This medical science gone wrong horror thriller directed by Nick Grinde stars the incomparable Boris Karloff plays the kindly and sympathetic character of Dr. John Garth a physician seeking a serum that will fend off the aging process. Garth is placed on death row for conducting a mercy killing but permitted to pursue his experiments with his serum on the other inmates’ blood, while secretly testing it on himself. Helping him with his research is his colleague Dr. Ralph Howard (Edward Van Sloan) Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, Dracula’s Daughter 1936) They inject Garth with the experimental serum taken from one of the executed murderers, a man who was criminally insane. Though he Garth murders his colleague and a prison trustee, he manages to fool them into giving him a pardon for his work as a humanitarian. Dr. Garth emerges as a Jekyll and Hyde personality becoming a homicidal killer. One of the best early chillers utilizing the very morbid yet enthralling idea that blood has it’s own consciousness. A concept that will be used in films later on down the road acting on the same premise that the human body, blood tissue and bone retain the memory of the criminal whose body they belonged to. Pulsing with a life force unique to that singular identity.
B movie queen Evelyn Keyes plays Garth’s daughter Martha. Don Beddoe is Capt. McGraw and Bruce Bennett (Mildred Pierce 1945 Dark Passage 1947) plays Dr. Paul Ames
Boris Karloffis Dr. Henryk Savaard a scientist working in the field of medicine searching for a means to prolong life. His experiments emplo a mechanical heart to revive his subjects after they’ve been pronounced technically dead. Medical student Bob Roberts (Stanley Brown) volunteers to be the first subject of Dr. Savaard’s experiment. Savaard’s nurse Betty Crawford (Ann Doran Penny Serenade 1941,The Strange Love of Martha Ivers 1946) is frantic about her boyfriend Bob submitting to this and calls the police. They arrest Dr. Savaard for killing his assistant and he goes to trial. Dr. Savaard tries desperately to explain his altruistic intentions to the jury but he is found guilty and sentenced to hang. Savaard has instructed his assistant Lang (Byron Foulger) to bring him back from the dead using his methods with the mechanical heart. Soon after mysteriously, six members of the jury who have convicted Dr. Savaard wind up committing suicide by hanging themselves. The other six jurors, the judge, prosecutor, police inspector and nurse Crawford are invited to Savaard’s house so that he can exact his revenge!
Lorna Gray plays Savaard’s daughter Janet, Charles Trowbridge plays Judge Bowman and Don Beddoe as Police Lt. Shane. One of Karloff’s great sympathetic scientist thrillers with wonderful atmospherics in this other Nick Grinde B movie classic.
Val Lewton’s visually haunting condemnation of mental asylums. Mark Robson directs Boris Karloff in perhaps one of his most vicious roles as the sadistic Master George Sims. Challenged by Mistress Bowen (Anna Lee) for his cruelty and inhumane treatment of the inmates, Sims orchestrates her confinement to Bedlam as she tries to reform the horrible conditions of the place. Stunning and brutal, Bedlam is the most savage story in the Lewton canon. With a wonderful appearance by character actor Ian Wolfe who always brings a bit of perspicuity to any film.
Writer/DirectorJean Cocteau’smagnificent & visually surreal odyssey thanks in part to the stunning cinematography by Henri Alekan. Starring Jean Marais as the enigmatic Beast who falls in love with the beautiful Belle Josette Day who has come to his hidden castle in order to take her father’s place as his prisoner. Beast falls in love with Belle and wishes to marry her. At first horrified by the presence of this mysterious creature, she grows to care deeply for him. This film presents some of the most intoxicating imagery you’ll ever see. My only complaint is that I found the Beast far more attractive than the prince.
René Clémentworked as technical advisor and Hagop Arakelian was responsible for designing the regal Beast make-up. The set decoration, production design, sound, film editing and costuming all create a fairytale landscape which is well… a thing of beauty!
The sensual Carroll Baker(Baby Doll 1956, Something Wild 1961) who later became one of the queens of the Euro-Exploitation realm (The Sweet Body of Deborah 1968, Paranoia 1969, So Sweet… So Perverse 1969, A Quiet Place to Kill 1970,The Devil Has Seven Faces 1971) inhabits the role of Baba Yaga.
