Off Topic Messages

Universal horror

Thu Oct 27, 2005 5:44 am

A few weeks ago we had a pretty good thread on Hammer horror films. With Halloween just around the corner I thought it would be appropriate (and fun) to have a thread on the Universal horror films of the 30's and 40's. I love these films. My favorites are Frankenstein, The Bride of Frankenstein, and The Wolfman. I think these are the 3 best films of all the Universal series, and still hold up pretty well.

Thu Oct 27, 2005 6:06 am

Cool thread!

I love those Universal Frankenstein movies! My very favorite is Bride Of... hey did you get the Universal Bela Lugosi collection? Those are all fantastic! The Black Cat, and I think Invisible Ray may be just about their most under-rated film! I really liked that one alot. I haven't seen every single horror film that Universal ever did. I wonder if there is a comprehensive list of that type of work from the studio in the 30s?

JEFF d
Elvis fan

Thu Oct 27, 2005 6:46 am

Hi Jeff D,

There is a great book that I have called Universal Horrors from McFarland books. It's a very pricy book but maybe you could find it used or on Ebay. It is a great read.
I love the old Universal Horrors and I have to agree with Pete about his three choices. They are the best of the monster type films from Universal. I also like The Invisible Man and virtually all of the Frankenstein and Wolfman films. The Bela Lugosi set is very good. It should have been the Boris Karloff Collection. Actually, Boris appears in 5 of those films and is, more or less, the star of those 5. For some reason, Bela Lugosi is the one who seems to be more famous today. For what reason i don't know. Karloff was a superb actor while Lugosi was always over the top and a terrible actor. But these films are fun and not to slite Lugosi, he does well in The Raven & The Black Cat. He is way over the top on these two films and you will find yourself laughing out loud at how bad he is. But it sure is fun!
I have the Frankenstein, Wolfman, Dracula, Mummy, Invisible Man, Creature From The Black Lagoon, Bela Lugosi and the Hammer Collection sets. That is all the sets from Universal so far concerning horror. I wonder what they will do next year because most of their better films are now out from the golden age of the 30's and 40's. Actually the "Creature" films are from the 50's. There are still 5 or 6 Karloff films from Universal that could be made into a boxed set as well as 7 films from Lon Chaney Jr. that could be made into a box set. There are also a few other classics from that era that could be released. Hell, why not release them all over the next 2-3 years. I'd buy them all. I love the old horror films.

jeff R

Thu Oct 27, 2005 7:15 am

Lugosi and Karloff are relative equals in "The Black Cat" with a slight edge going to Lugosi. "The Raven" is clearly Lugosi's movie. However, "Invisible Ray" and "Black Friday" are primarily Karloff vehicles. In fact, Lugosi's part in the underrated "Black Friday" is really just little more than a cameo.

While I wholeheartedly agree that Karloff was the superior actor with a broader range, I very much disagree with the contention that Lugosi was a terrible actor. Given the right role and a competent director Lugosi could be a very fine actor. His greatest stuff though was usually in supporting roles like his dazzling work as Ygor in "Son of Frankenstein" and "Ghost of Frankenstein" menacing and funny. His style could be a little florid at times but in many ways that fit with the gothic nature of the films (especially Dracula) plus he had great charisma and his line readings were always interesting. His main problem was his accent and the fact that he rarely hooked up with a director who could tame him down.

I have always contended that he was the supreme "Dracula". It's a much deeper performance than Christopher Lee's although Lee's first "Dracula" movie was far better than the 1931 film. Lee often talked about conveying the loneliness of evil. Lugosi really got at it though. Look at the look of disgust that comes over his face when he is about to bite someone. Listen to his reading of the line "To be dead, to be truly dead, must be glorious." He really brings an element of tragedy to the character that other actors missed. At the same time he also brings an odd pleasure to the role as well like his humorous reading of the line about not drinking wine and in his appraisal of Van Helsing.

