MonsterGirl’s Halloween 🎃 2015 special feature! the Heroines, Scream Queens & Sirens of 30s Horror Cinema!

tumblr_mrdmksI2HG1suchdko1_400

gif5

tumblr_msogmvVn8O1sx3mjso1_500

tumblr_muj99vpFow1qa70eyo1_500

Horror cinema was at it’s spooky peak in the 1930s~ the era gave birth to some of the most iconic figures of the genre as well as highlighted some of the most beautiful & beloved heroines to ever light up the scream, oops I mean screen!!!!

We all love the corrupted, diabolical, fiendish and menacing men of the 30s who dominated the horror screen- the spectres of evil, the anti-heroes who put those heroines in harms way, women in peril, –Boris, & Bela, Chaney and March… From Frankenstein, to Dracula, from The Black Cat (1934), or wicked Wax Museums to that fella who kept changing his mind…Jekyll or was it Hyde? From the Mummy to that guy you could see right through, thank you Mr. Rains!

tumblr_nkwgyn1paz1rltb2zo1_1280

Gloria Stuart The Invisible Man

Last year I featured Scream Queens of 40s Classic Horror! This Halloween 🎃 – I felt like paying homage to the lovely ladies of 30s Classic Horror, who squealed up a storm on those stormy dreadful nights, shadowed by sinister figures, besieged by beasts, and taunted with terror in those fabulous frisson filled fright flicks… but lest not forget that after the screaming stops, those gals show some grand gumption! And… In an era when censorship & conservative framework tried to set the stage for these dark tales, quite often what smoldered underneath the finely veiled surface was a boiling pot of sensuality and provocative suggestion that I find more appealing than most contemporary forays into Modern horror- the lost art of the classical horror genre will always remain Queen… !

Let’s drink a toast to that notion!

freakgif3

tumblr_lkv0lu7sdN1qb7328o1_500

The Scream Queens, Sirens & Heroines of 1930s Classic Horror are here for you to runs your eyes over! Let’s give ’em a really big hand, just not a hairy one okay! From A-Z

DoctorX4

FayWray_KingKong_d

phantom in the rue morgue 1954
Phantom in the Rue Morgue 1954

ELIZABETH ALLAN

Elizabeth Allan

A British beauty with red hair who according to Gregory Mank in his Women in Horror Films, 1930s, left England for Hollywood and an MGM contract. She is the consummate gutsy heroine, the anti-damsel Irena Borotyn In Tod Browning’s campy Mark of the Vampire (1935) co-starring with Bela Lugosi as Count Mora (His birthday is coming up on October 20th!) Lionel Atwill and the always cheeky Lionel Barrymore… Later in 1958 she would co-star with Boris Karloff in the ever-atmospheric The Haunted Strangler.

Mark of the Vampire is a moody graveyard chiller scripted by Bernard Schubert & Guy Endore (The Raven, Mad Love (1935) & The Devil Doll (1936) and the terrific noir thriller Tomorrow is Another Day (1951) with sexy Steve Cochran & one of my favs Ruth Roman!)

The film is a Tod Browning’s re-take of his silent Lon Chaney Sr. classic London After Midnight (1927).

The story goes like this: Sir Karell Borotin (Holmes Herbert) is murdered, left drained of his blood, Professor Zelin (Lionel Barrymore) believes it’s the work of vampires. Lionel Atwill once again plays well as the inquiring but skeptical police Inspector Neumann.

MARKOFTHEVAMPIRE
Irena (Elizabeth Allan) and Professor Zelen (Lionel Barrymore) hatch an intricate plot to trap the murderers!

Once Sir Karell’s daughter Irena ( our heroine Elizabeth Allan) is assailed, left with strange bite marks on her neck, the case becomes active again. Neumann consults Professor Zelin the leading expert on Vampires. This horror whodunit, includes frightened locals who believe that Count Mora (Bela in iconic cape and saturnine mannerism) and his creepy daughter Luna  (Carroll Borland) who trails after him through crypt and foggy woods, are behind the strange going’s on. But is all what it seems?

Mark of the Vampire (1935)

Elizabeth Allan and Carroll Borland Mark of the Vampire
Elizabeth Allan (below center) and Carroll Borland as Luna in Tod Browning’s Mark of the Vampire (1935)
Allan and Borland
Elizabeth Allan and Carroll Borland Mark of the Vampire (1935)

The Phantom Fiend (1932)

Directed by the ever interesting director Maurice Elvey (Mr. Wu 1919, The Sign of Four, 1923, The Clairvoyant 1935, The Man in the Mirror 1936, The Obsessed 1952) Elizabeth Allan stars as Daisy Bunting the beautiful but mesmerized by the strange yet sensual and seemingly tragic brooding figure- boarder Ivor Novello as Michel Angeloff in The Phantom Fiend! A remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s first film about Jack the Ripper… The Lodger (1927) starring Novello once again.

the-phantom-fiend-ivor-novello-elizabeth-allan-1932
Ivor Novello is the strange & disturbing Michel Angeloff. Elizabeth Allan is the daughter of the landlords who rent a room to this mysterious fellow who might just be a serial killer. Daisy Bunyon falls captivated by this tormented and intense young man…
The Phantom Fiend
A.W. Baskcomb plays Daisy’s (Elizabeth Allan)father George Bunting and Jack Hawkins is Joe Martin the regular guy in love with Daisy
You trust me, no matter whatever I've done
Michel Angeloff (Ivor Novello) to Daisy Bunting (Elizabeth Allan) “Stay away from me… don’t ever be alone with me…{…} -You trust me, no matter whatever I’ve done?”

The Mystery of Mr. X (1934)

There is a murderer loose in London who writes the police before he strikes with a sword cane, he signs his name X. It happens that his latest crime occurs on the same night that the Drayton Diamond is stolen. Robert Montgomery as charming as ever, is Nick Revel the jewel thief responsible for the diamond heist, but he’s not a crazed murderer. The co-incidence of the two crimes have put him in a fix as he’s now unable to unload the gem until the police solve the murders.

Elizabeth Allan is the lovely Jane Frensham, Sir Christopher Marche’s (Ralph Forbes) fiancé and Police Commissioner Sir Herbert Frensham’s daughter. Sir Christopher is arrested for the X murders, and Nick and Jane band together, fall madly in love and try to figure out a way to help the police find the real killer!

CapturFiles_1

CapturFiles_4

HEATHER ANGEL

HEATHER-ANGEL-

Heather Angel is a British actress who started out on stage at the Old Vic theatre but left for Hollywood and became known for the Bulldog Drummond series. While not appearing in lead roles, she did land parts in successful films such as Kitty Foyle, Pride and Prejudice (1940), Cry ‘Havoc’ (1943) and Lifeboat (1944). IMDb notes -Angel tested for the part of Melanie in Gone with the Wind (1939), the role was given to Olivia de Havilland.

Heather Angel possessed a sublime beauty and truly deserved to be leading lady rather than relegated to supporting roles and guilty but pleasurable B movie status.

The L.A times noted about her death in 1986 at age 77 “Fox and Universal ignored her classic training and used her in such low- budget features as “Charlie Chans Greatest Case and “Springtime for Henry.”

