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Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) – Episode 44 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

“I know you’ll think I’m crazy, but… in a half-an-hour the moon will rise and I’ll turn into a wolf.” “You and 20 million other guys!” Join this episode’s Grue Crew – Chad Hunt, Whitney Collazo, Jeff Mohr, and Joseph Perry – as they chuckle and guffaw their way through the comedy classic, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948).

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 44 – Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

Once director Charles Barton was on board, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello reluctantly signed on for the Universal International Pictures’ production of Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. The film features a trio of Universal classic monsters – Dracula, Frankenstein (the monster), and the Wolf Man – as played by Bela LugosiGlenn Strange, and Lon Chaney Jr. respectively. Although the three monsters are there, the story-line doesn’t fit anywhere in the Universal monster canon, reinforcing its place as somewhat of a novelty among the other films.

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein’s plot features two baggage handlers, Chick (Bud Abbott) and Wilbur (Lou Costello), tasked with delivering two large, coffin-sized containers holding Frankenstein and Dracula to McDougal’s House of Horrors. Dracula is in league with Dr. Mornay (Lenore Aubert), a mad scientist of sorts. In the meantime, Lawrence Talbot is trying to prevent delivery of the crates. The cast is supported by Jane Randolph in her last credited role, and the ever-present Frank Ferguson. As the brilliant comic duo roam the castle, much hi-jinks ensue!

The Classic Era Grue Crew couldn’t stop gushing about Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Chad goes into depth on the life of Bud Abbott and reminds us that this film includes Bela Lugosi’s second and last role as Dracula and Lon Chaney Jr.’s last role as the Wolf Man.  An infatuation with Jane Randolph, first revealed in Episode 37 (Cat People, 1941), is reiterated by Joseph. Whitney identifies noticeable differences in Lon Chaney Jr.’s makeup between that used in this film and 1941’s The Wolf Man (Episode 39), and expresses her appreciation for a strong female role as a scientist. Several connections with 1925’s Phantom of the Opera (Episode 42) are pointed out by Jeff, including cameraman/director of photography Charles Van Enger. They all remarked on this film’s ability to still have them rolling in the aisles after decades of watching it. Yes, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein is still funny and it’s a great “horror” film to watch as a family!

The Decades of Horror: The Classic Era Grue Crew plan to release a new episode every other week. The next episode in our very flexible schedule will be The Killer Shrews (1959), starring Roscoe P. Coltrane and Festus.

Please let us know what you think of Decades of Horror: The Classic Era! 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, Google Podcast, or the Horror News Radio Facebook group.

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

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The Return of the Vampire (1943) – Episode 43 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

“You’re a fool, Andreas! A complete, utter fool! Your fate is to be what you are – as mine is to be what I am… your Master!”  It’s always best to know your place, and who could resist the commanding voice of Bela Lugosi, right? Join this episode’s Grue Crew – Joseph Perry, Chad Hunt, and Jeff Mohr (Whitney Collazo was on special assignment, but should be back next episode) – as they chase down the hidden 1940s gem, The Return of the Vampire.

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 43 – The Return of the Vampire (1943)

Remember that classic sequel to Tod Browning’s Dracula (1931)? The one featuring Bela Lugosi’s second appearance as Dracula? Well, this is it, except this is not a Universal Picture and Lugosi doesn’t play Dracula. Instead, The Return of the Vampire is a Columbia Picture and the names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.

Directed by dependable journeyman Lew Landers, and written by Griffin Jay from an idea by Kurt NeumannThe Return of the Vampire features the legendary vampire, Armand Tesla. Really. His name is Tesla. Lugosi does double duty as Tesla and Dr. Hugo Bruckner, the famous vampire expert. The film also features an unexpectedly articulate, talking werewolf, whose lines are ably enunciated by Matt Willis. The hero of the story is Lady Jane Ainsley (Frieda Inescort), a very smart, take-charge scientist who out matches Sir Frederick Fleet (Miles Mander), the Scotland Yard Inspector on the case. The focus of Tesla’s efforts is the young and beautiful Nicki Saunders, played by the impressive and versatile Nina Foch. The cast is rounded out with some comic relief from two gravediggers (those guys are always funny) and a couple of detectives reporting to Sir Frederick Fleet.

