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Hollywood Movie Memories » Horror/Sci-Fi


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Thursday, July 5th, 2012

The Complete Metropolis [Blu-ray]

Tagline – There can be no understanding between the hands and the brain unless the heart acts as mediator.

Starring – Alfred Abel (Joh Fredersen), Gustav Frohlich (Freder), Rudolfh Klein-Rogge (C. A. Rotwang), Fritz Rasp (The Thin Man), Brigitte Helm (The Machine Man).

Released – March, 1927

Directed By – Fritz Lang

Produced By – Universum Film

Distributed By – Paramount Pictures

Description – It is the year 2026 and society is ruled by wealthy intellectuals who oppress the working class forcing them to live in the depths below them. Freder, the son of Joh Fredersen, the master of the city, spends his idle time in a pleasure garden.

While in the garden one day he encounters Maria who is guiding a group of worker’s children on a tour showing them the privileged lifestyle of the rich. The group is quickly escorted out of the area, but the chance encounter has intrigued Freder who descends to the worker’s city to look for her.

While searching for Maria, Freder has another fateful encounter with Gregory, an exhausted worker who is close to collapsing. Freder helps to relieve the worker, takes his place at the job, and exchanges clothes with him. Freder directs his chauffeur to take Gregory to an apartment to recover.

This visit to the worker’s depths has opened Freder’s eyes to the fact that the worker’s are being treated as slaves in order to keep the machinery working that serves the lives of the wealthy.

On the drive to the apartment, Gregory is distracted by the bright lights of Yoshiwara, an unsavory nightclub, and goes there. Freda, in Gregory’s clothes, finds a note in one of the pockets that has information regarding a meeting.

Meanwhile, Joh, the city master, has come upon mysterious plans that are being shared by the worker’s. He takes the plans to C. A. Rotwang, an old friend and scientist, who explains that the plans show a series of underground tunnels.

Rotwang, who was in love with Joh’s deceased wife, also admits to creating a robot as a way of bringing her back.

Freder, now blending in with the worker’s, follows a group down the catacombs where they meet with Maria who speaks of the arrival of a mediator between the ruling wealthy and the workers. Her speech has only helped to increase Freder’s feelings toward Maria, and he declares to her his love. The two agree to meet later at a cathedral.

This meeting is also witnessed by Joh and Rotwang, who decide to kidnap Maria, give Rotwang’s robot the appearance of Maria and use the robot to discredit her with the workers and destroy their efforts to organize. The treacherous  mind of Rotwang also secretly decides to use the robot to destroy Freder.

Plot and sub-plots continue to unfold as Gregory, upon leaving Yoshiwara, meets the mysterious Thin Man, who tells him to forget everything that has happened.

Maria does not show up at the cathedral to meet with Freda and he searches for her. Approaching Rotwang’s house he hears her screams and arrives to see, what he thinks is Maria, in an embrace with his father.

Violence, death, revolution, and flood will follow.

NOTABLE: Metropolis used a very large and varied assortment of extras during filming. These included, 25,000 men (1,100 required to be bald), 11,000 women, and 750 children. Of these, 100 extras were required to be dark-skinned, and another 25 Asian.

Metropolis, produced in Germany, took two years to film, and is reported to have been one of Adolph Hitler’s favorites. An odd occurrence, as director Fritz Lang was Jewish. His wife, and co-writer, Thea Von Harbou, was a strong supporter of Nazism.

Metropolis was the first film to ever to be registered, by UNESCO, in the “Memory Of The World-Register.”

The robot in the film was the inspiration for the robot C-3PO in Star Wars. The film also proved inspirational for the creators of Superman who named their character’s city after the film.


The Phantom of the Opera

Monday, February 7th, 2011

The Phantom of the Opera (2-Disc) [Blu-ray]

Tagline – The Greatest Horror Film of Modern Cinema!

