BRIDES OF HORROR – Scream Queens of the 1960s! 🎃 Part 1

This special The Last Drive in Halloween Feature will conclude with Part 4 and it’s primary focus exclusively on the great Barbara Steele!

‘through the complex changes in society surrounding traditional female roles using the ambivalence of the horror genre’ – Claudia Bunce

The 1960s were plagued by controversy and convulsed with violence. Horror cinema with the exception of Hammer Studio and European filmmakers colorful pageantry of Gothic tales, and the colorful dreamlike poetry of Mario Bava, transitioned mostly from classical themes. In the 1950s, B-horror movie narratives were concerned with outside hostile forces, alien invasions, fear of nuclear war, but the new decade began to explore more interior horror that originated in the home and within ourselves. And many of these movies stand out as women-centric protagonists…

“Widely interpreted as a pivotal moment in the horror genre. Suggestive that monstrosity must be defined as inherent to the bourgeois family structure rather than an arcane social aberration: the crimes of Norman Bates can be read as the consequence of the sexually active mother, not unlike Marian Crane. The film is profoundly subversive.” – source unknown

After Riccardo Freda abandoned Black Sunday, the project went to cinematographer Mario Bava and became his directorial debut. The film was the start of the director’s momentous contribution to the genre with his masterful grasp of mise en scené composition, allegorical visual symbolism imagery, and the bold use of expressionist color, vivid tones and spectrum of light. Bava directed Kill, Baby Kill! 1966 featuring a ghostly little blonde girl (actually a boy actor) with a white ball that is the creepy harbinger of a series of violent deaths.

Mario Bava unleashed on us his very dark hearted black & white Black Sunday in 1960 with jolting scenes of death and a new horror goddess, the provocative, wide eyed- Barbara Steele. During the decade of the 60s, Steele’s ascendance within the genre was part of a broader trend in horror cinema that echoed the real world. Her strong presence and instinct to captivate our gaze, stood head to head with male horror stars Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing during that period of horror cinema. Barbara Steele inhabited the haunted screen with such a formidable primacy, there’s no disputing she is the ultimate scream queen.

The Italian movie industry of the 1960s saw a wave of of Italian gothic chillers. Bava’s Blood and Black Lace 1964 is best remembered as the first ‘Giallo’ a particularly savage trademark of murder mysteries.

Riccardo Freda directed The Horrible Dr. Hichcock 1962 and The Ghost 1963, Margheriti’s beautifully orchestrated, eerily atmospheric ghost story Castle of Blood and Ciano’s Nightmare Castle 1965. All starring Barbara Steele.

Roger Corman established himself as a successful director. Of course maverick film maker Corman showered us with some of the best campy low budget sc-fi / horror films of the 1950s, and in the 60s we were reintroduced to the splendid Poe adaptations in a series of vivid films of glorious terror and dread, with Daniel Haller’s gorgeous hallucinogenic art direction. These films are a series of Gothic masterpieces, – House of Usher 1960, Pit and the Pendulum 1961 and Masque of the Red Death 1964, featuring Hazel Court, another icon of 60s horror, who would command the screen with her fiery sensuality, flexing her bloodlust to offer herself up as Satan’s bride in Red Death.

Corman established himself as a successful director his landscapes as Rodrick Usher says are as a ‘feverish and deranged mind’ with his colorful more substantial yet still low-budget homages to Poe’s series of horror tales. With screenplays by Richard Matheson and cinematography by Floyd Crosby. Reaching it’s artistic peak with Masque of the Red Death. Many of the women in his Poe series, features a more incendiary female character. The horror genre especially from the 60s forward would prove to have more provocative roles for women, since the femme fatale reigned during the time of film noir.

Instead of the restrained earlier decades, the 60s held up a mirror to the decades social turbulence and reflected back to us, with subversive storytelling, it’s edgy gore and taboo breaking narratives that fed a whole new audience who were hungry for more realistic and challenging scenarios. A new vanguard of filmmakers shattered traditional boundaries that restrained the on-screen violence and sexuality.

Women’s roles in classical horror films of the 1930s & 40s (to my memory for now), with the exception of Elsa Lanchester as the Bride, and Gloria Holden as Countess Marya Zaleska in Dracula’s Daughter, initiated most of the leading ladies and supporting actresses, as easily fainting from fright, who screamed with hollow innocence, projecting reductive nuances of helplessness.

Still, there were established directors such as Alfred Hitchcock who caught wind of the changes, inspired by Clouzot’s le Diabolique 1955 and impressed by William Castle’s popular run of low-budget horror formula (albeit with it’s use of gimmickry).

Psycho 1960 would be set in safe and secure American suburbia instead of the imposing castles of Europe. The clean-cut serial killer would eclipse the caped swarthy vampire as the screen’s new boogeyman. Yet Marion’s ascendancy is as much a major element of the narrative as Norman Bates’ psychopathy!

Hitchcock offered us the bold cautionary, The Birds, a film Fellini referred to as “an apocalyptic poem” featuring a beautiful woman perceived as a she-devil that ushered in the natural world’s revolt.

FROM BARBARA CREED THE MONSTROUS FEMININE:

“Melanie Daniels in The Birds is a single woman in her thirties drifting – who must go through a trial by fire which she suffers, is humiliated and lectured to lower her defenses. She is an outsider who is being shown how social behavior becomes physically agonizing.”

The stark black & white Psycho 1960 based on real life serial killer, Ed Gein, pushed the boundaries of the Production Code with it’s shocking scenes of murder and inflected frames of Janet Leigh’s bra and slip. Leigh’s 30 minute on-screen persona of the immoral Marion Crane was a diverging representation of the traditional leading lady.

The decade also signaled a multitude of black & white psychological thrillers. Hammer split off some of it’s focus on the gory period pieces- translations of the Frankenstein, Dracula and Mummy, and jumped on the Psycho bandwagon with films like Scream of Fear 1961, Maniac 1963, Nightmare 1964, Hysteria 1965, Die! Die! My Darling! 1965 starring Tallulah Bankhead as the menacing Mrs. Trafoil, not a Medieval crone but a modern day unleashed psychopath. And, The Nanny 1965 with Bette Davis, coming off of her pair of shockers by director Robert Aldrich, plays a sinister governess terrorizing young William Dix.

After Baby Jane, the industry was rife with menacing Hollywood starlets. I’ll be writing about the shattering the myth of Hag Cinema, down the road. Robert Aldrich set in motion a trend of psychological horror films after he paired Bette Davis and Joan Crawford together in what is considered campy, outrageous at times, sickening – What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? 1962. It was a watershed moment for the genre.

Crawford and Davis in particular in Aldrich’s films made the bold and courageous decision to act under harsh white lights, in grotesque make up and willing to immerse herself into a character -eccentric, cringingly childish and utterly sadistic.

After Baby Jane, Aldrich followed up with Davis, de Havilland and Agnes Moorehead in Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte 1964. Crawford worked with William Castle on Strait-Jacket 1964, and Geraldine Page played a greedy murderess in What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice? Co-starring Ruth Gordon. Shelley Winters appeared as the maniacal villainess in the fable like Who Slew Auntie Roo? 1969 and Winters, Debbie Reynolds and Moorehead in 1971 topped it off with Harrington’s What’s the Matter with Helen? A personal favorite of mine.

The second wave of the feminist movement and the emergence and impact began with Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique, giving 50s suburban housewives a different vision of domestic enslavement and began to disassemble the myth of that decade’s family values. The quaint and complacent sentiment of post WW2 comfortability became subverted by empowered women who broke free and found new independence reigniting the Monstrous Feminine giving permission to women as represented more freely in film, with more prominent parts, especially fostered in… the horror genre.

The 60s subverted the expectations surrounding the traditional housewife roles. Witches could be well bred housewives like Janet Blair in Burn Witch Burn 1962 or a malevolent ingénue, Sharon Tate in Eye of the Devil 1966.

