Classic Horror Logo

 

You have to know where you came from to have any idea of where you are going. This is so true with horror. If the movies of the past hadn't taken chances or were not successful, we wouldn't have horror today. Too many of the younger people don't recognize the past or hadn't been exposed to it. They think movies like Halloween, Friday the 13th, and Hellraiser were the movies that started it all, but it was Dracula, Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, and many others that laid the foundation for today's horror.

One reason for this I think has been the death of the horror host. I remember settling down before the TV every Saturday afternoon to watch my favorite horror host Dr Shock or Creature Double Feature. The host made it so fun and the movies were really cool. There were whole afternoons of classic and sometimes not so classic horror movies. Very few stations today give horror the chance that they once did. They cry ratings, ratings, ratings. Horror has always sold, but they rather show Baywatch. I say bring back the horror host and for you lucky few out there that have them, please tell them to come to my town, Philadelphia.

Video has been a godsend to horror fans. It is the only avenue for us to see these classics due in large part to the reason mentioned above. But I blame video store owners for a lack of horror history among are younger viewers. Sure a lot of horror movies get rented, which is great, but the video stores that I rent from don't put classic horror in the horror section. You will usually find classic horror with the classics and very few young people are fearful to take a trip down that aisle. Come on guys, you won't regret it.

Third, I blame the age of the special effects. Kids have grown accustom to over the top special effects and a lot of the classics just can't hold a candle effects-wise to modern horror. I hate hearing "those movies aren't scary" or "where's the blood" or "you call that a werewolf". What they don't realize is that those effects were cutting edge for the time. That a movie doesn't have to be scary to be good or even a classic. Unfortunately, the special effect will and does inhibit younger viewers from watching the classics.

I was lucky enough to recently attend the Monster Bash and became fired up about classic horror again. I have all the classics in my video collection, but haven't watched them in years. I got to see a couple when I was at the convention, and I really realize that these were truly magically movies.

The purpose of this page is to provide information on these great movies so my younger visitors can see the great selection of classic horror that awaits them and my older visitors (which includes myself) may be inspired to revisit these classics.

Again, as always, anything that you can add to these pages would be greatly appreciated. Please e-mail me with questions, comments, and criticism.

 

 

The Wolf Man

Upon his brother's death, Lawrence Talbot (Lon Chaney, Jr.) returns to his home in Wales after spending many years studying in America. He has come to help his father (Claude Rains) with the family estate. A young girl (Everlyn Ankers) catches Larry's eye and he invites her out to see a band of gypsy who just arrived in town. The two are join by Jenny and off they go to get their fortune told. Bela (Bela Lugosi) is the gypsy who isn't quite himself with the wolfbane blooms and autumn moon is bright. Larry while trying to save Jenny is biting by a wolf, which he eventually kills with his new cane. Oh no, you know what that means. Click here to hear what Gypsy Malvera (Maria Ouspenskaye) has to say.

"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."

 

The Wolf Man


1941

 

Poor Larry... he just another misunderstood lycanthrope. He even tries to tell everyone its him and he's a werewolf.  The end comes quickly at the hands of some one who loves him, but the legend of the "wolf man" will live on forever!!!!!

Next to zombies, werewolves are my second favorite monsters. Unfortunately, there have been very few good ones to talk about. "The Wolf Man" is truly one of the greatest classic horror films  of all-time and when Universal saw the success of Dracula and Frankenstein the next logical monster was the werewolf. Lon Chaney Jr. was selected on part  due mainly to his namesake    Lon, Sr. He took the role and established himself as a horror icon. Lon went on to play Larry Talbot five times. He is also the only one of the big three ( with Lugosi and Karloff) to play Frankenstein, Dracula, the Mummy, and the Wolf Man. Jack Pierce's make-up transformation for the creature was totally amazing  then and is still today. Stories of the first test application of the make-up took 18 hours, by the completion of the film they had gotten it down to 6 hours. 

 

 

Frankenstein

Based on the classic Mary Shelley's novel "Frankenstein" . This film along with "Dracula", which were released the same year, helped to establish horror as a legitimate genre. The film opens with a man in a tuxedo (Edward van Sloan) delivering a warning to all.....

"How do you do? Mr. Carl Laemmle [the producer] feels it would be a little unkind to present this picture without just a word of friendly warning. We are about to unfold the story of Frankenstein, a man of science who sought to create a man after his own image without reckoning upon God. It is one of the strangest tales ever told. It deals with the two great mysteries of creation - life and death. I think it will thrill you. It may shock you. It might even horrify you. So if any of you feel that you do not care to subject your nerves to such a strain, now's your chance to -uh, well, we warned you."

This helped to prepare the audience for what lied ahead and was a tremendous marketing ploy. A classic example of man trying to play God with the usual deadly results. Dr. Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) experiments with creating artificial life. His parts came grave robbing. "It's alive, alive" he yells.....yes, but it is more monster than man. Frankenstein (Boris Karloff) is a startling, grotesque, and gruesome figure, about seven feet tall with broad shoulders. Jack Pierce did a wonderful job creating the make-up for the Monster. He made the look of Frankenstein as American as apple pie.