Her performances in Berkeley Square and The Mystery of Edwin Drood were critically acclaimed… More gruesome than the story-lines involving her roles in Edwin Drood, Hound of the Baskervillles or Lifeboat put together is the fact that she witnessed her husband, stage and film directer Robert B. Sinclair’s vicious stabbing murder by an intruder in their California home in 1970.

Heather Grace Angel was born in Oxford, England, on February 9, 1909.
Heather Angel in Berkeley Square (1933) Image courtesy Dr Macro

The Hound of the Baskervilles (1932)

Heather Angel is Beryl Stapleton in this lost (found negatives and soundtracks were found and donated to the British Film Institute archives) adaptation of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holme’s thriller Originally serialised in The Strand magazine between 1901 and 1902.

In this first filmed talkie of Doyle’s more horror oriented story it calls for the great detective to investigating the death of Sir Charles Baskerville and solve the strange killing that takes place on the moors, feared that there is a supernatural force, a monstrous dog like fiend that is menacing the Baskerville family ripping the throats from it’s victims. The remaining heir Sir Henry is now threatened by the curse.

hound-of-the-baskervilles-chien-des-baskervilles-1932-g

Mystery of Edwin Drood (1935)

heather_angel_
Douglass Montgomery as Neville Landless and Heather Angel as Rosa Bud in the intensely superior rare gem The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1935)

Mystery of Edwin Drood (played by David Manners) is a dark and nightmarish Gothic tale of mad obsession, drug addiction and heartless murder! Heather Angel plays the beautiful and kindly young student at a Victorian finishing school, Rosa Bud engaged to John Jasper’s nephew Edwin Drood. The opium chasing, choir master John Jasper (Claude Rains) becomes driven to mad fixation over Rosa, who is quite aware of his intense gaze, she becomes frightened and repulsed by him.

tumblr_ntr7a0kTvf1qbnleeo1_500

The brooding & malevolent Rains frequents a bizarre opium den run by a menacing crone (Zeffie Tilbury), a creepy & outre moody whisper in the melody of this Gothic horror/suspense tale!

Angel and Hobson

Valerie Hobson plays twin sister Helena Landless, the hapless Neville’s sister. (We’ll get to one of my favorites, the exquisite Valerie Hobson in just a bit…) When Neville and Helena arrive at the school, both Edwin and he vie for Rosa’s affections. When Edwin vanishes, naturally Neville is the one suspected in his mysterious disappearance.

OLGA BACLANOVA

Olga Baclanova

Though I’ll always be distracted by Baclanova’s icy performance as the vicious Cleopatra in Tod Browning’s masterpiece Freaks which blew the doors off social morays and became a cultural profane cult film, Baclanova started out as a singer with the Moscow Art Theater. Appearing in several silent films, she eventually co-starred as Duchess Josiana with Conrad Veidt as the tragic Gwynplaine, in another off-beat artistic masterpiece based on the Victor Hugo story The Man Who Laughs (1928)

Freaks (1932)

Tod Browning produced & directed this eternally disturbing & joyful portrait of behind the scenes melodrama and at times the Gothic violence of carnival life… based on the story ‘Spurs’ by Tod Robbins. It’s also been known as Nature’s Mistress and The Monster Show.

It was essential for Browning to attain realism. He hired actual circus freaks to bring to life this quirky Grand Guignol, beautifully grotesque & macabre tale of greed, betrayal and loyalty.

Cleopatra (Baclanova) and Hercules (Henry Victor) plan to swindle the owner of the circus Hans, (Harry Earles starring with wife Frieda as Daisy) out of his ‘small’ fortune by poisoning him on their wedding night. The close family of side show performers exact a poetic yet monstrous revenge! The film also features many memorable circus folk. Siamese conjoined twins Daisy & Violet Hilton, also saluted in American Horror Story (Sarah Paulson another incredible actress, doing a dual role) Schlitze the pinhead and more!

Freaks

Anyone riveted to the television screen to watch Jessica Lange’s mind blowing performance as Elsa Mars in American Horror Story’s: Freak Show (2014) will not only recognize her superb nod to Marlene Dietrich, but much reverence paid toward the Tod Browning’s classic and Baclanova’s cunning coldness.

Baclanova-Olga-Freaks

( BTW as much as I adore Frances McDormand, Lange should have walked away with the Emmy this year! I’ve rarely seen a performance that balances like a tight rope walker, the subtle choreography between gut wrenching pathos & ruthless sinister vitriol. Her rendition of Bowie’s song Life on Mars…will be a Film Score Freak feature this Halloween season! No I can’t wait… here’s a peak! it fits the mood of this post…)

Annex - Baclanova, Olga (Freaks)_02

Baclanova and Earles

harry-earles-180
“You Freaks!!!!”
freakgif4-1
Gooba Gabba… I guess she isn’t one of us after all!

here she is as the evil Countess/duchess luring poor Gwynplain into her clutches The Man Who Laughs (1928)

Annex - Veidt, Conrad (Man Who Laughs, The)_01

Continue reading “MonsterGirl’s Halloween 🎃 2015 special feature! the Heroines, Scream Queens & Sirens of 30s Horror Cinema!”

A Trailer a day keeps the Boogeyman away! Happy Birthday Boris Karloff

Happy Birthday you gentle-man of suspense and terror !!! BORIS KARLOFF

Born November 23rd 1887-1969

Annex - Karloff, Boris_NRFPT_17
Photo of Boris Karloff courtesy of Dr. Macro

Isle of the Dead  (1945)

Frankenstein 1931

Corridors of Blood 1958

The Body Snatcher 1945

The Devil Commands 1941

The Haunted Strangler 1958

Dear Boris: Whether Wicked or Tortured, Nefarious or Sympathetic…

I will always love you and wish you were my grandpa!

Love Joey (MonsterGirl)

The Electrical Secrets of Kenneth Strickfaden: or as Harry Goldman’s book calls him -“Dr Frankenstein’s Electrician”

Kenneth Strickfaden-(1896–1984)

I saw—with shut eyes, but acute mental vision—I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life and stir with an uneasy, half-vital motion. Frightful must it be, for supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavor to mock the stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the world.

— Mary Shelley

Colin Clive -Frankenstein 1930

When I think of Kenneth Strickfaden I visualize the mad scientist grabbing the master switch in his clandestine laboratory. Suddenly the machinery hums and glows, glass tubes boil with liquids, electrical currents charge through the coiled tubes and conductance. Lighting leaps across the sky and finds its way into the diving spot in the lab. The crackle, snapping hiss and sparks of ozone. The well orchestrated machinery of mad science that now act as futuristic hardware. The electrical odor that would still permeate the air for years to come as he shaped the way we perceived the mad scientist labs and mysterious scientific exploration!

early days Strickfaden assembling a mad scientist apparatus
early days Strickfaden assembling a mad scientist apparatus

Kenneth Strickfaden was an expert in high voltage electricity, film set designer, and electrical special effects master. Using his skills as a carnival electrician, he created the science fiction apparatus that can be seen in more than 100 films and television programs, showcasing Strickfaden’s technical phantasmagoria of light and sound!

I often wonder how many of these films centered around mad science and the laboratory environment utilized some of Strickfaden’s machines and electrical effects without giving him credit.