“The housewife witches of Burn, Witch, Burn and Season of the Witch use witchcraft to escape the confines of the domestic sphere and subvert their husbands’ patriarchal power. Then there is the cult leader witch of Eye of the Devil who uses her femininity to intimidate traditional societal gender roles” – Claudia Bunce

Significant films like Robert Wises’ The Haunting 1963, was suggestive of lesbianism and repressed sexuality, stars two very significant central female characters, Julie Harris and Claire Bloom who give intensely complex and reflexive performances. Bloom as the stylish and extraordinarily self-composed Theo is a truly independent woman who lives life on her own terms. There isn’t anyone who wouldn’t shiver while at the mercy of the malevolent forces of Hill House. Director Georges Franju’s Eyes Without a Face (The French title Les Yeux sans Visage) 1960 has perhaps one of the most graphic scenes of horror, a gruesome fairytale with it’s medical experimentation with facial transplantation and a lead actress, Edith Scob with her macabre blank mask who floats around the halls like a lost princess swallowed up inside a night terror. The film also stars a stoic Alida Valli, a strong ally to the twisted plastic surgeon in search of a new face for his daughter.

Jack Clayton’s adaptation of Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw, became a screenplay by William Archibald, The Innocents 1961’ lead actress Deborah Kerr lies wide open with her distillation of a woman tortured by her sexual paranoia. Dressed in classical clothes unlike Deneuve’s role in Repulsion, where her character Carol’s neurosis is flayed and hung out naked on display.

And most significantly, the female centric role for Mia Farrow as the allegorical heroine Rosemary Woodhouse, hunted down by a coven of upper west side devil worshipers in Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby 1968. Farrow’s performance is a striking denunciation of control over women’s body’s, a slow burn of paranoia and strong instinct for survival.

“but when he (Guy Woodhouse) took control of her reproductive functions, he asserted his dominance over her in the darkest way possible.

Assertion of dominance reinforced his masculinity and the traditional role that men had in relationships. Guy’s taking control assuages the fear of women gaining too much independence.” – From Jenna Labbie damsels in Distress Analyzing gender in horror movies of the 1960s and 70s

Polanski’s earlier released Repulsion 1965 strayed from Hitchcock’s black humor drizzled about in Psycho. Repulsion rather, has a sense of nightmarish realism and a protagonist, Catherine Deneuve who goes down a rabbit hole of repressive seizures.

Repulsion is an extremely disturbing contemplation on the destructive forces of loneliness, isolation and paranoia seen through the lens of a sexually repressed young women, Carol who suffers a homicidal breakdown while her sister and married lover leave her alone for a long weekend. An exit from the cheeky dark humor of Hitchcock’s Psycho, Repulsion brushes the screen with strokes of Carol’s existential misery.

Michael Powell’s groundbreaking shocker Peeping Tom is a hauntingly twisted mood piece about a serial killer Karl Bohm who films his victims in the last moments of their death to capture their fear. It features two very strong female leads, Anna Massey and Maxine Audley.

Mexican fright flicks abound with atmospheric gems like The Curse of the Crying Woman 1963, The Brainiac 1961 and The Witch’s Mirror 1962, featured strong female centric characters played by Rosita Arenas and Rita Macedo. And in Jack Hill’s oddball black comedy Spider Baby 1967 benefitted by the quirky presence of both Beverly Washburn and Jill Banner as two bizarre, homicidal sisters.

Luana Anders features significantly in the genre, highlighted in Coppola’s Dementia 13 as the independent yet ruthless Louise Halloran and as prostitute Sylvia in Robert Altman’s psycho-sexual thriller That Cold Day in the Park 1969. The film stars one of my favorite underrated actors, Sandy Dennis who gives a stunning performance as the disturbed Francis Austen, who holds Michael Burns hostage.

George Romero broke ground with the brutal realism of Night of the Living Dead 1968 which has not so indirect social relevance. 60s horror films were breaking away from Hollywood and being forged by gutsy independent filmmakers with smaller budgets, and an imaginative longing to experiment with diversity, artistic style and a divergent way to visualize and process gender roles outside traditional cultural norms.

Barbara Shelley

The Queen of Hammer

Ryan Gilbey, in her obituary in The Guardian praises Shelley’s acting in the Hammer films, considering that she had “a grounded, rational quality that instantly conferred gravitas on whatever lunatic occurrences were unfolding around her.”

The world lost Barbara Shelley in January 2021 at the age of 88. With hair like paprika Barbara Shelley was born Barbara Kowin. A glamorous gothic leading lady, considered to be the ‘Queen of Hammer’ during the studio’s golden age of Gothic horror. A classical beauty, with an air of elegance and self-assuredness, she has co-starred with other Hammer royalty Christoper Lee and Peter Cushing. Shelley was an actress with such integrity and beauty that she transcended the horror genre.

The London-based production company, founded in 1934 by William Hinds and James Carrera’s who made a string of hit Gothic horror films from the mid-1950s until the 1970s. Inspired by classic horror characters like Baron Victor Frankenstein, Count Dracula and the Mummy and appeared in 104 films and television series until 2000. She was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company between 1975 and 1977.

From Wiki-
{Hammer reintroduced to audiences by filming them in vivid colour for the first time. Hammer also produced science fiction, thrillers, film noir and comedies, as well as, in later years, television series. During its most successful years, Hammer dominated the horror film market, enjoying worldwide distribution and considerable financial success.}

“Hammer was like a family, a very talented family… with a wonderful atmosphere on the set and a wonderful sense of humour”

“When I first started doing Hammer, all the so-called classic actors looked down on the horror film. All the other things I did, nobody remembers those. But the horror films, I’m very grateful to them because they built me a fan base, and I’m very touched that people will come and ask for my autograph. If you went to see a [Hammer] film in the cinema, the gasps were interspersed with giggles because people were giggling at themselves for being frightened, they were frightening themselves; and this is what made Hammer very special.”

With her success as a teenage model she made her minor film debut in Hammer’s motion picture Mantrap in 1952 directed by Terence Fisher and starring Paul Henreid and Lois Maxwell.

Shelley took her screen name from Italian actor Walter Chiari who saw something in the actress and suggested that she use the last name as a tribute to his favorite English romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. She wound up living in Rome for four years and appeared in nine Italian speaking films.

She returned to the UK in 1957, starring that year for British Lion Film in her first starring role within the horror genre as Leonora Johnson née Brandt in Cat Girl (1957), directed by Alfred Shaughnessy who set out to borrow from Jacques Tourneur’s superior, and innovative Cat People (1942.) Leonora Johnson returns to her ancestral home that is beset with the family curse, that she will be possessed by the spirit of a leopard. The film was a collaboration between American International Pictures and the British Anglo-Amalgamated.

Her first starring vehicle was Cat Girl (1957), Alfred Shaughnessy’s offbeat variation of Jacques Tourneur’s influential Cat People (1942) and A.I.P.’s first co-production with the UK’s Anglo-Amalgamated. The following year she made her first major appearance in a film for Hammer The Camp on Blood Island.

In 1958, she co-starred as a woman in peril at the hands of mad scientist Callistratus (Donald Wolfit). In Blood of the Vampire, Shelley is the picture of fainting beauty chained to the wall, a garish period piece in line with the days of Universal’s classic horrors though scattered with gory scenes satiated by fake blood and understated cleavage.

In 1880 Transylvania Dr Calistratus is brought back to life by his one eyed hunchback assistant Carl, after he’d been executed as a vampire. At the same time Dr. John Pierre (Vincent Ball) is on trial for killing one of his patients whom he tried to save with a blood transfusion. He is found guilty and sentenced to life. Barbara Shelley plays fiancee Madeleine, set on finding the truth behind the incriminating letter allegedly proving his guilt, forged by Calistratus.

