The Psychopath 1966 – I Have My Doll Now!

Dolls, with their lifeless gazes, imprint in our collective phobias and on Robert Bloch’s & Amicus’s narrative — and like clowns, and zombie children– dolls have always given us a dreadful feeling of unease that lingers in our psyche. It’s their dead stare and their cold watchful eyes – like soulless little polymer devils. Cinematographer/ Director Freddie Francis who previously worked at Hammer, makes use of the accursed doppelgänger dolls as macabre iconography. Bloch likely viewed the British-based Amicus as the substantial alternative worth embracing, signing a three-picture deal with Paramount.

Horror filmmakers have explored this causality of jitters for decades. In Amicus’s The Psychopath 1966 – it is the symbology of dolls that gives the film its creepy attraction to what is essentially a crime drama and creative whodunnit with a few unsettling moments while trying to unravel a tale of a homicidal maniac who leaves a unique signature—the very likeness of the victims.

The Psychopath was made midway in the decade, featuring the mellifluous tagline “A New Peak in Shriek,” The film marks Freddie Francis’s foray into colour psycho-thrillers and with its use of vibrant reds, it’s a departure from his previous repertoire of haunting black-and-white psychological horror tales crafted for the illustrious Hammer.

Elisabeth Lutyen’s beautifully carnivalesque score washes over the opening as dismembered doll parts accompany the credits. The film sticks to the classic crime procedural script, but it’s not afraid to paint it with a touch of horror, throwing in the voodoo-like doll motif for that extra dash of macabre flair. It’s your standard crime fare, just with a wicked twist. Bloch’s script presents the crimes using the doll fetish in such a way – that remains formulaic – though it does succeed in having a moody impact by the end.

Continue reading “The Psychopath 1966 – I Have My Doll Now!”

Noirvember – Freudian Femme Fatales – 1946 : The Dark Mirror (1946) & The Locket (1946) ‘Twisted Inside’

The Dark Mirror (1946)

In films such as The Dark Mirror and The Locket, the male psychiatrist is posited as an antidote to the bad female by being ‘’established as a detective figure whose principal function is to investigate and ultimately to eradicate ‘deviance’ (represented in these instances by excessive female desire.)’’ From Frank Krutnik IN A LONELY STREET; FILM NOIR, GENRE AND MASCULINITY 1991

It is the phantom of our own Self, whose intimate relationship with and deep effect upon our spirit casts us into hell or transports us to Heaven – E.T.A. Hoffmann

”The figure of the double has been manifest in diverse forms. At times the doppelgänger has shown itself as an ether being – a shadow, a reflection or an animated portrait. At other points, it has taken the shape of an identical being – a person of kindred appearance, a relative, a twin.” From TWO-FACED WOMEN: THE ‘DOUBLE” IN WOMEN’S MELODRAMA OF THE 1940S – Lucy Fischer Cinema Journal 1983

In the 1920s hard-edged and gritty crime fiction became popular, and by the 1940s Hollywood embraced them. At the same time Freudian psychoanalysis became a big deal in America. People knew the basics of Freud’s ideas, so Hollywood could paint stories with ideas the audience could recognize, knowing that people would get the main gist. It became the foundation for some amazing visual displays. Dream sequences started popping up a lot in American cinema, most distinctive in thrillers and in particular in film noir. The Dark Mirror is one of the standout films made during the 1940s and 1950s that introduced psychiatry – like – Spellbound 1945 and two years later, de Havilland would star in Anatole Litvak’s The Snake Pit 1948.

Much of film noir’s psychological pathology gives rise to obsessive fixations on the object of one’s desire. What differs with Siodmak’s The Dark Mirror is that the psychotic’s fixation lies with their sibling and not a lover.

The Dark Mirror is a psychological film noir released in 1946, directed by Robert Siodmak who worked with shadows in his various film noir/horror/ and thrillers like an artist works with paints.  The film was produced and screenplay written by writer/director Nunnally Johnson who penned a slew of diverse screenplays that spanned the 1940s through the 1960s – including The Grapes of Wrath 1940, and The Dirty Dozen 1967.

Nunnally Johnson, transitioning from writer and producer to director, secured the rights and brought the story to life on screen. The film materialized through a collaborative effort between International Pictures, co-founded by Johnson and William Goetz, and Universal Pictures, marking their inaugural project under the Universal Pictures-International Pictures Banner.

The recently established studios were looking for a well-known name for their picture and Olivia de Havilland who was a huge star at the time came on board. She had recently taken legal action against Warner Bros. to terminate her contract and was now free from the studio’s stranglehold.

In 1947, she delivered a noteworthy performance in To Each His Own for Paramount earning her the Academy Award for Best Actress. Following two films, The Well-Groomed Bride and Devotion in 1946, she entered into an agreement with Nunnally Johnson to star in The Dark Mirror.’

The Dark Mirror, like The Spiral Staircase both of which were classic ‘paranoid women’ /  ‘woman’s films’ stars de Havilland who plays identical twins, one of whom is a knife-wielding paranoiac killer. The casting of de Havilland is significant particularly because she not only starred in a variety of women’s pictures but her sister Joan Fontaine was also an iconic star of the paranoid woman’s films. Some of the most notable are Hitchcock’s adaptation of Du Murier’s Rebecca 1940 and Nicolas Ray’s Born to Be Bad 1950. The Dark Mirror presents itself as a psychological noir right from the start of the film with the Rorschach blots backgrounding the titles.

Olivia de Havilland engaged in a notable real-life conflict with her younger sister – silver screen star Joan Fontaine. This behind-the-scenes rivalry positioned the actress to confront her own duality in Robert Siodmak’s 1946 quintessential film noir, The Dark Mirror.

Siodmak made some of the most critical film noirs in the late 1940s and early 1950s, including, The Killers 1946, Cry of the City 1948 Criss Cross 1949 and The File on Thelma Jordon 1950. he had left the spotlight that shined on his pictures specializing in terror and became one of the most prominent directors of crime noir and suspense. By the early 1950s, he grew weary of Hollywood and returned to Germany.

In this way, the reception of Siodmak’s 1940s Hollywood films demonstrates the ways in which the category of horrors incorporates films now seen as thrillers, film noir, and examples of the ‘woman’s film.’ Siodmak brought with him the sensibility of German cinema strongly associated with the art of shadows and horror.

It’s clear, that director Robert Siodmak was drawn to exploring the human psyche in his picture, and The Dark Mirror is a perfect example of this. Siodmak was fascinated with the dynamic of the good sister/bad sister which was apparent in his earlier works like Cobra Woman (1944) and The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry (1945).

Siodmak’s penchant for the use of shadow in his other work holds back his enduring use of chiaroscuro in The Dark Mirror. Apart from the opening scene, the only instances where he delicately manipulates light and shadow occur within the confines of the twins’ bedroom.

The bedroom is the place where we are most vulnerable, where they sleep, which is symbolic of the psychological warfare Terry wages against her sister Ruth. There was a historic rivalry and jealousy over the years. The perceived rejections by male suitors, even the adoptive parents who chose Ruth over her. At the end of the film, Detective Stevenson tells Dr. Elliot that he had the idea to lay a trap for Terry because he feared for Ruth’s life. ‘’Even a nut can figure out that it’s simpler to get rid of a rival than to go on knocking off her boyfriends all the rest of her life.’’

A narrative featuring identical twins presented an ideal chance to delve deeper into the realm of the doppelgänger mythology, a theme that captivated him and inspired by Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927).

Based on a short story by Vladimir Pozner that appeared in Good Housekeeping in 1945, The Dark Mirror is notable for its exploration into the complexities of the human mind and the manifestation of conflicting identities.

Pozner’s story was nominated for Best Story at the Academy Awards, though it lost to ‘’Vacation from Marriage” by Clemence Dane, which was adapted into a British movie released as Perfect Strangers in the UK starring Robert Donat and Deborah Kerr.

Collaborating with cinematographer Milton Krasner, known for his work on Lang’s Woman in the Window 1944 and Scarlet Street 1945, and All About Eve 1950, Siodmak enlisted an old colleague – Eugen Schüfftan, for visual effects. Schüfftan created the visual effects for Metropolis 1927. In the film, over three dozen shots feature mirrors, some to set the tone, but mostly to depict the inner conflict of the twins, highlighting their interchangeable likeness. De Havilland is shot beautifully in split screen using a stand-in when both twins appear.

Though de Havilland gave a very nuanced performance balancing opposing identities, down to the tone of her voice used for each sister, their body language, facial expressions, the subtle arching of her eyelids, and the sister’s diverging character traits, Siodmak tried to ensure that the audience would have subtle cues for each of the characters. They were visibly ‘labeled’ for us. De Havilland’s Ruth is gentle yet timorous and softly spoken. She wrings her hands out of nervousness. Terry, however, is the bolder one, more assertive and hostile by a hair’s breadth when challenged. Terry also smokes and is left-handed, while Ruth chooses to favor her right hand.

In a large part of the film, as in so many films, clothes often tell a story, in particular at the beginning of The Dark Mirror the twins wear identical clothing, Irene Shraff’s costume designs, monogrammed dressing gowns, tailored houndstooth suits, initialed brooches, and largish necklaces bearing the letter ‘T’ and ‘R’ might have been used as visual clues to help us sort out which twin was which, however, this does not dismiss de Havilland’s ability to traverse the dueling roles.

It is important to note once we become aware of how unbalanced Terry is, the sisters begin to dress differently. For example: Ruth can be seen wearing a white long-sleeved sweater and conservative pencil skirt, while in contrast – Terry goes to Elliott’s apartment pretending to be Ruth wearing a chic black satin dress with a jewel-encrusted pill-box hat. The visual clues summon the fall of the girl’s connection to each other and begin to symbolically delve into the cliché good vs evil through the emblematic use of color coding- black vs. white.

The narrative is framed by the presence of two significant mirrors, serving as visual parentheses for the story.

Siodmak initiates ambiguity with his use of mirrors and reflections: right from the opening sequence there is a shattered mirror which is reiterated or ‘mirrored’ at the climax of the film when Terry throws an object at the mirror after she sees Ruth’s image in the glass. Throughout The Dark Mirror appearances are deceptions – this is the central substance of the story.

The Dark Mirror is a psychological study of identical twin sisters Terry and Ruth Collins both played by Olivia de Havilland who vex and bewilder Thomas Mitchell (Stagecoach 1939, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington 1939, Gone with the Wind 1939 also with de Havilland, It’s a Wonderful Life 1946, High Noon 1952.) who plays surly Detective Stevenson who gets frustrated and ornery trying to solve a murder he is convinced one of them has committed. Lew Ayres plays the role of Dr. Scott Elliott, a psychiatrist tasked by Stevenson to help unravel the mystery as to which one of the twins is guilty of murder.

De Havilland’s performance is striking under Siodmak’s direction a tough process considering both Collins sisters had to be filmed separately for the scenes where she/they occupied the screen at the same time. Adding to the struggle to make this work was the disagreements between Siodmak and de Havilland who clashed from the beginning over how to approach the way the twins were portrayed. Siodmak was making a psychological thriller and de Havilland saw the film as a character study of paranoid schizophrenia (Greco) ‘’One sister could and one couldn’t commit murder, and that’s all there is to it,’’ the film’s resident psychiatrist explains.

