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Invisible Ghost (1941) – Episode 35 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

Marie: “I wonder why he was so glad to see me?” Evans: “Mr. Kessler thought you had been murdered.” What?! Why would Mr. Kessler think such a thing? Maybe because several other people were murdered in his house? Is it possible the murders are connected? Join Chad Hunt, Joseph Perry, and Jeff Mohr, along with guest host Adam Thomas, as we take our second consecutive trip to Poverty Row, this time for a stay with Bela Lugosi at his deadly home in Invisible Ghost.

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 35 – Invisible Ghost (1941)

A Poverty Row film released by Monogram Pictures, Invisible Ghost is directed by Joseph H. Lewis, sometimes referred to as “Wagon Wheel Joe” for the style he employed for his many B-movie westerns. It tells the story of Charles Kessler (Bela Lugosi), whose wife (Betty Compson) has disappeared. As Kessler and his daughter Virginia (Polly Ann Young) resolutely remain in the house for Mrs. Kessler’s possible reappearance, people keep dying around them. How many have been murdered, we asked? “A lot,” we’re told. Then a man (John McGuire) is executed for one of the murders only to be replaced by his twin, and the murders continue even after the execution. Overseeing the whole mess is Kessler’s butler, Evans (Clarence Muse).

This episode’s Grue Crew are confused as to the whys and “what fors” of the story. There’s little rhyme or reason to the killer’s motivation. There’s no ghost. Nothing is invisible. Characters just die. Everything just is. Welcome to Poverty Row.

The hosts all recommend Invisible Ghost for Clarence Muse’s performance. IMDb and Wikipedia list co-writer Helen Martin as one in the same as the African American actress who starred as Pearl Shay in 227 (1985-1990) among her 60+ acting credits. Your faithful Grue Crew could find no other collaborating information and questioned this connection. Since recording the podcast, we have found other online mentions of her work on the script on the Classic Horror Film Board. If she is indeed the co-author of the screenplay for Invisible Ghost, it would explain why the part of Evans is written as such an integral, smart, and dignified character. If any of our listeners have additional verification regarding Helen Martin as a screenwriter, please let us know via comment or email.

Chad has a particular affection for the comic relief provided by Fred Kelsey, who plays Detective Ryan and Jeff points out the many, many, many roles with nicknames played by Ernie Adams, who plays Jules the gardner in Invisible Ghost. Adam marvels at the ineptitude of the police and the jarring cuts as several scenes in several locations cover a day in 20 seconds. Joseph loves the use of the visible wall as the camera follows characters from room to room. The hosts also get in another mention of the classic film noir Gun Crazy (1950) and yet another connection to Batman, this time the classic serials produced by the producer of Invisible Ghost, Sam Katzman. The Grue Crew also appreciates Invisible Ghost for giving Lugosi a chance to play a character counter to his usual monstrous characters. Please take an hour of your time and check it out!

We plan to release a new episode every other week. The next episode in our very flexible schedule is the classic, Rosemary’s Baby (1968).

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, or the Horror News Radio Facebook group.

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

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Dracula (1931) – Episode 20 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

“Flies? Flies? Poor puny things! Who wants to eat flies?… Not when I can get nice, fat spiders!” Join the Decades of Horror: The Classic Era Grue Crew for this episode – Erin Miskell, Chad Hunt, Jeff Mohr, and special guest Dave Dreher – as we take a trip to Transylvania and ride aboard the schooner Vesta, only to end up in the Seward Sanitarium and rundown Carfax Abbey in search of Dracula (1931).

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 20 – Dracula (1931)

Director Tod Browning and cinematographer Karl Freund collaborated during the production of Dracula to create some of the most lasting icons in horror film history. Bela Lugosi (Dracula), Dwight Frye (Renfield), and Edward Van Sloan (Dr. Van Helsing) are still the portrayals to which all later incarnations are compared. Though Lugosi is the star, your Classic Era Grue Crew all agree that Dracula is Dwight Frye’s movie as he changes from a serious and dignified professional to an unpredictable, maniacal, and downright disturbing lunatic.

Unfortunately, the characters of Lucy (Frances Dade) and Mina (Helen Chandler) are barely more than props to be victimized by Dracula and saved by Van Helsing and John Harker (David Manners). On the other hand, Renfield’s attendant Martin (Charles K. Gerrard) provides the very definition of comic relief. One of our Grue Crew also proclaims their love for Lupita Tovar, who plays Eva, the Spanish language version of Mina.

You’ll also find the answers to these questions:

  • How does the Tod Browning version of Dracula compare to the Spanish language production?
  • What could the Looney Tunes bad-behaved version of Little Red Riding Hood possibly have to do with Dracula?
  • How many degrees of separation are there between the Spanish language version of Dracula and the Star Wars film, Rogue One (2016)?

If you’re paying attention, you’ll find out which of this episode’s Grue Crew made each of these statements during our podcast on Dracula:

  • “Someone just kind of handed him (Dwight Frye) this steak of a role and he just sunk all of his teeth into it and chewed it for all it was worth.”
  • “Was I the only one, when you would see Martin on the screen, that was thinking of Eric Idle from Monty Python?”
  • “The woman had many, many issues. She surpassed issue and went straight to subscriptions.”
  • “Who decided an armadillo was scary?”

We plan to release a new episode every other week. In timing with Halloween, our next episode in our very flexible schedule is Nosferatu (1922), 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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Golden Age of Horror – Episode 1 – Dracula (1931)

Tod Browning’s Dracula (1931) introducing Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula is the topic of the first episode of the new podcast from Decades of Horror, The Golden Age of Horror. The monthly show will cover films from the beginning of horror cinema from the 20’s through the 50’s focusing initially on the popular, influential Universal Monster films. The show’s hosts Dave Dreher and Doc Rotten dive into the makings of the film and their fond memories of watching it for the first time as children reflecting on its impact and staying power.

Check out the podcast over at GoldenAgeofHorror.com.

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Golden Age of Horror 
Episode 1 – Dracula (1931)
(48:00, 22:35MB)
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