Based on Guido Grepax’s ‘Valentina’ a pornographic comic, the film is less about the trope of good vs evil and suggests more the exploration of the heroine’s ‘body’ and the consumption of pleasure and pain. Isabelle De Funèsis Valentina, a photographer who falls under the spell of a bewitched camera, and the sapphic enchantress Baba Yaga who desires to possess her. The film is filled with surreal imagery, erotic reveries and sado-masochistic fetishism. Ely Galeani (A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin 1971) plays the living doll.
Directed by Bert I Gordon, who leaves behind gigantism for a moment to delve into satanism. Orson Welles is Mr. Cato a practitioner of the dark arts and leader of a coven in the small town of Lilith, who wants desperately to bring his dead son back to life. He seeks out Pamela Franklin who plays Lori Brandon, a girl who has the power to help him raise the dead. When she and her husband Frank (Michael Ontkean) move to Lilith guided by the lure of a new career, Lori finds out much to her horror the true reason behind Cato’s motives. Some very atmospheric moments, with the ghost of a little boy that taunts Franklin and some eerie exterior camera work. Also co-stars Lee Purcell as Priscilla. I’m a big fan of Franklin’s though I didn’t choose an image of her for this post.
Director José Mojica Marinsinhabits the role of Zé do Caixão better known as Coffin Joe, a diabolically creepy gravedigger with wicked nails like claws who sports a top hat and cloak as he terrorizes the villagers with his evil desires. His lover Lenita can not bare him a child. He begins to pursue Terezinha de Oliveira (Magda Mei) who is engaged to his friend Antonio. Zé do Caixão murders Lenita & Antonio. He rapes Terezinha hoping to get her pregnant, but she commits suicide instead. Comes the Day of the Dead, he is warned by the local gypsy that his deeds will come back to avail themselves and send him to hell!
Zé do Caixão: “What is life? It is the beginning of death. What is death? It is the end of life! What is existence? It is the continuity of blood. What is blood? It is the reason to exist!”
Mojica Marin’s film is a brutal and surreal journey into a nightmarish landscape…
5 Down, 145 to go!-MonsterGirl on a mission to keep it short
Director Roy Ward Baker’s horror anthology based on several tales by master story teller Robert Bloch (Psycho 1960) When Dr. Martin (Robert Powell) a psychiatrist looking for employment arrives at the asylum for the criminally insane he doesn’t know quite what he’s stepping into. Patrick Magee plays Dr. Rutherford who gives him the odd assignment of figuring out which one of the patients is actually a former psychiatrist gone mad. Martin is sent to talk to four separate inmates who then relate their own personal bizarre experiences of the macabre and how they ultimately landed in the asylum. This is one of the best Amicus productions with a slew of fantastic actors to fill out the cast. It’s cheeky and eerie and most definitely a contender for some of the Hammer horror anthologies with it’s horrific shock value and campy dark humor. The cast includes: Peter Cushing in ‘The Weird Taylor’, Britt Ekland and Charlotte Rampling in ‘Lucy Comes to Stay’, and one of my favs Barbara Parkins (Valley of the Dolls 1967) Richard Todd and Sylvia Syms in ‘Frozen Fear. The last segment is entitled ‘Manikins of Horror’ with Herbert Lom!
Five people get lost in a crypt and meet up with a strange crypt keeper who tells them stories of how they died. Another Amicus anthology this time directed by Freddie Francis. Stars Joan Collins, Peter Cushing, Ian Hendry, Patrick Magee, Nigel Patrick, Robert Hutton and Ralph Richardson as The Crypt Keeper.
Directed by Robert Fuest (The Abominable Dr. Phibes 1971, The Devil’s Rain 1975) and written by Brian Clemens. Pamela Franklin plays Jane and Michele Dotrice is Cathy, two English twenty somethings touring around the rural French countryside. The two argue about the route and become split up, Cathy vanishes without a trace. Jane begins to search for her friend, and stumbles into a world of alienation and the very real threat of a sex murderer on the loose. Who can she rely on as she desperately tries to find her disappeared girlfriend while she is being stalked by a crazed killer.