‘’The film suggests but does not develop the possibility that Terry is Ruth’s other self, the ‘dark mirror’ that reflects the negative potential lurking beneath Ruth’s sunny mask. However, the insistence on the separation of the characters into icons of good and evil makes the film a superficial melodrama rather than a probing psychological study. Good and evil do not engage in an internal clash but are presented as the essence of two separate characters, as in a medieval morality drama.’’ – Foster Hirsch The Dark Side of the Screen: Film Noir

The film’s foundation rests on the ‘old wives tale’ about twins, suggesting that one must possess an inherent darkness—in this instance, a deep-rooted psychological one. Featuring the dramatic taglines: Dramatic tagline Twins! One who loves… and one who loves to kill! This is conveyed in the film’s promotional ads, “To know this twin is to love her… to know this twin is to die!”

When one of the twins is accused of murdering a doctor, both come under scrutiny. Ironically, it becomes impossible to establish which twin was identified by the eyewitnesses, so the law can’t touch them.

In The Dark Mirror, Terry, the malevolent sister, murders her fiancé the prominent Dr. Frank Peralta when she realizes that he actually feels more genuine affection for her virtuous sister Ruth, though he is unaware of Ruth’s existence. He experiences a tenderness in Ruth’s and a peculiar absence of emotion when he’s actually with Terry. Seeking understanding, he consults a psychiatrist to explore the possibility of a split personality in the woman he loves. The primary suspect is one of the Collins twins. However, the authorities are confounded by the fact that the twins are identical in appearance, making it difficult to determine which one committed the crime. Dr. Scott Elliott is brought in to evaluate the sisters and aid in solving the case.

Dr. Scott Elliott who frequents the medical plaza’s magazine stand where he purchases his lemon drops from Terry, is shocked when he discovers that she has an identical twin sister Ruth. Dr. Elliot (Lew Ayers) is called to the district attorney’s office to help with the investigation because he is an expert in the study of behavioral genetics in twins.

The Dark Mirror was Lew Ayers’s first movie after a four-year absence acting as an Army medic and awarded three battle stars during WWII. He returned to acting and became famous for his kindly Dr. Kildare series of films which was on the nose having been away for four years working as a doctor.

A darkened cityscape leads to an apartment that unfolds with a nighttime homicide and a shattered mirror like a fractured mind, an overturned lamp, and a man lying on the floor with a. knife stabbed through his heart. It establishes an atmospheric backdrop for a sinister and psychological story where the thin line between the narratives’ proposed trope of good vs evil is obscured behind the enigma of perceived ‘female’ duality.

At the opening of the film, it is nighttime in the city and Siodmak masterfully employs protracted camera movements through two rooms in an apartment. He unveils the time of a violent struggle, the time is precisely 10:48 pm. A man has been stabbed in the back. A prominent mirror over the fireplace becomes the silent witness to the murder – shattered – it is a visual testament to the intensity of the attack.

Cut to Detective Stevenson (Thomas Mitchell) assigned to the case, who is interviewing several witnesses in his office at the police station. The identity of the victim is revealed to be Dr. Frank Peralta. Two of the witnesses claim they saw a woman leaving his apartment around the time of the murder. Soon he learns the name, Theresa ‘Terry’ Collins.

Peralta’s assistant tells Stevenson that the doctor was in love with Terry and had planned to propose to her which gave Terry a motive. It was no secret that Terry was dating Peralta. Maybe it was a lover’s quarrel? As far as Detective Stevenson knows, the only suspect is Terry Collins.

The next morning, Stevenson brings his two solid witnesses to Terry’s magazine stand in the medical building, in order for them to lay eyes on her and confirm she is the woman they saw leaving Peralta’s apartment. They are both certain it was her. He begins to interrogate her but is cut off when Dr. Scott Elliot comes by to purchase his well-loved lemon drops. Stevenson continues to put pressure on Terry to give her whereabouts the night before. She is able to detail every move as well as deliver the names of several witnesses who can swear to her presence, including a police officer and her butcher.

Once Terry learns that Peralta has been murdered she faints and seems genuinely shaken up by the news. Stevenson cannot break Terry’s alibi so he can’t arrest her. But this cop is doggedly convinced the girl is good for the murder and drops by her apartment to get to the bottom of the confusion with the witnesses. Then Ruth appears. The sisters are wearing the same bathrobes, though one is adorned with the monogrammed ‘T’ and one has the letter ‘R’ on it.

Stevenson almost combusts from the revelation that there are two of them- identical in every way and he is convinced that one of them murdered Peralta. The Collins sisters are resolute to stay silent. Neither sister will confess to which one has the foolproof alibi and which one stayed home that night. This drives Stevenson to distraction. The interrogation is getting him nowhere, there are no fingerprints on the knife and no way to prove that either one of them was there at the crime scene.

Orphans since childhood, Ruth and Terry Collins are inseparable. They live together, dress alike, and even wear wire necklaces that bear their names with a peculiar— over-obsessive clunky jeweled monogram – as if they force their identities upon us or perhaps each might be threatened by losing themselves without them. Ruth is older by seven minutes, yet Terry seems to be the more dominant, controlling sister. Terry has a maniacal obsession with Ruth and is driven to prove that she is the superior twin.

The story unfolds – Stevenson learns how Terry and Ruth seamlessly orchestrate a charade, both working at the magazine stand as the same girl – taking turns to enjoy moments of respite – essentially to ‘switch out’’ when one of them wants time off.

Under the guise of a singular job (which they cleverly share under Terry’s name), to the casual observer, no one can tell the difference until the murder exposes that they are, in fact, two separate people. Even Dr. Peralta didn’t know he was actually dating twins at the time he asked Dr. Elliott about split personalities.

Terry stands as a mother figure, a notion that the ‘bad twin’ constantly drives home to Ruth by asserting she is protecting her, making it more of a challenge for Ruth to betray her sister in the maternal role.

Among other films exploring dynamics projected by the good twin/the bad twin trope – they are often suggestive of variations on schizophrenia.

Detective Stevenson brings the sisters in for a line-up but they are so uncannily alike, that the witnesses can’t tell them apart.

Because both Terry and Ruth stay quiet, the DA is forced to drop the case against them because they won’t be able to convict with no evidence. But Stevenson is a bulldog and isn’t willing to give up. That’s when he seeks out Dr. Scott Elliott to help him uncover the truth about which one murdered Peralta.

The investigating officer on the case is Lt. Stevenson (Thomas Mitchell) enlists the unofficial help of up and coming psychiatrist, though Stevenson is more of a skeptic about psychology referring to him as a ‘fortune teller’ who employs ‘gimmicks.’ “Don’t you witch doctors treat people with tinker toys?’’

Dr. Elliot doesn’t ascribe to the age-old superstitions that twins are usually “penalized in some way, physically or psychically.”

He believes that “character, personality is the key” – that the two elements which are very black & white are pivotal, though one is a moral question and the other is scientific. Ayers is an actor who often comes across as a paternalistic figure puffs on his pipe and uses softly phrased insights as the even keel Dr. Elliott.

Dr. Elliot says, “Not even nature can duplicate’ this quality, “even in twins” so this is what would tell who is the murderer. He adds that ‘one could and one couldn’t commit murder, and that’s all there is to it.”

‘’the insistent separation of the characters into icons of good and evil makes the film a superficial melodrama rather than a probing psychological study. Good and Evil do not engage in an internal clash but are presented as the essence of two separate characters, as in a medieval morality drama.’’ Foster Hirsch

Terry and Ruth agree to be added as another set of twins for Dr. Elliott’s research, though Ruth appears to be more wary of submitting to his examinations and acts cautious believing that Terry might be guilty of the murder.

Terry admits to Ruth that Peralta did propose to her and that she did see Peralta the night he was murdered. But Ruth agrees not to talk. She poses the question to Ruth, why would I kill him? Ruth is frightened that the truth will come out during Dr. Elliot’s examinations, but Terry thinks she’s smarter than him and can pass all his ridiculous tests.

He invites the sisters to come to his office separately, where he puts them through a series of psychological tests, including the cliché inkblots that were groundbreaking at that time. Dr. Hermann Rorschach created them in 1921 to diagnose schizophrenia but that was modified in 1939 when it was used as a standard personality test.

As Dr. Elliott delves into the lives of Terry and Ruth, he discovers the stark contrast in their personalities. While Terry is manipulative, cunning, and emotionally unstable, Ruth is kind-hearted and virtuous.

The mystery deepens as Dr. Elliott tries to understand the motives behind the murder and grapples with the challenge of distinguishing between the sisters. The film takes an intriguing turn as Dr. Elliott employs psychological techniques to uncover the truth.

Elliott puts the girls through a series of standard psychological tests that seem to imply more of a moral evaluation than a psychiatric one. After Terry gives her impressions of the inkblots Elliott determines that she has a dark inner conflict, clever and calculating, even a tendency toward violence, after she describes “the lamb looks so innocent, but it has two men under its paws.”

Terry’s answers seem rehearsed, suggesting an attempt to assert her power though she tries to convey a helpless innocence. But Elliott notices the contrast in Ruth’s answers right away. She appears very genuine, and is not aggressive, or threatening, with her contemplations more of a refined nature, as in dancers around a maypole and skaters in an ice show. Ruth is more retiring and amiable. This leads Elliott to conclude that Ruth is normal and Terry is the one who is mentally disturbed. Eventually, the monograms are disposable as de Havilland manifests the difference through her acting skills.

As Dr. Elliott delves deeper into the two personalities he begins to fall in love with Ruth, while Terry pursues him romantically. A pattern that is replaying itself. In the past, men have always chosen Ruth over her, while Terry desires them herself.

We learn that as orphans, a couple wanted to adopt Ruth but not Terry, and as they grew up, men were always drawn to Ruth, even Dr. Peralta preferred Ruth though he didn’t know why. It was when he was with Terry that he feared she suffered from a split personality.

Ruth isn’t aware of Terry’s psychosis but Dr. Elliott is convinced that she is insane and killed Peralta in a jealous rage.

The narrative appears somewhat superficial, adopting a simplistic approach wherein the individual potentially toying with Elliott’s psyche, teasing him with aggressive insights, is labeled as the embodiment of evil. Meanwhile, the one exhibiting a gentler perspective through her mild and innocuous visions is deemed the epitome of normalcy.

‘’20 percent of people who see things in the inkblots that expose the ‘’true secret patterns of their own minds’’ The results for Elliott point to this… ‘’one of our young ladies is insane.’’

During the free association session, Dr. Elliott is left a bit mystified because the only unusual reflex is Ruth’s reaction to the word ‘’mirror,’’ to which she responds, ‘’death.’’ Now he cannot wait to see how Terry responds to his prompts. But being visibly unnerved, having found out from Ruth how she reacted to the word mirror, it is not clear whether Terry would have given the same answer or if she is now toying with Elliott.

Terry is agitated when she hears Ruth’s answer which shows some understanding of ‘that mumbo jumbo.’ She refers to Dr. Elliott’s tests as ‘’kindergarten games’’ obviously trying to poison Ruth’s faith in the doctor’s credibility and that his psychological tests are nothing more than childish trials.

