Articles tagged ‘Universal.horror’

Commentary: The Invisible Man

Join me for the heart-warming tale of a scientist gone mad! A madman become invisible! An invisible man gone wild! It’s Claude Rains in James Whales’ 1933 classic The Invisible Man! I don’t really care for this picture beyond Rains’ performance and Gloria Stuart’s sweet, sweet 1930s damsel act, but I try to have fun […]

Commentary: Son of Frankenstein

It’s still alive! Sherlock Holmes and Dracula meet Bambi and Frankenstein’s Monster in the 1939 extension of the Frankenstein mythos. I mock the hilariously bizarre architecture, the ridiculous dart game, the absurd hair (and somewhat suspicious parentage) of little Peter, and the Frankenstein Village board of commerce. I explore the father-son theme and compare it to the previous films and boldly suggest that 47+ years is a long damn time for a monster to be roaming the countryside murdering people without being discovered or getting some kind of name, especially from his decades-long live-in companion.

I also suggest that if your town became famous for having a monster roaming around it, you could make a good buck off that if you market it the right way. And I gratuitously, but only momentarily, compare the Frankensteins to the royal family of England.

Commentary: Werewolf of London

Mrs. Frankenstein appears in another of the eight (8!) films she made in 1935 along with her ancient husband and aged childhood playmate in the very first feature-length werewolf movie! Mad botanist (you read that right) Dr. Glendon picks up a social disease in a foreign country and hides it from his wife while he tries to find a cure. Join me as I give the film a gentle ribbing even while admiring its entertaining aspects. I explain the history of werewolf lore and cinema, and I compare it to vampire and Frankenstein stories, not to mention the Hulk. And I disassemble it as a metaphor for serial killers versus a metaphor for puberty. Oh, and I ramble on after the end of the movie for about 10 minutes.

Commentary: Bride of Frankenstein

She’s alive! Alive! The inferior-yet-still-classic sequel to Frankenstein is given the full Tysto treatment. I compare this film to the 1931 original and to Young Frankenstein. I complain bitterly about Una “Jar-Jar Binks” O’Connor. I welcome Valerie Hobston’s cleavage as the replacement Elizabeth and welcome back Dwight Frye as the assistant-who-is-definitely-not-the-dead-hunchback-Fritz. I complain a bit about the presence of Doctor Pretorius and compare him to Doctor Waldman of the first film. And I finally get around to mentioning Jack Pierce, the legendary make-up effects artist.

Commentary: Frankenstein (1931)

It’s alive! It’s alive! It’s the horror super-classic that introduced the world to Frankenstein’s monster as we know it today. I compare it (sort of) to the novel and (sort of) to Young Frankenstein, as well as to Dracula, which I’ve also done a commentary for.

I give a lot of background and talk about the economy of story-telling that lasts until the film slows to a crawl with talky drawing room scenes. I sympathize with Fritz and then blame him for the whole tragedy. I sympathize with the monster and explain that I want my misunderstood monsters to act with criminal negligence. I point out plot holes, such as how a brain in a jar could be better than the brain of a fresh corpse with a broken neck and how Maria’s father knew she was murdered. I mistakenly say that Mary Shelley doesn’t mention grave-robbing, but she does, briefly. I pan James Whale and praise Karloff as one of the greatest of all cinema heavies and one of the nicest men you’d ever hope to meet.

Commentary: Dracula

Just in time for Halloween! A campy lawyer becomes a bug-eating lunatic in thrall to the king of all vampires: Count Dracula, as personified by Bela Lugosi. I compare the film to the Bram Stoker novel, to the stage play, and to other Dracula movies. I point out how the film set the standard for vampires from the incredible opening featuring the brides of Dracula (and the possums of Dracula) to the thrilling discussion-on-a-divan scenes to the pulse-racing discussion-on-a-staircase scenes to the chilling look-over-there-while-I-stab-Dracula ending. I mix up Joan Standing (the English nurse) and Moon Carroll (the American maid). Maybe there are no fangs and no blood (or score); maybe the actors all stand motionless to deliver their lines, maybe everything interesting happens off-screen, but this is the granddaddy of ‘em all and well worth a look.