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Category: Christopher Lee
Movie Scientist Blogathon 2016- The Menacing Altruism of Boris Karloff!
Hosted By Christina Wehner & Silver Screenings
This is a Blogathon I just couldn’t resist, aside from the nifty idea, I always love the opportunity to cover one of my favorite actors… the great Boris Karloff. Corridors of Blood is a fine example of how Karloff’s benevolent charisma always manages to create a sympathetic ‘monster’ either virtual or psychologically. He appeared in several films as the altruistic scientist seeking and working toward the ultimate good, only to inadvertently create a creeping chaos unraveling in a most horrific way.
Speaking for myself and I am assured a gazillion other fans, even at his most nefarious, we never fail to align ourselves with most of Karloff’s characters, perhaps with the exception of the sadistic Mord in Tower of London (1939) and the maniacal Master George Sims in Bedlam (1946). But, for most of his performances, including his poignant portrayal of Mary Shelley’s eternally replicated monster, we began to see the depth of Karloff’s craft. It’s an art form in and of itself to be able to manifest personae that can be simultaneously benevolent and menacing, accessible and yet frightening- the ultimate anti-hero… (Vincent Price has that awesome quality as well). It is this gift that makes Karloff so beloved and so compelling to watch over and over again!
Thanks once again to Christina Wehner and Ruth from Silver Screenings for coming up with a fantastic topic and allowing me to come out and play!
From Boris Karloff More Than a Monster: The Authorized Biography by Stephen Jacobs ” The scriptwriters had the insane scientist transplant brains, hearts, lungs and other vital organs. The cycle ended when they ran out of parts of anatomy that could be photographed decently.” Boris Karloff (1962)
CORRIDORS OF BLOOD (1958)
Source: From A Day-by Day Guide to 366 Horror Films -A Year of Fear by Bryan Senn: According to Senn’s marvelous book that includes some wonderful obscure gems, Corridors of Blood (1958) was promoted with this sensationalist trailer-
“You’ll take shock after shock after shock! Don’t hold in your terror; shriek if you must!”
And this quite sobering historical horror/melodrama at times does create several shocking moments, acid thrown in someone’s face, defenestration that result in death by impalement, asphyxiation by pillow, & surgical amputation without anesthesia.
Produced by John Croydon, and directed by Robert Day, The Haunted Strangler and Corridors of Blood were shot back to back and released both in 1958.
Directed by Robert Day (First Man into Space 1959, SHE 1965, slew of superior tv movies such as, The House on Green Apple Road 1970, Ritual of Evil 1970, In Broad Daylight 1971, The Initiation of Sarah 1978 and television dramas: The Streets of San Francisco, The Name of the Game, Circle of Fear, Police Story, McCloud, The Sixth Sense, The Bold Ones, Bracken’s World, & Ironside.)
Corridors of Blood stars Boris Karloff as the kindly Dr. Thomas Bolton, Francis Matthews as Jonathan Bolton, Betta St. John as Jonathan’s girlfriend Susan, a standout performance by Christopher Lee as Resurrection Joe, a surly and imposing agent of death!
Adrienne Corri (Doctor Zhivago 1965, A Clockwork Orange 1971, Vampire Circus 1972, Madhouse 1974) as Rachel : “Some day you’ll wiggle that bottom of yours just once too often.” speaking to Yvonne Romain (Circus of Horror 1960, Curse of the Werewolf 1961, Night Creatures 1962), as Rosa. Carl Bernard as Ned, the Crow and Francis De Wolff as Black Ben –all dwellers of The Seven Dials.
Buxton Orr (Fiend Without A Face 1958, First Man Into Space 1959, Suddenly, Last Summer 1959, Doctor Bloods Coffin 1961 and The Snake Woman 1961) is responsible for the music– a dark and threatening score that underlies some of the more disturbing scenes. Cinematographer Geoffrey Faithfull, (Village of the Damned 1960, Murder She Said 1961, Panic 1963) has done a marvelous job of creating a shadowing world lit with menacing ambiance.
Absent is the traditional monster terrorizing the villagers in the picture, it is more centered around the doctor/scientist who is at the heart of the narrative and his scholarly & personal struggle to find answers hidden in the world of science and medicine. The film opens with the inhabitants of The Seven Dial’s tavern hearing the bell ringer summon the doctor to surgery. The whole effect is very reminiscent of a darkly melancholy Lewtonesque panorama. Once the bell peels throughout the town, even the butcher stops his very aptly to the scene, hacking away at the meat on his table in order to follow to hospital and the operating theater. The camera close up on the door might as well say ‘welcome to hell.’
