Boris Karloff’s Thriller The Remarkable Mrs Hawk: A Modern Re-telling of Homer’s Odyssey, Circean Poison with a Side of Bacon.

Of Circean poison and intoxicating things. When dealing with The Gods, the result is suffering.

The Remarkable Mrs Hawk (air date December 18, 1961)

Starring Jo Van Fleet as Mrs Cissy Hawk, John Carradine as Jason Longfellow, Paul Newlan as Sheriff Tom’Ulysses’ Willetts, Hal Baylor as Pete Gogan and Bruce Dern as Johnny Norton. Directed by John Brahm and adapted to the screen by Donald Sanford from a story by Margaret St Clair

“What beast-molding Drakaina [Kirke] shall he [Odysseus] not behold, mixing drugs with meal, and beast-shaping doom? And they, hapless ones, bewailing their fate shall feed in the pig styes, crunching grape stones mixed with grass and oil cake. But him the drowsy root shall save from harm and the coming of Ktaros [Hermes].”

Here is yet another favorite episode in the Thriller canon that always brings a smile to my face, even having seen it a number of times over the years. One of the most memorable and striking attributes that most of Karloff ‘s macabre little theatrical plays possess is an uncannily vivid sense of place, despite them having been filmed on a sound stage at Universal Studios.

Part of the enjoyment of this episode is the presence of that Ubiquitous character actor John Carradine, who’s facial expressions alone can be so accentuated and, bear acrobatic demonstrations that make him so uniquely entertaining to watch and listen to. Not unlike the great Burgess Meredith. These actors both, use their face as their canvas.

It’s a very interesting idea to take mythology and place in a southern Gothic rural setting, along side the carnival which adds a layer of mystique.

There’s a great scene which utilizes the theatrical anachronism wonderfully. Cissy Hawk carries the bowl, or ‘Circe’s cup’ the night she feeds the pigs grapes and turns Johnny back into a man for a while. An ancient rite on modern rural farm land.

Another thing that’s notable is her wand is a plastic back scratcher!

The mixture of the playful score, clarinet, flute and the grunts and groans and deep bassy string swells in contradiction add such a maniacally macabre touch to the episode.

Perhaps it’s just good writing, and set design that forges a perfect landscape for each stories central theme to thrive. Mrs Hawk, is one of those contributions that offers just the right meat, from the perfect theatrical marrow. Continue reading “Boris Karloff’s Thriller The Remarkable Mrs Hawk: A Modern Re-telling of Homer’s Odyssey, Circean Poison with a Side of Bacon.”

Obscure Scream Gem: Invisible Invaders (1959) “The Dead Will Kill The Living…And The People Of Earth Will Cease To Exist”

Invisible Invaders (1959) Directed by Edward L Cahn. Responsible for 2 of my favorite films of the 50s It, The Terror From Beyond Space 1958 and The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake 1959

Stars the ever present John Agar (Tarantula 1955, Brain From Planet Arous 1957) as Major Bruce Jay.

JOHN AGAR

Philip Tonge (Miracle on 34th Street 1947, Witness For The Prosecution 1957) as Dr Adam Penner. His role as Adam Penner was the final role for Philip Tonge. He died on January 28 1959 before this film went into release on May 15 (shooting began December 11 1958)

Jean Byron as Phyllis Penner (The Magnetic Monster 1953 tv actress, mom on The Patty Duke Show , Pat in the Columbo episode  Ransom for a Dead Man 1971)

JEAN BYRON

and Robert Hutton (Tales From The Crypt 1972 Trog 1972 The Vulture, The Slime People 1963) as Dr John Lamont and small part by Hal Torey (Earth vs The Spider, The Cosmic Man) as a local Farmer turned dead man walking.

And of course the inimitable John Carradine as Karol Noymann, dead scientist inhabited by the lead invisible.

Released May 15th 1959 Double billed with The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake. Music by Paul Dunlop offers up a very science eerie sonic landscape. Written by Samuel Newman and Phillp Sheer is responsible for the very effective re animated corpse make-up.

