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Hollywood Movie Memories » Horror/Sci-Fi


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Things To Come

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Things to Come (B&W + Colorized Versions)

Tagline – What Will the Next Hundred Years Bring to Mankind?

Starring – Raymond Massey (John Cabal/Oswald Cabal), Edward Chapman (Pippa Passworthy/Raymond Passworthy), Ralph Richardson (The Boss), Margaretta Scott (Roxana/Rowena), Cedric Hardwicke (Theotocopulos).

Released – April, 1936

Directed By – William Cameron Menzies

Produced By – London Films Productions

Distributed By – United Artists Corporation

Description – A British science fiction film about the present and the future. In the British city of “Everytown,” businessman John Cabal is unable to enjoy this Christmas day as the threat of war has cast a dark cloud over the world.

John’s holiday guests, Dr. Edward Harding shares his concern, while Pippa Passworthy feels that it will not occur. Mr. Passworthy’s over-optimism is shattered by a bombing raid that evening and the breakout of global war.

John Cabal, now a pilot, shoots down an enemy bomber. He lands in the area of the bomber’s crash and tries to tend to the wounded enemy. As poison gas surrounds them, the pair put on gas masks and speak of the horror of war. A little girl passes in a daze and the wounded enemy gives her his mask accepting his own death.

John takes the girl to his plane and heads for safety. The war rages on for decades, taking a deadly toll, until the remaining people are mostly those born after the start of the war. There is desolation everywhere, and society has totally broken down. The only remaining hints of cities are groups of small primitive communities.

It is now 1966, and a great plague called the “wandering sickness” is spread by the enemies few remaining airplanes. With little medical equipment still in existence, a cure is hopeless. Four years pass and a warlord, known only as “The Boss,” has emerged as leader. His cure for the plague is to kill all those infected.

In May of 1970 a futuristic airplane lands, carrying John Cabal, announcing a new society called, “Wings Over the World.” They are rebuilding civilization and have renounced war and all independent nations.

However, The Boss is not ready to give up his power and authority. He takes John prisoner forcing him to help repair some remaining planes. One repaired plane is taken on a test flight, but the pilot heads for the location of the new society and tells them of John’s capture.

The people of “Wings Over the World” attack Everytown, killing The Boss and freeing John. The next few decades will provide a period of reconstruction. The people now live underground due to the poison air above them.

There is now hope for a new and peaceful society. That is until a revolution against progress begins to take root and the cycle of war begins again.

NOTABLE: The screenplay for Things to Come was written by H. G. Wells, and is an adaptation of his 1933 novel, The Shape of Things to Come.

Things To Come proved to be a prediction of the future as, in the film, war began on Christmas day 1940.  World War II would start on September 1, 1939. Also, the depiction of poison gas used in the film was a very real fear during World War II.

Personal Note: Here is a poignant quote from the film made by character John Cabal, “If we don’t end war, war will end us.”

A fearful and sad sentiment that is still with us today.


The Black Room

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

Boris Karloff Collection – 6 Movie Set: The Black Room, The Man They Could Not Hang, The Man With Nine Lives, Before I Hang, The Devil Commands, and The Boogie Man Will Get You

Tagline – He was a demon of death… whose mysterious chambers held gruesome secrets!

Starring – Boris Karloff (Baron Gregor de Berghman/Anton de Berghman), Marian Marsh (Thea Hassel), Robert Allen (Lt. Albert Lussan), Thurston Hall (Col. Paul Hassel).

Released – July, 1935

Directed By – Roy William Neill

Produced By – Columbia Pictures Corporation

Distributed By – Columbia Pictures Corporation

Description – Anton and Gregor de Berghman are twin brothers, and according to prophecy, Anton will kill his brother in the Black Room of the family castle. Threats to Gregor’s life are nothing new, as his subjects have made many attempts on his life due to his ruthless tyranny as their baron.