Despite its relatively low budget, The Return of the Vampire has an impressive cast and crew and the Grue Crew all agreed it is far better than one might have expected at first. Joseph saw this as youngster and the final scene has stuck with him for all the decades that have passed. The werewolf looked more like a dog to Chad, but even so, he appreciated the character and the genuine arc he had. Jeff, on the other hand, was really impressed with the quantity and quality of the fog in the graveyard. At any rate, this episode’s Grue Crew strongly recommends The Return of the Vampire as somewhat of a hidden gem of the 1940s.

The Decades of Horror: The Classic Era Grue Crew plan to release a new episode every other week. The next episode in our very flexible schedule will be Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948), the runaway winner of our latest Patreon Poll. Yay! More Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney Jr., and Jane Randolph and our first film with Glenn Strange!

Please let us know what you think of Decades of Horror: The Classic Era! 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, Google Podcast, or the Horror News Radio Facebook group.

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

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The Wolf Man (1941) – Episode 39 – Decades Of Horror: The Classic Era

“Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.” Of course, that poem is in reference to the Universal Classic Monster film, The Wolf Man! Join Chad Hunt, Whitney Collazo, and Jeff Mohr, along with guest host Jacob Allen, as they take a midnight stroll with Larry Talbot through the fog-shrouded woods on a moonlit night. Be sure to bring your walking cane, the one with the silver wolf’s head! You will most certainly need it.

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 39 – The Wolf Man (1941)

This episode’s Grue Crew loves The Wolf Man so much, they recorded this podcast twice! Whether beset by electromagic gremlins or cursed directly from film by Maleva, the first recording didn’t take, so they all went back for seconds. And you thought they’d been goofing off.

The Wolf Man might embody Universal’s most original monster. Based on an original screenplay by Curt Siodmakand directed by George Waggner, the film started much of the werewolf mythology still used in film today. The solid cast, sporting seven Oscar nominations among them, is led by Lon Chaney Jr. as Larry Talbot, and includes Claude Rains as his father, Evelyn Ankers as the female lead Gwen, Ralph Bellamy as Colonel Montford, Patric Knowles as Gwen’s boyfriend, Warren William as Dr. Boyd, and Fay Helm as Gwen’s friend. To top it off, the cast is blessed with Maria Ouspenskaya as Maleva and the inimitable Bela Lugosi as her son, Bela. The supernatural elements of the story or rendered entirely believable by the work of Jack Pierce, makeup artist extraordinaire.

Your Grue Crew marvels at the many facets through which Larry Talbot’s affliction can be viewed. Siodmak was surely thinking of the persecution he fled in Nazi Germany, but the story can be seen as a metaphor for a multitude of other conflicts common to most individuals’ lives, thereby explaining the film’s resonance with so many viewers.

Whitney proudly admits to being inspired by Jack Pierce’s makeup art. Claude Rains is only 17 years older than Lon Chaney Jr., who plays his son, and Jeff wonders how old Daddy Talbot must have been when his oldest son was born. Jacob is awed by the direction and organization it must have taken to complete the film in a short amount of time especially while working around the lengthy makeup process. When it comes to The Wolf Man, Chad is all about the mythic stature of Maria Ouspenskaya. As you may have guessed, their recommendation, assuming you’ve already seen this film, is see it again and again! Now!

We plan to release a new episode every other week. On the next episode in our very flexible schedule, we‘ll be covering Mario Bava’s Black Sunday (1960).

Please let us know what you think of Decades of Horror: The Classic Era! 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, Google Podcast, or the Horror News Radio Facebook group.

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

 

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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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