Invisible Invaders predates Night of The Living Dead 1968  by 9 years.

Night Of The Living Dead offered up more of a variety of local dead folk, some even in their boxer shorts and nightgowns.

From the book Interviews with Science Fiction and Horror Movie Makers. Writers Producers, Directors, Actors Moguls and Makeup by Tom Weaver.  McFarland Press. On page 11 interview with John Agar.

Asking John Agar how much guidance he got from Ed Cahn on the set of Invaders.

Agar says “Edward Cahn was Mr Speed-O He’d jump and almost get in the shot before he’d yell “cut” But in all fairness I have to say that directors like Eddie Cahn Didn’t really have a chance. They had a schedule to contend with and they wanted those films finished ka-boom. I think he did the best he could with the time he had. but in something like Invisible invaders it’s pretty much learn the lines and get’em out. They just didn’t have the money to stay there and work on it.”

A silly fun fact:
In the film, John Carradine’s character is named Dr. Karol Noymann. In the
ending cast list, his character is listed as Carl Noymann

An alien contacting scientist Adam Penner in the form of the corpse of Karol Noymann famous scientist killed in a laboratory experiment comes knocking on Penner’s door. The disembodied voice of Noymann informs Penner that they have been on the moon for twenty thousand years, undetected due to their invisibility, and have now decided to annihilate humanity unless all the nations of earth surrender immediately. Hiding out in an impenetrable laboratory bunker trying to find the key to the aliens’ invisibility and thus penetrating their weakness, Penner, his daughter, a pragmatic army major and a squeamish scientist are attacked from outside the cave bunker by the aliens, who have occupied the bodies of the recently deceased.

This is one of those 50s sci-fi films where the military is working with science and not in conflict with it, to defeat a common enemy invader that threatens to destroy our world.

The opening sequence starts with a mushroom cloud.What I call “the control voice” not unlike The Outer Limits, dons the cautionary tale tone for us “Since the first revelation of the atom at Hiroshima in 1945. The United States England and Russia have more and more been experimenting with increasingly more deadly weapons. Everyday there’s more concentration on the race for atoms supremacy. Sometimes machines and men such as Karol  Noymann are driven beyond the line of endurance”


This is illustrated by a frame of Noymann (Carradine) in his laboratory looking at a beaker of fluid, hovering over a flask of dark liquid. surrounded by tubes and the various regalia in scientist’s lair.

“and when that happens”


Suddenly the screen explodes in a burning white cloud of smoke. Now we see a newspaper article with the headline NOTED SCIENTIST KILLED IN ATOM LAB EXPLOSION.

There is some stock footage of the Pentagon and the control voice continues to fill us in.
“In Washington there begins an intense discussion by high ranking officials.”

General Stone played by Paul Langton tells “Dr Penner, science is your business” here is where the delineation of who has the authority in terms of scientific knowledge and military control are synthesized. The disclosure of the structured military institution for this plot is now set forth for us, so that we know who will take charge of “protecting us” from the enemy by subsuming the work of a diligent scientific community who will work to find a remedy that the military will implement. Science is still under the control of the military authority.

The big wig General Stone is ascribing how scientist Penner will be involved in the process. And it always comes down to these very simplistic terms, like ” you do the science, we protect our nation” As General Stone continues he even says “Protecting this country is mine”

From the outset we understand that Dr Penner is anti- nuclear weapons.

One of the themes of this film is the ongoing atomic scare threat that we brought these invaders upon us, not only because they are inherently hostile but because we developed the bomb and have shown aggression ourselves on our own planet towards each other, pose a threat to other life forms in the universe so they are stepping in to intercede but not on behalf of peace, but in order to destroy us first. The dialogue exchange between military and science spells it out very clearly when the two men argue.

“You say we should call an immediate end to nuclear experimentation, you know that’s impossible” Penner says “Then limit it to experiments for peace”Which is an oxymoron for the military to experiment with peaceful tests, they are the military!