He is brought to a prison for the criminally insane by the mad doctor’s hunchback Carl. John is put in a cell, a menacing place guarded by vicious dogs, where Calastratus experiments and tortures his human subjects. In order to prove John’s innocence Madeleine poses as Calastratus’ housekeeper who winds up chained to a wall and strapped to an operating table!

Shelley was against her body being exploited or appearing in any nude scenes while being menaced by Wolfit. She warded off this endeavor by producers Robert S. Baker and Monty Berman by writing the word “STOP” on her chest. She threatened to sue the studio if it even used a body double.

“I had one or two dissertations on horror sent to me by students, and all the discussion ever seems to be concerned with is exploitation and the licking of blood and a scene of people making love, and it’s not right. It annoys me intensely, because my career was not built on exploitation and sex. It was built on working very hard.”

In 1960, she is marvelous in a heartbreaking role of the tragic mother Anthea Zellerby who has given birth to an unfeeling monstrous alien boy who has uncanny dangerous powers along with the rest of the children of Midwich. All the mothers in Midwich have conceived during a strange blackout where they wind up giving birth to a breed of malevolent telepathic sociopaths.

Shelley’s character is earnest in the role of a woman torn between motherhood and sheer terror in director Wolf Rilla’s incredibly unsettling moody classic blend of science fiction and horror-Village of the Damned (1960) based on John Wyndham’s science fiction novel The Midwich Cucoos. The film co-stars George Sanders as Shelley’s altruistic husband Gordon, who seeks to understand the menacing children with their freaky white hair and piercing eyes and his creepy son David played by Martin Stephans. These dangerous little progeny can get inside people’s minds and make them do anything they want, as in making Shelley’s character stick her hand in a pot of boiling water. The screenplay written by Stirling Sillipant is quite a disturbing pot boiler it total.

She went on to star in John Gilling’s turn-of-the-century old dark house mystery Shadow of the Cat (1961)

Some of the outstanding pictures that put her upon the thrown as the reigning Queen of those splendid years of Gothic horror are Dracula: Prince of Darkness 1966, Rasputin the Mad Monk 1966 with Christopher Lee and The Gorgon 1964 with Peter Cushing. The monstrous Gorgon portrayed by Prudence Hyman.

“She really was Hammer’s number one leading lady and the Technicolor queen of Hammer.
“On-screen she could be quietly evil. She goes from statuesque beauty to just animalistic wildness… She adored Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing and loved working with them, that was very dear to her.”-Agent, Thomas Bowington

What truly established Barbara Shelley’s esteemed reputation as the First Lady of British horror in the mid 1960s is her collaboration with Terence Fisher. Leaving behind the more exploitative persona of the luscious heroine with inviting bosoms Shelley portrayed the sympathetic character of Carla Hoffman in Fisher’s mood piece The Gorgon. Carla is the assistant to Dr. Namaroff (Peter Cushing), and a tortured soul possessed by an ancient evil spirit with serpents for hair and the ability to turn whoever gazes upon her to stone, and Shelley conveys the bleakness of a woman who is held captive by her monstrous alter ego.

Before Shelley turns in a blood sucking bride of Dracula, she plays her first woman transformed into a monster in The Gorgon (1964). She told the studio “I wouldn’t need any makeup… just a green face and the headdress of real snakes.” Shelley absolutely let down when she saw what the special effects department conjured up, “They came up with these terrible sorts of rubber snakes dancing around and it just looked awful. It wasn’t frightening at all.” She had said that it was “probably the biggest regret I’ve had in any film I ever made.”

She was absolutely dejected when they chose to substitute Prudence Hyman in the part of the Gorgon, “They came up with these terrible sorts of rubber snakes dancing around, and it just looked awful. It wasn’t frightening at all.” She called it “probably the biggest regret I’ve had in any film I ever made” though she admired the look of the picture, noting that “every shot … resembles a Rembrandt painting.”

In Dracula: Prince of Darkness 1966, Christopher Lee resurrects the count from Horrors of Dracula 1958. Shelley plays Helen the heroine whom we empathize with as she is trapped by her circumstances, when her stubborn husband Alan (who dismisses Helen’s panic) and his brother Charles, both refuse to leave the creepy unwelcoming Castle Dracula after stumbling onto the unattended mausoleum.

They want to stay and partake in a meal laid out for them, but Helen is justifiably spooked by it’s strange undercurrent. “Everything about this place is evil”.

Once Christopher Lee’s resurrection, Helen goes through a diverging transformation from the archetypal repressed  female to an unrestrained raptorial vampiress liberated from her proper English breeding, in high contrast to her tight upswung hair in a provincial hat, was now wide open with unwound flowing hair and unequivocal breastage. Shelley loved how distinct her character’s trajectory was in Dracula: Prince of Darkness. From inhibited, startled gentlewoman to the monstrous feminine as one of Dracula’s brides. When she appears at Karlsbad Castle, telling Suzan Farmer, “nothing’s wrong” through hungry red lips baring fangs. “Come sister, You don’t need Charles…” she tempts, with inviting arms outstretched to the innocent Suzan Farmer as Diana. Shelley’s virtuous woman who reveals to her Diana that she is now a vampire is lauded by Gilbey in The Guardian as having “traumatised and tantalised” viewers.

Shelley’s scream in Dracula is actually dubbed by fellow actress Suzan Farmer (Die Monster Die! 1965 with Boris Karloff) who appeared with her in Dracula: Prince of Darkness and Rasputin The Mad Monk.

In a terrifying scene perhaps inspiring Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot, has Helen tapping on the window in the middle of the night. “Please let me in,” she pleads. “It’s cold out here. So cold. Everything’s all right now.”

She was delighted by one of her most potent scenes -as when she contends with her adversaries – monks who lie her on a table and hammer a stake through her undead heart.

Shelley told Mark Gatiss in his 2010 documentary series A History of Horror, “The scene that I’m most proud of is when she is staked that’s absolute evil when she’s struggling and then suddenly she’s staked and there is tremendous serenity. And I think that is one of my best moments on the film.”

“… and then suddenly she’s staked, and there is tremendous serenity. And I think that is one of my best moments on film.”

“Christopher Lee, who was an eloquent Gothic figure of pure evil in 1958’s first adaptation of Stoker’s vampire, had now evolved into a hissing fiend. But Shelley had this to say about the actor -“He brought dignity and veritas. It’s a difficult thing to bring to a fantasy like a vampire. And that is just Chris’ appearance and his personality. He did all that. He used to walk onto the sent and I’d say to him it’s an extraordinary performance, cause we know eather other so well and you could hypnotize me. But it was brilliant because he completely dominated the film without a word. Talk about silent movies!”

Shot at the same time was another Hammer horror, Rasputin the Mad Monk with Christopher Lee has dialogue in a more colorful, lurid role, as the mad mesmerist in contrast to his silent, blood eyed fiend. Shelley falls under the spell of Rasputin. While not willing to do a nude scene in Blood of the Vampire, she was however up to laying bare a seduction scene with Christoper Lee. “That scene was in the script when I read it. The scenes I refused to do was when they would suddenly say to me ‘Oh, you take your clothes off here’ The answer to that was always no” – From an interview with Fangoria Magazine 2010.

One of her beloved roles is her last Hammer feature in Roy Ward Baker’s adaption of writer Nigel Kneale’s (The Quatermass Experiment 1955, First Men in the Moon 1964, The Witches 1966, The Stone Tape 1972 TV movie) Quatermass and the Pit 1967.

In Quatermass and the Pit, Shelley portrays scientist Barbara Judd who along with paleontologist Doctor Roney (James Donald) and a team of scientists discover an ancient alien race whose spacecraft is found buried in the underground station at Hobbs End during an expansion of London’s Underground transport system. Shelley develops a psychic link to the aliens and is taken over by the inhabitants of the alien spacecraft.