Continue reading “Movie Scientist Blogathon 2016- The Menacing Altruism of Boris Karloff!”
Hysterical Woman of the Week! Jean Marsh in Dark Places (1973)
DARK PLACES (1973)
Director Don Sharp’s outre creepy foray into the old dark house trope, as Robert Hardy (You might recognize him as Cornelius Fudge in The Harry Potter series) plays Edward Foster / Andrew Marr a man who inherits an estate where a fortune lays hidden. Visited by the malevolent ghosts of two small children, Edward recently released from the asylum begins to inhabit the former owners tragic and violent past… Genuinely atmospheric British horror gem from the 70s!
Co-starring Christopher Lee, Herbert Lom, Joan Collins and Jane Birkin…
Predates many of the films utilizing evil ghosts and various modes of carnage there after!
Jean Marsh plays the truly tightly wound wife Victoria who’s homicidal tendencies are passed onto her two impish yet dangerous children… watch as this fine British lady starts to unwind on husband Andrew. This aint Downton Abbey…!
Stay calm and carry on-Your Everlovin’ MonsterGirl!
Horror Hotel / City of the Dead (1960): A Devilish Lovecraftian Nightmare Shrouded in Smoldering Shadows and Fog
” The basis of fairy tale is in reality. The basis of reality is fairy tales.”-Professor Alan Driscoll
HORROR HOTEL (1960) or The City of the Dead
“Religion. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.” – Ambrose Bierce
“Religious superstition consists in the belief that the sacrifices, often of human lives, made to the imaginary being are essential, and that men may and should be brought to that state of mind by all methods, not excluding violence.”- Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy
“Horror Hotel, next to the graveyard”
Horror Hotel (US) or The City of the Dead (British) (1960) is directed by John Llewellyn Moxey who eventually emigrated to America and became in my opinion one of THE best directors of fantasy, horror, and suspense films made for television. (The House That Would Not Die 1970, The Night Stalker 1972, A Taste of Evil 1971, Home For the Holidays 1972, The Strange and Deadly Occurrence 1974, Where Have All The People Gone 1974, Conspiracy of Terror 1975 once again about a secret cult of devil worshipers this time in the suburbs of California, Nightmare in Badham County 1976, Killjoy 1981 and Desire, The Vampire 1982 not to mention contributing to numerous outstanding television series, and other films too many to list here.)
With a screenplay by George Baxt (The Shadow of the Cat 1961, Strangler’s Web 1965, Vampire Circus 1972 (uncredited) and his really awful mess, Horror of Snape Island 1972) he was also the scenarist on Sidney Hayer’s Circus of Horrors (1959) Baxt went on to do another witchcraft themed film co-scripted with prolific writers Richard Matheson’s (The Legend of Hell House 1973, Trilogy of Terror 1975) and Charles Beaumont’s (The Intruder 1962, Roger Corman’s Masque of the Red Death 1965) The other screenplay was based on Fritz Leiber’s 1943 novel Conjure Wife, which turned into yet another film directed by Sidney Hayer, and was an equally moody and unnerving piece in the trope of black magic-themed films entitled Night of the Eagle or it’s alternative title best known as Burn Witch Burn (1961).
Horror Hotel or City of the Dead is also a story co-scripted by Milton Subotsky an American émigré who relocated to England and eventually took over as the head founder of Amicus the only true rival to Hammer Studios Gothic series of films at the time. Horror Hotel was the first film made by the company then called Vulcan Productions. Subotsky was also the uncredited producer of the film. Released in the States with the title Horror Hotel the film used the inane catchphrase “Just Ring For Doom Service” which is unfortunate as it downplays the truly profound artistic quality of the film’s visual narrative. The film also marks the first appearance of Christopher Lee in the Satanic Cinema genre. Then Lee appeared in The Alfred Hitchcock Hour‘s quite interesting occult-themed sequence rather than Hitch’s usual mystery methodology, an episode entitled, The Sign of Satan (released May 8, 1964, from Season 2 episode 27) where Christopher Lee plays the mysterious foreign actor Karl Jorla in an episode that also dealt with devil worship.
Continue reading “Horror Hotel / City of the Dead (1960): A Devilish Lovecraftian Nightmare Shrouded in Smoldering Shadows and Fog”