Director/ScreenwriterAlfred Sole’sbrutal tale of murder and madness that draws heavily on Catholic symbolism, the dark underbelly of American religious zeal and childhood trauma. Incredibly atmospheric and disturbing as the backlash of the supposed sacred and holy premise of family and church become a nightmarish landscape of psychological paroxysm. Paula E. Sheppard plays the very troubled Alice Spages a 12 year old girl who doesn’t quite seem to fit in. She lives with her mother Catherine (Linda Miller) and beautiful younger sister Karen (Brooke Shields) whom Catherine dotes on. One day Karen is murdered in a horrific manner and left inside the church on the day of her holy communion. Of course, all eyes are on the disturbed emotionless Alice. Soon more murders are committed by a savage knife wielding killer in a grotesque clear plastic mask and bright yellow rain coat. One of the best psychological horrors of the 70s! Cat lovers be warned a kitten is killed in this film…
Director/Showman extraodinaire William Castlebrings us writer Robb White’s story centered around a quirky dilapidated mansion once owned by eccentric scientist/occultist Dr. Plato Zorba who collected ghosts from around the world, and invented goggles that enable you to see them. When Dr. Zorba dies he wills the strange house and it’s ‘contents’ to his nephew Cyrus Zorba (Donald Woods) and family, wife Hilda (Rosemary De Camp), son Buck (Charles Herbert) and daughter Medea (Jo Morrow). The Zorba family is broke, the bank has even reclaimed the last bit of furnishings. While blowing out the candles on his birthday, Buck wishes for a house with furniture that can’t be taken away. So the fortuitous inheritance comes just in time. Not long after moving in they discover that the house is haunted. Cyrus finds uncle Plato’s notes and learns about the 12 ghosts that inhabit the house, including Dr. Zorba himself who also leaves his housekeeper Elaine Zacharides (Margaret Hamilton) whom Buck constantly refers to as a witch, not a subtle homage to her role in The Wizard of Oz. Hamilton adds a nice bit of nostalgic camp to the creepy environment; floating objects, hidden panels, a bed canopy that closes up like a vice grip to crush the person sleeping in it, and lurking cob webby fiends who lunge from the shadows. Trapped within the walls of the house are the 12 manifested ghosties: the crying lady, a feisty skeleton, a meat cleaving Italian chef who murdered his wife and her lover in the kitchen, a roaring lion along side its headless tamer, and Dr. Zorba himself. They need a 13th ghost to set them free. The family is in danger because of the fortune hidden in the house. Martin Milner plays Benjamen Rush, the lawyer who handles the estate for the Zorbas. Is there a flesh and blood killer among them looking for the hidden fortune. Well, you’ll just have to find out for yourself… A true William Castle fun house ride.
Good Evening… MonsterGirl here, to let you know that I’ve decided to give myself a challenge. I know I write a lot about obscure gems and I do love shining my flashlight on the deep cobwebby corners of cinema throwing a little Joey radiance on films you might not ordinarily think of.
But I got to pondering… people don’t truly know what my personal favorite films are. I do have lists on IMDb but I don’t spend a consistent enough amount of time here at The Last DriveIn showing you who I am through those particular films that have absolutely resonated with me over the years. Masterpieces or little artistic offerings that I love so much I often find it hard to articulate the way I feel about them, and wind up chickening out like Don Knott’s Luther Heggs (The Ghost & Mr. Chicken) for fear my post just won’t do them justice.
So I thought to myself, it’s really time I start posting at least little snippets of the films that are my chosen favorites, but because I go off on tangents and get so easily distracted by the glorious regalia of schlock, cult and melodramatic fanfare out there, the challenge to myself would be to list my TOP classic horror films, YET use only ONE photo, and ONE brief paragraph about the film working through my list til the end of the summer.
I started out with trying to list 100. I failed miserably. Then I thought okay let’s do 120. Again that was as big a flop as Barney Fife’s sidecar or one of Grandpa Munster’s wily inventions!
I managed to come up with 150, with my sneaky way of fitting in a bunch of extras by making certain films pairings. Some I chose to couple because they just naturally seem to be companion pieces for each other. The stories somehow connect, or the imagery or confluence of vision seem to match up with the filmmakers who made them.