When Dr. Elliott gives them both a polygraph, it is hard for Terry to successfully manipulate her responses. Terry’s blood pressure spikes every time Elliott invokes Ruth’s name. Whenever her sister is mentioned the needle bounds frantically across the paper in a storm of black lines, especially bringing up the subject of a particular boy who liked Ruth.

From these tests, Elliotts makes his diagnosis – Ruth is sane and innocent of the murder while Terry is ‘’a paranoiac- a paranoiac is capable of anything.’’ He is assured that Terry merely found his tests ‘’another challenge to her, another opportunity to show the world what contempt she has for it. That was the tip-off.”

“A marker for insanity, or at least ‘’abnormality’’ for women, then, is the transgression of typical patriarchal authority. The ‘tip-off’ to Elliott that Terry is the ‘’wrong’’ twin is her effort to thwart the masculine power and rules that are being applied to explain her motives, psyche, and very existence.” – THE DARK MIRROR PSYCHIATRY AND FILM NOIR BY MARLISA SANTOS

Though Terry thinks she is putting one over on Elliott with his psychological ‘analysis’ she begins to feel threatened by the growing romantic relationship between him and Ruth.

Terry witnesses Elliott and Ruth in an embrace outside their apartment building, but when asked Ruth doesn’t mention it. Terry becomes more desperate to sabotage Ruth’s budding romance, something she evidently has done in the past. She decides to seduce Dr. Elliott herself, while gaslighting Ruth, trying to make her think she is losing her mind.

She begins to torture Ruth, hoping to push her to commit suicide and pin Peralta’s murder on her. She crafts illusions, spins nightmares, and conjures conversations, savoring every moment of her imaginative ploy.

Initially puzzling is why Ruth willingly covers for Terry despite being the target of Terry’s cruel gaslighting, nearly driving her to a mental breakdown. As Ruth witnesses Terry’s darker side, she hesitates to betray her, fearing that Terry’s potential for evil, even going as far as murder, might also exist within herself.

Terry starts by telling Ruth that she’s been having nightmares, talking in her sleep, and then waking hysterical and terrified. Persuading Ruth to consume an excessive amount of sleeping pills, Terry secretly uses flashbulbs to light up their pitch-black bedroom in the dead of night. Ruth awakens startled while her cunning sister Terry pretends not to have seen anything.

Terry also secretly turns on a music box so it will remain playing after she leaves their apartment, to create the illusion that Ruth is only hearing the music from inside her head.

After all this, Ruth begins to believe she is descending into madness. Her head grasped between her hands she breaks down, – “Something’s happening to me, and I don’t know what it is. I don’t understand it. I’m so scared; I don’t know what to do.” Pleased with her scheme to drive her sister crazy Terry reassures her –

‘’Just remember that I’m with you and I’m always going to be with you. no matter what… no matter happens, they can’t do a thing without {her} consent.’’ 

Terry is suggesting that Ruth is mad, but she’ll be there to protect her as always. ‘’We’ll be together as long as we live.’’

“Terry converts feelings of loss and fragmentation into fantasies of total power and god-like control; she projects lack onto her own sister in the form of psychological disorder.‘’ – Lutz Koepnick from Doubling the double: Robert Siodmak in Hollywood

Self-absorbed, Terry constantly seeks approval from Elliott, wanting to know what it is about Ruth that draws him to her. In a crucial scene, she even pretends to be Ruth, kissing Elliott and challenging him to be able to tell the difference. Yet she cannot restrain herself from self-aggrandizing “Terry is the smart one,” the one men usually go for.’’

The use of a one-way mirror becomes a visual metaphor and a symbolic tool, reflecting not only the physical likeness of the twins but also the duplicity and hidden facets of their personalities. As the story unfolds, the audience is taken on a journey through the labyrinth of the human mind, exploring the nature of identity, morality, and the thin line between good and evil.

As the walls close in around Terry, she becomes more and more possessive of Ruth: “You and I are never going to be separated, as long as we live. You and I are going to be together. Always.’’

Elliott tells Stevenson that Terry is a paranoiac and definitely killed Dr Peralta. Stevenson becomes concerned for Ruth’s safety, so Elliott promises to tell Ruth that night about her sister. He calls the sister’s apartment and asks Ruth to come to see him later. But he is actually talking to Terry pretending to be Ruth. Fortunately, Ruth stops by his office right after the phone call, so he uncovers Terry’s ruse. Later on, Terry arrives at his apartment not realizing that Elliott knows about her trickery.

In a demeaning and sexist soliloquy, Elliot begins to enlighten fake ‘Ruth’ about sisterhood rivalry. All sisters are rivals for men. How it is stronger for sisters than other women. Elliott doesn’t even take into consideration ‘social class’. This jealousy is ‘‘why sisters can hate each other with such a terrifying intensity.” Considering this misguided theory, the rivalry between twins is even more intense. It is this rivalry that has consumed Terry.

Dr. Elliot –‘’ All women are rivals fundamentally, but it never bothers them because they automatically discount the successes of others and alibi their own failures on the grounds of circumstances – luck, they say. But between sisters, it’s a little more serious. Circumstances are generally the same, so they have fewer excuses with which to comfort themselves… That’s why sisters can hate each other with such terrifying intensity. And with twins, it’s worse.’’

He describes how the murder might have taken place. When he confronts Terry about her split personality, she realizes that he was in love with the part of her that is Ruth, even though he didn’t know that Ruth existed. In a jealous rage, she stabbed him in the heart. It struck me how risky this meeting is for Elliott, as Terry is genuinely dangerous having already killed one man. Sure enough, she goes to grab a pair of scissors when the phone rings, and Stevenson gives him the news that Ruth has killed herself. Terry snaps out of her homicidal rage and they rush to the sister’s apartment.

Terry as ‘Ruth’ tells Stevenson that Ruth killed herself because she was ‘sick’ and ‘twisted inside,’ words Elliott used to describe Terry. That it was Ruth who was insane and committed the murder. She killed herself over the guilt. Terry begins to ramble that she is actually Ruth. That it is Terry who has killed herself because she was so jealous of Ruth.

Elliot tries to provoke the fake ‘’Ruth’’ into revealing herself as Terry, antagonizing her about her past rejections. The family that wanted Ruth but not her, and the boys who preferred Ruth.

He confronts Terry by telling her how mentally disturbed she is. He tells her while she is pretending to be ‘Ruth’ that “Terry is ‘sick inside’ and needs help. He imagines that it is tied to something that happened in their past when they were quite young but has grown inside like a poisoned seedling. ‘’more and more bitter and is now abnormal.’’

Finally working with the police, Ruth, who has been reluctant up til now to believe that Terry is dangerous stages her own ‘’suicide’’ in order to trap her sister. As Terry begins to unravel, Ruth suddenly emerges from the bedroom. When Terry sees her reflected in a mirror behind her she throws an object and smashes it, symbolically destroying her sister who is the constant evidence of her ‘lacking.’

At this revelation it is all over for Terry and she smashes the mirror when she sees Ruth’s reflection.

By the end of the picture, Elliott and Ruth are united. He asks Ruth, ” Why are you so much more beautiful than your sister?”

‘’Terry’s possessiveness may be interpreted as a desire to absorb Ruth, to eliminate the ‘difference’’ between them that haunts her and frustrates her desires.’’ Marlisa Santos -The Dark Mirror

Dr. Elliot’s comment in the end supports the actuality that good and evil can exist within two identical people as he tells Ruth, ‘’That’s what twins are you know, reflections of each other, everything in reverse.‘’

This mental image –  signals the shattering of the mirror by the darker souled Terry at the climax of the picture when she is ultimately caught in her game of deceit, tricked by Detective Stevenson into thinking that the real Ruth has committed suicide. Caught by her own duplicity, she cannot help through her conceit she reveals her lies while claiming that she is actually Ruth and it was Terry that has killed herself.

She tries to convince Stevenson that “Terry’ despised her (Ruth) out of jealousy because men always found her more attractive and likable. Unlike the doppelgänger who inhabits an evil that is transferred to the good person, this is subverted with the evil person Terry claiming that she possesses all the good attributes from their double.

The Dark Mirror is often praised for its innovative narrative and psychological depth. The film’s exploration of the duality within a single person, embodied by the twin sisters, adds layers of complexity to the story. Olivia de Havilland’s stellar performance in the dual role is a highlight, showcasing her ability to convey the nuances of two distinct characters.

It is lauded for its psychological depth, but some critics have noted that the resolution of the murder mystery may be somewhat predictable for modern audiences. However, it’s essential to appreciate the film in its historical context, considering its influence on subsequent psychological thrillers.

‘’Sugar wouldn’t melt in the mouth of Nancy, the heroine of The Locket. Yet if we are to believe the evidence, she is a first-class criminal. With this to go on, Nancy brings the wicked-lady psychopathic parade up to date. Laraine Day gives what must be her most fascinating performance. As with so many of these wide-eyed innocents who are supposed to be baddies inside, the spectator maybe have difficulty in crediting her with such heatless villainies. However, there is just enough of a defiant something about Miss Day. More of the spirit than the actual behavior, to raise the shadow of doubt. It is this question mark that holds one rapt.’’ —Philip K. Scheuer, “Laraine Day Psychotpath.’’ Los Angeles Times May, 27 1947

‘’The complexity of Sheridan Gibney’s plot was what really enticed me to the material. It was an enigma within an enigma within an enigma. John Brahm, had done a very good horror picture at Twentieth about Jack the Ripper called The Lodger. He was a German- but not too German — and I thought he would be good to direct this and give it some of the same atmosphere.’’ —producer Bert Granet in Lee Server’s Baby, I don’t Care

The New York Times (1946) found The Dark Mirror to be a lamentable production that operated as little more than a vanity project for Olive de Havilland, who ‘has been tempted by the lure of playing against herself.’

‘’Siodmak explained that ‘audiences love a picture like The Dark Mirror because it affords what psychoanalysis call a psychic renovating’’ The strategy of bringing all aspects of The Dark Mirror under the rubric of psychological science including even its purportedly positive influence on audiences, is indicative of the representational shift away from the cynical and at times gruesome depictions of psychiatrists and psychological practices that characterized wartime horror cinema. The horror films that went into production after the ebbing of the Shock controversy evinced Hollywood’s newfound commitment to responsible depiction of psychiatry. A case in point was the 1947 film Possessed’’– Bad Medicine from book Merchants of Menace: The Business of Horror Cinema edited by Richard Nowell.

In 1948 the Screen Guild Theater produced a radio version of The Dark Mirror starring Lew Ayres and Loretta Young. In 1950 de Havilland reprised her role for a radio broadcast at Screen Director’s Playhouse.

Continue reading “Noirvember – Freudian Femme Fatales – 1946 : The Dark Mirror (1946) & The Locket (1946) ‘Twisted Inside’”

Marlene Dietrich & Anna May Wong: Shanghai Express (1932) The Merciful Temptress or Veils on a Train & The Quiet Cultural Warrior or Mythos of the Dragon Lady With a Dagger

‘’Dietrich is something that never existed before and may never exist again. That’s a woman.” -Maurice Chevalier

”A shaft of white light used properly can be far more effective than all the color in the world used indiscriminately.” 
– Josef von Sternberg – Fun in a Chinese Laundry, Mercury House, San Francisco, 1988)

For a century the divine Marlene Dietrich in her enigmatic work in cinema has been a radiant star of the silver screen. A torch singer, Sphynx-like, a seductress in a world where her mystique remains intangible and beyond adequate description. A torch songstress – she was the quintessential cabaret entertainer of Weimar-era Germany. Dietrich began her cabaret performances in 1954, which lasted two decades.