The Devil Commands
Boris Karloff in The Devil Commands
Karloff, Boris (Man They Could Not Hang, The)
Boris Karloff in The Man They Could Not Hang
man made monster
Man Made Monster

I can see influences in Edward Dymtryk’s  The Devil Commands 1941 with Boris Karloff. With art direction by Lionel Banks and props by Franz, Oscar and Paul Dallons. The Man They Could Not Hang 1939  & Man Made Monster 1941  Set direction by Russell A Gausman and John P Fulton who had worked with Strickfaden before. I believe Strickfaden did the special effects and used part of his equipment for. Doctor X (1932) , The Invisible Man 1933, The Man Who Lived Again and more!

Dr X mad science
Dr X (1932)
The Man Who Lived Again
The Man Who Lived Again
The Invisible Man set
The Invisible Man 1933

Strickfaden’s first contribution was to Just Imagine 1930. Today it has become something of a “lost” film and nearly impossible to see on the big screen. “While the beautiful art deco sets, enormous miniatures, and remarkable projection effects still amaze,” says Production Designer John Muto, Founder of the ADG Film Series, “the music, comedy, and love story are derived from vaudeville and must have seemed very dated as cinematic musicals exploded in the 1930s. I suspect that may be why the film faded from view. Our audience will discover a very surprising film!”
“Today, most films set in the future portray a bleak, dystopian, even apocalyptic world.” Besides the beautiful art design Just Imagine featured a stunning laboratory filled with electrical equipment  by Ken Strickfaden.

Just Imagine Lab
Just Imagine 1930
The Clutching Hand Strickfaden
The Clutching Hand (1936

But it was his work for James Whale’s 1931 masterpiece Frankenstein, The Bride of Frankenstein and Ghost of Frankenstein that struck like lightening! Stock footage of the lightning bolt generated by Strickfaden’s equipment.can be seen in so many films and television shows. John P Fulton head of the special effects department at Universal Studios was responsible for the special photographic effects-

Jame’s Whale had wanted a lab that was reminiscent of the one in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis 1927 Lang’s art deparment/set designers Otto Hunte, Erich Kettlehut, Walter Schulze-Mittendorf & Karl Vollbrecht. Special effects by Ernst Kunstmann, Konstantin Irmen-Tschet and Erich Kettelhut. Visual effects Eugen Schufftan , Willy Muller, Hugo O Schulze and an uncredited Edgar G. Ulmer.

CapturFiles_16
Metropolis 1927
CapturFiles_20
Fritz Lang’s Metropolis 1927
Oz orb
This orb of Kenneth Strickfaden’s has made it through Fu Manchu’s clutches to the Wicked Witch of the West’s long bony fingers

You can see Strickfaden’s wonderful creations in  The Wizard of Oz , The Mask of Fu Manchu to television’s The Munsters, and his final work, Young Frankenstein. Strickfaden recycled a number of the pieces that he kept maintained like his “Cosmic Ray Diffuser” that he used in the original Frankenstein.

Kenneth Strickfaden was born in 1896-by the time he was in high school he was using a camera and setting up shots of amusement parks, battle scenes, and visualizing and creating his own laboratory apparatus and equipment.

the bride
Thesinger and Clive in The Bride of Frankenstein

When I was just a little tiny wide eyed MonsterGirl I would day dream plenty on rainy days and spend hours down in the basement assembling pieces of metal and plastic doohickeys having taken apart various appliances around the house, trying to create my very own little mad scientist lab. I’d get large pieces of wood and paint the control panels. I could literally spend hours down there pretending to be Dr. Pretorious. I was fascinated by science fiction technology and the secrets of life and death, and the fantastical story telling Universal Monsters had to offer.

Frankenstein near the slab

Boris as Frankenstein on the set

backstage
Backstage on the set of Frankenstein

My pop would continually ask me where I put his hammer, though it was true most of the time, I did take his tools to aide in my small scale construction of a basement laboratory. I was constructing panels with knobs and meters, I didn’t always have his hammer. And by no means did I have the eye or the technical brain to develop such intricate machinery that could spark and crackle streams of white heat, the suggestion of the life force arching in splendor. It just felt so good to be living my own fantasies without being told that I should go play with dolls. That’s also partly how I got to be known as MonsterGirl by the neighborhood bullies. Anyway… back to the genius of Frankenstein’s electrician.

Paul Walter assistant holds the switch box that controlls Strickfaden's Magnalux invention for lighting simulating flashes
Paul Walter assistant holds the switch box that controlls Strickfaden’s Magnalux invention for lighting simulating flashes-Image from Goldman’s book

arcs of electicity

Strickfaden had, the sort of fascination for creating a milieu of science realism , working on our sense of wonder and the possibilities of the creations these machines would aide in either creating life or destroying it, was always a draw for me. His special electrical designs and effects were visually groundbreaking for American film audiences, far-fetched perhaps but divine. He used junk yard electrical parts from the 1930s, fake wiring,high voltage jacob’s ladders (An electric current then flows until the path of ionized gas is broken or it as it rises will pull the arc apart and so extinguish it.) and spark gaps and the occasional Tesla Coil. “Ribbed ceramic insulators are a must… as are the slate front panels and wooden cabinetry that were standard of scientific and medical devices of the day”

And that’s why I wanted to do this little feature tribute to a man who’s responsible for shaping the look of so many classic horror and sci-fi fantasy film milieus over the years. The sets and laboratory apparatus that contributed to the Gothic science mood of the story, came to life because of the innovation Strickfaden used in creating with his fantastical yet plausible designs. As key to the plot structure as the players themselves.

"Megavolt Senior" Tesla coil
image of Strickfaden’s “Megavolt Senior” from Goldman’s Book

Appendix A sparks of light

During the grand days of classic horror between the decades of 1930’s and 1940s, the landscape might have looked entirely different if Kenneth Strickfaden hadn’t been so fascinated with creating apparatus and contraptions that flashed and sparked with high voltage, meters keeping track, tubes and coils and large equipment that paid true homage the science fiction writings he was trying to breath life into himself a technician like Pretorious and Dr. Frankenstein. The appearance of these industrial gadgets and machines, and the look of the laboratory brought such a sense of realism to an already Gothic stunner, and Mary Shelley’s story, too which was ahead for it’s day. As Harry Goldman refers to in his book title, Strickfaden was the right electrician for the job.

Strickfaden high voltage

clive with the bride 'Nebularium"
Colin Clive with Elsa Lanchester as The Bride- notice The Nebularium! Image from Goldman’s Strickfaden-Frankenstein’s Electrician
Famous Monsters of Filmland #21 1963
on the set of Frankenstein-from Famous Monsters of Filmland #21 1963

Though his fascination started in high school by the early 1920s film makers saw the potential in his inventive apparatus. He was given work at many Hollywood studios, in which he offered them a slew of amazing special electrical effects.

From Goldman’s, Kenneth Strickfaden, Dr. Frankenstein’s Electrician, Strickfaden’s work was not easy, “Apparatus constantly failed due to overheating,” he once revealed to writer Scott MacQueen. “Most effects did not photograph as expected, or they were eliminated due to electrical failures.”

Despite these unusual, and expected, setbacks, the onscreen results were phenomenal, and far more convincing than any simulations. Strickfaden made much use of the inventions of Nikola Tesla, which had been perfected more than thirty years before the first Universal Studios “Frankenstein” movie. But, unlike Tesla, he was also concerned with the theatrical “look” of his fanciful contraptions, which had to appear to be futuristic and capable of untold wonders. The names he gave the machines were often equally marvelous, such as: “the retrogressive wave charger,”DXL Accumulator,” and High Amperage Pyrogeyser.”

