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The Curse of Frankenstein

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

The Curse of Frankenstein / Taste the Blood of Dracula

Tagline – The creature created by man and forgotten by nature!

Starring – Peter Cushing (Victor Frankenstein), Hazel Court (Elizabeth), Robert Urquhart (Paul Krempe), Christopher Lee (the Creature).

Released – June, 1957

Directed By – Terence Fisher

Produced By – Warner Brothers, Hammer Films

Distributed By – Warner Brothers

Description – In prison awaiting his execution for murder, Victor Frankenstein is telling his story to a priest. After his mother’s death, young Victor assumes sole control of the family estate.

Out of his inheritance Victor agrees to pay his Aunt Sophia and cousin Elizabeth a monthly stipend. Sofia, thinking of acquiring more, suggests to Victor that Elizabeth may one day make a good wife.

In an effort to continue his education, Victor hires Paul Krempe to tutor him. Several years of study have brought Victor up to the educational level of Krempe and the two decide to work together on some scientific experiments.

These experiments lead to the pair successfully bringing a dead dog back to life. Victor now believes that the theory behind this success may very well work on a human body as well.

They start right away, but before long Krempe loses his taste for the project. The scavenging of human body parts has begun to sicken him and with the arrival of now fully-grown cousin and fiance to Victor, Elizabeth, Krempe withdraws from the experiment.

Victor, now searching for an intelligent brain for his creation, murders a distinguished professor. During the removal of the brain, Victor and Krempe have a struggle resulting in some damage to the brain. The fear of just what is taking place causes Krempe to try and convince Elizabeth to leave the estate for her own safety. She refuses.

With the creature now assembled, Victor brings it back to life. However, the damaged brain has caused the creation to be both psychotic and violent. There is no other choice but to lock the creature up.

The creature manages to escape and it is not long before it murders an old blind man and this act may only be the beginning.

NOTABLE: The Curse of Frankenstein was the first meeting of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Their friendship lasted until Cushing’s death in 1994.

For many years The Curse of Frankenstein was the most profitable film to be produced in England by a British studio.

It is the belief of many film historians that the success of this film caused a resurrection of the horror film genre which had steadily declined in popularity from the 1930’s and early 1940’s.

Of all the Frankenstein films produced, this was the first to be made in color.

The Incredible Shrinking Man

Monday, May 16th, 2016

The Incredible Shrinking Man

Tagline – Hour by hour he gets smaller and smaller!

Starring – Grant Williams (Scott Cary), Randy Stuart (Louise Cary), April Kent (Clarice).

Released – April, 1957

Directed By – Jack Arnold

Produced By – Universal International Pictures

Distributed By – Ultra Pictures Corporation

Description – Scott and Louise Cary are relaxing on the deck of their small boat, off the coast of California, soaking up a little sun.

Louise goes below into the cabin just as a cloud of mist passes over the boat and Scott. Neither are sure of what caused the cloud and as quickly as it appeared, it disappeared. Nothing more is thought of it.

Six months go by and Scott finds his pants and shirt are a little large. He blames the laundry service for doing something wrong. However, it’s not just these two items of clothing. All Scott’s clothes no longer fit right.

Believing that he may be have some sort of illness that is causing him to get smaller, Scott goes to the doctor. After a thorough examination, Scott is said to be in perfect health and told that “people just don’t get shorter.”

The disturbing trend continues and Louise notices that she no longer has to get up on her toes to kiss her husband. Even more disturbing is the fact that Scott’s wedding ring falls off his finger. The couple return to the doctor for more tests and, sure enough, an x-ray confirms the fact that Scott is shrinking.

Additional tests find that Scott has been exposed to dangerous levels of radiation. The only possible explanation for this would be his exposure to the strange cloud of mist while on their boat.

Will it be possible to stop the shrinking?

NOTABLE: The Incredible Shrinking Man is Included among the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”, edited by Steven Schneider.

The trailer for the film features the voice of Orson Welles.

The giant drops of water were created by filling condoms with the liquid and then dropping them.

Personal Note: This is a very entertaining example of the creative and wonderfully popular Science Fiction films made during the 1950’s.

Godzilla, King of Monsters

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Godzilla King of the Monsters

Tagline – The Mightiest Monster… The Mightiest Melodrama of Them All!

Starring – Raymond Burr (Steve Martin), Takashi Shimura (Dr. Kyohei Yamane), Akira Takarada (Hideto Ogata), Momoko Kochi (Emiko Yanane), Akihiko Hirata (Dr. Daisuke Serizawa).

Released – April, 1956

Directed By – Ishiro Honda, Terry O. Morse

Produced By – Toho Company, Jewel Enterprises, Inc.

