A sign reads “NO TRESPASSING ~VIOLATORS WILL BE SHOT ON SIGHT~DokTor Konrad Markesan”
The Incredible DokTor Markesan aired Feb 26 1962 perhaps the most creepy of all the Thriller stories, originally appeared in Weird Tales Magazine and was taken from a story written by August Derleth and Mark Schorer, and adapted by Donald S Sanford and directed by Robert Florey. The rotting corpse makeup byJack Barron actually predates Romero’s 1968 Night Of The Living Dead, which I feel only made both effectively more creepy by the B&W film.
Mort Stevens’s score begins as gravely contemplative and daydreamy single notes on the piano beckon us into this episode, then begins the darker, deeper cello strings foreboding and ominous. As the piano resolves into more somber chords, the young Fred Bancroft and his new bride Molly drive up to the entrance of Oakmoor. What has happened to the broad green lawns and the servants in starched white uniforms? They proceed to enter the house, the door having been strangely left unlocked. Seemingly vacant, Oakmoor is crocheted in cobwebs, from years of neglect. There is no electricity. Fred lights a candelabra and the couple continue to search for Fred’s Uncle Konrad. As they start to ascend the staircase, suddenly a door creaks open, the music sways from ominous to severe, and a sallow, blank, expressionless, Konrad Markesan steps out of the shadows. Uncle Konrad stares up at them, ashen, emotionless, his right hand poised in a state of rigor, he stares off, silent. Fred trying to ingratiate himself awkwardly, remains smiling, excruciatingly strained in the midst of his Uncle’s peculiarly inhospitable behavior. Molly acutely more aware of his uncle’s bizarre presence stands there obviously horrified and uncomfortable while Fred still flounders to make a connection with his relative. Molly chirps out a “Hello” and from the moment Fred holds out his hand to shake his Uncle’s, Markesan turns away and says “Come with me” and proceeds to leave the grand hallway.
The Man Who Lived Again (1936) A forgotten British Gem from Gainsborough Pictures, was released on Sept. 11, 1936
it is also known as The Man Who Changed His Mind or by its US title Dr. Maniac Who Lived Again, or Dr. Maniac. Directed by Robert Stevenson.
Starring a chain-smoking Boris Karloff and pairing him with Anna Lee playing Dr. Clara Wyatt, Lee who would 10 years later co-star alongside him again as antagonists in the intensely riveting horror/noir film Bedlam(1946) Directed by Mark Robson and produced and scripted by the great man of shadow plays Val Lewton.
Anna Lee and Boris Karloff in Mark Robson’s/Val Lewton’s masterpiece Bedlam
Karloff plays Dr. Laurience a once brilliant and revered brain surgeon, turned renegade scientist, shunned by the scientific community, for his esoteric and profane ideas about the human brain. Dr. Laurience has created a way to transpose the mind of one person and place it into the body of another. In other words, Soul Transference. A very sacrilegious concept for his fellow scientists to support, without believing that Laurience is utterly insane. In this film, Karloff adheres more to the persona of the gruff Mad Scientist, rather than some of his other sympathetic roles as the misdirected man of science who meets with various obstructions and the unfortunate string of events. For instance, the kindly and altruistic Dr John Garth who is on death row for a mercy killing, in Before I Hang (1940)
The fabulous Musical Direction by Louis Levy and Art Direction by Vetchinksky has a charmingly nostalgic streak of that early 1930s milieu of the sinister.
Also starring is Cecil Parker as Dr. Gratton and Lyn Harding as Professor Holloway.
Directed by Mark Robson, one of Val Lewton’s masterpieces of cinematic impressionism. Anna Lee as Nell Bowen, thrown into Bedlam by the sadistic Master George Sims uncharacteristically portrayed by the great Boris Karloff who usually bears his soul in more sympathetic roles. Bedlam has a sweet justice that is enforced as they say ” the inmates have taken over the asylum” with an ending that is quite powerful.
Here is my song Wash Away from Hunting Down The Ceremony Volume II. Featuring The Cricket Chance in his first vocal performance. ( he sneaked inside the vocal room with me while I was laying down the track for Wash Away. I left him in there, because it seemed relevant and the right thing to do, since he sang in key!)
James Whale’s brilliant follow up film and what I consider even better than it’s predecessor Frankenstein,(1931) starring the great Karloff and Elsa Lanchester as The Bride.
And a deliciously campy and fabulous performance by Ernest Thesiger as Doctor Pretorius.
In Karl Freund’s The Mummy Boris plays Imhotep who comes after his immortal beloved played by the fiery sensual Zita Johann.