When, in the late 1940s, real-life scientific marvels turned out to be subtler than Strickfaden’s machines, his work apparently went out of fashion and was little seen in Hollywood until the ’60s, when it was used extensively in The Munsters TV show and in commercials.

notes and more skethes

Before his death in 1984, he spent much time touring with his “Kenstric Space Age Science Show,” educationally demonstrating spectacular electrical phenomena.

Standing fearlessly before a high voltage arc.His reliable switchboard can be seen in the foreground while the famous "Meg Senoir" Tesla coil appears in the background
Standing fearlessly before a high voltage arc.His reliable switchboard can be seen in the foreground while the famous “Meg Senoir” Tesla coil appears in the background

the firescope

The Cosmic Ray Diffuser
The Cosmic Ray Diffuser-Image from Goldman’s Book

A few highlights of Strickfaden’s career include:

Frankenstein (1931) the equipment brought the Mary Shelley’s monster to life.

The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932)  Strickfaden created a dazzling electrical death ray even doubling for Boris Karloff, who played Fu Manchu when the evil mastermind spreads his hands and the powerful lightning dances between his long sinister fingernails.

Murders in the Rue Morgue 1932 Bela Lugosi is Dr Mirakle- Ken Strickfaden lends his electrical gadgets to Mirakle’s laboratory.

Chandu the Magician -Strickfaden’s machines came from FRANKENSTEIN now they equip (Bela Lugosi) Roxor’s lab- His death ray, a giant ray gun that sends pulsating death beams aimed at the major cities of the world!

The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)Strickfaden configured  the electrical displays for the Bride creation sequence.

James Whale and his crew film Ernest Thesiger and Dwight Frye amidst Kenneth Strickfaden's electrical equipment in The Bride of Frankenstein.©1935 Universal Pictures.

The Wizard of Oz (1939) He created the effect of the Wicked Witch of the West trying to remove Dorothy’s ruby slippers and receiving an electrical shock. The orb she uses to scry was a Strickfaden design.

The giant crystal ball that Margaret Hamilton uses as the Wicked Witch was actually uncovered in a junk yard found amidst the remnants of other discarded Hollywood memorabilia from a now defunct prop house. The enormous hand blown glass, with high voltage Tesla coils had a new owner who spotted it in Goldman’s book Dr. Frankenstein’s Electrician. It had been used by Bela as Roxor in Chandu the Magician.  It was a great prop for Boris Karloff in Mask of Fu Manchu, but once he placed it up for auction the new ownder learned that it had actually been the crystal ball used in The Wizard of OZ.

Fighting Devil Dogs (circa 1941)“Manifested projectiles of something like ball lightning.”

Sherlock Holmes Faces Death (1943)He simulated an unusually realistic lightning strike.”

Young Frankenstein (1974) Strickfaden recreated some of his best work from the original Frankenstein.

Lost City 35

Karloff as Fu Manchu

Karloff Fu Manchu

Fu Manchu Boris Karloff

Bela in Chandu the Magician
Bela in Chandu the Magician with the death ray
boogeyman boris
Boris as the absent minded scientist in The Boogeyman Will Get You

lorre and boris boogeyman will get you

Colin Clive Ernest Thesiger The Bride of Frankestein
Ernest Thesiger and Colin Clive in The Bride of Frankenstein

Phantom Creeps set design

The Phantom Creeps K Strickfaden

He was born in Montana in 1896, Kenneth Strickfaden’s was an imaginative and adventurous guy who worked at amusement parks, taking myriads of photos. He traveled overseas serving in World War One. He was also an airplane mechanic so he was very handy technically, having built and tuned Tesla coils and X-Ray machines. A Tesla coil is an electrical resonant transformer circuit invented by Nikola Tesla around 1891. It is used to produce high-voltage, low-current, high frequency Eventually he found himself in Hollywood working as a studio electrician in the late twenties.

Strickfaden holding Melodyne musical disc The large lens appeared in Son of Frankenstain 1939
Image of Strickfaden holding the Melodyne musical disc and large lens that appears in Son of Frankenstein from Goldman’s book Dr. Frankenstein’s Electrician

In 1931, Kenneth Strickfaden was hired to set up the equipment for Frankenstein’s tower laboratory. He was to furnish it with a ‘powerful engine.Strickfaden assembled various machines. One which was used for the lightening powered scene that would help resurrect Boris Karloff’s monster back from the dead to life on the slab. He combined his knowledge of electrical science engineering and part of his love of creating side show electrical pageantry in order to transform Dr Frankenstein’s laboratory into a place of unorthodox alchemy within a modern science dominion.

Kenneth Strickfaden Bride of Frankenstein control panel
Kenneth Strickfaden Bride of Frankenstein control panel-Image from Goldman’s book

At first the designs were to be more streamline and modern in their look, but Strickfaden had managed to construct a place of Gothic dread within the medieval structure of the setting and seamlessly adapt the apparatus of modern science with the stone walls. The juxtaposition of the two worlds adds to the feeling of Dr Frankenstein’s heretical, rebellious and clandestine primacy as his secrets lay hidden away.

Strickfaden’s apparatus quivered, sparked, crackled and shrieked. The imposing levers were pulled in harmony with the dialogue, like an orchestrated scientific waltz. White hot arcs of electrical tendrils reached out and thrust wildly like serpent’s tongues. Beautifully glistening glass vials and tubes sat amidst copper spheres that wound themselves around like industrial jewels. Needles indicated where the force of energy was heading on the dials, and disks whirled like fun-house wheels. It was all so mesmerizing in Frankenstein’s laboratory with it’s arcane machinery that sung the songs of the universe, and the secrets of immortality and life from death, the sounds of voltage that pushed the machinery to its limits.

The Space Beacon

lab device bride notes
The Nebularium device from The Bride of Frankenstein 1935 Image from Goldman’s book
Creating "Nebularium" for House of Dracula '45
Strickfaden creating a Nebularium for House of Dracula ’45. Image from Goldman’s book Dr.Frankenstein’s Electrician

From then on 1931 James Whale’s Frankenstein with its elaborately detailed laboratory up on the mountain tops set the tone for all mad scientist laboratories to follow. Kenneth Strickfaden would utilize and reconfigure his glorious apparatus over and over again in the Frankenstein films that followed, like Bride of Frankenstein.

You can see his fantastical machines like his “Megavolt Tesla Coil” & the Nebularium” in Flash Gordon serials and so many other horror and sci-fi features over the decades. Even in one of the most memorable episodes of The Munsters in the 60s, where Grandpa transfigures Herman into Fred Gwynn, losing his square headed, neck bolted Frankensteinian charm! The episode is called “Just Another Pretty Face.”

And Mel Brooks truly paid homage to the Universal cycle of Frankenstein pictures with his Young Frankenstein in 1974. Co-starring with Cloris Leachman, Madeline Kahn doing her Mae Clarke bit as Elizabeth and Marty Feldman as Igor to Dwight Frye’s Fritz.