She is subjected to images of green gooey decomposing locust like alien carcasses who in the process of being removed from the tunnels cause her brain to succumb to the electro-magnetic influence of the spacecraft, causing her to writhe in pain. She is so totally reasonable as an actress that she brings credibility to her character. Shelly had claimed that director Roy Ward Baker was her favorite of all the filmmakers she worked with.

The way he felt about her goes like this. He told Bizarre Magazine in a 1974 interview that he was ‘mad about her. “Mad in the sense of love,” he said. “We used to waltz about the set together, a great love affair. It puzzles me about her. She should be much bigger than she is, but I don’t think she really cares whether she is a star or not. She can act, God, she can act!”

In The Avengers 1961 image: Studio Canal

Barbara Shelley would eventually do guest appearances on popular television shows including British television series Doctor Who playing Sorasta in the episode “Planet Of Fire,” starring Peter Davison as the fifth incarnation of Doctor Who. She would also appear on The Saint, The Avengers, The Man From U.N.C.L.E, and Route 66. Later she would play Hester Samuels in “EastEnders.”

Shelley’s final role in horror films was in the old dark house mystery Ghost Story 1974 directed by Stephen Weeks co-starring Marianne Faithful.

Her final role on screen was in the Uncle Silas mini series in 1989. A sinister character brought to life on screen by Derrick De Marney in 1947 with Jean Simmons in the role of Caroline.

Although Shelley ultimately felt framed in within the horror genre by the late 1960s, retiring two decades later, she always embraced her devoted fanbase and left behind a a substantial legacy. “I realised that my work had been appreciated and that I had – through those horror films – acturally reached a far bigger audience than I would ever have done if I’d stuck to the theater.”

The actress was modest about her achievements but happy with her legacy, as she conveyed with typical aplomb to Marcus Hearn: “There’s a lovely saying – we’re given memories so we can have roses in winter. When I look back over my various rose gardens, I’m only sorry I didn’t enjoy them more”.

“No one told me I was beautiful. They said I was photogenic but no one said I was beautiful. If they had I would have had a lot more fun!”

In an interview with the Express newspaper in 2009, she said she was told at a convention by female fans that they loved her for her strong roles. “Which I thought was a brilliant thing to have said about one. I never thought of it in that way. The fact that I’m still getting mail from my horror fan base really touches me.”

TRIVIA

While making the 1961 TV film, A Story of David, she met Hollywood star Jeff Chandler and they began a relationship. Chandler died suddenly the following year. Shelley is later reported to have said that he had been the love of her life

So convincing was Shelley’s violently realistic struggle against the stake, she swallowed one of her stuck-on fangs.

With no spares at the ready and a tight shooting schedule, it is reported that she kept drinking salt water until she puked it up.

After the scene in Dracula: Prince of Darkness where she struggles with the monks at the end with her demise, it was so physically demanding on Shelley, that she suffered from chronic back pain.

Barbara Shelley would recall how she and Lee, prided themselves on being “un-corpseable”, and would compete to make one another laugh during takes.

Cat Girl 1957, Blood of the Vampire 1958, VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED 1960 THE GORGON 1964,  DRACULA PRINCE OF DARKNESS 1966, RASPUTIN THE MAD MONK 1966, QUATERMASS AND THE PIT 1967

HAZEL COURT

The Twilight Zone ‘The Fear’ Season 5 episode 35

Known as “The Queen of Scream, Hazel Court is an exquisitely classy, fiery red head the camera just loved to eat up. She got a contract with the J. Arthur Rank Organization and went from small parts to lead actress in British films between the mid 1940s until the 1960s, where she moved to Hollywood.

From Danny Peary’s “Cult Movie Stars” (Simon & Schuster, 1991): “Rather than playing sweet vulnerable heroines, she often took the other major female roles, typically regal-looking women who are dominated by the powerful, sadistic men they love.”

Court has been described as the Ultimate Scream Queen, as she has forged a prolific career working with the stylish Hammer Studios and Roger Corman’s American International Pictures, both showcasing their Gothic pageantry. She worked with the leading titans of horror – Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, Peter Cushing, and Christopher Lee! And was close friends with fellow Hammer siren Ingrid Pitt.

Horror film actress Hazel Court, 1964. (Photo by Michael Ward/Getty Images)

She started out as the epitome of the deceptively reserved English heroine in British films in the 1940s and 50s, and in fact she was a famous pin-up girl. Eventually she went on to appear in many U.S. television series in the 1960s Bonanza, Dr. Kildare, Mission: Impossible, The Twilight Zone, where Charlotte Scott and state trooper Robert Franklin (Peter Mark Richman) are stalked by what appears to be a giant in the episode The Fear which aired May 29 1964

The Wild Wild West, Burke’s Law, Alfred Hitchcock, Boris Karloff’s Thriller episode The Terror in Teakwood, The Dick Powell Theatre, The General Electric Theater, 12 O’Clock High, The Name of the Game, McMillan & Wife, Ghost Ship 1952, Devil Girl from Mars 1954.

The screen delivered her to cult horror fame when she starred opposite Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee in the first of Hammer Studios’ horror films “The Curse of Frankenstein.”  where her daughter Sally Walsh played her as a young Elizabeth.

The British movie magazine “Picturegoer” declared in its June 1, 1957 issue:

Hazel Court, the beauty among the beasts in “The Curse Of Frankenstein,” is making other glamour girls turn green–with envy.  Hers will be the most widely screened British face in America this year. . . . tipped to be shown in more U.S. cinemas than any British film ever . . . Not bad going for the girl whom British studios forgot.

She then starred in The Man Who Could Cheat Death in 1959 with Anton Diffring based on the play and a remake of the 1944 film “The Man In Half Moon Street”.

On the small screen Hazel Court greeted her penchant for mystery and horror by embracing anthology television series.

She appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode “Arthur” which aired 9-27-59.

“Arthur,” (the nasty piece of work Lawrence Harvey who often plays murdering psychos) owns a chicken farm, bitter after his adulterous wife Helen leaves him, strangles her after she returns home. He disposes of her body in the large grinding machine used for manufacturing chicken feed. In the episode:  “The Avon Emeralds” which aired 3-22-59 Hazel Court plays Lady Gwendolyn Avon with superbly, delightfully cunning glee.

From Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode “Arthur”.

In Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode “The Pearl Necklace” which aired: 5-2-61 Hazel Court plays Charlotte Rutherford, who agrees to marry Howard Rutherford (Ernst Truex) her wealthy elderly employer who tells her he only has one year to live, and promises to leave her a fortune. She figures it won’t be long before she can collect her inherence and run off with her true love Jack Cassidy. Rutherford gives her one pearl on their first wedding anniversary, and needless to say in a Hitchcock story, there will be more pearls with each year the old man remains alive.

That same year she starred in Boris Karloff’s Thriller episode “The Terror in Teakwood” with Guy Rolfe as a tortured concert pianist Vladimir Vicek who is obsessed with outshining his rival.

Vicek pays the creepy Gafke (Nalder) to help him desecrate the rivals grave, and then announces to the world that he will perform a sonata that could only be played by the dead man because it was written for his large hands.

Leonie hires Charles Aidman who longs for her, to be Vladimir’s assistant. Court is wonderful as the faithful, anxious wife who suffers the taut moments until Vladimir’s secret is revealed. Why his hands wind up bloodied, after emerging from the locked doors where he thrashes out his new masterpiece. What is the secret of the terror inside the teakwood box.Hazel Court will find out in the shocking climax. The episode features great character actors Vladimir Sokoloff, Bessie Flowers, Linda Watkins and Reggie Nalder. It’s perhaps one of the most grotesque episodes of the series.

Then came her role opposite Kieron Moore in the horror shocker Doctor Blood’s Coffin 1961.