Distributed By – Embassy Pictures

Description – American reporter Steve Martin, during a stopover in Tokyo, is on his way to Cairo. While in Tokyo he learns of a series of mysterious sea disasters just off the coast. Something is destroying ships quickly and without warning giving their crew no chance to escape.

When a dying seaman washes up on the shore of an island, just off the mainland, he has an unbelievable tale to tell. Before dying, the seaman tells a story that supports what the island’s inhabitants already believe… that there is a monster who rises from beneath the sea and is destroying the ships.

Martin passes this unbelievable story on to his U. S. editor and is granted permission to remain in Japan to cover the investigation. He returns to the island accompanied by paleontologist Dr. Yamane, his daughter Emiko and her naval officer boyfriend Ogata. Any doubt that a monster exists quickly disappear as they witness the monster attack the island village.

The group immediately return to Tokyo to warn the authorities that the monster does exist and appears to be heading for the city. A hasty defense plan is set up, and when the monster approaches the mainland it is greeted by Navy depth charges which only prove ineffective.

As night falls, the monster reaches the city of Tokyo and the Army’s attempts to stop it also prove worthless. The monster seems invulnerable to conventional military weapons. Millions are injured before the monster returns to the sea.

There is not much time to come up with a solution before Godzilla returns.

There seems to be only one solution. Renowned scientist Dr. Serizawa has discovered a weapon that, by destroying all oxygen in the water, just may kill the monster. However, this discovery would also kill all life in the water and destroy Tokyo Bay which provides nearly all of the food used on the island of Japan.

Should they decide to take this desperate action they must find a way to place the weapon at the feet of the monster who rests on the bottom of the sea.

NOTABLE: This is the “Americanized” version of the original Godzilla which was released with American subtitles to Japanese community theaters only. The film was dubbed with the American language and the American character of Steve Martin was added.

The original Japanese film made reference to the atomic-bombing of Japan during the war. These were dropped for the American version.

The pre-release hype for the film claimed that actor Raymond Burr spent two months in Japan filming his scenes. The truth is that his scenes were filmed in Hollywood over six days. Burr’s insertion into the already existing film was done through the intricate use of film editing and the use of doubles.

Writer Al C. Ward was chosen to write the American scenes for the film. He was given the option of $1,500 or 5% of the profits. Believing the film would bomb, Ward took the cash. This proved to be a big mistake and he later admitted that had he chosen the percentage of profits he would have made somewhere around $5,000,000.


Forbidden Planet

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Forbidden Planet [Blu-ray]


Starring – Walter Pidgeon (Dr. Edward Morbius), Anne Francis (Altaira ‘Alta’ Morbius), Leslie Neilsen (Commander J. J. Adams), Warren Stevens (Lt. ‘Doc’ Ostrow), Jack Kelly (Lt. Jerry Farman), Robby the Robot (Himself).

Released – March, 1956

Directed By – Fred M. Wilcox

Produced By –  Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Distributed By – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Description – United Planets Cruiser C57-D, led by Commander J. J. Adams, is on a mission to the planet Altair IV to investigate the fate of a colony establishing expedition sent 20 years ago. As the ship draws closer to Altair IV they receive a radio message from Dr. Edward Morbius advising them to stay away.

He claims that he will not be able to guarantee their safety and that he has no need for assistance. Commander Adams, in keeping with his mission, ignores the warning and prepares to land. They are met by Robby the Robot who brings the Commander, Lt. Farman, and ‘Doc’ Ostrow to the home of Dr. Morbius.

Dr. Morbius tells Commander Adams that a “planetary force” has destroyed their spacecraft and killed the other members of the expedition. The only survivors were Morbius, his wife, who later died of natural causes, and their daughter Altaira. It is Morbius’ fear that the same fate will happen to Commander Adams and his crew.

The next evening, a piece of valuable equipment is sabotaged aboard Commander Adam’s craft despite the posting of sentries. The following morning the Commander and ‘Doc’ Ostrow visit Dr. Morbius in an effort to find out who is responsible.

Morbius informs them of his work studying an ancient civilization known as the Krell. They had populated the planet many years earlier and were discovered to have all died mysteriously in one single night. His work has led to his learning to use the Krell’s greatest scientific development, a “plastic educator” capable of enhancing intellectual ability many times over. Morbius has used the machine on himself and has been able to permanently develop his own intellect to an unheard of capacity.

To prevent another intrusion, Commander Adams sets up a defensive force field around his ship. However, this proves useless as the intruder again invisibly penetrates the defense and kills a crew member. The only clue is a large footprint that is examined by ‘Doc’ Ostow who has never seen anything like it before. He can only state that, “Anywhere in the galaxy, this is a nightmare.”

The intruder again returns, is picked up by the ships radar, and described as being, “as big as a house.” Although invisible, when in the force field fence, energy beams appears as a fiery, lion-like creature. Their weapons are useless and more crew members are killed before the creature disappears.

A return to Dr. Morbius home reveals that the Krell machine is capable of creating any object that can be imagined and that there is a direct link between the creature and Dr. Morbius. It may be too little, too late, as the invisible creature is now approaching the house and slowly melting its way through the nearly indestructible thick metal doors of the Krell laboratory.

NOTABLE: Forbidden Planet received an Oscar nomination for Best Effects, Special Effects.

Forbidden Planet is the first science fiction film to take place entirely on another planet and the first to use an all-electronic musical score.

The motion picture was filmed on the same sound stage as the Wizard of Oz, and Altaira’s garden was originally the Munchkin village.

Robby the Robot is now part of a collection owned by director William Malone.

The film’s poster is ranked #5 on Premiere’s list of “The 25 Best Movie Posters Ever.”

Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, has stated that this film was his inspiration for the series.

Forbidden Planet was the first science fiction film produced at MGM since “The Mysterious Island” in 1929.

Personal Note: One of, if not, the best of the many very enjoyable 1950’s science fiction films. Film historian Ben Mankiewicz has claimed that it was the success of Forbidden Planet that paved the way for future big-budget science fiction films.


Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Invasion of the Body Snatchers [Blu-ray]

Tagline – They Came From Another World!

Starring – Kevin McCarthy (Dr. Miles J. Bennell), Dana Wynter (Becky Driscoll), Larry Gates (Dr. Dan Kauffman), King Donovan (Jack Belicec), Carolyn Jones (Theodora ‘Teddy’ Belicec).

Released – February, 1956

Directed By – Don Siegel

Produced By – Walter Wanger Productions

Distributed By – United Artists

Description – Local doctor, Dr. Miles Bennell, has recently had a rash of patients who believe that some of their friends and relatives have somehow been replaced by impostors. This, at first, seems to be some sort of paranoid delusion to Dr. Bennell.

However, his curiosity and suspicions are aroused when, former girlfriend and recent divorcee, Becky Driscoll tells him that her cousin Wilma has had the same suspicion regarding her father. Dr. Bennell decides to discuss these claims with his friend and town psychiatrist Dr. Dan Kauffman. It is Dr. Kauffman’s belief that this is no more than an unexplained case of “mass hysteria.”

That evening Jack Belicec finds a not yet fully developed body with his features. Another body looking exactly like Becky Driscoll is found in her basement. She notifies Dr. Bennell, of her and Jack’s finding’s, and he calls in Dr. Kauffman.

But by the time Dr. Kauffman arrives both bodies have mysteriously disappeared and Dr. Kauffman fears that the same hysteria is afflicting Dr. Bennell, Becky, and Jack.

The following night, while searching around town for additional clues as to just what is going on, Dr. Bennell, Becky, Jack, and now Jack’s wife Teddy find identical duplicates of themselves emerging from some kind of pods. Their investigation leads them to believe that the townspeople are being replaced by exact replicas while they are asleep.

Frantic, and not knowing who in town can be trusted, Dr. Bennell tries to make a long-distance call out of town to get help. The operator informs him, without explanation, that no long-distance calls may be placed.

Jack and Teddy drive out of town in search of help while Dr. Bennell and Becky head to his office to hide for the night until Jack and Teddy can return with help. It is now frighteningly clear that most of the towns inhabitants have been replaced.

Dr. Bennell and Becky fight to remain awake all night long and when morning arrives they witness truckloads of pods being taken to neighboring towns to replace the residents.

As for help… there will be none.

Dr. Kauffman has also been “replaced.” His replacement tells Dr. Bennell and Becky that this is a silent invasion by an extraterrestrial life form intent on a total takeover. Dr. Bennell and Becky manage to escape and hide out in a mine where Becky falls asleep and is immediately replaced.

Only Dr. Bennell remains and it appears that is too late to stop the silent invasion.

NOTABLE: In 1994, Invasion of the Body Snatchers was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

The film was considered by some as a metaphor for the tyranny of McCarthyism and director Don Siegel was forced to include an epilogue at the conclusion of the picture.

Famed director Sam Peckinpah briefly appears in the film as a meter reader.

In 2008, The American Film Institute ranked Invasion of the Body Snatchers #9 on their 10 Greatest Films in the Sci-Fi Genre list.

Gig Young, Joseph Cotton, and Dick Powell were considered for the role of Dr. Miles J. Bennell, and Anne Bancroft, Donna Reed, Kim Hunter, and Vera Miles were considered for the role of Becky Driscoll. Budget restraints caused the role’s to be given to relative newcomers Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter.

Personal Note: One of the classic 1950’s science fiction releases. Still very enjoyable and very creepy today despite the lack of horrific special effects. The special effects budget for this motion picture was a very modest $15,000.