Set used on Young Frankenstein
Strickfaden’s machines and apparatus were re-used in Mel Brook’s Young Frankenstein

The Gothic laboratory that Gene Wilder plays Doctor, waxes campy and raises Peter Boyle back to life using a lighting storm and complex equipment that sparks and radiates arcs of light was the very same set of scientific apparatus used from Whale’s masterpiece in 1931 film when Kenneth Strickfaden first configured it all for the set of Frankenstein with Boris Karloff.

Strickfaden died in 1984, and up until that time, he traveled the country with all machines and apparatus, and gave lectures in schools and auditoriums, also creating music with electrical instruments that he designed. He would demonstrate his lighting effects with ultraviolet light on radioactive materials, and shock and amaze students with something he called hi “gravity nuetralizer” He did these programs from 1933 til his death.

Ghost of Frankenstein
The Ghost of Frankestein Basil Rathbone, Bela and Glenn Strange as Frankenstein’s monster
phantom creeps
Bela Lugosi in The Phantom Creeps

Strickfaden would step in at times as a stunt double in the films, for instance, he played Karloff’s monster for a scene that didn’t make it into the film. When Karloff didn’t want to use the “QUCH” machine fearing it was too dangerous as Fu Manchu, Strickfaden stood in for him. He held  a large wand that generated a streaming arc of lightening which called for a million-volt sparks to dance over his body. in Mask of Fu Manchu, Strickfaden was thrown across the set when he wasn’t grounded properly and received a jolt of electricity.

QUCH MACHINE
Kenneth Strickfaden’s QUCH machine-up for auction

He became the most trusted man around high-voltage trickery, yet Strickfaden admits very plainly that there’s no mystery to what he is able to do and that producing high voltage or amperage is rather simple.

One of the key apparatus that Strickfaden uses is his million-volt generator, which produces the large sparks, and fat blue flames that which can actually reach a height of 6 feet into the air. It’s his most intricately designed piece of equipment. The multi-distributor consists of a motor driven set of whirling electrodes that can throw sparks. Strickfaden does say that a shock from the circuits could actually prove fatal.

Another device  Strickfaden used was called a ‘lightening screen’ This is another high voltage generator which throws sparks across a large disk with a radioactive backing. Used with a darkened stage, the radioactive material continues to glow along the path of each spark even once the current has been shut off.

The Tesla Coil in Frankenstein and Mask of Fu Manchu

A note about Nikola Tesla-THE GENIUS WHO LIT THE WORLD- Young Nikola Tesla came to the United States in 1884 with an introduction letter from Charles Batchelor to Thomas Edison:   Nikola Tesla developed polyphase alternating current system of generators, motors and transformers and held 40 basic U.S. patents on the system, which George Westinghouse bought, determined to supply America with the Tesla system.

In February 1882, Tesla discovered the rotating magnetic field, a fundamental principle in physics and the basis of nearly all devices that use alternating current.  Tesla brilliantly adapted the principle of rotating magnetic field for the construction of alternating current induction motor and the polyphase system for the generation, transmission, distribution and use of electrical power. Tesla’s A.C.induction motor is widely used throughout the world in industry and household appliances. It started the industrial revolution at the turn of the century. Electricity today is generated transmitted and converted to mechanical power by means of his inventions. Tesla’s greatest achievement is his polyphase alternating current system which lights is used throughout the world

NOTABLE KENNETH STRICKFADEN-FILMOGRAPHY-CAMERA ART & ELECTRICAL DEPARTMENT

  • JUST IMAGINE 1930
  • FRANKENSTEIN 1931
  • THE MASK OF FU MANCHU 1932
  • MURDER AT DAWN 1932
  • DR. X (1932)
  • THE INVISIBLE MAN 1933
  • THE VANISHING SHADOW 1934
  • THE LOST CITY 1935
  • THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN 1935
  • FLASH GORDON serial 1936
  • THE AMAZING EXPLOITS OF THE CLUTCHING HAND
  • GHOST PATROL 1936
  • THE WIZARD OF OZ 1939
  • THE PHANTOM CREEPS 1939
  • THE SHADOW 1940
  • FIGHTING DEVIL DOGS 1941
  • SHERLOCK HOLMES FACES DEATH 1943
  • THE BOOGEYMAN WILL GET YOU 1943
  • HOUSE OF DRACULA 1945
  • MONSTROSITY 1963
  • THE MUNSTERS 1966
  • GAMES 1967 Curtis Harrington directs
  • DRACULA VS FRANKENSTEIN 1971
  • BLACKENSTEIN 1973
  • YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN 1974

SOLD AT AUCTION

DEATH RAY- apparatus -strickfaden auction
Kenneth Strickfaden’s DEATH RAY- apparatus -at auction

device at Auction

electronic effects switchboard-Nebular Device used in both Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein

From the set of Frankenstein being sold at auction

Strickfaden device at Auction

Kenneth Strickfadens Digital Disputer Laboratory Device

junk store terminal 2

SOURCE MATERIAL FROM-

Kenneth-Strickfaden-Dr-Frankenstein-s-Electrician-

DR. FRANKENSTEIN’S ELECTRICIAN BY HARRY GOLDMAN 2005

FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND #21 1963

Memorabilia Heritage Auction Galleries

Photos from the Academy of Motion Pictures homage to Strickfaden.-A selection of surviving gadgets from Strickfaden’s movie laboratories.

IMDb Kenneth Strickfaden Filmography

Modern Mechanix scan of a Popular Mechanics article from September 1949-by Eugene M Hanson.

1. Scott MacQueen, “Kenneth Strickfaden: Strange Revelations of the Man Who Lives in the House that Frankenstein Built,” Gore Creatures, no. 24, October 1975, pp. 24-26.

2. William Ludington, “Mister Electricity: The Multi-Volted Career of Kenneth Strickfaden,” American Classic Screen, vol. 7, no. 1, Jan./Feb. 1983, pp. 26-29.

This has been electrifying -your ever lovin’ MonsterGirl

5 Movie Monsters in Search of an Existential Crisis: AntiFilm School Presents the 3rd Annual Halloween Horror Movie Spooktacular!

vintage-drive-in-title-screen-toned-2

Steve Hasbrat (Theater Management) over at Anti-Film School has graciously given me the opportunity to join their 3rd Annual Horror Movie Spooktacular in time for Halloween. And I get to chat about five movie monsters that I consider to be my favorites. If you know me by now, you’ll understand that asking me to narrow down anything to a mere 5 is quite a challenge. But I venture to say that if I cheat and mention a few who would have made the list, angry villagers won’t be hurling flaming torches at my porch if I do…

A little bit about Anti-Film School’s blogging philosophy from their About page!

“Founded in July of 2011, Anti-Film School is a film website that reviews both new and old films while also heavily focusing on grindhouse cinema, exploitation flicks, cult cinema, B-movies, and classic horror. Since its launch, it has gone on to receive 100,000 views, become a member of the Large Association of Movie Blogs, and be featured on Total Film online under “3 Cool Film Blogs to Visit,” GuysNation, Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights, Furious Cinema, and the Grindhouse Cinema Database. It is all tied together by a retro drive-in aesthetic. We apologize in advance for any missing reels, the sticky floors, shady audience members, stale popcorn, and broken seats.”- 

Oh those woe begone days of broken velvet covered creaky seats, your feet sticking to the floor from spilled coke and milk duds… the smell of popcorn, salty sweat and the tallest person in the theater sitting directly in front of you when there’s loads of empty seats left…! I wonder why that always happens to me all the time…?