People are mysteriously disappearing near a lonely Welsh village where a mad doctor conducts weird experiments with life and death in an underground cave.  A stylish film reminiscent of the Hammer horror films of the same time period.  The dead return to life in a very gruesome climax. [Sinister Cinema] Moore is experimenting with the drug curare, in hopes of finding the answer to immortality. When Court uncovers his gruesome secret in the caves, she is threatened to be entombed there by the crazed doctor.

Court was never more popular than when she collaborated with Roger Corman on his adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe. Corman made a co-production deal with the English company Anglo-Amalgamated, and AIP sent Vincent Price over there to make two British made Poe adaptations Corman and Price were both stirred up to dive right in.

Court moved into Roger Corman territory with the morbid pagentry of The Premature Burial 1962 playing Emily Gault, the greedy wife of Ray Milland as a Englishman who suffers from catalepsy, and the inexorable fear of being buried alive. This is one of Hazel Court’s favorites of all her films.

Next, The Raven 1963, is a comedic interpretation of Poe’s poem. She plays Lenore Craven in Corman’s film with an underweight plot that relies more on the bigger than life stars camping it up. Court co-stars with legends, Vincent Price, Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre.

Hazel Court joins in the fanfare as the notorious, stunningly ruthless Juliana in The Masque of the Red Death 1964. Originally published in 1842, Masque of the Red Death is probably one of Poe’s most influential stories.

“the most Bergman-like of Corman’s films, an ultra stylish adaptation of the Poe tale….Beautifully photographed in England by Nicolas Roeg.” Leonard Maltin

In Medieval Italy, the decadent Prince Prospero invites his friends to take shelter in his castle while the scourge of the Red Death  (Poe) “the redness and the horror of blood” that has “long devasted the country”

While the plague is ravaging the countryside, Prince Prospero throws a lavish masquerade within the castle walls. Arranged are seven elaborate chambers, each with its own color scheme.

The nobles celebrate their masked ball while the common people suffer and die a horrible death outside. Prospero tries to seduce a reluctant Jane Asher, who is promised her father’s release if she will submit to him, when he begins to be followed by a stranger dressed in red, costumed as the Red Death itself. Prospero angered and startled by this afront designs to kill the intruder.

Soon his guests all begin to perish from the deadly plague and Prospero drops dead by the augury the stranger brings. The Red Death pursues Prince Prospero before he dies in a deluge of blood, “Why should you be afraid to die? Your soul has been dead a long time.”

Within the narrative, Hazel Court does not merely exist on the periphery of Prosperos dark faith. Seeking to survive in a Medieval world dominated by men, she gambles with her morality in order to survive. And Court does an exquisite job of drawing out that subtle desperation for protection. Even if it means marrying the Devil, the freedom that she seeks is the very thing that is her downfall.
By following Prospero down the blackest path, Juliana’s villainy ultimately destroys her.

As Jonathan Malcolm Lampley (Women in the Horror Films of Vincent Price) carefully points out, “Within the construct of Satanic philosophy, women cannot be allowed independent initiative and must remain under the control of a transgressive but nevertheless patriarchal system.

Juliana’s fear of Prospero’s attentions toward Francesca is less about jealousy and more about losing her place within the hierarchy. In Lampley’s book he cites Steven Thornton “One suspects Juliana is observing a vision of herself from the not too distant past” meaning that she too might have been the nubile beauty that Prospero once corrupted.

But Juliana’s fate is sealed when Prospero condemns her to death, struck down by his falcon He tells his guests “I beg you, do not mourn for Juliana. She has just married a friend of mine.”

The foul irony of it all, is that his immoral and worldly indifference for his mistress is that he will also meet his own sardonic fate, and the poetically cruel revelation will come to him in the end.

Hazel Court is blessed with an ability to bring her innate sophistication to Corman/Poe’s space of altered reality and in this way her character Juliana is both enigmatic as she is equally doomed. She has pleaded with Prospero to initiated her into his pact with Satanism, and decides to make passage herself. In a nightmarish scene, a darkly twisted manifestation of sensual depravity, awash with sexual horror, she offers herself as a bride to Satan, branding her breast with an inverted cross. As with many of Corman’s works, he paints nightmarish tableaus filled with fits of delirium.

After her wicked rite she awakens victorious declaring that she has “tasted the beauties of terror.” She is now assured herself in a place power, protected by the Devil.

In usual Roger Corman style, they finished shooting in six weeks, having used the set from the film Becket.

Hazel Court is so much more than just ample bosoms and a warmth of red hair, she possesses an intensely serious depth and at times a very cheeky sense of timing.

The Raven (1963) and The Masque of the Red Death” (1964) are her best-known films, co-starring with Vincent Price. Her scream-queen roles continued to bring her fan mail —up to 100 letters a month until her death in 2008.

“She knew it wasn’t serious acting,” Ms. Walsh said. “She and Vincent were extremely close, and they found humor in everything. They had a ton of fun, and they didn’t take the movies seriously. But she took her fan mail seriously. She was amazed by and touched by it, and she answered every one.”

On Poe’s work:

I always thought Edgar Allan Poe’s work were wonderful, and I loved Gothic tales–so I guess I was a natural for those films-to-come . . . I used to stand in line with my parents at the local theater.

[on The Man Who Could Cheat Death 1959) The producers just said,

“We would like you to do this scene, where Anton Diffring is sculpting you, and we would like to make it a nude scene. Would you do it?” It would only be shown in the European version, not in England. It really was just a lovely scene with him sculpting me, and I had no objection to that. But that nude scene is in the European version–out there, somewhere!

[about her roles in the early 1950s] It’s very funny. In those days we did it all as a job. it was our job to go out and do the very best we could. We’d take each film as it came. Then analyze it, work on it, and do it. Never any tantrums . . . You enjoyed doing it, and you didn’t ever think of yourself as special. We were all just actors, together; we were glad of a job, and we did it.

Horror credits: DR. BLOOD’S COFFIN 1961, ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS 4 EPISODES, THRILLER EPISODE ‘THE TERROR IN TEAKWOOD’, THE PREMATURE BURIAL 1962, TOMB OF LIGEIA 1964, THE RAVEN 1963, THE TWILIGHT ZONE 1964 EPISODE ‘THE FEAR’, THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH 1964.

Luana Anders

In his book, Stephen King: On Writing he cited Luana Anders as one of his movie matinee idols. Anders achieved cult status as groovy hippie Lisa in Easy Rider (1969).

Luana Anders started out in supporting roles in low-budget features in the 1950s for American International Pictures (AIP). Her earlier films were directed by Roger Corman. Anders belonged to an improv group founded by character actor Jeff Corey which included Jack Nicholson, Sandra Knight, future writer/producer Robert Towne (The Tomb of Ligeia 1964, Chinatown 1974), Richard Chamberlain, future director/producer Roger Corman and Sally Kellerman whom she starred with in the cult flick Reform School Girl 1957 and Life Begins at 17 (1958).

The film also co-starring Mark Damon whom she would go on to co-star with in Corman’s elegant pageantry The Pit and The Pendulum 1961. The film is memorable for its extravagantly stirring performance by horror icon Vincent Price. She also worked with Damon on The Young Racers 1963 that featured sound engineer Francis Ford Coppola who would go on to direct her in his directorial debut, Dementia 13 (1963). Anders and Kellerman would remain life long friends until Anders death. Kellerman would also appear in one of the finest episode of the 1960s horror/sci-fi anthology series-The Outer Limits – The Bellero Shield.

Luana Anders actually made several pictures along side her friend Jack Nicholson, The Trip 1967, The Last Detail 1973, and The Missouri Breaks 1976.

She made appearances on various television series in from the late 50s 1960s – 80s. Including-The Rifleman 1958, Bonanza 1959,, The Andy Griffith Show 1960, One Step Beyond 1960 episodes ‘The Voice’ and 1959 ‘The Burning Girl’, Ben Casey 1961, Dragnet 1967, Mannix 1967, Ironside 1967 and Adam 12 1968.

