious tale told in The Ship of Monsters.

This Mexican production is directed by Rogelio A. González and and the very smart script is written by José María Fernández Unsáin and Alfredo Varela. Don’t let the cheap monster suits fool you! The filmmakers successfully skewer the alien invasion film genre as well as racism, colonialism, and a few other -isms in a way that will have you laughing out loud. The members of this episode’s Grue Crew each give The Ship of Monsters a very strong thumbs up!

Listen and you’ll be able to tell which of us made these comments regarding The Ship of Monsters:

  • “I think that was maybe the underlying message for the film with all this weird interspecies shenanigans.”
  • “Beta, she’s a naughty one.”
  • “You’re asking how blown was your mind when you really thought about it? I tried not to really think about it because I kept throwing up in my mouth a little bit.”
  • “I’ve seen Humanoids of the Deep like a thousand times so I’m not bothered by that stuff any more.”
  • “They had me at, ‘This is an atom.’”

We plan to release a new episode every other week. The next episode in our very flexible schedule is Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), selected and hosted by Jeff Mohr.

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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The Old Dark House (1932) – Episode 22 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

“Have a potato.” So said Horace Femm (Ernest Thesiger), one of our hosts as we all sat down to dinner. Join this episode’s Grue Crew as we seek shelter from the storm in The Old Dark House (1932). It seemed like a swell idea at the time. Erin Miskell was not able to join us on this one, so Chad Hunt, Joseph Perry, and Jeff Mohr had to do all the heavy lifting themselves. (They all shouted in their best impersonation of Joey Starrett in Shane,“Come back, Erin!”)

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 22 – The Old Dark House (1932)

The story of The Old Dark House begins with five weary travelers caught between avalanches on a stormy night and searching for a place to spend the night. The first to arrive are the Wavertons – Philip (Raymond Massey) and Margaret (Gloria Stuart) – and their travel companion, a light-hearted chap named Penderel (Melvyn Douglas). They are joined a short time later by Sir William Porterhouse (Charles Laughton) and his travel companion Gladys (Lilian Bond). Both groups of travelers are greeted at the door by Morgan (Boris Karloff), the owners’ mute and intimidating butler. They are soon joined by Horace Femm (Ernest Thesiger) and his sister Emma (Eva Moore). Eventually, the Femms’ guests learn of the third Femm sibling, the insane and dangerous Saul (Brember Wills), and meet his 102-year-old, bedridden father, Sir Roderick Femm (Elspeth Dudgeon). Many high jinx ensue in tandem with seriously dreadful and life threatening encounters.

The second of director James Whale’s four entries in the Universal horror pantheon, The Old Dark House is rife with the director’s signature shadow play, comedic overtones, and attention to detail.  The entire film takes place during the clichéd dark and stormy night lit only by flickering candlelight, oil lamplight, and fireplace flame, but cinematographer Arthur Edeson still delivers clear but menacing depictions of the the goings-on in The Old Dark House. Boris Karloff receives star billing in contrast to his “hidden” credit in Frankenstein (1931), but still is not given a single line of dialogue to utter.

Chad and Jeff (he does go on) enthusiastically recommend repeated viewings of The Old Dark House. Joseph also recommends the film and promises repeated viewings in the future.

We plan to release a new episode every other week. The next episode in our very flexible schedule is The Ship of Monsters (1960) aka La Nave de los Monstruos, selected and hosted by Joseph Perry.

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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Nosferatu (1922) – Episode 21 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

Join the Decades of Horror: The Classic Era Grue Crew for this episode – Erin Miskell, Jeff Mohr, and Joseph Perry – as we take our second journey in a row to Transylvania, this time to take in the silent scream splendor of Nosferatu (1922), the first cinematic version of Bram Stoker’s classic novel Dracula.