I have said this so many times, and I never get tired of making the point, I wish Boris Karloff had been my grandfather. I did this music tribute to just 2 of his memorable performances, although there hasn’t been any time that I haven’t been moved by his gentility that comes through even the most notorious characters he’s inhabited.
Here is my song Fable Honey off the album Fools and Orphans. I dedicate this video to Boris and hope that he would be pleased with my treatment of his performances.
Starring Sidney Blackmer as Edward Stapleton and Patricia Medina as Victorine also starring Boris himself as Dr. Thorne and Scott Marlowe as Julian Directed by Douglas Heyes and adapted from Edgar Allan Poe. Script by William D. Gordon.
Directed by John Brahm, and adapted by Donald S Sanford from the short story by Robert Bloch which appeared in Weird Tales Magazine, The Cheaters concerns an odd pair of spectacles that allow the wearer to read people’s thoughts. Inscribed on the inside is VeritasThe Latin word for The Truth.
In Roman mythology, Veritas (meaning truth) was the goddess of truth, a daughter of Saturn, and the mother of Virtue. It was believed that she hid in the bottom of a holy well because she was so elusive.
“The Cheaters” also lay bare the frightening and often hideous true nature of someone’s soul hidden behind their façade. Their Anima Sola or The Lonely Soul, as Jungian psychology considered it.
a. The unconscious or true inner self of an individual, as opposed to the persona, or outer aspect of the personality.
The Anima Sola or Lonely Soul is a Catholic depiction of a suffering person — almost always a woman — in chains amidst the barred prison doors and flames of Purgatory, the place where sinners go while awaiting final judgment.The Anima Sola is taken to represent a soul suffering in purgatory, usually, if not always, a woman. The woman has broken free from her chains in the midst of a prison (barred doors) and is surrounded by flames, representing purgatory. She appears penitent and reverent, and her chains have been broken, an indication that, after her temporary suffering, she is destined for heaven.
In the case of The Cheaters, I think that the soul’s chains are the corporeal body that binds the true inner self. The funny yellow glass that van Prinn has invented through alchemy allows the boundaries to be crossed over in order to see the actual soul suffering in its physical purgatory.
Karloff introduces this memorable episode, his words linger on the edge of the air so melodically like a soft sermon as the preamble to The Cheaters.
“When a man shuts himself off from his neighbors when he conducts mysterious experiments… there’s bound to be talk. There were those that whispered that Old Dirk van Prinn was a sorcerer or worse… He might not have been remembered at all had not his research led him to the discovery of a most unusual formula for making glass.”
Fade in Henry Daniellwho makes a brief appearance as Dirk Van Prinn, the alchemist/inventor of the spectacles or “the cheaters” Locked away in his primitively rustic laboratory, we see him tinkering amongst the flasks of liquid and scales, a pair of pliers in his hand as he finishes setting the “yellowed old lenses” in the wireframes. He has discovered a peculiar formula for making glass!
The housekeeper Mrs. Ames brings him a package annoying him with an offer of some nourishing soup since he hasn’t had a bite all day. Irritated by the intrusion he just wants her to leave him alone. Mrs. Ames keeps peaking around him trying to catch sight of his mysterious room. He tells her goodnight.
Jerry Goldsmith’s evocative score teems with eerie delight as the strings pluck and trill out macabre musical strokes and a piano tinkles with flute embellishments that flutter as afterthoughts as he sits in front of the large mirror by candle light.
He tries on the spectacles and stares at his own reflection the camera blurs our vision momentarily. van Prinn is horrified by the image he is gazing at. As we view his face in close-up, it distorts as he becomes more frightened by what he sees looking back at him in the mirror. The camera closes in on his tinted spectacles and the look of abject fear in his eyes.
The music becomes a frenzied climax as the scene trades with a black background and a few low piano notes held as Boris Karloff walks on screen to tell us about the evening’s terror tale.
I’ve always been struck by Henry Daniell’s unusual facial features that often lend to many of the sinister roles he’s played in the horror film genre. He’s somewhat like a Faustian marionette, with a wooden-like grimace frozen in extreme sardonic glee. I particularly loved him in one of my favorite classic campy films of 1959 The 4 Skullsof Jonathon DrakeDaniell’s make-up for the Well of Doom episode bears a striking similarity to Lon Chaney’s character in Tod Brownings, London After Midnight 1927.
One hundred years later the spectacles are found by Joe Henshaw junk man, in a hidden compartment of an old rotting, dust-covered desk in Prinn’s abandoned house.
The Cheaters includes wonderful performances by Paul Newlan as Joe Henshaw, the down-on-his-luck junk dealer who discovers the cheaters in more ways than one when he stumbles onto the spectacles at the old Bleaker Place where van Prinn did his experiments.