One of the roles that stand out her fans of the horror genre was as Vincent Price’s sister Catherine Medina in Roger Corman’s Poe oriented masterpiece with its elegant Gothic set pieces – The Pit and the Pendulum 1961. Another standout performance is the immoral money hungry Louise Haloran. In Coppola’s Dementia 13 (1963), Anders winds up getting axed in a frenzy reminiscent of Hitchcock’s Psycho 1960 shower scene that broke new ground for the horror genre.

In this stylish psychological horror film and Francis Coppola’s directorial debut (he also wrote the script), Anders is razor-sharp as the genuinely ruthless daughter-in-law Louise Haloran, a conniving femme fatale. She is a cold and calculating mongoose who covers up her husband John’s heart attack in a row boat, by dumping his body in the lake along with his transistor radio bleeting, both sinking to the bottom of the water. “I wonder if he’ll rot under water?” There’s a visual narrative that cultivates the creepy atmosphere, including this opening scene revealed on the stygian waters that lead up to Peter Read’s curtains.

Water will become recurring theme in Dementia 13. Louise precedes to show up at Haloran Castle in Ireland, telling the family that John has gone off on a business trip, unable to attend his sister Kathleen’s ritualistic ceremony reliving the little girl’s funeral. Louise’s goal is to talk Lady Halloran out of changing her will, leaving the family fortune to a charity in Kathleen’s name.

There’s a pall hanging over the family because of Kathleen’s drowning and the metaphorical ghost that haunts them. Lady Halloran (Ethne Dunne) Is tormented by her young daughter Kathleen’s tragic death. Anders exploits the eccentric woman’s obsession with her little girl, whom she had late in life. She slinks around the castle grounds designing to gain Lady Haloran’s trust pretending to be tuned into Kathleen’s spirit. Telling her that Kathleen will soon show her a sign. She loots the toy room, throwing various dolls in a bag that she will place in the pond, designed to surface when the time is right.

Without her husbands inheritance she will be written out of the family fortune, in order to prolong the charade, Anders breaks into the toy room and while rigging up a string of dolls in the lake where she drowned, to fake the phenomena of Kathleen sending a message to her mother. In one of Coppola’s numerous macabre set pieces, Louise discovers Kathleen’s dead body lying in a watery shrine, and as she surfaces from the murky water, is violently hacked to death with an axe by an unseen killer.

“Fishy fishy in the brook daddy caught you on a hook.”

Luana Anders co-stars in writer-director Curtis Harrington’s low-budget debut, one of the most stylish, dreamlike and eerie horror chillers of the 1960s. Anders plays ingénue Ellen Sands who falls for the love sick Johnny (Dennis Hopper), a sailor enchanted by the mysterious Mora ( Linda Lawson) a mermaid in the boardwalk’s carnival sideshow. Mora, may or may not be part of a race of ancient murderous siren believed to have killed her former lovers.

Night Tide 1961 is a beautifully surreal fantasy horror, and actor/director Dennis Hopper, who would go on to cast her a skinny dipping free spirit in his existential journey – Easy Rider 1969.

In the March 23, 1964 The Outer Limits episode The Guests, she played Theresa Ames, one of the inhabitants of a house controlled by an alien brain. The story Donald Sanford and Leslie Stevens script seems to pay tribute to Sartre’s No Exit. The episode features Gloria Graham as Florida Patten.

Luana Anders actually appeared in three of Curtis Harrington’s films including Night Tide. She shows up in a cameo as a party guest in his psychological horror thriller Games 1967 starring Simone Signoret and Katherine Ross, and she departs from her more organic women and plays a cringe worthy repressed librarian Louise in the psycho-sexual shocker, The Killing Kind 1973 starring Ann Southern and Ruth Roman. John Savage plays an emotionally disturbed boy, traumatized by an event in his early twenties.

The other role that has stayed with me is Sylvia a hooker who Sandy Dennis hires to satisfy Michael Burns, then brutally stabs her in the obscure psycho-sexual horror film directed by Robert Altman-That Cold Day in the Park 1969 which premiered at Cannes Film Festival. Anders role while a small supportive part is an intensely vivid performance that stands out, even in the midst of Dennis’ propounding disturbing tour de force.

Jack Nicholson made a point of seeing and commenting on the movie during the Cannes film festival where “Easy Rider” won the Palme D’or; the subsequent publicity gave Altman the notoriety to launch his career. Altman has given credit to Anders for giving him his start as a director. She was especially memorable as a Buddhist chanting party girl in The Last Detail 1973 written by friend Robert Towne.

In the outré curiosity The Manipulator 1971, Luana Anders is Carlotta a woman kidnapped by B.J. Lang (Mickey Rooney) a deranged Hollywood makeup artist who holds her hostage in his creepy backlot warehouse littered with props.

And in 1975, she was cast as Devra in Hal Ashby’s hit movie, Shampoo . From what I’ve read, it is supposedly based on Anders romance with hairdresser Richard Alcala, having been written by Robert Towne, friend and likewise classmate of Jeff Corey’s improv group.

Luana Anders –“There’s beauty in everything that’s raw”

Dementia 13 (1963), Night Tide 1961, The Pit and the Pendulum 1961, That Cold Day in the Park 1969 The Outer Limits episode ‘The Guests’ and a small cameo as a party guest in Curtis Harrington’s Games 1969.

Bette Davis

Bette never settled for less than perfection in her work, though studio head Jack Warner did not consider her a beauty, Davis possessed one of the most striking, sensually expressive and memorable faces of all time. Not least are those mesmerizing eyes of hers, and that classy devil may care, cigarette in hand, she had a style she aged with forever gutsy and graceful.

She fought with integrity and grit against a studio system that held down strong women’s voices, but she persevered regardless. In her private life she remained an eternal romantic though she suffered many failed relationships, yet she forged an image of a strong, independent woman on and off screen– a heroine for the ages.
With performances that didn’t always paint her as ‘attractive’ –an ingenue, a seductress, nor a obviously sympathetic character -she had the bold courage to take on intricate roles that challenged her to prevail as one of the truly great actresses of all time.

Bette Davis’ contribution as a scream Diva, and the horror genre that has embraced her so emphatically, established what I will be warring against in my feature, “From Glamour to Trauma: Deconstructing Hag Cinema” as I detest the term that was established only to demean actresses as they aged out of Hollywood.

Bette Davis, more thatn any other actress in motion pictures, has been responsible for changing the face of the American female on the screen. In a spectacular career that has embraced virtually all media, her eighty-eight screen portraits have produced an infinite variety of characterizations. During her Hollywood career, she has contunally fought for integrity and realism in films and has actually affected her era more than her era has affected her. -(Whitney Stine)

You can read my tribute to Bette HERE:  Revisiting Robert Aldrich’s Hag Cinema: Part 2 “I wouldn’t piss on Joan Crawford if she were on fire!”

In the 1960s Davis appeared in Baby Jane & Sweet Charlotte Read my earlier feature HERE:-What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? 1962 Part 1. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? 1962 Part 2 and Hush… Hush Sweet Charlotte 1964 part 3, Hush… Hush Part 4, Hush… Hush Part 5, Hush… Hush Part 6 conclusion

In Hammer’s psychological suspense thriller, scripted by prolific Jimmy Sangster, The Nanny 1965, Bette Davis brings a quietly sinister doting with an unsettling undertone of balmy to the character of Nanny who terrorizes William Dix, having come home after being released from a hospital for disturbed children.

Joey has been accused of drowning his baby sister in the bath two years earlier. Nanny tries to frame him as being still unbalanced and It doesn’t help the adults around him believe his accusations when his paranoia induced feelings of persecution by the frumpish Nanny seem like the wild tales by an anti-social, homicidal boy.

Joey refuses to eat the food that Nanny prepares for fear that she is poisoning him, or will not allow her to be anywhere near him while he takes his bath. The chilling final 20 minutes offers a very unsettling flashback in which we witness what truly happened the fateful day of the little girl’s drowning. At this time we are given a more nuanced gaze into a very complex, sympathetic and conflicted woman that Davis first shows us.

In Dead Ringer 1964, Bette Davis performs the good sister/bad sister paradigm – as twin sisters Margaret DeLorca and Edith Phillips.

Directed by Paul Henreid, Dead Ringer is a quite atmospheric thriller, that not only possesses a feeling of restrained dread but is structured not unlike the shadowy tableau’s of film noir.

Davis once again finds herself in the role of twin sisters with switched identities (A Stolen Life 1946). Dead Ringer is Grand Guignol in a contemporary 1960s Los Angeles setting with Davis playing Margaret de Lorca/Edith Phillips. One sister Margaret amoral opportunist and the other, Edith, driven to a desperate act of violence and deception.

Reunited after years of estrangement, Margaret having stolen the man Edith was to marry, the two meet again at the funeral of Margaret’s wealthy husband who died of a supposed heart attack.
Edith owns a modest jazz club and is sought after by the kindly police sergeant Jim Hobbson (Karl Malden) who wants to marry her.

After being evicted by her landlord, Edith invites Margaret to her bar and then shoots her, and assumes her identity, and staging the scene to make it appear that Edith committed suicide. Edith takes over Margaret’s mansion, the servants, a very large Great Dane and a smarmy lover who begins to suspect that Margaret ‘now Edith’ isn’t who she claims to be.

As in many of Davis’ later roles in psychological thrillers made in the 1960s she carved out for herself, Edith is an extremely sympathetic character although having murdered her thoroughly rotten sister.

Edith’s plans become complicated she is preyed upon by Margaret’s lecherous lover turned blackmailer Tony (Peter Lawford) and she becomes stalked by Karl Malden who smells foul play. There is a very poignant relationship that develops between Edith and Margaret’s servant Henry played by the wonderful character actor Cyril Delevanti.

In 1959 she appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode “Out There- Darkness”.  In the 1970s she went on to do the made for tv movie Scream, Pretty Peggy 1973, Burnt Offerings 1976. She played the Widow Fortune in the television mini-series based on Thomas Tryon’s novel The Dark Secret of Harvest Home 1978. Appearing in director John Hough’s and screenwriter Brian Clemens’, The Watcher in the Woods 198o as the tormented mother Mrs. Aylwood.

Davis is one of the eternal bright stars that shined during the Golden Age of Hollywood, who in later years ignited a legacy of great actresses cast aside by the Hollywood machine who began to take roles in b-movies, independent horror films and anthology television series with a horror/suspence theme. She became the theatrical element that sparked the Hag Cinema mythos.

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? 1962, Hush… Hush Sweet Charlotte 1964, Dead Ringer 1964, The Nanny 1965, (and director Roy Ward Baker’s The Anniversary 1968.

Joan Crawford

PRIOR BIOGRAPHY /TRIBUTE HERE: Revisiting Robert Aldrich’s Hag Cinema Part 2 “I wouldn’t piss on Joan Crawford if she were on fire!”

The observable proof that Hag Cinema has trapped many fine Hollywood actresses in an eddy of professional damages, as the worm turns in the minds of too many, the smallest example is to consider IMDb list of the top film for Joan Crawford as What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? 1962.

Grande Dames/ Guignol Cinema: Robert Aldrich’s Hag Cinema “But you *are* Blanche, you *are in that chair” Part I

But you are in that chair Blanche…

Joan Crawford was originally cast and started filming as Miriam on Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte ultimately replaced by Olivia de Havilland.

One of the founding starlets with Bette Davis that were awarded the cringe worthy title of Hag Cinema. Crawford signed with William Castle to film Strait-Jacket and I Saw What you Did 1965, disappointed that her career was resurrected  after the box office success of Robert Aldrich’s What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? She was replaced on Hush Hush by Olivia de Havilland after clashes with Bette Davis and the director.

Joan Crawford required the script be completely re-written to her specifications before she agreed to sign on to the film. Joan Blondell was originally set to play the title role, but because of an accident, she was replaced with Joan Crawford.

William Castle scored big time when he manage to cast Joan Crawford in his B movie horror thriller, Strait-Jacket. The showman also had writer Robert Bloch (Psycho 1960) pen the screenplay for the film.

Strait-Jacket (1964), a narrated flashback starts with a bit part for a young Lee Majors as philandering Frank Harbin who is fooling around with ex-girlfriend Stella while his wife Lucy is out of town, but she returns home unexpectedly and catches the two in bed. She grabs an axe from a stump and whacks both their heads off in front of their daughter Carol. In the present day, twenty years later, Carol (Diane Baker) meets her mother who has just been released from an institution.

Twenty years later, an adult Carol (Diane Baker) who has been raised by her aunt and uncle, greets her mother Lucy (Joan Crawford), who has been released from an asylum. Carol is a sculpter and is engaged to Michael (John Anthony Hayes)

As Lucy Harbin, Crawford transforms into a campy caricature of herself, as a disturbed woman who cannot escape her gruesome past. She looks into the chicken coop and remarks “I hate to see anything caged.” She fears that she is slipping back into homicidal delusion seeing two severed head in her bed and hearing the nursery rhyme about Lizzie Borden, sung using her name. Joan Crawford is always bigger than life, and completely believable as an unhinged murderess, who swings from wary rehibilitated mental patient, to a garish over-confident flirt who comes onto Carol’s fiance in a very awkward orchestrated scene where she’s dressed like a cheap floozy. Castle directs some genuinely creepy shocking tableaus.

Trivia:

The original version of the script (initially slated to star Joan Blondell) reportedly involved a murderer who disguised herself by committing crimes while wearing an inflatable “fat” suit, an idea abandoned somewhere in pre-production before Joan Crawford replaced Blondell.

The children’s rhyme chanted in the movie, “Lucy Harbin took an ax, gave her husband forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, gave his girlfriend forty-one”, is based on the famous rhyme about Lizzie Andrew Borden: “Lizzie Borden took an ax, gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, gave her father forty-one.”

TIDBITS:

Director William Castle claimed to have watched What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) over seventeen times.

William Castle says in his biography that Joan Crawford was not difficult at all to work with, only a real perfectionist. It was his best experience in life; And he could not resist to use a gimmick for the film, as he did for the previous ones: at the theaters, he gave out cardboard axes streaked with simulated blood.

The sound effect for the heads being chopped off was the prop man wielding an ax and cutting a watermelon in half.

At the end of the movie, the Columbia Pictures symbol – the Lady with the Torch – is shown on the screen. Her head – chopped from her neck – is now at her feet.

In William Castle’s I Saw What you Did 1965, two teenage girls prank phone call strangers- “I Saw What You Did, And I Know Who You Are!” unfortunately they connect with the wrong guy, a psychopath (John Ireland), who has murdered his wife. Crawford is his neighbor who longs to snag him as her lover.

Joan Crawford is Monica Rivers, the owner/ringmaster of a broken down traveling circus, whose notoriety gets a boost when a series of grisly murders plague the show. When Monica ruthlessly exploits the sensationalized publicity, the troupe begin to suspect she may be behind the killings. The campy Berserk plays out like a horror ‘whodunit’

Crawford sedcudes tightrope walker Ty Hardin in Berserk

Berserk 1967, Night Gallery 1969 pilot episode “Eyes”, Strait-Jacket 1964, I Saw What You Did 1965, What ever Happened to Baby Jane? 1962. And the fourth season of Route 66. In Joan Crawford’s episode, “Same Picture, Different Frame,” her character is stalked by a homicidal ex-husband just released from an asylum!

In the 1970s she went on to appear in television series, The Sixth Sense 1972 episode ‘Dear Joan: We’re Going to Scare You to Death’ and she portrayed anthropologist Dr. Brockton who discovers the missing link in Trog 1970.