Starring – Lon Chaney (Erik, The Phantom), Mary Philbin (Christine Daae), Norman Kerry (Vicomte Raoul de Chagny), Arthur Edmund Carewe (Ledoux), Gibson Gowland (Simon Buquet).

Released – November, 1925

Directed By – Rupert Julian

Produced By – Universal Pictures

Distributed By – Universal Pictures

Description – The Paris Opera House is opening a new season with a production of Faust. Among those attending is Vicomte Raoul de Chagny who desires to hear his sweetheart Christine Daae sing. Christine’s career has taken her, from the chorus, to understudy of the star.

Raoul would like Christine to retire from the opera and marry him, but Christine has refused to let anything stand in the way of her career. This has turned out to be the most prosperous season the opera has had and this fact adds to the mystery of the sudden resignation of the opera’s management.

The reason they give the new managers is the existence of an Opera Ghost who always asks for box #5. This claim is laughed off by the new managers until they see a dark and mysterious figure whose face cannot be seen seated in the box.

After a performance, the ballet girls see a man who appears to live in the cellar of the opera house. They ask stagehand Joseph Buquet if this man may be the Phantom. His description, based on what he has seen himself, is of a living skeleton, not the man they saw.

The opera’s star, Mme. Carlotta, to whom Christine is the understudy, receives a note insisting that Christine take over the lead role. If not, there will be dire consequences. The note is signed, The Phantom.

Carlotta feigns illness and Christine sings the role to a standing ovation. Raoul visits Christine in her dressing room for a short while after the show and after leaving believes he hears the voice of another man in the room saying, “Soon, Christine, the spirit will take form and will demand your love!” Christine leaves the dressing room and Raoul breaks in only to find the room empty.

Carlotta has received another threatening note, from The Phantom, demanding that Christine sing the role again. The theater managers also receive a copy of the note and tell Carlotta that if she does not comply it will bring a curse upon the theater.

Angry and defiant, Carlotta refuses and goes on as planned the next night in the role of Marguerite. The performance seems to be going without incident until a great crystal chandelier falls from the ceiling onto the audience.

This is only the beginning… as The Phantom promised, there will be dire consequences!

NOTABLE: In 1998, The Phantom of the Opera was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

During production, director Rupert Julian walked off the set after having heated arguments with both cast and crew. This resulted in a few of the films scenes to be directed by Edward Sedgwick.

Actor Gregory Peck candidly admits that, at age nine, he was so frightened by the film he slept in his Grandmother’s bed that night.

Lon Chaney’s makeup, as The Phantom, was kept a secret by the studio until the films premier. Chaney applied his own makeup creating an intentionally horrific character. Some of Chaney’s makeup included putting egg membrane in his eyes to make them appear cloudy, the use of fish skin to cover his face, using cotton and collodion to build his cheekbones, and using glue to hold his ears flat.

Personal Note: A classic silent horror film with a frightening performance by “the man of a thousand faces.”

Even to this day the film still can give you the creeps. The initial unmasking scene is unforgettable. This is the Phantom of the Opera as it was meant to be, and is a tribute to Lon Chaney’s brilliance.



The Lost World

Friday, January 28th, 2011

The Lost World

Tagline – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Stupendous Story!

Starring – Bessie Love (Miss Paula White), Lewis Stone (Sir John Roxton), Wallace Beery (Prof. Challenger), Lloyd Hughes (Edward E. Malone), Alma Bennett (Gladys Hungerford).

Released – February, 1925

Directed By – Harry O. Hoyt

Produced By – First National Pictures

Distributed By – First National Pictures

Description – Professor Challenger has just given a scientific presentation stating his belief that dinosaurs, and a form of ape-man, still live in a lost world located in South America. Challenger’s peers, along with the London press, scoff at his belief’s.

The professor believes his opinions are backed up by a journal given to him by Paula White, the daughter of Maple White a fellow explorer left behind on Challenger’s last expedition. In order to prove his theory’s another expedition is formed.