After being away for ten years, the good-natured Anton returns and easily earns the respect of his brothers subjects. He also earns the admiration of Col. Hassel, uncle of the beautiful Thea.

The evil Gregor goes too far when he murders young servant Mashka. The subjects have had enough, and storm the Berghman castle determined to remove Gregor from power. In an effort to save his own life, Gregor agrees to step down and turn his power over to his popular brother Anton.

However, there is no end to the diabolical plotting of Gregor as he kills his brother in order to assume his identity, return to power, and have the beautiful Thea’s hand in marriage with the mistaken blessings of her father Col. Hassel.

It doesn’t take too long for Col. Hassel to become suspicious of the new Anton and his suspicions result in his own murder.

Thea is in love with Lt. Albert Lussan, who has been framed for the murder of Col. Hassel, and finds herself now at the mercy of the baron. While it looks as though nothing can save her from having to marry the baron, and in spite of Anton’s murder, there is still a prophecy to be fulfilled!

Bride of Frankenstein

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

The Bride of Frankenstein [Blu-ray]

Tagline – Created in a weird scientist’s laboratory… from the skeletons of two women and the heart of a living girl!

Starring – Boris Karloff (The Monster), Colin Clive (Dr. Henry Frankenstein), Valerie Hobson (Elizabeth), Ernest Thesiger (Dr. Pretorius), Elsa Lanchester (Mary Shelley/The Monster’s Bride).

Released – April, 1935

Directed By – James Whale

Produced By – Universal Pictures

Distributed By – Universal Pictures

Description – At the conclusion of 1931’s horror classic Frankenstein the villagers celebrated what appeared to be the death of The Monster and his creator, Dr. Henry Frankenstein.

The Monster survived the burning windmill sheltered from the flames by a pit beneath the windmill. Dr. Henry Frankenstein’s body, thought to be dead, was shipped to his fiancee Elizabeth’s home. After seeing movement in the body, Elizabeth realizes that Henry is still alive.

After Elizabeth nurses Henry back to health, he condemns his creation, but still feels that he is meant to unravel the secret to creating life.

A fearful premonition of death by Elizabeth is followed by the arrival of Henry’s former mentor, Dr. Pretorius, who brings with him an unthinkable plan. Henry learns that The Monster still lives and Dr. Pretorius wants his help in creating a mate for The Monster. Pretorius has some work to complete first and will return for Henry when all is ready.

Henry and Elizabeth are now married when Pretorius returns to get Henry’s assistance in this “grand collaboration.” Henry refuses, and Pretorius has The Monster kidnap Elizabeth in an effort to force Henry to help.

Pretorius guarantees the safe return of Elizabeth after Henry’s participation. Henry has no choice. Returning to his lab, Henry begins working and again finds himself slowly becoming intoxicated with the potential power to create life.

NOTABLE: The Bride of Frankenstein received an Oscar nomination for Best Sound, Recording.

In 1998, The Bride of Frankenstein was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

The films popularity has increased over the years, and The Bride of Frankenstein is considered to be a masterpiece for director James Whale.

The motion picture had some difficulty with censorship issues. The Hays office objected to some lines of dialogue that compared the work of Dr. Henry Frankenstein with that of God, as well as the number of murders (21 cut to 10) both committed and implied, and a scene where they felt too much of actress Elsa Lanchester’s breasts were visible. Strangely, they had little problem with numerous scenes portraying crucifixion imagery.

Elsa Lanchester stood 5’4″ in reality and stilts were necessary to bring her to 7 feet for the role. She also had to be wrapped in bandages that were so tight she was carried on and off the set, having to eat through a straw. Her “unusual” hairstyle was held in place by a wired horsehair cage.

Personal Note: Film sequel’s seldom live up the the original story. However, The Bride of Frankenstein is an exception. It is one of the best movie sequel’s ever, and is thought by many to be even better than the original Frankenstein.

A truly classic Universal horror film with a great laboratory creation scene. “She’s Alive! Alive!”