Marlene Dietrich has a world-weary appeal, the goddess of reflexive poise, self-possessiveness, an inscrutable aura of boundless insight, and a sort of subdued confidence. Next to Bette Davis, Dietrich has stirred a fascination in me – maybe it’s her indescribable physicality, the orb of dancing light across her smile. She’s an elusive divinity.

And through her alluring glamour and fluid sexuality, she became an international symbol, a timeless, enchanting muse, whose elegance and allure mesmerized both men and women alike. Her sensuality is daring, she held aloft her humor with courageous ease, and her inimitable style and aspect, are timeless.

Dietrich started as a cabaret performer and worked as a silent film actress at the height of the Weimar years, after which she abandoned Berlin at the dawn of the 1930s and headed for Hollywood with off-screen lover and director Josef von Sternberg.

In the late 1920s, Dietrich gained prominence on the German stage, drawing comparisons to Greta Garbo in the German press. In early 1930, director Josef von Sternberg came to Berlin to shoot The Blue Angel. He’d been searching for an actress who could ‘’exude the electric eroticism of the movie’s cruel temptress.’’ (Peter B. Fling NY Times 1992). Once he saw Dietrich on stage he found his purely malevolent Lola Lola who corrupts, demeans, humiliates, and ultimately destroys Emil Jennings cast as the bewitched well-respected elderly professor. The role won her a Hollywood contract, and with her collaboration with von Sternberg, a legend emerged.

(Eingeschränkte Rechte für bestimmte redaktionelle Kunden in Deutschland. Limited rights for specific editorial clients in Germany.) Marlene Dietrich (left) as ‘Lola-Lola’ and Rosa Valetti (centre) in the UFA – movie ‘Der Blaue Engel’ (‘The Blue Angel’). Director: Josef von Sternberg – 1930 Also available in color: Image Number 622600 (Photo by ullstein bild via Getty Images)

Dietrich’s characters function both as objects of desire (her face drinks in light like a Brancusi sculpture) and agents of desire, in the grip of consuming, concentrated loves that frequently demand pain or martyrdom. Von Sternberg places this complex figure into many different contexts, from street prostitute (“Dishonored”) to absolute monarch (“The Scarlet Empress”). He even tries, with mixed success, to imagine her as an ordinary, middle-class wife and mother (“Blonde Venus”). (David Kehr NY Times 2012 article The Well-Lighted Agent of Desire)

Dietrich and von Sternberg ‘’embarked on a mad experiment to push photographing well to the furthest limits of the possible … Who cast her as angel and devil – amoral blithely destructive – detected a lustrous vitality beneath this mask of restraint- and she was, in fact, fiercely ambitious – but the pose of not giving a damn, which she made challenging and seductive was what he wanted.’’ – (Imogen Sara Smith)

From Dietrich – flowed the look of delirious eroticism, an inscrutable quintessence as she became a golden-haired blonde, her face framed by lighting and makeup that made her arched brows, cheekbones, and mesmeric blue eyes aristocratic, a persona so richly textured as the roles she embodied: a siren, victim, predator, or lover.

In her role in Morocco in 1930 she adopted male attire which was used to indicate sexual experience. (Source: Catherine Constable -Thinking in Images: Film Theory, Feminist Philosophy and Marlene Dietrich).

Not merely provocative -Dietrich’s transcends gendered attire, extending beyond donning men’s clothing or bestowing a kiss upon a woman’s surprised lips in the crowd, prompting startled, bashful laughter. She effortlessly appropriates other attributes typically reserved for men: their privilege, self-assuredness, sexual dominance, and emotional detachment. What truly distinguishes her, even more than her nonchalant mastery of her role and her blithe signals, is her unmistakable air of indifference.

‘’Aloof and calm, she continues her meticulous preparations: dusting off and donning a top hat, straightening her tie, slipping into a tailcoat. She strolls onstage and surveys the jeering audience inscrutably through a scrim of cigarette smoke, from under eyelids dragged down by the weight of knowingness and thick, curling eyelashes. The close-ups is killing in its beauty.’’ – Imogen Sara Smith – Morocco (1930)

The Dietrich persona, embodied by the aphrodisiacal Lola-Lola, the iconic cabaret songstress invested in a rakish top hat and sheer silk stockings in The Blue Angel in 1930, was a reflection of a non-conformist, an unrestrained libertine who picked her lovers, made her way in the world financially, and regarded sexuality as an intriguing pursuit of pleasure. Up on the screen, Dietrich personified the audience’s wish fulfillment.

‘’In emotional scenes, she often has a look of blank shock and numbness, sometimes with a fleeting wildness in her dry eyes – the look of someone who cannot lose control, who freezes up in the face of strong feeling. It is a limitation used to best advantage, make her seem inaccessible rather than inadequate.’’ (Imogen Sara Smith)

Critic Kenneth Tynan described Lola Lola’s self-expression as “a serpentine lasso whereby her voice casually winds itself around our most vulnerable fantasies… She has sex but no positive gender. Her masculinity appeals to women and her sexuality to men.”

She was a fashion trendsetter on screen and in her personal life, often dressed in tailored trousers and mannish attire. The actress pioneered the “Dietrich silhouette,” demonstrating that women could maintain their femininity while wearing masculine clothing that still highlighted a slender figure with subtle hips and bust line.

Dietrich herself manifested an individualist charisma in her personal and public persona as with many of her earlier roles, Mademoiselle Amy Jolly in Morocco 1930, Marie Kolverer -(X27) in Dishonored 1931, Helen Faraday in Blonde Venus 1932, and the corrupting vamp Concha Perez in The Devil is a Woman 1935 which was her particular favorite.

von Sternberg & Dietrich –Blonde Venus 1932

“The cool, bright face that didn’t ask for anything, that simply existed, waiting — it was an empty face, he thought; a face that could change with any wind of expression. One could dream of anything. It was like a beautiful empty house waiting for carpets and pictures. It had all possibilities — it could become a palace or a brothel.” (Erich Maria Remarque).

Eventually, the top executives at Paramount wanted to maintain the box office attraction of their big investment in Dietrich and blocked von Sternberg from directing her in any other pictures. He was losing money for them with his opulent storylines that were growing more self-indulgent and the narratives anemic. They cast her in two successful romantic comedies, her first Desire (1936) with Gary Cooper as her leading man. Then a satirical western Destry Rides Again in 1939 where Dietrich plays a free-spirited fireball who sings in a saloon and seduces Sheriff James Stewart. There’s a raucous scene that features a hair-pulling, face-slapping brawl between Dietrich and Una Merkel.

Some of her more well-known films include – As a German Noblewoman in von Sternberg’s The Scarlett Empress in 1934, The Garden of Allah in 1936, as Lady Maria Barker in Ernst Lubitsch’s Angel in 1937, As Bijou the saloon singer in Tay Garnett’s Seven Sinners in 1940, as the saloon owner Cherry Malotte in The Spoilers in 1942, she played a glamorous gypsy in Mitchell Leisen’s Golden Earrings in 1947, as a manipulative Berlin cabaret singer in Billy Wilder’s A Foreign Affair 1948, as a conniving murderess in Hitchcock’s Stage Fright in 1950. As a saloon manager hiding outlaws in Fritz Lang’s Rancho Notorious in 1952, as a duplicitous wife in Billy Wilder’s Witness for the Prosecution in 1957, as the cynical madame of a brothel in Orson Welle’s Touch of Evil in 1958, and as an aristocratic widow in Stanley Kramer’s Judgment at Nuremberg in 1961. Her last picture was in 1978 – she played Baroness von Semering alongside David Bowie in Just a Gigolo.

‘’Touch of Evil provided Miss Dietrich with one of her most memorable lines. She admonished the character played by the corpulent Welles to “lay off the candy bars.” (Peter B. Flint New York Times 1992)

During WWII she became a symbol of free Germany, outspoken against Hitler, financed the escape of many people from Nazi occupation, and entertained Allied troops and prisoners of war. ‘’Tirelessly and good-humoredly, she roughed it with the G.I.’s, standing patiently in food lines, washing with snow, and sleeping in dugouts and ruins, often near the front lines. She sang her movie songs, the international wartime ballad “Lili Marlene” and some current songs, and even played a musical saw, a skill she had mastered for the Berlin stage.’’ (Peter B. Flint New York Times 1992)

The troops fell in love with her. How could they not? After the war, she was awarded the Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor the United States Government bestows. France named her a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor and Belgium dubbed her a Knight of the Order of Leopold.

After 5 decades on stage, film, television, and lilting torch songs in cabarets, Dietrich died in 1992 at the age of 90 at her flat in Paris.

The inscrutable Anna May Wong, the pioneering Chinese-American actress, was born in 1905 above her family’s Chinese laundry in Los Angeles, Wong quickly developed a passion for the world of cinema. From a young age, she earned a reputation as the ‘curious Chinese child’ who would frequently visit film sets in Chinatown. At the age of 17, Wong seized her debut leading role in the silent film “Toll of the Sea” in 1922. Throughout her career, Wong encountered obstacles and racial discrimination. Not only were roles limited due to the film industry’s decision to primarily cast Western actors in leading Asian roles, but Hollywood and the Hays Code had very harsh rules against miscegenation, which restricted her from any on-screen kisses with non-Asian actors, even if that actor was portraying an Asian character. Further limiting her career was the desire producers had to cast Western actors in leading Asian roles.

In Shanghai Express, Wong’s performance as Hui Fei was vivified with dignity and primacy which challenged the pervasive stereotypes and expectations Hollywood had of Asian actresses during the 1930s.

At the beginning of her career, the Chinese press with the addition of the Nationalist government had been critical of Anna May Wong for her on-screen sexuality that perpetuated negative stereotypes of Chinese women.

On the screen goddess Anna May Wong was fond of saying, that she died a thousand deaths.

In Tiger Bay she sacrifices her life – as Lui Wong she stabs her wrist with a poisoned ring. Dying, she whispers an ancient Chinese poem. As Shosho the London flapper and ”Chinese Dancing Wonder,” was shot in the chest by a jealous suitor, she appeared as Taou Yuen, in Java Head 1934 an exquisite Qing Dynasty princess transported to cold grey Victorian Bristol, she indulges in opium while wearing spectacular Peking Opera costume and reviled by high society and righteous members of the church -Taou Yuen’s grace and decency are ignored, and as Wong dignity rises above the dialogue the film is riddled with contradictions. With the cast of characters condemning her “barbaric” rites, the undertone is that Chinese culture is like a dangerous drug like opium which provokes the senses and awakens forbidden desires.

As Lotus Flower in The Toll of the Sea (1922) Wong plays an innocent Hong Kong girl abandoned by her unambitious American lover, she throws herself into the provoking sea.

As Shosho, it was her erotic triumph in 1929 British silent ‘Picadilly’ directed by E. A. Dupont – set in the backdrop of London, she outshines Gilda Gray, known as the “Queen of Shimmy,” in her role as Shosho, the scullery maid who captures the affection of a nightclub owner who happens to be Gilda’s lover. She becomes an overnight sensation when he puts her on stage.

Perhaps it had something to do with her costume — a scanty, gilded interpretation of a vaguely Indonesian warrior outfit, purchased (at Shosho’s insistence) in Limehouse, London’s Chinatown. More likely it’s Wong’s intensity, toughness, and vibrant sensuality, showcased in a film that played off the fears and temptations of miscegenation. (From The Dragon Lady and the Quiet Cultural Warrior By Leslie Camhi New York Times article 2004)

Wong’s big break came a year later when Hollywood’s jeweled prince Douglas Fairbanks cast her in his over-the-top Orientalist pageant The Thief of Baghdad in 1924.

The Mongol slave girl, attired in a revealing bikini, turns traitor to her mistress—a Persian princess and the object of Fairbanks’s affection—by acting as a spy for a Mongol prince. Wong’s outrageous scene-stealing moment comes when she tremors and writhes as Fairbanks’s knife takes away her last breath.

That epic picture made Wong an international star, but it was not enough to deliver her from supportive roles that added to her ‘Oriental intrigue’ and ‘local color’ while white actors were made up in ‘yellowface’ like Warner Oland who starred in the Charlie Chan detective series, were routinely cast as Asians. In addition to being relegated to cultural caricatures, the taboos of mixed-raced romance kept Wong from taking on the lead role if she couldn’t kiss her co-star. As a seductress, she was doomed to certain death. Her faithless servants, gangsters’ molls, and formidable dragon ladies — in the Hollywood parts that awaited her— she often met unfortunate ends.

“I was tired of the parts I had to play… Why should we always scheme, kill, (and) rob?”

In the casting of the film The Good Earth based on Pearl S. Buck’s popular novel, Wong deeply wanted to play the lead role of Olan and fought hard to be cast in the part but was passed over for German actress Luise Rainer. Most insulting, she was offered the part of an unsympathetic character in the film, which she refused. “If you let me play O-lan, I will be very glad. But you’re asking me – with Chinese blood – to do the only unsympathetic role in the picture featuring an all-American cast portraying Chinese characters.”

Anna May Wong’s sophistication, both in front of the camera and in her personal life, was a captivating blend of traditional Chinese dress and the glamorous fashion of 1930s Hollywood. Wong dedicated herself to infusing authenticity into even her most minor roles by meticulously incorporating genuine Chinese hairstyles and costumes, which she often used from her own collection.

Though her elegance and allure and pursuit of authenticity are undeniable, Wong’s characters could still be seen as the embodiment of the racist stereotypes perpetuated by a studio system that struggled to envision and articulate positive roles for Asian actors. She wishes to break the bonds of the Dragon Lady trope.

Publicity stills from Limehouse Blues (1934)

On January 14, 1932, a Chinese newspaper ran with the headline “Paramount Utilizes Anna May Wong to Produce Picture to Disgrace China.

“Her specialty is to expose the conduct of the very low caste of Chinese,” the editorial ran on, citing her turn as “a half-robed Chinese maid in The Thief of Bagdad [sic]. Although she is deficient in artistic portrayal, she has done more than enough to disgrace the Chinese race.”

In Shanghai Express, Anna May Wong gives an enigmatic performance as Hui Fei, the elliptical warrior who brings an extra layer of agency and nuance to the film as her character converges with Dietrich’s Shanghai Lily. Hui Fei is acute, resourceful, and instrumental in the prevailing plot line.

Wong’s portrayal of Hui Fei is a marked departure from the conventional exoticized and orientalization of surrendering girls she was more often confined to by Hollywood during the era.

Anna May Wong at Hollywood’s Music Box Theater for the opening of The Old Woman 1933.

As Hui Fei, Wong manifests ‘’an inordinately graceful Confucian courtesan with nerves of steel (and traveling companion to Marlene Dietrich’s notorious prostitute Shanghai Lily), who disappears from a crowded train platform amid the flashes of news photographers after collecting her reward for murdering a brutal Chinese warlord… Wong’s presence in “Shanghai Express” can be seen as a counterpoint to Marlene Dietrich’s character. While Dietrich’s Shanghai Lily is an embodiment of Western allure and independence, Wong’s Hui Fei represents a more complex portrayal of an Asian woman navigating her own path in a racially charged and patriarchal world. This contrast between the two actresses and their characters adds depth to the film and highlights the intersectionality of their struggles in the film industry.’’ -(Leslie Camhi The Dragon Lady and the Cultural Warrior -New York Times article 2004)

During the 1930s the radically individualistic Wong traveled between Europe and Hollywood and in 1936 she embarked on a year’s stay in her spiritual homeland China, in search of a better way to represent Chinese women in her work, where she had been subjected to roles as women of little morality who live by the flesh.

Like numerous actors from her era, Wong concluded her career in the emerging realm of television. She briefly took on a role in “The Gallery of Madame Liu Tsong,” portraying a Chinese art dealer and detective entangled in the subterfuge of the international art world. Her ultimate promotional photograph, captured during her appearance in “Portrait in Black” (1960), a film she hoped would ignite her career once more, features her as a maid, caressing a Siamese cat. She died a year after the film’s release.

Continue reading “Marlene Dietrich & Anna May Wong: Shanghai Express (1932) The Merciful Temptress or Veils on a Train & The Quiet Cultural Warrior or Mythos of the Dragon Lady With a Dagger”

The Last Drive In wishes you a very Happy Halloween and a Merry Samhain!🎃


This is your EverLovin’ Joey Sayin’ be safe, watch out for those tricks, and let yourself splurge on the treats!🦇

Happy All Hallow’s Eve: Attack of the Colossal Postcards from Shadowland 2023

Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958)

The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Alien (1979)

Invaders from Mars (1953)

The Brain that Wouldn’t Die (1962)

Mad Love (1935)

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)

The Undead (1957)

Tarantula (1955)

The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms  (1953)

Godzilla (1954)

The Golem (1920)

Beauty and the Beast (1946)

The Ghoul (1933)

Black Christmas (1974)

Rabid (1977)

Phantasm (1979)

Count Yorga Vampire (1970)

The Tenant (1976)

The Brotherhood of Satan (1971)

The Devil’s Rain (1975)

The Brood (1979)

Bird With the Crystal Plumage (1970)

The House That Screamed (1969)

Blacula (1972)

The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932)

Curse of the Cat People (1944)

The Lodger (1922)

The Lodger (1944)

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari 1920

Strangler of the Swamp (1936)

The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Man Made Monster (1941)

The Devil Commands (1941)

Carnival of Sinners aka Lu Main du Diable (1943)

Village of the Damned (1960)

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

The Devils (1970)

Ghost Story (1981)

Candyman (1992)

Shock Waves (1977)

Alien (1979)

Forbidden Planet (1956)

Carnival of Souls (1962)

Carrie (1976)

Planet of the Apes (1968)

Barbarella (1960)

Night of the Eagle aka Burn Witch Burn (1962)

Cat People (1942)

The Changeling (1980)

What’s the Matter With Helen? (1971)

Games (1967)

Queen of Blood (1966)

7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964)

The Gorgon (1964)

Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)

Curse of the Demon (1958)

Don’t Look Now (1973)

Deep Red aka Profondo Rosso  (1975)

Planet of the Vampire (1965)

Die, Monster, Die (1965)

Diabolique (1955)

Dark Eyes of London aka The Human Monster (1939)

Dead of Night (1945)

City of the Dead aka Horror Hotel (1960)

Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors (1965)

13 Ghosts (1960)

Dracula (1931) Spanish with Lupita Tovar

Dracula (1931) with Bela Lugosi

Duel (1971) made for Tv Movie

Dust Devil (1993)

Edison’s Frankenstein (1910)

Frankenstein (1931)

Earth vs. the Spider (1958)

Them! (1954)

Fiend Without a Face (1958)

Not of This Earth (1957)

Queen of Spades (1949)

The Witches Mirror (1962)

Black Sunday (1960)

Strangers on a Train (1951)

The Exorcist (1973)

Eye of the Devil (1966)

Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989)

Les Yeux sans visage (1960)

Frankenstein (1931)

Freaks (1932)

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965)

Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

The Warriors (1979)

Tales From the Crypt (1972)

Horror Express (1972)

Gaslight (1944)

Halloween (1978)

The Haunting (1963)

Hellraiser (1987)

The Dunwich Horror (1970)

Kwaidan (1965)

Horror of Dracula (1958)

Blood and Roses (1960)

Hour of the Wolf (1968)

I Bury the Living (1958)

I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957)

I Was a Teenage Frankenstein (1957)

House on Haunted Hill (1959)

The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)

House of Wax (1953)

Dr. X (1932)

I Walked With a Zombie (1943)

Night Tide (1961)

Dementia 13 (1963)

The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)

The Innocents (1961)

Black Sabbath (1963)

The Killer of Dolls (1975)

Tourist Trap (1979)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Island of Lost Souls (1932)

It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955)

It Came from Outer Space (1953)

The Crawling Eye (1958)

Jason and the Argonauts (1963)

Jaws (1975)

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)

Kill, Baby, Kill (1966)

Kuroneko (1968)

The Last Man on Earth (1964)

The Crazies (1973)

Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural (1973)

Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971)

The Man from Planet X (1951)

The Atomic Submarine (1959)

The Masque of the Red Death (1964)

Messiah of Evil (1974)

Full Circle aka The Haunting of Julia (1978)

Return of Count Yorga (1971)

Curse of the Demon (1957)

Night of the Hunter (1955)

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Willard (1971)

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

 Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979)

Nosferatu (1922)

Peeping Tom (1960)

The Phantom Carriage (1921)

The Pit and the Pendulum (1961)

Plan 9 from Outer Space (1957)

Psycho (1960)

Repulsion (1965)

Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Scanners (1981)

Sisters (1973)

The Shining (1980)

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Son of Frankenstein (1939)

Spider Baby (1967)

The Stepford Wives (1975)

Suspiria (1977)

Black Christmas (1974)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

The Amityville Horror (1979)

The Birds (1963)

The Black Cat (1934)

The Raven (1935)

The Evil Dead (1981)

The Ghost (1963)

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)

The Haunted Strangler (1958)

The Body Snatcher (1945)

Bedlam (1946)

The Haunting (1963)

The Mummy (1932)

The Old Dark House (1932)

The Omen (1976)

The Seventh Seal (1957)

The Thing from Another World (1951)

The Thing (1982)

The Unknown (1927)

Phantom of the Opera (1922)

The Wicker Man (1973)

The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)

Phantom of the Paradise (1974)

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

Theater of Blood (1973)

House of Usher (1960)

The Fog (1980)

The Ghost (1963)

The Seventh Victim (1943)

The Invisible Man (1933)

To the Devil a Daughter (1976)

The Velvet Vampire (1971)

Wait Until Dark (1967)

The War of the Worlds (1953)

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark TV movie (1973)

Westworld (1973)

White Zombie (1932)

The Wolf Man (1941)

Dr. Cyclops (1940)

House on Haunted Hill (1959)

The Man Who Laughs (1928)

Flesh and Fantasy (1943)

Halloween (1978)

The Last Man on Earth (1964)

M (1931)

Sugar Hill (1974)

The Omega Man (1971)

Dawn of the Dead (1978)

The Howling (1981)

The Canterville Ghost (1944)

Vampyr (1932)

The Curse of the Crying Woman (1963)

Black Sunday (1960)

Svengali (1931)

Spirits of the Dead (1968)

Daughters of Darkness (1971)

Santa Sangre (1990)

From Dusk Til Dawn (1996)

Cronos (1993)

Castle of Blood aka Danze Macabra (1964)

Danse Macabre (1922)

Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

Young Frankenstein (1974)

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

This is your EverLovin’ Joey Sayin’ Hey… It sounds like there are trick-or-treaters at your door… you better answer it!

A Trailer a Day Keeps the Boogeyman Away! Halloween A-Z


Zombies of Mora Tau 1957

Zombies of Mora Tau 1957 directed by one of the masters of B-movie horrors, Edward L. Cahn,  combines elements of horror, adventure, and mystery. The film stars Allison Hayes as Mona, Autumn Russell as good girl Jan, Gregg Palmer, Joel Ashley, Marjorie Eaton as the Grandmother who awaits her sailor husband’s return even though she knows he’s one of the zombies, and Ray Corrigan.

The story is set in the coastal waters off the African continent, near a diamond mine. A team of people, including a marine salvage crew and the mine owner’s daughter, arrive at a sunken ship, the Mora Tau, which is rumored to contain a valuable cargo of diamonds.

However, the salvage operation becomes perilous when it is revealed that the sunken ship is guarded by the walking dead who guard the treasure, These zombies are not the flesh-eating creatures commonly associated with modern zombie films.

As the salvage crew and the mine owner’s daughter attempt to recover the diamonds, they must contend with the zombies, who are under the control of a mysterious figure. The film unfolds as a suspenseful and atmospheric tale of survival, as the characters face both the threat of the zombies and the lure of the valuable cargo.

Zardoz 1974

Zardoz 1974 is a fantastical science fiction film directed by John Boorman (Deliverance 1972). The film is known for its surreal and dystopian themes. The film stars Sean Connery and ’70s siren Charlotte Rampling.

In 2293 Zardoz, is an uncanny, omnipotent “God” who speaks from a massive floating stone idol of an imposing god-head, who rules over a barbaric race called the Brutals, who live a primitive and violent existence and struggle to survive in the grim landscape in the Outlands. The Brutals worship Zardoz as their supreme deity.

In this distant future, the Earth is divided into two distinct societies: the Eternals, who live in a technologically advanced and utopian community, and the Brutals, who inhabit the wastelands outside of the Eternals’ domain. Yet the movie actually features five identifiable groups of people: Brutals, Eternals, Renegades, Apathetics, and Exterminators.

Zardoz preaches that the Brutals will be transformed once after they die and go to the Vortex, where they will live a euphoric life as immortals. He has amassed an armed named the Exterminators, armed with guns, as Zardoz’s philosophy is that killing is good, and breeding is the root of all evil. But the truth is like the Wizard of Oz, the man behind the curtain is Arthur Frayn, who hails from an advanced race of The Eternals who exist in that paradisical life in the Vortex.

The Eternals truly are immortal as they do not age and their bodies undergo reconstruction if they “die”. This elite group is immortal, never to see an aged moment, and if they should die, they become regenerated. In contrast to the rest of those who live a harsh life, The Eternals do get to bring life into their world as they have evolved as a society, striving through a democratic watchfulness but they are immune to disease or sin, and those who transgress are subjected to the aging process.

Arthur seeks to control and study the movements of the Brutals, and using Zardoz he can achieve that mission, but once entering the Outlands he is cut off from the Vortex and all communication with the Eternals.

Zed (Sean Connery) one of the Exterminators has somehow managed to break through to the Vortex and the Eternals’ society when he stows away inside the Zardoz head, but the Eternals decide to keep him alive so that they can study him and figure out if his infiltrating the Vortex was a freak occurrence before putting him to death.

Amongst the Eternals is May (Sara Kestelman), their head scientist who sees Zed as he is a link to the Brutals. Charlotte Rampling as Consuela is a thrill-seeker who views Zed as an animal whose purpose is to do his work as the hand of the law. The Eternals must protect their Utopian society at all costs.

Once inside, Zed disrupts the Eternals’ tranquil existence and challenges their immortality. He becomes a symbol of change and rebellion, leading to a series of profound and surreal events.


Writer, producer, and director Sir John Boorman made this movie after an early attempt to film J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” was canceled. Studios balked at the projected cost of the project as he envisioned it. When the same thing happened to Boorman again several years later, he made Excalibur 1981 instead.

Cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth filmed scenes with the lens wide open, fog filters on the camera, and smoke machines on-set to achieve a diffused, impressionistic look. It worked on first-generation prints, but when the film was duplicated for release, the image quality was so bad it was almost unusable. The studio forbade any cinematographers from using that process on future movies.

Reportedly Charlotte Rampling, looked forward to her sex scene with Sir Sean Connery then was disappointed when it was over and done with so quickly.

Radio spots were narrated by Rod Serling.

Zardoz was filmed on location in the Irish village of Garrykennedy.

John Boorman would later admit that he was under the heavy drug influence while writing the film and during production. He also claims that not even he is sure what parts of the film are about, mainly due to the haze of drugs he was in at the time, and feels that several scenes are pointless

Burt Reynold’s who was a big box-office star at the time, who had previously worked with Sir John Boorman on Deliverance 1972  was the first choice for the lead role of Zed. He bowed out due to illness. According to an article in the 11 April 1973 edition of Variety, the illness was “overwork”.

This is your EverLovin’ Joey Sayin’ I hope you survived this menacing alphabetical barrage of spooky & often kooky trailers! I’ll see you around at the snack bar and wish you a safe and enjoyable month of October and the upcoming candy binge of Halloween! 🎃

A Trailer a Day Keeps the Boogeyman Away! Halloween A-Z


Yongary 1967

Yongai directed by Ki-duk Kim is about Earthquakes in central Korea that turn out to be the work of Yongary, a prehistoric gasoline-eating reptile that soon goes on a rampage through Seoul.

This is your EverLovin’ Joey Sayin’ Y fight it? Z is breathing down your neck as I write this!

A Trailer a Day Keeps the Boogeyman Away! Halloween A-Z


X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes 1963

Produced and directed by Roger Corman with a screenplay by Ray Russell and Robert Dillon,  X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes is a 1963 science fiction horror film that follows the story of Dr. James Xavier, played by Ray Milland, a brilliant scientist who develops a formula he puts in special eye drops that gives him the ability to see beyond the visible spectrum into the realms of X-ray vision and beyond.

As Dr. Xavier’s experimentation progresses, he becomes increasingly obsessed with his newfound powers, which allow him to see through objects and even perceive events, even medical conditions occurring in the body and occurring in the future. However, his X-ray vision comes with a dark side, as he begins to witness disturbing and nightmarish visions that test the limits of his sanity.

Dr. Diane Fairfax (Diane Van de Vlis) “What do you see?”
Dr. James Xavier “The city… as if it were unborn. Rising into the sky with fingers of metal, limbs without flesh, girders without stone. Signs hanging without support. Wires dipping and swaying without poles. A city unborn. Flesh dissolved in an acid of light. A city of the dead.”
Dr Xavier ”I’m blind to all but a tenth of the universe.’’
Dr. Sam Brant (Harold J. Stone) “My dear friend, only the gods see everything.”
Dr. Xavier ‘‘My dear doctor, I’m closing in on the gods.’

Dr. Xavier’s quest for knowledge and power leads him down a dangerous and morally ambiguous path to touch ‘The Eye of God”, and he becomes an outcast from society which leads him to hide as an attraction at a carnival as a prognosticator daunted by the greedy Don Rickles. His scientific curiosity leads to madness as he is tortured by his unstoppable vision into realms he cannot control.

X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes is known for its cinematography by Floyd Crosby, its production design and art direction by Corman regular Daniel Haller, and its striking visual effects by John Howard that depict Dr. Xavier’s unique perspective. The film’s exploration of the consequences of tampering with human perception and the descent into madness makes it a notable entry into the science fiction and horror genres of the 1960s.

Milland effectively conveys Dr. Xavier’s initial excitement and conviction as he embarks on his groundbreaking research to develop X-ray vision. His portrayal of a dedicated scientist who is eager to push the boundaries of human perception is convincing.

As the film progresses, Milland skillfully portrays Dr. Xavier’s gradual obsession with his work. His performance captures the character’s increasing detachment from reality as he becomes consumed by the dark side of his newfound abilities.

The film also stars a host of great actors from the decade and its horror/sci-fi genre, John Hoyt, Diane Van der Vlee, Harold J. Stone, and Morris Ankrum.


To create the effect of being able to see through a building, the director filmed the building while it was under construction.

The skeletal building seen repeatedly from Dr. Xavier’s point of view (in “Spectrarama”)was the Department of Water & Power General Office Building in downtown Los Angeles. Construction had begun around 1963 and was completed in 1965.

Roger Corman has said the idea for the film was his. It was originally about a scientist, then he felt that was “too obvious” so he changed the protagonist to be “a jazz musician who had taken too much drugs, and I get into about four or five pages, and I thought, ‘You know, I don’t like this idea,’ and so I threw the whole thing out, and started back and went back with the scientist, which was the original idea.”

The final chase scene involving Ray Milland’s erratic driving took place on Soledad Canyon Road between the cities of Santa Clarita and Acton in California–the same place where nearly the entire film of Steven Spielberg’s Duel 1971 was filmed.

Xtro 1983

XTro 1982 is a highly surreal 1982 shocking and imaginative British science fiction horror film considered a ‘video nasty’ directed by Harry Bromley Davenport. The film blends elements of science fiction and horror to create a story that’s both eerie and disturbing.

It begins with the mysterious and sudden return of Sam Phillips (Phillip Sayer), a man who disappeared three years earlier under inexplicable circumstances. His reappearance shocks his wife, Rachel (Bernice Stegers), and their young son, Tony. Sam’s return is unsettling, as he exhibits strange and disturbing behaviors, and his physical condition appears to have been altered dramatically during his absence.

As Rachel and Tony try to come to terms with Sam’s return, they discover that he has been subjected to bizarre extraterrestrial experiments and transformations. Sam’s body now possesses alien abilities, including the power to control and manipulate living organisms in gruesome ways.

This is your EverLovin Joey Sayin’ I’m Xtra sad that this Halloween trailer binge is almost at a close. But don’t snooze yet, Zzzzz! There are two last letters Y & Z to go!

A Trailer a Day Keeps the Boogeyman Away! Halloween A-Z


The Wasp Woman 1959

The Wasp Woman is a 1959 American science fiction horror film that has attained cult status over the years. It was a double-bill with Beast From Haunted Cave 1959, both directed by Roger Corman. The film’s central figure is the head of a cosmetics empire, Susan Cabot (In her final film) who plays Janice Starlin, whose fear of aging leads to her obsession with finding a serum that will restore her youth and beauty.

Janice Starlin, the tightly wound cosmetics tycoon, and former model, finds herself grappling with the harsh reality that her fading beauty is not only wreaking havoc with her love life but also casting a shadow on her once-powerful career. Starlin has always been the beautiful face behind her products and her business has fallen victim to competition lately, the decline of her business is due to newer, more innovative competitors. “Not even Janice Starlin can remain a glamour girl forever.”