Accompanying Prof. Challenger will be Paula White, renowned hunter Sir John Roxton also a suitor of Paula’s, news reporter Edward E. Malone, a beetle expert, and the professor’s butler. Upon arriving on the high plateau, where the lost world begins, the group find the remains of Paula’s father and see with their own eyes two dinosaur’s in a life-and-death struggle.

This is only the beginning of the excitement to be found in this lost world as the expedition will be attacked by ape-men, and then by a brontosaurus. They will also have to survive a stampede of prehistoric beasts after the exploding of a volcano.

There is only one way the outside world will believe their experiences and that is to find a way to take a dinosaur back to London with them. They manage to do this, but then their worst fear takes place… the dinosaur escapes in London.

NOTABLE: In 1998, The Lost World was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

The Lost World was the first film to be shown in-flight on an airplane. It was shown on an Imperial Airways flight from London to Paris in April, 1925.

This was the first full-length motion picture to use stop-motion animation for its creatures.


The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Monday, April 19th, 2010

Hunchback of Notre Dame [Blu-ray]

Starring – Lon Chaney (Quasimodo), Patsy Ruth Millar (Esmeralda), Norman Kerry (Phoebus de Chateaupers), Kate Lester (Madame de Condelaurier), Winifred Bryson (Fleur de Lys).

Released – September, 1923

Directed By – Wallace Worsley

Produced By – Universal Pictures

Distributed By – Universal Pictures

Description – Quasimodo is the deformed bell-ringer at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. He is told by the evil Jehan, the brother of archdeacon Claude Frollo, to kidnap the beautiful young gypsy dancer Esmeralda.

The kidnapping is foiled, by Captain of the Guard Phoebus de Chateaupers, and Quasimodo is sentenced to be lashed in the village square. During this punishment, Esmeralda takes pity on the bell-ringer and brings him water.

Jehan, learning of Phoebus’ plan to wed Esmeralda, wants her back. He wounds Phoebus and blames the act on Esmeralda who is sentenced to death for stabbing an aristocrat.

Quasimodo, remembering her kindness to him, rescues her from execution and takes refuge with Esmeralda in the tower of the Cathedral. Here they are awarded sanctuary under law and cannot be arrested.

However, this right of sanctuary has infuriated the people who still believe the gypsy to be guilty of the crime and they plan to storm the Cathedral.

NOTABLE: The Hunchback of Notre Dame was Universal Studio’s most successful silent film grossing over $3 million dollars.

The role of Quasimodo elevated actor Lon Chaney, from accomplished supporting character actor, to full stardom.

Lon Chaney’s extreme makeup for this role included a knotted wig, false teeth, putty on his cheeks, a false eye, and a 10-15 lb. plastic hump for his back.

This film was the first to use wireless technology allowing the director to communicate with his assistants.

The film’s massive crowd scenes were filled with extras from downtown Los Angeles. These extras were paid $1.00 a night and included meals. It has been said that many of these extras were prostitutes who did “considerable sideline business” on the set.

Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde: Kino Classics Remastered Edition [Blu-ray]

Tagline – The world’s greatest actor in a tremendous story of man at his best and worst!

Starring – John Barrymore (Dr. Henry Jekyll/Mr. Edward Hyde), Martha Mansfield (Millicent Carew), Brandon Hurst (Sir George Carew), Charles Lane (Dr. Richard Lanyon), Nita Naldi (Miss Gina).

Released – April, 1920

Directed By – John S. Robertson

Produced By – Famous Players-Lasky Corporation

Distributed By – Paramount Pictures

Description – A classic silent horror film based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel.  Dr. Henry Jekyll’s fascination with the two contrasting sides of human nature lead to scientific experiments that reveal the dark side of man and himself.  He develops a formula that allows him to alternate between the kindly Dr. Jekyll, and the murderous Mr. Hyde.  It isn’t long before the evil side begins to take over.

NOTABLE:  The early part of Jekyll’s first transformation used no makeup, instead relying on John Barrymore’s ability to contort his own face. Take a peek: