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The Mummy

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

The Mummy (1932) [Blu-ray]

Tagline – A love that defied time drives a beautiful girl to her doom!

Starring – Boris Karloff (Ardath Bey/Im-ho-tep), Zita Johann (Helen Grosvenor), David Manners (Frank Whemple), Arthur Byron (Sir Joseph Whemple), Edward Van Sloan (Dr. Muller).

Released – December, 1932

Directed By – Karl Freund

Produced By – Universal Pictures

Distributed By – Universal Pictures

Description – An archaeological expedition finds the tomb of Egyptian priest Im-ho-tep. When one of the archaeologists reads an ancient life-giving spell it brings the mummy of Im-ho-tep back to life.

The mummy escapes with the Scroll of Thoth, reputed to bring the dead back to life, and sets out to find the reincarnation of his ancient lover Princess Ankh-es-en-amon.

Ten years now pass and Im-ho-tep, now known as the mysterious Egyptian Ardath Bey, armed with the Scroll of Thoth, joins another expedition to find the tomb of the princess. In order to bring her back to life he must first take the life of Helen Grosvenor who he believes to be the reincarnated Princess.

NOTABLE: The Mummy was inspired by the opening of Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922.

Actress Zita Johann actually was a believer of reincarnation.

It took makeup artist Jack Pierce eight hours to apply the necessary makeup to Boris Karloff.

The poster for The Mummy holds the record for the most money ever paid for a movie poster at auction, going for more than $453,000, and is #15 on Premiere’s “25 Best Movie Posters Ever.”

Personal Comment: A horror classic that ranks right up there with Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Wolf Man in the genre’s history. Great dialogue, direction, atmosphere, and a first-rate performance by Boris Karloff.


Thursday, December 17th, 2009


Tagline – “We’ll Make Her One of Us!” from the gibbering mouths of these weird creatures came this frenzied cry… no wonder she cringed in horror… this beautiful woman who dared toy with the love of one of them!

Starring – Wallace Ford (Phroso), Leila Hyams (Venus), Olga Baclanova (Cleopatra), Roscoe Ates (Roscoe), Henry Victor (Hercules), Harry Earles (Hans).

Released – February, 1932

Directed By – Tod Browning

Produced By –  Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Distributed By – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Description – An unusual and quite unsettling story of sideshow performers. In order to take advantage of midget Hans’ large inheritance, trapeze artist Cleopatra seduces and marries him.

Cleopatra, along with sideshow strongman Hercules, who she has been having an affair with, conspire to poison Hans, get the inheritance, and run away together. However, they are overheard talking of the murder plot by another of the ‘freaks’ who informs the others of the plan.

Revenge is now the order of the day, and it will not be pleasant.

NOTABLE: In 1994, Freaks was chosen to be included in the United States National Film Registry.

Inspired by his actual experiences as a member of a traveling circus , Director Browning chose to cast actual carnival performers and real people with deformities in this film.

Originally, Myrna Loy was to play Cleopatra and Jean Harlow the character of Venus. However, MGM production supervisor Irving Thalberg decided against the use of major stars.

Moviegoers were shocked by the cast of deformed characters and the film, to this day, remains a subject of extreme controversy. So controversial that Director Tod Browning, who had gained acclaim in the horror genre for his work with Lon Chaney and Bela Lugosi, had a difficult time getting more work and dramatically shortening his career.

Freaks was banned in the United Kingdom for 30 years.

Personal Comment: Two words…. very creepy!



Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

Frankenstein [Blu-ray]

Tagline – A Monster Science Created – But Could Not Destroy!

Starring – Colin Clive (Dr. Henry Frankenstein), Mae Clarke (Elizabeth), John Boles (Victor Moritz), Boris Karloff (The Monster), Dwight Frye (Fritz).

Released – November, 1931

Directed By – James Whale

Produced By – Universal Pictures

Distributed By – Universal Pictures

Description – Loosely based on the Mary Shelley novel, Frankenstein is probably the most recognizable monster in the history of the horror genre.

Ambitious scientist Dr. Frankenstein and his hunch-back assistant Fritz have been collecting and reassembling human body parts in an effort to create life. With a loud crack of thunder and lightening igniting Dr. Frankenstein’s electrical machines the monster comes alive.

Unknown to the Doctor is the fact that his assistant Fritz has collected the brain of a criminal for the experiment and his new life form knows only hate and murder. The rest of the story is horror genre history.

NOTABLE: In 1991, Frankenstein was selected for the National Film Registry in the Library of Congress.

The role of Frankenstein was originally offered to Bela Lugosi who rejected the part because it was a non-speaking role. Actor John Carradine also turned the part down because he felt he was too highly trained an actor to be reduced to playing a monster.

What have commonly been referred to as bolts in the monster’s neck are actually electrodes.

The original release of Frankenstein was banned in Kansas because they felt it depicted “cruelty, and tended to debase morals.”

Personal Comment: In spite of the production limitations, both Frankenstein and Dracula are immortalized in the minds of horror genre movie lovers, including myself.

There were a string of sequels to this film including what is commonly considered to be the best of the series – ‘Bride of Frankenstein,’ starring Elsa Lanchester.

Talk about typecasting – Enjoy the creepy performances of Dwight Frye as Fritz the hunch-back assistant in this film, and as Reinfield in Dracula.


Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Dracula (1931) [Blu-ray]

Tagline – The story of the strangest passion the world has ever known!

Starring – Bela Lugosi (Count Dracula), Helen Chandler (Mina Harker), David Manners (John Harker), Dwight Frye (Renfield).

Released – February, 1931

Directed By – Tod Browning

Produced By – Universal Pictures

Distributed By – Universal Pictures

Description – In an unforgettable movie role that forever typecast Bela Lugosi, Dracula is a horror movie genre classic familiar to everyone. While this early talkie may seem a little dated, Lugosi’s performance as the Transylvanian bloodsucker will always be the standard for which other portrayal’s of Dracula will be compared.

Welcome to the world of the undead.

Equally creepy and enjoyable is the performance of Dwight Frye as the spider-eating Renfield.

NOTABLE: In 2000, Dracula was selected for the National Film Registry in the Library of Congress.

The role of Dracula was originally intended to go to actor Lon Chaney whose untimely death provided Lugosi with the role he originally played on stage.

Contrary to popular belief, in this film, Dracula is never seen showing fangs nor is there a scene showing bite marks to a victims neck.

Bela Lugosi died in 1956 and was buried in the black silk cape used in the film.

Author Bram Stoker’s novel had previously been filmed, without his permission, in 1922 by German film maker F. W. Murnau and titled ‘Nosferatu’.