When you think of existentialism, well, when I the MonsterGirl nerd of all time, thinks of EXISTENTIALISM, Camus, Sartre & Kierkegaard immediately come to mind. When Steve asked me to think of 5 movie monsters that endeared themselves to me, I started to think of what it was, that essence of the thing, that impressed itself upon me so much about each monster’s character. It’s that they are Monsters in Search of an Existential Crisis.

EXISTENTIALISM

Descarte said “I think, therefor I am.”  Existentialists say “I am, therefore I think.”

This philosophy emphasizes a radical skepticism and the uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience, an individual who is inhabiting an indifferent universe. Existentialism regards human existence as unexplainable and completely free. In this universe there is no guiding Dogma that can help us. We’re all faced with equally unfortunate choices which ultimately lead to doom and despair. All human endeavors are meaningless and virtually insignificant, so when faced with the fact that existence, humans feel despair. Existential angst is when we are aware of the awful pointlessness to our existence. So life is an unknowable concept with strange forces that spring from this mysterious existence, with nothing that has any meaning, and fighting it is futile. Cheerful stuff…

Without further ado, here are our 5 monsters stuck in an existential landscape of despair, angst & searching for an identity in a cruel cruel universe.

Frankestein's Monster an existential man

The_Creature_from_the_Black_Lagoon_Wallpaper_JxHy

tabanga

0000221513

curse of the demon

What is it about monsters that we love? What truly remains with ‘us’ classic horror fans is something deeper and eternally soldered into our collective psyche’s. Something about ‘the monster’ has either caused us to ‘identify’ with them or has triggered a profound fear response that lasts a lifetime.

All monsters, you could say are inherently existential figures because they come from a place of alienation, the unknown and live outside the realm of perceived normalcy. ‘5 Monsters in Search of an Existential Crisis’ seeks to understand how these particular characters are either the epitome of the existential ‘deviant’ (not to suggest deviancy in the context of being perverse but in the sense that they deviate from the norm of ‘accepted’ human nature, like a freak or a sword swallower or a drag queen), or have been placed in the middle of an existential environment.

When you think of the quintessential films that introduced themes of existential alienation into the narrative I think of Jack Arnold’s masterpiece The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) written by the late Richard Matheson, Don Siegel’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and of course William Cameron Menzies’ Invaders from Mars (1953).

bodysnatchers
Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1956 Dana Wynter and Kevin McCarthy
tumblr_mh0g6yDPsg1qzr8nao2_500
Luce Potter as the Martian Intelligence in William Cameron Menzies fantastical Invaders from Mars 1953
the-incredible-shrinking-man
Jack Arnold’s quintessential journey of the existential transcendent man Grant Williams in The Incredible Shrinking Man

But poor Grant Williams was not a monster, he was only a transcendental man on a journey, projected into a monstrous world where the ordinary becomes a nightmare landscape for him. Films based on stories where the alien, be it from space or here on earth, are a figure used to criticize rationality, conformity, tolerance and lack of empathy and often creates discord between science and the military. They raise the question of fear of losing one’s identity amidst the cold war environment, or just to show that there are sinister threats from without & within!

Writers like Charles Beaumont, Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury were great at conjuring these “Outsider’ themes. I’d love to have included It Came From Outer Space (1953) with the amorphous Eye creatures that happened to be friendly aliens who crash land in a desert cave.

itcamealien2
It Came From Outer Space 1953 Richard Carlson and Barbara Rush

I love these existential fellas, scary as they may be. Like Grendel who is the consummate existential literary figure and he was hideous, yet he’s one of my favorite characters in literature. Grendel struggles with the eternal question, am I a monster or a hero?

While these movie monsters may be hideous to some, I find them compelling and heroic in their journey to claim their place in a hostile world. Except for those nasty soul eating land crabs whom I love just because they’re so cheeky, cheesy and entertaining as hell!

For me the quintessential existential man/monster, (and that’s not a pants monster ) is Mary Shelley’s literary Prometheus re-imagined by Jame’s Whale’s flagrant masterpiece. A man made from the scraps of robbed corpses and brought to life by the electrical secrets of heaven. Yes, Frankenstein’s Monster portrayed by the great Boris Karloff manifested a truly complex enigma of conception, creation, and existential angst who’s both fearsome yet sympathetic.

200-14

200-15

200-23

We can sympathize with the monster, as with Frankenstein, & The Gill Man from Creature From the Black Lagoon. We can find our involvement (at least I can), as one viewed with empathy toward the monster’s predicament. Depending on how much the film constructs it’s viewpoint which leans toward creating pathos in the narrative. Usually permitting these monsters to express human desires, and then making sure that those desires are thwarted and frustrated and ultimately destroyed. ‘The Outsider Narrative” can be seen so clearly in the horror/sci-fi hybrid Creature From The Black Lagoon. Film monsters like The Gill Man form vivid memories for us, becoming icons and laying the groundwork for the classical experience of good horror.

I think Creature From The Black Lagoon is quite a perfect film, as it works on so many different levels. The most obvious is that scientists have invaded a unique creature’s habitat only to force their domination and belligerence on him. And in the midst of this evolves a sort of a skewed Romeo and Juliet romance. The Gill Man never intends to threaten Julie Adam’s character Kay Lawrence. Quite the contrary, it’s the two opportunistic men who tote phallic harpoons around like extra penises on hand to fight each other about questions of ethics, how to conduct scientific research and over Kay like spoiled children.

creature-from-the-black_lagoon_2

My favorite five are…! (the Curtain lifts)

1) FRANKENSTEIN’S MONSTER: As portrayed by the great BORIS KARLOFF

Boris Karloff, Frankenstein

“Oh, in the name of God! Now I know what it feels like to be God!”- Henry Frankenstein

Boris Karloff’s poignant yet terrifying transformation into the Frankenstein’s monster, thanks to the great make-up artist Jack Pierce is the most memorable, indelible ‘classic monster’ for me. Boris Karloff said in 1957 Jack’s words still echo in my mind: ‘This is going to be a big thing!'”

Mary Shelley created a transfixed symbol of existential angst..The gentleness that Boris Karloff imbued his character with will always touch my heart so deeply. Most memorable for me is the scene with the blind priest who breaks bread and shares his humble shack with his new ‘friend’ in Bride of Frankenstein my favorite of the three films where Karloff portrayed the monster.

200-16

200-17

From Wikipedia-Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is a novel written by Mary Shelley about an eccentric scientist Victor Frankenstein, who creates a grotesque creature in an unorthodox scientific experiment. Just a brief mention in regards to the literary source, Victor Frankenstein, is told by the monster that he refers to himself as “the Adam of your labors”, and elsewhere as someone who “would have” been “your Adam”, but is instead “your fallen angel.”