Penner tells the general that since he can’t change his mind he is resigning from the commission. The General tells him that he’s being panicked by one incident, but Penner warns him that the area around Dr Noymann’s lab won’t be livable for years. Every test shows pollution of our atmosphere. So Invaders also becomes an environmental cautionary tale woven in, not just about national security and invasion. General Stone tries to assuage him that decontamination crews are cleansing the area, but Penner asserts “The air that we breath.. what can you do, cleansing the air…straining as you would dirty water?”

He throws his hands up in a gesture of futility. “Radioactive particles have been blown into space….who can tell when those particles will come down to earth again.” General Stone once again implores him to stay because he’s such an asset, but Penner tells him his attitude now would be more of a hindrance to the project. Penner flies home to Noymann’s funeral with no intention of coming back to Washington. At the eulogy he speaks of how he and Noymann did science that would benefit humanity. ”

Somewhere our ideals were lost…a deadly weapon that he was helping to create killed him” As Penner continues his tribute, we hear the eerie Theremin wavering of sound, then we see from the knees down a strange figure dragging it’s legs and feet through the sand until it becomes invisible. Only visible are the tracks of dirt being moved forward as if the figure were still walking.

The tree branches and leaves move aside as if something passes through them. Penner finishes his eulogy by pledging not to work on anything destructive again.

Continue reading “Obscure Scream Gem: Invisible Invaders (1959) “The Dead Will Kill The Living…And The People Of Earth Will Cease To Exist””

The Face of Marble (1946) An Odd John Carradine Obscurity with an “Identity Crisis”

The Face of Marble (1946) Directed by William Beaudine (Ghosts on the Loose and Bela’s The Ape Man and Billy the Kid VS Dracula)


Screenplay Michel Jacoby Original Story William Thiele and Edmund Hartmann

Since I’d like to be a John Carradine completest I was very thrilled to get the chance to finally watch The Face Of Marble. Carradine whom I adore so much that I could virtually watch the man eat a tuna sandwich with a cup of coffee and I’d be content because Carradine has such a wonderfully sublime complexion.

Expecting such as the case with The Man Who Turned To Stone, that the horrific side effects of the unusually well intended Dr Charles Randolph’s experimenting with re-animation of dead people, that said dead people would appear to have well…. FACES OF MARBLE!!!!!!!!! not Faces of Pallor.

The guy looks more like he belongs in a German 80s New Wave music video

I’m not saying that I didn’t enjoy the film, as it had some interesting atmospherics and again, Carradine always brings something wonderful to the table. It’s just that this offering from Monogram Pictures, sort of suffered from a severe identity crisis!

Face of Marble didn’t know what kind of film it was supposed to be. Frankenstein, The Man They Could Not Hang, Isle Of The Dead, The Hound of the Baskervilles, I Walked With a Zombie, Ghosts On The Loose, Dracula, The 4D Dog? or a variation on White Zombie. And even though it predates The She Creature the end of the film is pretty much the same with footprints in the sand that lead into the ocean, the waves breaking against the shore with no sign of Elaine or Brutus.

The character of Maria reminds me more of the superstitious old women Madame Kyra who suspected the beautiful Ellen Drew of being a “Vorvolaka” a Greek sort of succubus or vampire in Val Lewton’s Isle of the Dead (1945)

John Carradine plays the kindly Dr Charles Randolph who has moved to an isolated house on the coast somewhere to pursue his experimentation in reviving dead bodies. Unlike most mad scientist’s who are narcissistic Megalomaniacs Dr Randolph is more like the kindly altruistic humanitarian type that Boris Karloff often played who is truly looking to help mankind with his discovery. He is assisted by a clean cut young man Dr David Cochran played by Robert Shayne. Dr Randolph isn’t even one of those tyrants who forces David to work with him, by threatening either his death, or worse the life of his girlfriend. At one point he accepts David’s wishes to go home with Linda. So Randolph doesn’t fall into the category of evil mad scientist, just altruistic good natured scientist who wants to help all of humanity by bringing them back to life if lets say they drown or fall out of a building, you know help a poor dead person out. Continue reading “The Face of Marble (1946) An Odd John Carradine Obscurity with an “Identity Crisis””