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 21 – Nosferatu (1922)

Nosferatu is most definitely based on Bram Stoker’s novel, but it is just as definitely an unofficial version. The filmmakers intentionally avoided obtaining the rights from the Stoker family, hence, the names along with a few other details, were changed to protect the not-so-innocent. As a result of their unsuccessful subterfuge, Dracula becomes Count Orlok/Nosferatu (Max Schreck), Harker is converted to Hutter (Gustav von Wangenheim), Mina is replaced by Ellen (Greta Schröder), Renfield is changed to Knock (Alexander Granach), and a new way to kill the undead is devised.

Directed by German expressionist legend F. W. Murnau, Nosferatu reinforces the director’s reputation as master of shadows. Jeff marvels at the shadows and shot composition of nearly every scene. This episode’s Grue Crew all agree that Henrik Galeen’s screenplay loses much of the character depth present in Stoker’s novel. Produced by Enrico Dieckmann and Albin Grau, Nosferatu was most influenced by Grau who also served as art director and costume designer, and even created some of the poster art.

It is hard to imagine Max Schreck as a normal human being after witnessing his portrayal of Count Orlok. In fact, many people over the years have speculated he was a real vampire.

Joseph makes sure we discuss Alexander Granach’s performance. His version of Knock seems to have set the mold for future portrayals of Renfield. Erin expresses her concerns for the dangers of one-dimensional female characters, such as Ellen, who represent pure good and whose only purpose throughout the film is to sacrifice herself for the benefit of everyone else.

All in all, they all agree. If you haven’t seen Nosferatu (1922), what’s the hold-up?

We plan to release a new episode every other week. The next episode in our very flexible schedule is another James Whale classic, The Old Dark House (1932), selected and hosted by Chad Hunt.

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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Dracula (1974) – Episode 61 – Decades of Horror 1970s

“You are now in my domain gentlemen, and you shall not leave.” Doc Rotten is still on hiatus, diligently working on the next issue of the Gruesome Magazine quarterly print and electronic editions, but Chad Hunt, Bill Mulligan, and Jeff Mohr are back, along with guest-host Joey Fittos, to take that familiar journey from Transylvania to England, this time as told by producer/director Dan Curtis in 1974’s Dracula.

Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 61 – Dracula (1974)

Originally released as Bram Stoker’s Dracula until the rights to that name were acquired for Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 version, the film is now sometimes referred to as Dan Curtis’ Dracula. This TV movie was scheduled to premiere in October 1973 but was preempted by news coverage of an unfolding historical event and rescheduled for February 1974.

This episode’s Grue Crew discuss Emmy winner Curtis’ start as the creator and executive producer of the daytime, horror/soap opera Dark Shadows (1966-71). He then went on to direct and produce a number of horror-related movies in the 1970s: The Night Stalker (1972) and The Night Strangler (1973), several TV-movie adaptations of well-known horror novels, and the theatrically released Burnt Offerings (1976).

Though your hosts find the script lacking in places, they do give props to frequent Curtis collaborator and horror icon Richard Matheson, who penned the screenplay for this version of Dracula. Despite this script’s faults, Curtis and Matheson do use a plot device lifted from Dark Shadows that doesn’t appear in Bram Stoker’s novel or any previous film versions but is used again by Coppola in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Academy award winner Jack Palance tackles the title role. Curtis and he had worked together before on another TV movie, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1968). Chad, Bill, and especially Jeff, appreciate the feral quality of Palance’s performance, but Joey says, “He’s not my Dracula.” The rest of the cast – Nigel Davenport (Van Helsing), Murray Brown (Jonathan Harker), Fiona Lewis (Lucy), Penelope Horner (Mina), and Simon Ward (Arthur) – don’t have much to work with, possibly leading to their seemingly lackluster performances. The crew also point out that many of our listeners may recognize Sarah Douglas, one of Dracula’s brides, who later played Ursa in Superman (1978) and Superman II (1980).

When all’s said and done, Mr. Fittos gives Dracula (1974) thumbs down. Though Chad and Jeff admit it doesn’t hold up to impressions from their first viewings, the other hosts think it is worth the watch for Palance’s performance.

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