What ever the reason, it’s my list so you’ll have to just accept that I am not one who can narrow down her loves to one thing… It can’t be done. I’ve tried. Even with that proverbial gun to my head, I had to keep the list rolling. How can I leave out certain films, that I just adore. I was like that as a littleMonsterGirlwith my stuffed animals. I’d pile each and every one of them into my bed at night with no room left for me, for fear that even one might feel abandoned. That’s the kind of gentle and thoughtful MonsterGirl I am. So 150 ‘errr… or so, is truly an accomplishment for me, truly it is…
Now, I can tell you that Rosemary’s Baby and The Haunting are my all time obsessions, and soon I really do need to talk about both of them as well as Tourneur’sCurse of the Demon and expand on Narciso Ibáñez Serrador’s beautifully Gothic The House That Screamed 1969 with Lili Palmer And there’s a few others that are absolutely going to wind up being examined extensively here at The Last Drive In at some point. But if long winded me waited til that got done, you’d never learn which classic horror films are my beloved total favs. The ones I’d pick to show as a marathon on Halloween or at my own real Drive- In Movie Theater if I ever won the lottery and managed to open up a fabulous retro Drive-in Theater/Cat Sanctuary. That’s a dream of mine you know…
And you know, something funny happens when you post YOUR list on IMDb. People leave the most delightful (exasperating) unsolicited comments like, “why didn’t you include…” or “nice list but, what about … ” And I find myself becoming like Daffy Duck who uncovers the pearl in the giant clam and goes off on his little tirade spewing, “It’s mine, it’s mine, it’s all mine, you understand.”
That’s the point of making my own list. Because it’s MINE….. So if you don’t see a film here that would be YOUR choice, don’t take it personally. Make a list of your own, and I’ll be the first to come and toast it, bring it slippers and pet it’s head. In fact, please feel free to let me know what YOUR favorites are. I encourage you to do just that. But this is MY LIST, mine, mine all mine… get the picture?
Another essential thing to take note of here is that I can not possibly qualify which films are better than the rest. I won’t nor can’t do that. I think It’s theoretically impossible to compare different films and decide which is the best in order of rank. Each has it’s own unique set of qualities and inherent atmosphere. All I know is that I love them, so they made my list. To facilitate things, I’ve put them in alphabetical order. Not from better to worse. I hate qualifying things anyway or lists that try to elevate one film by diminishing another by quantifying them.
Some could be considered Horror/Sci-Fi/Fantasy hybrids, or Suspense/Horror hybrids. The one’s I’ve chosen seem to fall nicely into the classic horror realm even if their is a science element to them because there is the presence of the supernatural. Also within the contexts of what makes a suspense film delve into a horror narrative , I consider if it contains a rather grotesque, brutal or savage set of details, that’s how I’ve chosen to elevate them to the rank of horror film and not just a suspense story. This again is my own personal opinion.
So don’t think that I love 13 Ghoststhe most and White Zombie the least, or that I’m batty because I think that anyone who carries around a hat box containing a women’s severed head as was the case in Night Must Fall, qualifies as horrific. That’s just how I’ve organized things here. And I’m certain someone will over look this little explanation anyway and argue with me that Night of The Living Dead should be Number 1. It’s inevitable that the peanut gallery will speak out…
Again, this challenge is just a way of forcing myself to fill my blog with the films that fascinate, titillate and inspire me. A personal challenge to only write ONE paragraph, with ONE defining photograph from that film, ONE image that sums up the narrative and nothing else. No long-winded synopsis or MonsterGirl’s theorizing to the four directions and not my usual visual presentation that goes on til the cows come home…
So now that I’ve finished my post for the Mary Astor Blogathon I’ll start this, and of course I’ll still be releasing a few features and smaller running posts like A Trailer a Day keeps the Boogeyman Away and Postcards From Shadowland etc. I’ve had a bunch of interesting ideas on the slab since the House of Usher crumbled and fell, so I’m looking to present these 150 little posts throughout the summer. I’ll watch and tell you– as if we were in an elevator only going up a few floors– about my favorites as I count down through the 150 or so, (er, hum) classic horror films.
If all goes well, I might just do the same for my top ClassicFilm Noir, Classic Suspense/Thriller, and Classic Sci-Fi/Fantasy films.
Here’s a sneak peek at the list is in alphabetical order: I hope some of your favorites are on here too!