 

Frankenstein


1931

 

Unfortunately the Monster never asked for life and reacts violent towards it. Escaping the lab, the Monster ventures out into the country site. This lead to one of Frankenstein's most controversial scenes which only until recently has been restored. The Monster attempts to make friends with a little peasant girl named Maria, playing by the bank of a lake. She is not repelled by his appearance or fearful of him and invites him to play. She takes his hand and leads him to the side of the lake where they kneel. One by one, they toss flower petals onto the surface of the lake, watching them float. When the Monster's few flower blossoms are gone, he innocently and ignorantly picks up Maria and throws her in the water - expecting that she, too, will float like the flower petals. She flounders and splashes in the water and quickly drowns. As he staggers away from the lake, the monster seems to express some confusion, shaking and wringing his hands and possibly perceiving the horrible thing he has done. I think this was a very telling scene. It gave the Monster depth and truly allowed the audience to feel the pain of his sorrow. He was no longer a monster to us, but a man who was a victim of his environment.

After the girl is found dead, the villagers head out in search of the Monster lead by Henry. The end comes with the destruction of the Monster, well not really. He was soon to return in the spectacular sequel "Bride of Frankenstein". If you watch carefully, Karloff didn't receive a credit in the film. When the credits for the Monster roll up, there is only a question mark(?) where the actor's name would be.                                                          

 

 

Dracula

"I am Dracula....I bid you, welcome".

The story begins as Dracula (Bela Lugosi) is preparing to embark for London and his new home, Carfax Abbey.  A young real estate agent, Mr. Renfield (Dwight Frye), has been sent to have Dracula sign the closing paper and help with the move. Unfortunately for Renfield, Dracula has decided to enslave him, making him into a ghoul. Dracula than charters a boat and off they sail to London. Upon the ships arrival, all the crew is discovered dead and a lone raving lunatic (Mr. Renfield) found on board is taken to a near by sanitarium.

Next, Dracula begins his pursue of human victims on the streets of London. It seem that his neighbors have caught his eye and he entrances young Lucy   with his devilish stare, but his ultimate goal is to seduce Mina (Helen Chandler) into his world of darkness. This battle with  evil calls for famed vampire hunter, Dr. Van Helsing (Edward van Sloan), to come and save the day. He quickly determines Dracula's true desires and sets out to destroy this creature of the night.

   

Dwight Frye gives an excellent performance as Renfield, a man enslaved by Dracula. At the end, he has just enough of his mortal soul left to reveal the truth about his master and his hiding place. His betrayal brings his death, but also his freedom. Will Mina   be saved, or does Dracula's blood truly fill her veins?

Based on Bram Stoker's novel "Dracula" which is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its publication this year. The first screen version of Dracula came with the 1922 German silent film, "Nosferatu: A Symphony of Terror." With Universal's Dracula, Bela Lugosi established himself as the definitive screen vampire setting the standards for all followed.  Tod Browning directed this classic and would later go onto direct the controversial movie, "Freaks" the following year.  Jack Pierce provided the make-up and than went to make his mark on "Frankenstein".  Although not as true to Stoker's  version as the more recent "Bram Stoker's Dracula", this version was a well-crafted classic  that help to aid the foundation for horror.

 

 

The Mummy (1932)

Egypt 1921.  A British archeological expenditure lead by Sir Joseph Whemple (Arthur Bryon) has unearthed the remain of Im-Ho-Tep, high priest of Egypt. He had been condemned and buried alive for sacrilege against the gods.  Also found in the tomb is the "Scroll of Thoth", which carries with it a deadly curse. When a young archeologist reads aloud from the scroll, he inadvertently brings the MUMMY back to life.

Egypt 1932. Ten years after his father's failed expedition, young Frank Whemple (David Manners) has returned to conduct his own dig. Along the way, he meets the eccentric and mysterious Ardeth Bey (Boris Karloff), who helps direct him to the final resting place of Princess Anck-es-an-Amon.  

 

The Mummy


1932

 

As the scene flashes back to modern Cario, we meet the very beautiful Helen Grosvenor (Zita Johann), who is the living incarnate of the Princess. She instantly catches the eye of both Frank and Ardeth. While using his dark powers, Bey tries to lure her into an eternal union of living death. Only with the help fame occultist Dr. Miller (Edward Van Sloan), can Frank have any hope of saving Helen and stopping the MUMMY.

Fueled by the public's interest in ancient Egypt (ala discovery of  King Tut (aka TUTANKHATEN) in 1922) and following the birth of two highly successful horror franchises with "Dracula" (1931) and "Frankenstein" (1931), Universal decided to bring "The Mummy" to the silver screen. First-time director Karl Freund ("Metropolis", "Dracula") built upon his strengths in cinematography in bringing to life "The Mummy".  Karloff, just as he had done in "Frankenstein", crafted a villainous character that even the audience could feel sorry  as his searches for lost love. This film should be celebrated as another masterpiece in horror movie history. The first and still the best mummy movie!!!!

 

 

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