I think the reason he may have a slightly larger following than Karloff is because as great as Karloff was, he tended to walk through roles on occasion. Lugosi gave 200 percent even in poverty row grade Zers. And the fact that Lugosi would rather star in grade Z schlock than toil away as character in A or B productions inspires an odd respect. Kind of an ultimate better to rule in Hell thing. I don't think though there is that much difference in the appeal of either actor. I think this was named the Lugosi collection because they couldn't figure out another context to dish out the Lugosi solo "Murders in the Rue Morgue".

It's hard to pick favorites for me of the Universal movies. The original three Frankenstein movies are all favorites. My favorite of is "Son" though because of the production values and the teaming of Boris, Bela and Rathbone as well as the thrilling ending.

"Dracula" is a problematic movie but I always come back to it. Some of the images in the first half and the work of Lugosi and Edward Van Sloan always fascinate me.

"Black Cat" is just incredible. Almost a European art film and a horror movie that definitely has something to say. The slow but rewarding "Mummy" with its romantic overtones is another favorite especially for Karloff's work.

"The Wolf Man" aside I think the stuff done in the 1930s is on the whole (technical limitations and all) more rewarding. These movies have deep themes and an element of grotesque tragedy. They are more horror films in a way. Still, there's even terrific stuff in the '40s like the clever script of "Black Friday", the style of "Son of Dracula" and the great opening of "Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman."

Thu Oct 27, 2005 7:50 am

Universal horror rules.

"Dracula" (1931) suffers from a persistant hissssssss
duie to audio quality then and barely any scoring.


guys, I still have a vcr tape of Frankie & Bride SPLICED as one long film.

Did it with 2 vcrs.

The notable differences: Elizabeth goes from a blonde to a brunette (different actresses) and Karloff has his teeth in for the Bride shoot.

One of these days I want to do a better smoother splice with digital means.

Thu Oct 27, 2005 8:28 am

likethebike wrote:
I think this was named the Lugosi collection because they couldn't figure out another context to dish out the Lugosi solo "Murders in the Rue Morgue".


I felt they should have added a Karloff solo movie on this set and called it the "Karloff/Lugosi Collection" or something like that. Because Karloff gets top billing in all the movies with both of them except The Raven(i think) non the less what they called it the set totally rocks! I think both of those guys are great! I liked your and Jeffreys posts very much! I like reading about stuff like this! The Wolfman Universal movies and their Mummy movies always sorta grated on my nerves when I was younger... I think I will give them another shot though now!

Good suggestion Graceland Gardner... I think I will try to do that with my new DVDR burner!

JEFF d
Elvis fan

Thu Oct 27, 2005 8:37 am

Jeff,

the tightest splice point is the Fade out on the burning windmill, and the Fade in on the Shelley/Byron castle in the storm.

cut off Bride's opening credits

Thu Oct 27, 2005 8:57 am

Outside of Karloff's original Mummy- the Mummy movies are pretty rough going unless like me you love formula stuff. There is really only one pure Wolf Man movie and that's "The Wolf Man". All the rest are teamups unless you count "Werewolf of London" from 1935 which is a separate werewolf mythology.

Jeff- where are you from? All fans on the East Coast especially New York/Jersey/Philly area should know that there is going to be a Chiller Theatre fest this weekend across from the Meadowlands. Many actors are going to be there like Barbara Eden, Larry Hagman, Robert Culp, Adam West, Burt Ward and horror icons like Bobby "Boris" Pickett - the Monster Mash guy, Robert Quarry- (Count Yorga), Zacherle, Bela Lugosi Jr. and Sara Karloff. Plus, the real thrust of the festival is monster and sci fi films and collectibles. Tons of great stuff there including bootlegs of monster movies that have not been released on DVD. I would advise any monster fan in the area to check it out. If you type in Chiller Theatre on Yahoo and you'll get all the details. If someone here wants to go and say hey let me know.

Thu Oct 27, 2005 9:45 am

One night in bed, I was reading Bram Stoker's "Dracula" to my younger brother I was about 13 years old. I had just reached a passage where the Vampire was approaching it's victim when there was a loud thud against the first floor bedroom window.

Two brave boys were under the bed clothes in a flash!

A little later I plucked up courage and looked out past the curtains and there was a large Moth fluttering on the window..............whew:-)

There is a Bram Stoker "Dracula" museum in Dublin here in Ireland. We really must go. Link to it Below.

http://www.visitdublin.com/museums/detail.asp?ID=1537

Thu Oct 27, 2005 10:49 pm

I also enjoy Son of Frankenstein. Lugosi and Lionel Atwill stole this movie.

Karloff was a great actor, but I do think Lugosi was underrated. Igor is an excellent characterization, and his supporting turn as Bela the gypsy in The Wolfman is solid. And no one can deliver the line "Listen to them, the children of the night, what music they make" like Bela!

Thu Oct 27, 2005 11:19 pm

I guess I might have misspoke a bit when I said Lugosi was a terrible actor. Ygor is an excellent portrayal. He did that role well even though, once again, it was hammy. I guess Logosi could act certain parts but didn't have much range.
If you watch the whole collection of Lugosi / Karloff films on the Lugosi Collection, notice how different Karloff looks in each picture. I watched those 4 movies back to back along with The Old Dark House one rainy day and I was amazed that Karloff never looked nearly the same in any of those roles. He not only looked different but walked differently. Very good actor even though most roles are sinister.

jeff R

Thu Oct 27, 2005 11:49 pm

One of the things that amazes me about Boris' Frankenstein appearance is that he himself was a rather slightly-built man of around 5'11". Through the wonders of make-up and costume you come away with the impression that he's a big man!

Every Halloween I dress up as some type of monster to pass out candy. I do my own make-up. This year I'm going to be Frankenstein's monster. My main problem is getting the necessary height. I'm 5'5-1/2", but I'm constructing a pair of boots that will give me another 5" in height, and the headpiece will add about another 2". This is basically what they did to bring Karloff's height up to around 6'5". In my case I'll be 6' or 6'1" in the costume, but I'll also be standing inside the door when I pass out the candy so to a little kid the overall effect will be that I'm a giant! :)

Fri Oct 28, 2005 3:46 am

Pete, which Frankenstein?
There's so many versions of the monster.

Karloff, Glenn Strange, Dave Prowse, Johnny Whitaker, DeNiro, etc


-- how about Frankenberry. lol
Image


--- I've always considered "Young Frankenstein" to be the sequel to "Son Of" - the curly-haired kid...that's Gene Wilder's character grown up.

Fri Oct 28, 2005 5:39 am

Graceland Gardener wrote:Pete, which Frankenstein?
There's so many versions of the monster.

Karloff, Glenn Strange, Dave Prowse, Johnny Whitaker, DeNiro, etc


I'm going for the look of the Universal Frankenstein GG.

Graceland Gardener wrote:
--- I've always considered "Young Frankenstein" to be the sequel to "Son Of" - the curly-haired kid...that's Gene Wilder's character grown up.


Good one GG! :lol:

Fri Oct 28, 2005 11:37 pm

MauriceinIreland wrote:One night in bed, I was reading Bram Stoker's "Dracula" to my younger brother I was about 13 years old. I had just reached a passage where the Vampire was approaching it's victim when there was a loud thud against the first floor bedroom window.

Two brave boys were under the bed clothes in a flash!

A little later I plucked up courage and looked out past the curtains and there was a large Moth fluttering on the window..............whew:-)


Maurice -
That moth was in fact the Count. Unfortunately he had drank the Guinness-saturated blood of an Irish lass, which caused him to get so drunk that he changed into a moth instead of a bat!

Sat Oct 29, 2005 1:25 am

Pete, your moth left the story threadbare:-) Good night sir.

Sat Oct 29, 2005 1:39 am

Pete,
before you rush into anything..
consider the Frankie styles available to you!

one could even...heh heh :twisted:
cut parts from the others
and heh heh ...pieces... sew them together

and bring to life.... a new creature...

!Frankenfusion!


Image
Image
Image
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Image

Sat Oct 29, 2005 2:44 am

I really would like one of those Herman masks, no kiddin'.

Sat Oct 29, 2005 2:56 pm

GG-
The headpiece of my costume is made from the first mask in your post. I cut out below the brow ridge, around the ears, and at the sides of the nose. I also cut out the chin and the neck bolts. I've been gluing black hair to the headpiece in stages. Im going to add poly foam to the inside of the headpiece so it will hold it's shape. I've coated the headpiece with a product called Horror make-up which, when dry, has a wrinkled texture. I'll also apply this product to my face so everything will blend in.
This is going to be a great costume!

Sat Oct 29, 2005 3:06 pm

Back to the original subject, I rate the Universal films as follows:
1.) Bride of Frankenstein
2.) Frankenstein
3.) The Wolfman/Son Of Frankenstein
4.) Dracula/The Mummy/The Invisible Man

These are the best, but I do enjoy the B films, especially Son of Dracula and Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman.

Sat Oct 29, 2005 9:00 pm

What about the non-monster Karloff/Lugosi collaborations like "The Black Cat", "The Raven" and "The Invisible Ray"? I rank the top two of these with the strongest in the series.

Sun Oct 30, 2005 4:06 am

Those are all good films Pete & Likethebike.
I also like the others in the Frankenstein series such as Ghost Of, House Of Dracula & House Of Frankie. We can't forget A & C Meet Frankenstein. What a hoot.
After Son Of Frankenstein the series got worse and worse but it still was fun in the Universal way. They also included interesting performances by some good actors and actresses.
Son Of Dracula is another good one. Black Friday is very underrated.
I have a hard time in recent years watching The Mummy or Dracula. Very slow going. The same with The Mummy sequels. Although they are fairly fast moving, they didn't have much substance and each story seemed like a retread of the previous one.
Does anyone of you remember the trio of Captive Wild Womna, Jungle Captive and Jungle Woman. Pretty bad stuff but there is still fun in these films for fans of the Universal 40's horror films.
Also there is the Creeper series of films starring Rondo Hatton. Strange films but still fun.
Man Made Monster is another one that I would like to see on DVD as well as Island Of Lost Souls. I wonder why this one wasn't included in the Bela collection. Or, Night Monster and the 1941 film called The Black Cat. I suppose having two films in one collection with the same title would be weird even though they are very different films. They really should have had all 8 of Bela's Universal films in one set instead of only 5. Maybe there are more than 8 films and they will do another set sometime in the future.
There is also the 6 film series starring Lon Chaney Jr called The Inner Sanctum. These 6 films were only about 60 minutes in length but were fun.
Enough chatter from me. I just love these films.

jeff R

Sun Oct 30, 2005 5:51 am

likethebike wrote:What about the non-monster Karloff/Lugosi collaborations like "The Black Cat", "The Raven" and "The Invisible Ray"? I rank the top two of these with the strongest in the series.


LTB -
I haven't seen those films since I was a kid, but I was thinking specifically of the monster movies when I rated the films. I also like Werewolf of London, although the werewolf wearing a cap, scarf, and cloak is kind of silly.
I haven't seen Dracula's Daughter in years, and haven't got around to watching it on the Legacy set, but I recall liking it as a kid.

Jeff -
I agree with your comments on The Mummy. The Karloff film is on the slow side, and the other one's are pretty formulaic (albeit entertaining). You should check out the Hammer version of The Mummy if you haven't seen it.

Sun Oct 30, 2005 6:08 am

How about Billy The Kid VS Dracula.

:wink:

anyone remember the name of the dinosaur movie (1950s/60s) in which a dinosaur and a caveman are unearthed. The caveman snoops around a kitchen at the dig site.

Sun Oct 30, 2005 6:11 am

LTB - I did get the 3-set that you recommended; the one that included The Raven. I put them away until December, though, so won't be able to see them till then. Maybe I already told you this (my mind is very holey these days - not related to the Bible holy!! - but the full of holes holey.)
sue