At Janice Starlin Enterprises the signs of aging are affecting her appearance and her performance.

Arthur Cooper I’d stay away from wasps if  I were you, Miss Starlin. Socially the queen wasp is on the level with a Black Widow spider. They kill their mates in the same way too! They’re both carnivorous, they paralyze their victims and then take their time devouring them alive. And they kill their mates in the same way, too. Strictly a one-sided romance.

She falls prey to Dr. Eric Zinthrop (Michael Mark), an eccentric self-proclaimed scientist peddling a miracle serum derived from the wasp enzymes, promising to reverse the aging process and restore youthful radiance.

Dr. Zinthrop has developed an experimental serum derived from the royal jelly of the queen wasps, which he believes can reverse the aging process. Janice becomes his test subject and begins taking the serum. Initially, the treatment appears to be a miraculous success, restoring her youth and vitality.

Janice eagerly volunteers as the first human guinea pig for Zinthrop’s experimental injections However, as her physical beauty makes a triumphant return, her secretary, Mary Dennison (Barboura Morris), and her advertising executive Bill Lane (Anthony Eisley) notice a change in her personality, though before taking the injections she wasn’t the nicest, warmest person in the world. Bill and Mary begin to notice the change in Janice’s personality.

Now the transformation from within is turning her into something worse and fate doesn’t look kindly upon her vanity. Zinthrop gets hit by a car he becomes unable to work on his experimental wasp serum anymore. Against Zinthrop’s advice, she proceeds to inject herself with the serum.

With the source of her revitalization cut off, Janice develops a taste for blood and begins to prey on others to maintain her youthful appearance. the transformation takes a startling turn rendering her a creature with wasp-like attributes and a temperament fiercer than a winged little menace with an angry stinger. The metamorphosis leads to dire consequences, as several unfortunate individuals soon discover when they cross paths with the now-menacing Janice who has transformed into a killer wasp-like woman.

There is a dark and unintended side effect: Janice’s transformation into a hideous human-wasp hybrid. As she continues to use the serum, her behavior becomes increasingly erratic and aggressive. For instance, she kills and eats her research and development man Arthur Cooper (William Roerick). Then she kills the night watchman, and then a nurse, devouring her victims whole. Eventually, she tries to slaughter her secretary Mary. Ultimately she is pushed out the window by her ad man Bill Lane.

Of course, the moral is one of contradictions: Women need to retain their youth and beauty to be relevant but when they aspire for this goal they are seen as vain, pathetic, and dangerous.


Susan Cabot’s character plays a woman who takes wasp “royal jelly enzyme” to stay younger. In real life, Cabot suffered from mental illness. She reportedly tried to treat it with human growth hormone, which her son took for dwarfism, but it may have exacerbated her illness. Her son later killed her, reportedly in self-defense after she attacked him during a mental breakdown.

Leo Gordon credited with the screenplay, was married to Lynn Cartwright who plays the receptionist.

The 1964 colorized version has an added 11 minutes where the scientist is fired from his job as beekeeper for testing on wasps instead of bees, which ends up the plot of the movie since he winds up working for Susan Cabot. In the original B&W version, the movie begins with a meeting where Cabot discusses her business failing with underlings… then meets the same doctor in the next scene, where the audience sees him for the first time as well.

Barboura Morris co-starred in one of director Roger Corman’s A Bucket of Blood, where she also played the good girl.

Michael Mark was certainly no stranger to horror movie fans, having appeared in numerous Universal classics, including four Frankenstein films, “The Black Cat,” “Tower of London” and “The Mummy’s Hand,” as well as other studios’ chillers (e.g., “Mad Love,” “The Black Room” and “The Face Behind the Mask”)

The Witches Mirror 1962

I plan on doing a major feature on Urueta’s body of work, and the incredibly atmospheric contributions he made to the Mexican Macabre genre of horror films.

A Masterpiece of the Mexican Horror Movement!  The Witch’s Mirror 1962 (Original title: El espejo de la brujais) is one of the landmark films of the Mexi-horror genre that infuses gothic imagery with a poetic horror story filled with madness, obsession, and gothic horror director by the prolific Chano Urueta. Apparently, the production created a very profitable horror film at the box office, which satisfied even the most elite Mexican critics, after having proven their grasp of what makes an impactful Gothic horror film. The Witches Mirror is a feverish mixture of Alfred Hitchcock’s adaptation of DeMaurier’s Rebecca, and Franju’s Eyes Without a Face.

from The Reinterpretation of Terror: Cine Matografica ABSA and Mexican Gothic by Jose Luis Ortega Torres 2023
”The talent of {writer} the still young Carlos Enrique Taboada wickedly ltwists the plot of The Witches Mirror, a dark entity causes a terrible and selfish evil to punish another equally malevolent one, the exercise of an abhorrent science. Trapped between these forces are two young and beautiful women, both doomed to function as irraparable collateral damage.’

Housemaid Isabela Corona plays a witch Sara is troubled by her godchild’s abusive husband. In order to protect her godchild Elena (Dina de Marco) from her cruel cheating husband (Armando Calvo), an unethical plastic surgeon. She is warned by her enchanted mirror revealing glimpses of the past and the spirit world which she uses to carry out her wicked deeds. The magic in the mirror tells her that he will murder Elena. But the sinister presence that lurks in the reflection is a malevolent force.

Sara’s incantation fails and as predicted Eduardo poisons Elena’s milk, and then winds up taking a new wife Deborah (Rosita Arenas). Eduardo begins to further his descent into malevolence and obsession with restoring her beautiful face.

Read my tribute to Rosita Arenas Here in my Brides of Horror: Scream Queens of the 1960s

Sara is in contact with Elena’s spirit who is out for revenge. When she materializes in the enchanted mirror, so shocked by her ghostly presence, Eduardo knocks over a lamp with burning oil onto Deborah’s face and disfigures her. As a plastic surgeon he seeks to restore his wife’s beauty by experimenting with other young girl’s skin (two years before Georg Franju explored this theme with his grotesque yet poetic Eyes Without a Face 1960 ) but Elena still has a fierce desire for revenge, she haunts him with her nightmarish rage.

This is a beautiful film of the nine Mexican horror films produced by the actor Abel Salazar during the early 1950s through to 1963 (El monstruo resucitado/The Resurrected Monster (1953), El vampiro/The Vampire (1957), El ataúd del Vampiro/The Vampire’s Coffin (1958), El hombre y el monstruo/ The Man and the Monster 1959, El mundo de los vampiros/The World of the Vampires (1961), El espejo de la bruja/The Witch’s Mirror (1962), El baron del terror/ The Brainiac 1962 (my personal favorite) La cabeza viviente/The Living Head (1963) and the beautifully gothic La maldición de la Llorona/The Curse of the Crying Woman 1963 (another favorite of mine),

The Witch’s Mirror is perhaps his most Gothic vision of Chano Urueta’s work influenced by the burgeoning subgenera of European Gothic and Folklorish tableaus. The Italian Gothics, Ricardo Freda’s The Horrible Dr. Hichcock 1962 starring Barbara Steele, the French surgical horrors like Franju’s Les yeux sans visage / Eyes Without a Face 1960, and L’Horrible Docteur Orloff/ The Awful Doctor Orloff 1962, and The Hands of Orlac.

George Stahl Jr.’s striking photography creates a moody atmosphere, not to mention the impressive gothic set designs by Javier Torres Torija. And there are some unsettling elements surrounding Eduardo’s grisly surgeries weaved within the eerie supernatural happenings.

The darkened spaces are set within a sprawling, ominous mansion that serves as the backdrop for much of the story. This mansion is filled with dimly lit, grandiose rooms, long hallways, and hidden chambers. Its architecture and decor are reminiscent of traditional gothic mansions often seen in classic horror films, contributing to the film’s unsettling atmosphere.

The central element of the film, the enchanted mirror, is a quintessential gothic trope. Mirrors are often used in gothic literature and cinema to symbolize duality, self-reflection, and the supernatural. In this case, the mirror serves as a conduit to the spirit world and reveals disturbing glimpses of the past, enhancing the film’s eerie ambiance, the otherworldly dread, and the threat of Eduardo’s stark medical horrors.

Wrestling Women vs. The Aztec Mummy 1964

The Wrestling Women vs. The Aztec Mummy is a 1964 Mexican luchadoras (women wrestling) film directed by René Cardona. It’s the adventures of a trio of Mexican wrestling superheroines: Lorena Velaázquez as Loreta aka Gloria Venus, Elizabeth Campbell as Golden Rubi, and Maria Eugenia San Martin as Chela the Flame.

The mummy Xochitl and her lover Tezomoc can turn into a snake or a bat. Loreta, Golden Ruby, and Chela join forces to battle the evil Prince Fujiyata (Ramón Burgarini) and his Judo wrestlers. Tezomoc is the benevolent mummy who fights alongside the women wrestlers who were edited in from Doctor of Doom in 1963.

Willard 1971

Willard 1971 is a classic example of the emergence of the early 1970s American horror film directed by Daniel Mann. When a socially awkward and isolated young man named Willard Stiles, portrayed by Bruce Davison, develops a peculiar and unsettling relationship with rats all hell breaks loose. The film was remade in 2003 starring Crispin Glover.

Willard’s life takes a dark turn when he is mistreated and abused by his overbearing boss, Mr. Martin, played by Ernest Borgnine. Seeking solace and companionship, Willard befriends a group of rats living in his basement. He develops a strong and strange connection with these rats and discovers that he can communicate and train them to do his bidding.

As Willard’s bond with the rats deepens, he uses them to exact revenge on those who have wronged him, including his tormentor, Mr. Martin. However, his newfound power and obsession with the rats begin to spiral out of control, leading to a series of disturbing and tragic events.

Willard is a character-driven horror film that explores themes of isolation, revenge, and the blurred lines between humanity and the intelligent animal kingdom. Bruce Davison’s performance as Willard Stiles brings a complex and sympathetic portrayal of the character who is simultaneously socially awkward and sympathetic. Davidson a uniquely complex actor’s portrayal is regarded as a highlight of the film because of his outstanding ability to convey, loneliness, frustration, and the need to feel connected. It is this vulnerability that enables him to be a relatable figure despite his unconventional actions.

One of the things that work best aside from the strong performances and the emotional depth of the cast is its claustrophobic, eerie atmosphere and unsettling depiction of the connection between the protagonist and his rodent companions. The film’s success led to a sequel, Ben, which continued the story of the rat-human relationship.

Ernest Borgnine plays Mr. Martin, Willard’s overbearing and antagonistic boss. His portrayal of Mr. Martin is memorable for its abject cruelty as a domineering authority figure. He’s a character the audience loves to hate, and you cheer for the rats when it’s time for his comeuppance. Mr. Martin’s mistreatment of Willard serves as a catalyst for the events of the film. His actions drive Willard to seek revenge when he summons the army of his loyal rat friends. Full disclosure: I had an amazing pet rat named Gunther whom I loved dearly. She was a good companion and even my cats got along with her. I dread cruelty to rats in horror films.