The Black Cat

Monday, October 18th, 2010

The Black Cat (1934)

Tagline – Karloff and Lugosi together! Those stars of “Frankenstein” and “Dracula”.

Starring– Boris Karloff (Hjalmar Poelzig), Bela Lugosi (Dr. Vitus Werdegast), David Manners (Peter Alison), Julie Bishop (Joan Alison).

Released – May, 1934

Directed By – Edgar G. Ulmer

Produced By – Universal Pictures

Distributed By – Universal Pictures

Description– Peter and Joan Alison are honeymooning in Hungary when a train reservation mix-up causes them to share a compartment with cat-phobic Dr. Vitus Werdegast.

The Alison’s learn that Dr. Werdegast is on his way to visit old friend Hjalmar Poelzig, an Austrian architect. Eighteen years ago, Dr. Werdegast left his wife to go to war and has spent the last fifteen of those years in a prison camp.

Arriving at their destination, the three board a hotel bound bus that crashes due to a storm, causing an injury to Joan. Dr. Werdegast suggests they go on to the home of Hjalmar Poelzig where he can treat Joan for her injuries.

Poelzig’s home is built over the ruins of Fort Marmorus. This installation was commanded by Poelzig during the war.

While in Poelzig’s home the newlyweds learn that Dr. Werdegast’s visit to an “old friend” will not be so friendly after all. The doctor accuses Poelzig of betraying his countrymen during the war resulting in the deaths of thousands of Hungarians.

Werdegast also accuses Poelzig of stealing his wife while he was in prison and learns that his friend has plans to sacrifice Joan in a satanic ritual.

NOTABLE: The Black Cat was the first of eight motion pictures to pair horror film legends Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, and proved to be the biggest box office success of the year for Universal Pictures.

Some countiries required cuts to some of the films more gruesome scenes, while Italy, Finland, and Austria banned the film altogether.

The Black Cat was the first Universal Pictures production to introduce the major characters with actual film clips during the opening credits.


The Invisible Man

Monday, May 24th, 2010

The Invisible Man [Blu-ray]

Tagline – H.G. Well’s Fantastic Sensation!

Starring – Claude Rains (The Invisible Man), Gloria Stuart (Flora Cranley), William Harrigan (Dr. Arthur Kemp), Henry Travers (Dr. Cranley).

Released – November, 1933

Directed By – James Whale

Produced By – Universal Pictures

Distributed By – Universal Pictures

Description – A mysterious stranger, with his eyes shielded by dark glasses and his face covered by bandages, checks into an inn located in an English village. He demands that the staff leave him completely alone while never leaving his room.

His strange behavior causes the innkeeper to call the police and order him to leave. After assaulting the innkeeper he laughs maniacally as he removes the bandages showing himself to be invisible.

This is Dr. Jack Griffin, a scientist who, while working on a strange new drug called “Monocane,” has accidentally discovered the ability to make himself invisible. Dr. Griffin reveals his secret to his one-time partner Dr. Arthur Kemp and to his fiancee Flora Cranley.

Dr. Griffin forces Dr. Kemp to return with him to the inn in order to retrieve his notes on the invisibility process and while there kills a policeman. This is just the beginning of a series of killings and robberies that follow and threaten the lives of both Dr. Kemp, who Griffin has threatened to kill, and Flora Cranley.

While Monocane has given Dr. Griffin the power of invisibility, he has overlooked one thing. The use of the drug renders its user insane. Now you see him, and now you don’t. It’s catch me if you can when pursuing an invisible man.

NOTABLE: In 2008, The Invisible Man was selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

The Invisible Man is considered one of the great Universal horror films of the 1930’s, and was the first American screen appearance for Claude Rains.

The films groundbreaking visual effects were created by John P. Fulton, John J. Mescall, and Frank D. Williams. Their work is often credited with the films success.

Personal Note: This is classic horror/sci-fi at it’s best. Although starting off with the use of invisibility in a comic fashion it turns deadly from then on.