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


The Raven 1935

Dr. Vollin ‘Your monstrous ugliness breeds monstrous hatred. Good! I can use your hate.’

The Raven is a 1935 classical American horror film directed by Lew Landers, and it features two iconic horror actors, Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, in starring roles. This would be the second film that featured the pairing of both great horror stars after the success of The Black Cat. Along with its Gothic atmosphere and Poe-inspired storyline, it is a memorable entry in their respective filmographies. Read my feature on The Black Cat HERE:

Vollin ”Death is my talisman!

Dr. Richard Vollin (Bela Lugosi) is a brilliant but eccentric surgeon with a morbid fascination for Edgar Allan Poe’s works, particularly “The Raven.” Vollin is also known for his expertise in plastic surgery and a questionable reputation for performing radical procedures.

Judge Thatcher “I’ll pay you any amount of money, Dr. Vollin’’
Dr Vollin “Money means nothing to me.”
Judge Thatcher “But someone is dying! Your obligation as a member of the medical profession”
Vollin “I respect no such obligation. I am a law unto myself!’’
Thatcher “But you have no human feeling? My daughter is dying!’’
Vollin “Death hasn’t the same significance for me as it has for you.”

Lugosi as Dr. Richard Vollin is a complex character who is both brilliant and deeply disturbed. Lugosi’s portrayal captures the character’s descent into madness and obsession. Vollin’s fascination with Poe’s works is conveyed through Lugosi’s mesmerizing, sinister, and theatrical performance.

When a young woman named Jean Thatcher (Irene Ware) is critically injured in a car accident, her desperate father seeks out Dr. Vollin’s assistance to save her life. Vollin agrees to perform intricate neurosurgery, but his growing obsession with Jean veers off into a deadly obsession. As Vollin’s obsession with Jean Thatcher grows, Lugosi skillfully portrays the doctor’s psychological unraveling. His fixation on Jean is palpable, and Lugosi’s performance is marked by dramatic facial expressions and body language that highlight Vollin’s increasing mania. This doesn’t bode well for her father, Judge Thatcher {Samuel S. Hinds}, and her fiancé, Dr. Jerry Holden (Lester Matthews).

Meanwhile, Edmond Bateman (Boris Karloff), a criminal mastermind who seeks to change his appearance to evade the authorities, approaches Vollin for his surgical skills. Vollin agrees but insists that Bateman becomes his loyal servant in return. Edmond Bateman is a criminal mastermind who seeks to change his appearance through plastic surgery. Batman becomes a  victim of Dr. Vollin’s monstrous cruelty and becomes a sympathetic character despite his criminal past. Throughout the film, Bateman’s loyalty to Dr. Vollin is only through necessity, even as he undergoes a shocking transformation, horribly disfigured at the hands of Vollin’s knife, and depends on Vollin to restore his face.

A standout moment in the picture is when Lugosi peers through the door and watches Karloff with sadistic orgasmic glee as the poor man discovers the horrors that Vollin has inflicted on him,  as the image of his face in a myriad of mirrors stares back in fright. During the gallery of mirrors reveals, when Bateman yells “NO!” that is not Boris Karloff’s voice but a post-production dub-over.

Bateman ‘‘I’m saying, Doc, maybe because I look ugly… maybe if a man looks ugly, he does ugly things.’’
Vollin ‘‘You are saying something profound.”

As Vollin’s infatuation with Jean deepens and his madness takes a darker turn, he uses his surgical talents to transform Bateman into a grotesque visage resembling a raven, reminiscent of Poe’s poem. The doctor’s sinister plans culminate in a chilling and macabre climax, with Poe’s themes of obsession, madness, and revenge at the forefront as Lugosi employs his Poe recreations of the instruments of torture.

In the film’s denouement – it all gets wrapped up with Karloff’s twisted visage & sympathetic grotesqueness as he endeavors to end the deadly pendulum that comes a whisker away from Irene’s father getting sliced in half, as he shuts off the mechanism and saves his life. Lugosi shoots Karloff for rebelling and proceeds to trap his prisoners in a claustrophobic chamber with its walls triggered to close in and crush them. At this point, he is stark raving mad – as his maniacal amusement fills his gallery of torture. Yet Karloff takes his last breath and frees the prisoners, instead leaving Lugosi in the chamber to be milled instead.

Belu Lugosi and Boris Karloff’s performances in “The Raven” showcase their abilities to bring nuance and depth to their characters in the horror genre. Lugosi’s theatricality and intensity complement Karloff’s subtler and more sympathetic portrayal, resulting in a memorable and chilling cinematic experience. Their on-screen chemistry adds to the film’s enduring status as a classic of 1930s horror cinema.

For the B.B.F.C, The Raven was the final straw. The British film censors decided to withdraw any further horror movies from being shown in the U.K.

Return of the Vampire 1943

Return of the Vampire is a 1944 American horror film directed by Lew Landers. The movie features Bela Lugosi in a role reminiscent of his iconic portrayal of Dracula.

Set in London during World War II, the story revolves around the resurrection of a malevolent vampire named Armand Tesla (Bela Lugosi). Tesla had been destroyed by Professor Walter Saunders (Gilbert Emery) years earlier, but a bomb during an air raid accidentally uncovers his tomb, allowing him to return to life.

With the help of his loyal werewolf servant Andreas Obry (Matt Willis), Tesla resumes his reign of terror. He seeks revenge against those who thwarted him in the past and sets his sights on a young girl named Nicki Saunders (Nina Foch), the granddaughter of Professor Saunders.

Determined to stop Tesla once and for all, Professor Saunders enlists the assistance of a fellow scientist, Lady Jane Ainsley (Frieda Inescort), and a vampire expert, Sir Frederick Fleet (Miles Mander). Together, they confront the resurrected vampire and his supernatural powers in a battle between good and evil.

Rodan 1956

Rodan, also known as “Sora no Daikaijū Radon” in Japan, is a 1956 Japanese science fiction kaiju film directed by Ishirō Honda. The movie features one of Toho Studios’ iconic giant monsters and is a classic of the kaiju genre.

Synopsis: The story is set in the mining town of Kitamatsu, Japan, where a series of mysterious and deadly events begin to unfold. Miners are disappearing deep underground, and strange fossils are discovered in the depths of the mine.

As the investigation into these anomalies deepens, it becomes evident that a prehistoric creature, a monstrous pterosaur known as Rodan, has been awakened from its long slumber by underground nuclear testing. Rodan, with its supersonic flying ability and deadly strength, emerges as a catastrophic threat. As the military and scientists race to confront the colossal menace, Rodan’s destructive power becomes apparent. The creature’s rampage and aerial attacks on cities lead to widespread devastation and loss of life.

The Reptile 1966

The Reptile is a 1966 British horror film produced by Hammer Film Productions, with a folklorist and Gothic flair. The movie combines elements of Gothic horror and mystery directed by John Gilling and written by Anthony Hinds.

The story is set in the remote village of Clagmoor Heath in Cornwall, England. Newlyweds Harry Spalding (Ray Barrett) and his wife Valerie (Jennifer Daniel) move into a cottage previously owned by Harry’s late brother, Charles.

Strange and unsettling events begin to occur in the village, including a series of mysterious deaths. The local doctor, Dr. Franklyn (Noel Willman), is secretive about the cause of these deaths, and the villagers are filled with fear and suspicion.

As Harry and Valerie investigate the sinister occurrences, they discover that a deadly and supernatural secret haunts the village. A curse transforms one of the villagers into a reptilian creature, a half-human, half-snake entity, and this monstrous creature is responsible for the deaths.

The Spaldings must uncover the truth behind the curse and confront the malevolent force behind it before they too become victims of the reptilian terror that stalks Clagmoor Heath.

This is you EverLovin’ Joey Sayin’ Rrrrrrrgghhh!!! don’t look behind you, I think it’s the letter Ssssss!

4 thoughts on “A Trailer a Day Keeps the Boogeyman Away! Halloween A-Z

  1. What a great series you have here, Jo! I finally had some time to sit and read through all these reviews and now I have heaps of films to check out before Halloween. From today’s list alone, The Return of the Vampire and The Reptile are new-to-me, so I’ll definitely be watching one of those tonight.

    1. I’m glad you’re enjoying this! October is always a fun month for me. I hope you get to see some fun movies. I really try to showcase some of the more obscure movies…. Happy Halloween!

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