The Unearthly (1957) “Here’s to youth, here’s to eternity” John Carradine the ubiquitous actor

The Unearthly (1957) Directed by Brooke L Peters (IMDb has the director listed as Boris Petroff). Scripted by Jane Mann and Geoffrey Dennis. The film stars the ubiquitous character actor John Carradine, the sultry Allison Hayes, the mammoth Tor Johnson, Myron Healey, Marilyn Buferd, Arthur Batanides, and Sally Todd.

First let me say, that I truly believe Carradine has been in almost half of the films and television ever made. Also, he is one of my favorite essential character actors!

John Carradine with his characteristic cello like voice plays Dr. Charles Conway, the iconic mad scientist who has developed a 17th artificial gland. Conway believes he has discovered the secret to eternal youth and immortality. As Dr Conway revels “I can prolong life for thousands of years, perhaps forever this 17th gland is the secret of youth”

The voluptuous Allison Hayes (Attack of The 50 Foot Woman, The Undead) plays Grace Thomas, a woman who has suffered a nervous breakdown and is brought to Dr Conway’s house for a rest cure. Grace has been tricked by her doctor, Dr Loren Wright (Roy Gordon) who’s been working with Conway, by procuring the victims as well as making sure they do not have any living family members who can trace them. Dr. Wright slips up, when he doesn’t realize that Grace has a father. The plan is to take her coat and hand bag and fake her suicide.

Myron Healy is Mark Houston an undercover cop posing as an escaped convict, that Lobo finds lurking on the grounds. Dr Conway having heard the description of the man, threatens to call the police, but offers Mark sanctuary because he is a perfect specimen to experiment on.Houston is purposely posing as the escaped murderer in order to infiltrate Conway’s operation.

Tor Johnson as Lobo once again (Bride of The Monster and Plan 9 From Outer Space) is a giant with the mind of a child who is the caretaker,body guard, and overall man servant to Dr Conway.

Dr Conway and his icy assistant Sharon Gilcrest (Marilyn Buferd) are experimenting on these human guinea pigs trying to find the secret of eternal youth.

Also there is the unfortunate Jedrow who is stuck in a cataleptic state, with a huge gash in his neck where the 17th gland was implanted. It’s sweet when Lobo washes his face with a wet rag.He somewhat looks like the Man Who Turned To Stone or an extra from Carnival of Souls

Dr. Conway’s home is a front for his experiments, seemingly a sanatorium for neurotics.While his guests/patients Danny Green (Arthur Batanides) an edgy drug addict, Sally Todd as Natalie Anders suffering from chronic sex appeal?

They all think that Conway is actually trying to help them get over what ever affliction they’re supposedly troubled by. Sharon is drugging their milk and secreting them away for the glandular transplants.

Unfortunately his operations have failed, only creating monstrous and insane mutants that wind up locked away in his basement dungeon.

Sally reads trashy romance novels and flirts with all the men, even Lobo, who mumbles Pretty Girl like a 2 year old. Danny is a cranky ragaholic who’s temper tantrums are irritating.

Mark and Grace discover that Conway has experimented on Natalie turning her into a horrifically scarred version of herself. Together with Danny they stop Conway’s experiments, but ultimately as is typical it is one of Dr Conway’s own creations that kills him. And his assistant Sharon is taken away by the police. Grace and Mark go off into the sunset.

Some memorable quotes:

“In science there’s always been some necessary sacrifices”-Dr Conway
“The unearthly  In science nothing is taken for granted”-Dr Conway
“Here’s to youth, here’s to eternity”
“Alright I wear a leather jacket and I’m not a midget, so what?” -Mark Houston
“I’m a scientist, thinking is my business”-Dr Conway