90593-004-6B360FC2

The opening narrative of the film goes like this: “We are about to unfold the story of Frankenstein, a man of science who sought to create a man after his own image without reckoning upon God. It is one of the strangest tales ever told. It deals with the two great mysteries of creation.; life and death”

Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.”
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.”
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
“Life, although it may only be an accumulation of anguish, is dear to me, and I will defend it.”
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
“If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear!”
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
“How dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to be greater than his nature will allow.”
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
“I do know that for the sympathy of one living being, I would make peace with all. I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other.”
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
“I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel…”
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

200-7

200-9

Victor Frankenstein possessed great hubris. As many a mad scientist seeking the secrets of life tend to be. I suppose you must have that kind of insane drive to push back against the boundaries of the knowable to discover what lies beyond. BUT, when a man tries to act as God himself, one who creates life from the dead, challenging the biological fact that it is ‘women’ who give birth, who produce that life in the end. Ultimately, Victor Frankenstein’s monster is an existential failure. He justifies his work to Dr Waldman “Where should we be if nobody tried to find out what lies beyond? Have you never wanted to look beyond the clouds and stars, to know what causes trees to bud and what changes darkness to light? But if you talk like that people call you crazy…! Well, if I could discover just one of these things, what eternity is, for example, I wouldn’t care if they did think I was crazy.”

That scene is shattered with the imposing first sight of the monster. Jack Pierce’s, extraordinary make-up on Boris Karloff combined with the actors facial expressions and gestures are sheer brilliance.

The first glance

Annex+-+Karloff,+Boris+(Bride+of+Frankenstein,+The)_NRFPT_03

Boris Karloff conveys a dead man’s angst who’s brought to life by a heretical scientist, inhabits his new world with such wonder, conflict and rage, so exquisitely it’s actually painful to watch as he is scorned and tormented as a ‘thing.’ who never asked to be created in the first place.

For the sake of brevity I’ll call him Frankenstein although he is ‘the monster.’Frankenstein has become an accepted name for Victor’s/Henry’s in the film version scientific yet unorthodox achievement.

And like that of Grendel, Frankenstein is the ultimate existential monster and Karloff gives him a child like quality that wrenches at your heart with pathos. Born into an unknown world, unaware of his purpose in life, why he was created and essentially who he is.

frankenstein bride Mae Clarke

Karloff recalled “I don’t think the main screenwriter Bob Florey, really intended there to be much pathos inside the character. But Whale and I thought that there should be. We didn’t want the kind of rampaging monstrosity that Universal seemed to think we should go in for. We had to have pathos, Whale wanted to leave an impact.” And they certainly achieved that with Karloff’s performance and Whale’s vision.

And I say this because he is born a black slate, tabula rasa. Only to have men of science and the surrounding community, some inherently belligerent, some like Henry’s assistant Fritz who are abusive and brutal who torture the monster, defining who he is because of his ‘difference’. It’s after Frankenstein’s first rampage that the monster evokes our sympathy.

200-5 200-10

Frankenstein still

At first the monster is like a new born infant. Henry tells him to sit down, but he doesn’t understand the word yet. He follows the doctor’s gestures and hand signals.

Again Karloff,“Whale and I saw the character as an innocent one {…} Within the heavy restrictions of my make-up I tried to play it that way. This was a pathetic creature like us all, had neither wish nor say in our creation and certainly didn’t wish upon itself, the hideous image which automatically terrified humans whom it tried to befriend. The most heart rending aspect of the creature’s life, for us was his ultimate desertion of his creator-it was though a man in his blundering searching attempts to improve himself was to find himself deserted by God.”- from Karloff More Than a Monster- Stephen Jacobs

Boris Karloff in

This sentiment is at the essence of why Frankenstein is such a profoundly existential character, his crisis of alienation and detachment from his creator. In Cynthia Freeland’s book, The Naked and The Undead she cites Gregory Mank: “From the beginning Karloff’s approach to his ‘dear old monster’ was one of love and compassion. To discover and convey such sympathy was an outstanding insight.-considering that rarely has an actor suffered so hideously by bringing to life a character.”

The hours of make-up and constructing the heavy suit Karloff had to endure, wearing it on the set during long days of shooting eventually crippled his legs, and left him extremely bow legged and in immense pain.

200-8

Dr. Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive) and his assistant Fritz (Dwight Frye) go to a graveyard and steal a body. The fanatical Dr. Frankenstein believes that life can be created from death. He challenges the systems of morality for an ambiguous crack at being God like. We therefore shift our allegiance and empathy toward the monster who becomes the central figure of the story. And now that he’s been forced into existence he wants Henry to create a mate for him and why not! All god’s children got a girl…

Again if I could have had a few more choices The Bride would have been on my list in a flash of lighting! I adore Elsa Lanchester and Franz Waxman’s score is perhaps one of the most evocative themes I just can resist becoming ebullient when ever I hear it!

Annex+-+Karloff,+Boris+(Bride+of+Frankenstein,+The)_03

With his bizarre experiments Henry defies the laws of nature, and the mortal contract with the universe and dares to try to give birth to his own creation. When he sends his assistant to steal a brain, the cruel knucklehead mistakenly takes a criminally insane brain without the Dr. realizing it. Shutting himself off from the outside world and his fiance Elizabeth (The gorgeous Mae Clarke) she arrives at the castle to see what’s going on. Meanwhile, the constructed body from scraps, sewn together from various bodies of several dead men is strapped to the slab and raised up into the violent electrical storm. Lightening surges into the body of the monster and soon… “Look! It’s moving. It’s alive. It’s alive… It’s alive, it’s moving, it’s alive, it’s alive, it’s alive, it’s alive, IT’S ALIVE!” – Henry Frankenstein.

200-6

Frankenstein emerges from his electrifying awaking into a dire world he did not ask to come into. To be shunned and controlled and reviled within only a few moments of his awareness. He has no chance to make his own choices or choose his own journey, He’s automatically an outsider who threatens those who perceive him as different thus dangerous.

Annex - Karloff, Boris (Bride of Frankenstein, The)_06

Frankenstein is an ‘object of the grotesque’ in this typified mad scientist /monstrous creation movie where a scientist is obsessed with the ‘secrets of life itself’, his creation turns out to be a monster, the assistant is deformed in some way and often is antagonistic to the monster setting off a provoked rampage, and the lab is fabulous with scientific regalia and various apparatus in an isolated setting.

200-1

Ken Strickfaden’s designs or ‘special electrical properties’ buzzing light shows knobs and bottles and tubes in Henry Frankenstein’s lab are astounding. Charles D Hall’s art direction & set aides in the creation of an ambivalent scenery where science and morality conflict. The outside world is lenses as an ordered world, stylistically counter posed to the clandestine dark and unorthodoxy of Henry’s laboratory. James Whale injected a lot of camp into the Gothic sensibilities.

542850_579920748693529_1974996963_n

Frankenstein is labeled a ‘monster.’ Therefor, he causes suffering to others and perpetuates the idea that he is in fact ‘a monster’ But most of us can see him as an existential anti-hero. It is the law of the existential philosophy that says HE must be responsible for his actions. Actions that have justification but still have no bearing on the violent things he does. We are conflicted because we sympathize with his dilemma. Like a confused child who asks where do I come from?. Why am I here? Who is my creator? Why have they abandoned me and what is friendship? Watching Frankenstein journey through a hostile landscape is painful for me as he’s chased by angry villagers with flaming torches.He only wanted to see the little girl float like the flower… He’s strung up on a cross like an obvious Christ figure, beaten, chained, drugged and sought after to be deconstructed, he is a figure in an eternal existential crisis. A monster who doesn’t understand if he’s a man or truly a monster.