ALICE SWEET ALICE
AND SOON THE DARKNESS
ASYLUM/TALES FROM THE CRYPT
AT MIDNIGHT I’LL TAKE YOUR SOUL
BABA YAGA / NECROMANCY
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
BEFORE I HANG / THE MAN THEY COULD NOT HANG
BELL FROM HELL
BLACULA / COUNT YORGA VAMPIRE
BLOOD AND ROSES / SPIRITS OF THE DEAD
BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN / FRANKENSTEIN
CARNIVAL OF SOULS
CASTLE OF BLOOD (DANZE MACARBRA)
CAT PEOPLE / CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE
CHILDREN SHOULDN’T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS
CORRIDORS OF BLOOD
CRY OF THE BANSHEE
CURSE OF THE DEMON
DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS
DEAD AND BURIED
DEAD OF NIGHT /FLESH AND FANTASY
DR. BLOOD’S COFFIN
DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK
DON’T LOOK NOW
DRACULA (1931) / THE WOLF MAN
EYE OF THE DEVIL
EYES WITHOUT A FACE
FIEND WITHOUT A FACE / FROM HELL IT CAME
FOUR SKULLS OF JONATHAN DRAKE / THE THING THAT COULDN’T DIE
FRENZY / PEEPING TOM
GAMES / WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH HELEN?
GOD TOLD ME TO
GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE
HATCHET FOR A HONEYMOON
HOMEBODIES / THE EVICTORS
HORROR HOTEL(CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD)
HOUSE OF USHER
HOUSE OF WAX
HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL
HOW AWFUL ABOUT ALLAN / A TASTE OF EVIL
HUSH… HUSH SWEET CHARLOTTE / WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?
I BURY THE LIVING
I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE / ISLE OF THE DEAD
ISLAND OF LOST SOULS
KILL BABY KILL / LISA AND THE DEVIL
LEMORA: A CHILD’S TALE OF THE SUPERNATURAL
LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE / TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD
LET’S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH
MESSIAH OF EVIL (DEAD PEOPLE)
NIGHT GALLERY – (PILOT MOVIE) / TRILOGY OF TERROR
NIGHT MUST FALL / SECRET BEYOND THE DOOR
NIGHT OF THE EAGLE (BURN WITCH BURN)
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD / DAWN OF THE DEAD
NO WAY TO TREAT A LADY
PIT AND THE PENDULUM
PLAY MISTY FOR ME
PSYCHO/THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE
RACE WITH THE DEVIL
REPULSION / DIABOLIQUE
SCREAMING MIMI / THE STRANGLER
SILENT NIGHT BLOODY NIGHT / DON’T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT
STRANGLER OF THE SWAMP / FäHRMANN MARIA
SUSPIRIA / DEEP RED
THE ABOMINABLE DR.PHIBES
THE AMITYVILLE HORROR
THE AWFUL DR. ORLOF / THE HORRIBLE DR. HITCHCOCK
THE BAD SEED
THE BEAST IN THE CELLAR / THE SHUTTERED ROOM
THE BEAST WITH FIVE FINGERS
THE BLACK CAT/BLACK FRIDAY
THE BLOOD SPLATTERED BRIDE
THE BROTHERHOOD OF SATAN
THE DEVIL COMMANDS
THE DEVIL’S RAIN
THE DUNWICH HORROR / DIE MONSTER DIE
THE EVIL DEAD
THE HAUNTED PALACE
THE HAUNTED STRANGLER
THE HAUNTING OF JULIA
THE HOUSE THAT SCREAMED
THE INVISIBLE RAY / THE WALKING DEAD
THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE
THE MAN WHO LAUGHS / THE UNKNOWN
THE MAN WHO TURNED TO STONE
THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH
THE MAZE/NIGHT TIDE
THE MEPHISTO WALTZ
THE MUMMY / THE INVISIBLE MAN
THE NANNY/DEAD RINGER
THE NIGHT STALKER / THE NIGHT STRANGLER
THE NIGHT WALKER
THE NORLISS TAPES / HORROR AT 37,000 FEET
THE OMEGA MAN / THE LAST MAN ON EARTH
THE PREMONITION/ PSYCHIC KILLER
THE QUEEN OF SPADES
THE REINCARNATION OF PETER PROUD
THE SCREAMING SKULL
THE SEVENTH VICTIM
THE STEPFORD WIVES
THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN
THE UNINVITED / THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR
FIEND WITHOUT A FACE / FROM HELL IT CAME
THE VELVET VAMPIRE
THE WITCH WHO CAME FROM THE SEA / MARY MARY BLOODY MARY