Welcome to Arrow Beach 1974

Welcome to Arrow Beach also known as “Tender Flesh,” is a brutal exploitation horror film from 1974. An  American psychological thriller directed by actor Laurence Harvey. The film is known for its dark and unsettling themes and boasts a great cast of ’70s actors including Stuart Whitman (Read my tribute to Whitman HERE:), and John Ireland.

Ghostly-eyed Meg Foster plays Robbin Stanley a free-spirited hippie wandering on a California beach and seduced by a Korean War veteran to come stay at his secluded mansion nearby with his sister Joanna. Robbin soon begins to suspect that the mansion is hiding a disturbing and violent secret. 

Laurence Harvey’s character is a disturbed man named Jason Henry. Henry is a Vietnam War veteran who is suffering from severe psychological trauma.

Beauty from the 1970s, Joanna Pettet, and a particular favorite actress of mine from that decade portrays Grace, Jason Henry’s sister. While on vacation at the remote Arrow Beach. takes pity on Henry when she realizes the extent of his mental illness and agrees to help him find his way back to society. Little does she know that Henry’s instability runs deeper than she could have imagined.

Haunted by his experiences in the war, which have left him emotionally scarred, and unhinged, he has become a murderous cannibal. Soon she discovers the disturbing and violent nature of Henry’s condition, and her own safety becomes increasingly threatening.

Welcome to Arrow Beach uses Henry’s character to shed light on the harrowing and long-lasting effects of war trauma on veterans, illustrating how such experiences can lead to PTSD’s profound psychological trauma and suffering.

Meg Foster is an American actress known for her distinctive features, including striking blue eyes, which have made her a memorable presence in film and television. She has had a diverse and extensive career, with notable roles in various genres. Here are some aspects of Meg Foster’s acting, often praised for her intense and focused performances.

She has appeared in horror films like “Masters of the Universe” (1987), where she portrayed the villainous Evil-Lyn, as well as dramas like “The Osterman Weekend” (1983) and her collaboration in 2012 with Rob Zombie and his outer violent and grotesque The Lords of Salem. She has earned the right to be called one of the reigning contemporaries of Scream Queen for her appearances in a slew of horror films including the most recent horror film The Accursed and Hellblazers in 2022, There’s No Such Thing as Vampires 2019, Jeepers Creepers 3 in 2017, 31 in 2016, Stepfather II Make Room For Daddy and Relentless 1989, They Live 198, and The Wind 1986.

Joanna Pettet’s character is also subjected to a nightmarish and psychologically challenging situation.

Pettet’s character, Joanna, is initially depicted as compassionate and caring. She takes pity and protectiveness for her mentally disturbed brother.

Joanna Pettet is a British-American actress who had a notable career in film and television during the 1960s and 1970s. With her incredibly unique and striking look, she began as a fashion model, before she made the transition to acting. She made her film debut in 1964 with a small role in the British drama The Third Secret.

But her breakthrough gained Pettet significant attention for her role in the 1966 film The Group, (a guilty pleasure of mine in what would be considered a ‘women’s picture’ based on the best-selling novel by Mary McCarthy. Her performance as Kay, who is subjected to spousal abuse and gaslighting by husband Larry Hagman. She is just one of the ensemble cast of incredible actors garnering her critical acclaim and establishing her as a rising talent. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Joanna Pettet appeared in a series of notable films, including “Robbery” (1967), “The Night of the Generals” (1967), and “The Evil” (1978). She ventured into television appearing in the haunting episode of Night Gallery – The Girl With the Hungry Eyes directed by John Badham.

Without Warning 1980

Without Warning is a 1980 science fiction horror film that has a certain compelling low-budget aura that emerged in the earlier horror science hybrids of the early 1980s. The film is directed by Greydon Clark and features two great actors, Jack Palance and Martin Landau who would go on to appear together in the black comedy horror film Alone in the Dark in 1982 directed by Jack Sholder. I was supposed to interview him a few years ago, but we lost touch. I really need to make that happen.

In a peaceful and remote forested area, where a group of campers and vacationers find themselves terrorized by a deadly extraterrestrial creature. This alien being is equipped with a variety of lethal weapons, including razor-sharp discs and tentacles that it uses to hunt and kill humans.

As the group of unsuspecting individuals tries to survive and evade the relentless alien predator, they must band together and find a way to fight back against this otherworldly menace.

This is your EverLovin’ Joey Sayin’ Woe letter W, we need to take cover! The letter X is on our trail!

A Trailer a Day Keeps the Boogeyman Away! Halloween A-Z


The Vampire and the Ballerina 1960


The Vampire and the Ballerina also known as “L’amante del vampiro,” is a 1960 Italian horror film directed by Renato Polselli. The film is notable for its blend of vampire lore and dance elements.

In a remote European village, a ballet troupe arrives at a doctor’s house that lies at the edge of a nearby castle to rehearse. The castle however is inhabited by vampires who seek to use the girl’s blood.

Among the dancers is a beautiful ballerina named Louisa played by Hélène Rémy. The village is rumored to be cursed by the vampires who live in the old ruins. As the ballet troupe rehearses for their performance, they become entangled in a series of gruesome murders.

The Vulture 1966

The Vulture 1966 is a British horror film directed by Lawrence Huntington. It’s an obscure offbeat horror film that has a strange vibe that to me almost feels like a strange fuzzy dream you don’t want to bother resorting to Jung to figure out. It is set in The film stars Robert Hutton( Man Without a Body 1957, Invisible Invaders 1959, The Slime People 1963, Trog 1970).

Read my feature on Invisible Invaders HERE:

An American atomic researcher Eric Lutens escapes to Cornwall to take a break from work and visit with his wife Trudy’s (Diane Clair) family.

In the heart of this chilling tale, a mythological creature emerges— with the face and hands of a human but the imposing colossal body of a monstrous vulture that rises up from its grave having been buried alive centuries ago and moved to an old church cemetery, now seeks vengeance on the descendants on those who put it there.

A school teacher Annette Carrell as Ellen West cutting through the church graveyard during a stormy night is frightened beyond belief and the shock sends her hair ghostly white and leaves her in a mental hospital raving mad with her unreal story telling it to anyone who will listen. The livestock are inextricably going missing, one of the local sheep is found torn to bits in a cave.

The unearthing of a golden coin and the revelation of an open grave cast an eerie spotlight on an unusual local legend. Many centuries in the past, a man named Francis Real had fallen under suspicion of practicing witchcraft. He met a gruesome fate, being seized and buried alive alongside his peculiar companion—a strange vulture-like bird along with a chest filled with valuable gold coins.

The ominous tale went on to recount that Francis Real had sworn an oath to exact revenge upon the descendants of the local squire who had supervised his burial. This unsettling revelation deeply troubles Eric, as it turns out that the cursed man had been an ancestor of Trudy’s, sending chills down their spines as they grapple with the implications of this ominous family connection.

A vigilant gamekeeper catches the faint echo of what appears to be a remarkably large bird flying over the estate owned by Trudy’s eldest surviving relative, Brian Stroud (Broderick Crawford). Intrigued he discovers a mysterious black feather on the ground.

Eric sends it to a renowned expert specializing in local avian species. His hope is that this expert can shed light on the identity of the bird, this feather belongs to. Enter Akim Tamiroff as Professor Koniglich, a local historian who needs to get around using two canes as a result of an accident. He has had dealings with Brian over the years.

Additionally, we meet Brian’s brother, Edward (Gordon Sterne) who resides in a nearby town. Koniglich listens intently to Eric’s story and hints at being intrigued by science. Eric, who works with research on atomic mutation theorizes that someone has been experimenting which ultimately created this giant monstrous bird that carries off Crawford in its gigantic vulture-like talons.

Eric panics and realizes that Trudy is the creature’s next victim. Without a moment to lose, he races back to the quiet Cornish town, but it’s a race against time as Trudy is suddenly snatched from a desolate road near the Professor’s house. The menacing beast with large claws descends from above and snatches her away.

When he gets to the Professor’s and uncovers the astonishing secret concealed within the basement—an advanced nuclear-powered laboratory. There he finds a skeleton seated at a control panel, alongside a casket that has been broken open containing the gold coins. It appears that the Professor, driven by his obsession with his lust for gold, used his equipment to switch his matter with what lay inside the buried coffin.

But the Professor’s experiment backfired when his atoms mingled with the remains of the bird, resulting in the emergence of a grotesque composite creature that had broken free from its grave.

Making his way to the hidden cave nestled within the cliffs, he confronts the Professor who in a twist is unmasked as having a colossal bird-like body concealed beneath the cloak he had always worn. The reason for the canes. In a climactic showdown, Eric shoots the creature and stumbles into the sea below the cliffs.

Vampire Circus 1972

The Circus of Nights. A hundred delight!

Vampire Circus 1972 is an extraordinarily underrated atmospheric British horror film directed by Robert Young. A village in 19th-century Europe is more than happy to welcome a traveling circus who has broken through the quarantine to take the locals’ minds off the plague. But soon their children begin to disappear and the legacy of a long-ago massacre comes full circle. Vampire Circus stars Adrience Corri as the enigmatic Gypsy and Anthony Higgens as the equally beguiling Emil. John Moulder-Brown as Anton Kersh, Richard Owens as Dr. Kersh, Laurence Payne as Albert Mueller, Thorley Walters as the Burgermeister, Lynn Frederick as Dora Mueller, Domini Blyth as Anna and Mary Wimbush as Elvira.

The story is set in a small European village plagued by a deadly outbreak of the plague. The villagers, fearing for their lives, decide to quarantine the town and prevent anyone from entering or leaving. However, a mysterious and theatrical circus that create a fairytale atmosphere once it arrives in the village, seemingly out of nowhere.

The circus, led secretly by the enigmatic Count Mitterhaus, played by Robert Tayman, becomes a source of fascination and curiosity for the villagers. Little do they know that this circus is no ordinary one. It is a front for a group of vampires who have come to the village to satisfy their thirst for blood and revenge. It’s been 15 years since the village slain the evil Count Mitterhause, yet they have been living under his shadow ever since. A plague has left them cut off from the world and they believe the Count has cursed them.

The circus finally seems to bring a little joy into the lives of these tormented souls performing acrobatics, and feats of magic changing themselves into animals. But this traveling horror show has come to avenge their Count’s death and use of the blood of their victims to resurrect him from his tomb.

As the circus performances unfold, the vampires use their supernatural abilities to seduce and feed upon the villagers, leading to a series of gruesome deaths. Among the victims is the village teacher’s daughter, whose death prompts her father and a group of locals to confront the malevolent circus and its colorful performing vampires.

Alternatie versions:
The BBFC examiners originally required heavy cuts to the film but many of these were successfully waived after Hammer consulted BBFC head Stephen Murphy. Among the cuts were shots of Hauser’s burnt face (reduced from 2 to 1), a face stabbing during the opening skirmish in the castle (removed completely), some bloody shots during the climactic decapitation, the whipping of Gerta, erotic elements of the circus ‘whip’ dance, and shots of the mutilated panther victims in the forest. However the latter scenes seem to have been reduced rather than cut, leaving the results somewhat ambiguous. It is unlikely that the cut footage still survives, and all later video and DVD releases feature the UK cinema print.

 This is your EverLovin’ Joey Sayin’ V is for our Victory over that Boogeyman! Now wait a minute… I think I hear the soft and eerie Wailing of the letter W!