Interesting note: Bela Lugosi turned the part of the monster down because he didn’t want to grunt and John Carradine refused to play monsters at all, also rejected the offer to play Frankenstein.

200-13

Continue reading “5 Movie Monsters in Search of an Existential Crisis: AntiFilm School Presents the 3rd Annual Halloween Horror Movie Spooktacular!”

Postcards From Shadowland’s Big Fat No.10

Alexandra Schmidt in Mother Kraus' jounrey to happiness mutter-krausens-fahrt-ins-gluck-schmidt
Alexandra Schmidt in ‘Mother Krause’s Journey to Happiness’ (1929)
all-about-eve-anne-baxter-bette-davis-marilyn-monroe-richard carlson-george sanders-celeste holm
Director Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s brilliant satire- All About Eve (1950) starring the inimitable Bette Davis as Margo Channing and Ann Baxter as the cunning Eve Harrington.
All's Quet on the Western Front
Director Lewis Milestone’s All’s Quiet on the Western Front-(1930) starring Lew Ayres
anatomy of murder scene
Otto Preminger’s riveting court room noir Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
battleship-potemkin-odessa-steps-sergei-eisenstein
Battleship Potemkin (1925) Sergei Eisenstein’s masterpiece about the great Russian naval mutiny.
Brute Force
Jule’s Dassin’s brutal noir masterpiece Brute Force (1947)
Cat-on-a-Hot-Tin-Roof-elizabeth-taylor-scene
Richard Brooks adaptation of Tennessee William’s Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)
DameJudith:MrsDanvers
Alfred Hitchcock’s adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca 1940
janet-leigh-touch-of-evil-charlton-heston
Orson Welles’ film classic Touch of Evil (1958)
notre-dame-hunchbackLaughton
William Dieterle’s adaptation of Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1939
kiss of death
Henry Hathaway’s disturbing noir classic Kiss of Death 1947
Laura
Otto Preminger’s quintessential noir Laura (1944)
Lee Remick in Experiment in Terror 1960
Blake Edwards Experiment in Terror 1960
Earth Vs The Spider
Bert I. Gordon’s Earth Vs The Spider 1958
Dracula's Daughter
Lambert Hillyer’s understated yet powerfully erotic horror classic Dracula’s Daughter 1936
Linda darnell no way out
Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s taut and thought provoking social noir No Way Out 1950
little-caesar-edward-g-robinson
Mervyn LeRoy’s gangster odyssey Little Caesar 1931
Day the earth stood still robert wise
Robert Wise’s Science Fiction masterpiece The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
long dark hall
Reginald Beck and Anthony Bushell’s suspenseful The Long Dark Hall 1951
loretta-young-lon-chaney-laugh-clown-laugh
Herbert Brenon’s beautiful Laugh, Clown, Laugh 1928
m-peter-lorre-
Fritz Lang’s notorious psychological thriller M (1931)
Monday Nights with Oscar
Otto Preminger’s noir masterpiece about addiction The Man with the Golden Arm 1955
allison hayes Attack of the 50 foot woman
Nathan Juran’s iconic 50s campy sci-fi romp Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958)
marsha-hunt-actress-raw-deal-john-ireland
Anthony Mann’s noir classic Raw Deal (1948)
Mother Joan of the Angels
Jerzy Kawalerowicz’s surreal and transcendent Mother Joan of the Angels 1961
Nancy Kelly in The Bad Seed
Mervyn LeRoy’s naughty tale about a child psychopath. The Bad Seed (1956)
naked kiss2
Samuel Fuller’s irreverent noir gem The Naked Kiss (1964)
odd+man+out+1947
Carol Reed’s intense noir thriller Odd Man Out (1947)
Norma Desmond
Billy Wilder’s iconic film noir masterwork of grand proportions Sunset Blvd (1950)
orphee-jean-marais
Jean Cocteau’s stunning Orpheus (1950) Orphée
outofthepas
Jacques Tourneur’s hauntingly mesmerizing noir Out of the Past (1947)
Peggy Cummings Gun Crazy
Joseph E. Lewis Gun Crazy or Deadly is the Female (1950)
penny_serenade
George Steven’s sadness and joyful Penny Serenade (1941)
frankenstein
James Whale’s campy take on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein 1931
the+black+cat
Edgar G. Ulmer’s sadistic and transgressive journey into horror The Black Cat 1934
vampyr
Carl Theodor Dreyer’s masterful vision of quiet uncanny horror Vampyr (1932)
prowler-tale
Joseph Losey’s titillating noir The Prowler ((1951)
photo-Les-Diaboliques-1954-3
Henri-Georges Clouzot’s brilliantly chilling Les-Diaboliques-1955
Seance
Bryan Forbes’ compelling suspense thriller Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964)
Seven Chances
Buster Keaton’s fantastic Seven Chances (1925)
SCARFACE (1932)
Howard Hawks and Richard Rosson’s SCARFACE (1932)
sparrows-mary-pickford
William Beaudine’s haunting Sparrows (1926)
Bride of Frankestein
James Whales even campier and finest work The Bride of Frankenstein 1935
streetcar-named-desire-leigh-brando
Elia Kazan’s volatile theme of desolation and passion based on Tennessee William’s play A Streetcar Named Desire 1951
SUNSET BOULEVARD
some more divine SUNSET BOULEVARD 1950
the nymph ward shock corridor
Samuel Fuller’s edgy Shock Corridor (1963)
old-dark-house-karloff-stuart
Jame’s Whale’s The Old Dark House 1932
They-Live-By-Night
Nicholas Ray’s incredibly beautiful film noir journey They Live By Night (1948)
Theo and Eleanor
Robert Wise’s uncompromising ghost story adapted from Shirley Jackson’s novel The Haunting (1963)
white-heat-james-cagney-600x450
Raoul Walsh’s iconic crime thriller White Heat (1949)

MonsterGirl’s Saturday Morning Some Men Doing Science In Their Laboratories!

Saturday mornings are for MEN WHO DO SCIENCE… BEWARE…!!!!!!!

THE 4D MAN

PETER CUSHING- The Curse of Frankenstein 1957

BLOOD OF THE VAMPIRE 1958

DR. PHIBES

DR FRANKENSTEIN

ATOM AGE VAMPIRE


Leo G Carroll playing with the forces of nature

TARANTULA

BEN TURPIN

THE BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS

IT CONQUERED THE WORLD

THE INVISIBLE RAY

THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN’T DIE

EYES WITHOUT A FACE

BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN

JOHN CARRADINE

MONSTER ON CAMPUS 1958

ATTACK OF THE PUPPET PEOPLE 1958

THE DEVIL BAT

THE DEVIL COMMANDS 1941

DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE

DONOVAN’S BRAIN 1953

DR. CYCLOPS 1940

THE FACE OF MARBLE

DR MORBIUS – FORBIDDEN PLANET 1956

CORRIDORS OF BLOOD

HELP ME HELP ME ….THE FLY 1958

METROPOLIS

THE UNEARTHLY

THE INDESTRUCTIBLE MAN 1956

DR MOREAU THE ISLAND OF LOST SOULS

THE INVISIBLE MAN – CLAUDE RAINS

THE THING -HOWARD HAWKS

THE MAD GHOUL

THE MAD DOCTOR OF MARKET STREET

THE TINGLER