PAMELA FRANKLIN

Pamela Franklin is a ubiquitous actress, who made her film debut at age 11 as the hauntingly ethereal Flora in director Jack Clayton’s The Innocents 1961 starring Deborah Kerr in the adaptation of Henry Jame’s Gothic ghost story, The Turn of the Screw. Franklin brought a curiously beautiful presence to the child, and from now on, I’ll not imagine anyone else in that part. Diaphanous and oddly old beyond her years, Pamela Franklin radiates a solemn authenticity that shines on screen.

Image: courtesy of Kimberly Lindbergs

In the 1964 psychological thriller The Third Secret, Franklin stars as the teenage daughter Catherine Whitset who investigates the death of her psychologist father. Bordering on the edge of psychological horror, Franklin’s odyssey to find her father’s murderer is compelling because of her intensely genuine grasp of a soul in distress and her penetrating trademark acuity.

In 1963, Franklin was voted 10th place for the Laurel Awards Top New Female Personality. She was 14 when she made The Third Secret in 1964. When interviewed about the film in 1979, she said that “she and Stephen Boyd had become friends and the warmth on screen was genuine.”

Pamela Franklin earned an Emmy nomination for her supporting role in the 1965 TV movie Eagle in a Cage.

As Joey Fane’s (William Dix) precious London apartment mate, Franklin plays Bobbie Medman, who believes his story that Nanny is not only mad but on a mission to dispose of him.

In 1966 she had a lead role in the BBC TV series Quick Before They Catch Us. And was cast in the role of Diana in highly provocative quasi-psychological horror film Our Mother’s House 1967, directed by Jack Clayton who also directed Franklin in The Innocents. When their deeply religious mother dies, the seven Hook children bury her in the garden and continue life as normal. Then their absent father, Charlie (Dirk Bogarde) reappears…

Franklin’s performance as a surprisingly streetwise teenager Bobbie Medman in The Nanny 1965 and receiving great reviews by the critics. She co-starred with Dirk Bogarde in Our Mother’s House which was nominated for the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1967.

Franklin is probably most remembered for her outstanding performance as the rebellious Sandy in the The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie starring Maggie Smith and in 1969. Franklin won the National Board of Review award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Sandy.

She played the kidnapped Girl in Hubert Cornfield (and an uncredited Richard Boone’s) raw exercise in psychological neutoric brutality in The Night of the Following Day 1969, starring Marlon Brando and Rita Moreno. Franklin suffers at the hands of Richard Boone’s sexual sadism.

She also made numerous appearances on television series, including Bonanza, 3 episodes of Medical Center. In one episode she stars in the role of a mentally challenged young woman referred to as ‘baby Fritag’ abandoned by her biological mother and looked after by fiercely protective nurse, played by the great Kim Stanley. She gave a memorable performance as the title character in the 1970 series The Name of the Game episode ‘Jenny Wilde is Drowning’ where she plays an aspiring actress trying to succeed in Hollywood. The Streets of San Francisco, The Six Million Dollar Man, Cannon, The Magician, Mannix. Petrocelli, British series Thriller “Terror from Within” and “Screamer” Police Story, Hawaii Five-O, The Love Boat, Police Woman, Barnaby Jones, and 4 episodes of Fantasy Island.

But it is the horror genre that eventually embraced Pamela Franklin as a scream queen when she appeared in a few notable 1970s horror pictures. Working from Richard Matheson’s screenplay and under the direction of John Hough in the occult thriller The Legend of Hell House 1973, Franklin portrays Florence Tanner, a sensitive who is called to participate in an experiment in paranormal research run by a team of investigators headed up by physicist Clive Revill, his wife Gayle Hunnicutt, psychic Roddy McDowall and the degenerate ghost of Emeric Belasco (Michael Gough). The group must remain cut off from the outside world in the notorious Hell House for one week, without going mad or winding up dead, like others before them.

McDowall’s Ben Fischer returns to Hell House to see if he can withstand the horror of the house that almost drove him to madness. And Florence is so tuned in that she winds up having an intimate encounter with the spirit of who she believes to be Daniel, a tormented young man who supposedly died there. The Legend of Hell House is one of the true classical horror films of the 1970s, in part due to Pamela Franklin’s lucid performance.

In 1970 she starred in And Soon the Darkness 1970, a psycho-sexual thriller about three English girls on holiday in France who meet their fate with a sex maniac on the loose.

Franklin appeared with Michele Dotrice (older sister of British actress Karen Dotrice) in the film which was remade in 2010. The original is moody and fraught with tense moments of the girls being stalked by a psychotic boogeyman.

And in 1972, she starred as the hapless victim of a satanic cult led by Orson Welles. The ending is quite claustrophobic and shocking. She starred in two horror based television series. In 1972 she played twins Christina and Lisa Burgess in Circle of Fear episode ‘Half a Death’ and in the same year appeared in The Sixth Sense episode “I Did Not Mean to Slay Thee”

We can’t forget her role as Elizabeth in David Lowell Rich’s made for TV movie Satan’s School for Girls 1973 that was remade in 2000. In an all-girls private school a young woman’s sister goes to investigate her alleged suicide. What she uncovers is a sinister coven of dark witches who use female students as a sacrifice to the devil.

And of course everyone has a film they’d like to forget, as I’m pretty sure so does Ida Lupino, with this stinker, the horrible adaption of but H.G. Wells’ The Food of the Gods 1976 with the most hilarious giant chicken attack that’s worth watching the movie just for that scene alone. The Food of the Gods was her last film role.

Pamela Franklin met husband, busy actor Harvey Jason two years before they appeared together in Necromancy 1972 and the actress retired from acting in the early 1980s.

Trivia:

Wanted to become a ballet dancer.

The role of “Jenny” (played by Ann Davies) in Doctor Who (1963), was first intended for her.

Lives in Hollywood with her husband, Harvey Jason, and their two sons, Joshua Jason and Louis Jason.
Daughter-in-law of Alec Jason.

Has credited director/producer Jack Clayton for teaching her valuable lessons about acting.

Personal Quotes:

Filming is filming and you do what you have to without thinking too much how big or small the part is you’re playing.

[Referring to Marlon Brando in The Night of the Following Day (1969)] He’s really tremendous. He never compromises. I expected him to be nice to me out of pity–just because I wasn’t good enough. But he treated me as an equal.

Of all the actresses I’ve played with, I learned most from Deborah Kerr because she’s so graceful in everything she does. With Bette Davis, it’s every man for himself! If it looks as if someone else is going to steal the scene, she shows who’s the star. And why shouldn’t she? She’s a great actress.

I’ve never been over-awed by show business. You see, no one ever said to me ‘You’re going to be a star.’ My parents were terribly practical and down-to-earth–it’s the best way.

The Innocents 1961, The Nanny 1965, Our Mother’s House 1967, And Soon the Darkness 1970, The Legend of Hell House 1973, Necromancy 1972, Ghost Story / Circle of Fear 1972 episode ‘Half a Death’, The Sixth Sense episode “I Did Not Mean to Slay Thee”, Satan’s School for Girls 1973, Food of the Gods 1976.

Agnes Moorehead

see biography here: Agnes Moorehead THE LAVENDER LADY!

Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte 1964

Velma Cruther “What’s going on up there that you don’t want me to see?”

From the first episode: The role of Endora – iconic television series Bewitched 1964

In 1959 Agnes Moorhead starred with Vincent Price in Wilbur Cranes horror/mystery The Bat. She went on to do Curtis Harrington’s What’s the Matter with Helen? 1971 playing a Amiee Semple Mcpherson style evangelist, and the scornful matriarch in the Southern Gothic slasher film, Dear Dead Delilah 1972.

One of the most recognizable episode of the series, The Twilight Zone  ‘The Invaders’

Coming up next Brides of Horror the 1960s Part 2

 

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