Monday, October 31, 2016

Season of Horror: Masquerade (1961)

Happy Halloween! I've been wanting to write about this misunderstood episode of Thriller for quite awhile, and give it the appreciation it deserves. Masquerade is a quintessential Halloween episode, which is why I've chosen to watch it tonight. It aired the day before Halloween in 1961, and when I first saw it, I couldn't help but think it was like being at a kid's Halloween party back in the 60s. The kind where you pass the peeled grapes and spaghetti noodles and someone jumps out and says BOO! This episode is all about Halloween fun. Here's something to get you in the spirit.

The viewer is expected to determine who is wearing the masks in this episode. It leads one to wonder that if kids wear monster masks on Halloween, then what kind of masks do the monsters wear? It is fun, lighthearted, and for it's time, portrayed vampires in a uniquely different light. You'll find no capes or fangs or fake Transylvanian accents here. As Karloff says in his intro, "Before this terrifying adventure is ended, you'll change some of your outdated ideas about vampires."

This episode is appreciated even more on second viewing after seeing the reveal at the end, as much of the dialogue is cleverly written and will take on new meaning. Elizabeth Montgomery and Tom Poston play well together, and the lighting and detail in the house is a pleasure to watch. It looks as though Norman Bates left behind objects of his taxidermy. There's much to enjoy about this episode.

"Just such a night as this, who knows what masquerade the living dead may choose."

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Season of Horror: Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Halloween is in the air and Saturday night is the perfect night for watching a Creature Features favorite movie, Night of the Living Dead. If you're a fan, you'll be happy to hear it's getting a 4k restoration. This movie terrified me when I was younger, and I think it may still terrify me. I found a list of dates it was shown on Creature Features over at BLOG WILKINS, but I honestly can't remember which of those dates I might have first seen it. It's been quite a few years since I've last watched this movie and I have a feeling I will be highly attuned to all the bumps and creaks and noises in the night tonight. I am watching the Special Collector's Edition released in 1997 from Elite Entertainment and I'm going to live blog it. Before we begin, let's take a moment to remember and honor Bob Wilkins.

This release begins with the opening from the horrible unrestored version that was available up until this version was released, and what a difference to clearly see the details. Here's the difference between seeing it when I was a kid and seeing it as an adult.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Season of Horror: The Monster of Piedras Blancas (1959)

I'm so happy it's a rainy Friday night and I have the privilege of relaxing with a new monster movie. Don't judge. We should all do what makes us happy. The Monster of Piedras Blancas comes by recommendation of brother John. Rubber suited monsters aren't my favorite thing, but they are usually fun and lovable, and John never leads me astray on a recommendation, so I'm sure there's something I'll enjoy about this flick. It's been about three years since I last saw Creature From the Black Lagoon. The character on the title menu looks like the Creature's evil twin holding a decapitated head. It's going to be a bumpy night.

We open with a nice view of a lighthouse and move to a claw reaching into a bowl that is chained. The crotchety lighthouse keeper is walking his bike and stops to yell at some darned kids with fishing poles that he's told to stay away. While the credits roll, he rides his bike through the village.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Season of Horror: La Strega (1962)

It's Thriller time! We're getting close to Halloween and it's time to show some love and respect to the witches. Jeannette Nolan plays one brilliantly in La Strega. I have not seen this episode since watching it with the Thriller-a-Day boys back in October 2010. This episode was directed by that talented lady, Ida Lupino.

A pretty little Italian girl is washing her laundry in the river when she's accosted by three brutish males calling her Strega. The doltish ringleader with the one word vocabulary slaps her around and then picks her up and tosses her in the river, where she thrashes about in the water.

Karloff arrives on scene to make the introductions, and defines Strega as witch, "a dreadful word for a horrible creature." He goes on to describe how witchcraft in Italy was called the old religion over a hundred years ago, and that pious peasants used extreme measures to fight witches, but that witches can fight back and wreak a fearful vengeance on those who stand in the way.

"She's outcast, unwanted, feared, and the image of her that has come down to us through the ages is a frightening one indeed."

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Season of Horror: The Walking Dead (1936)

I'm forging ahead tonight in an insane attempt to get through the bulk of my classic horror movies--because Winter is Coming. Hopefully I'll have some real time off by then--the kind I don't have to work through--and I'll complete all my unfinished business before moving on to the Season of Silents. That's just the piecemeal way I'm putting this scrapbook together.

To celebrate the beginning of Season 7 of The Walking Dead, I'm watching The Walking Dead, 1930s style. I won't be watching the contemporary version until tomorrow, but I thought it'd be fun to see this one tonight. There is no zombie apocalypse going on here, and the only dead guy walking is one of my favorite horror guys, Boris Karloff. This film can be found on the Karloff & Lugosi Horror Classics set. I recommend picking this set up while you can.

This movie was directed by Michael Curtiz, who you may not know that you know. Or at least I didn't, until I kept seeing his name reappear on a lot of my pre-code movies like God's Gift to Women, The Office Wife, Bright Lights, The Mad Genius (Boris Karloff appears briefly in this pre-Frank film), and one of my favorites, Female. I was further surprised to discover he directed Casablanca, Mildred Pierce, and White Christmas. I could list more but I should get on with it. I don't know how it is that I did not know this guy's name as well as I knew Ernst Lubitsch, Fritz Lang, F. W. Murnau, Billy Wilder, Cecil B. DeMille, or Alfred Hitchcock. But I do now and now so do you. Let's move on.

"Leave the dead to their maker. The Lord our God is a jealous god."

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Season of Horror: The Last Man on Earth (1964)

If you've been following along, then you know that Saturday night is a time to honor and appreciate my most favorite horror movies.

Tonight I am watching The Last Man on Earth with Vincent Price. I purchased The Vincent Price Collection II set expressly for this movie. I had previously only seen this copy from 2000, so I am looking forward to finally seeing it with greater clarity. It's dubbed, which gives it that same strange mismatched dialogue that we saw in Black Sunday. Apocalyptic stories are some of my favorites.

"Theoretical? Do I have to remind you that theory is the beginning of solution?"

Friday, October 21, 2016

Season of Horror: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

....aaaaaand we're back! How lovely it is to have some time off after an intense work week, and be able to spend quality time with some fearsome fictional characters. I had not really planned to be watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre this evening. It just happened. It's another adventure in streaming TV.

This is my first time viewing this film. Brother John will surely be shocked to hear that, since he played it regularly in our youth, and although I did have some exposure to it, I always managed to avoid seeing it. I felt it might be too scary for me. Upon perusing the selections Amazon Prime Video was boasting in advance of Halloween, I decided to take the plunge on this film. I really only meant to see the first part of it and then got sucked in.

"I just can't take no pleasure in killin'. Well, there's just some things you got to do, don't mean you have to like it."

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Season of Horror: Carnival of Souls (1962)

I like to hear the Creature Features opening theme before delving into something truly scary on a Saturday night. It brings back fond memories. It's a stormy night with rain and gusty winds and after seeing Carnival of Souls tonight, I will not want to look out the window for fear I might see the ghoul from tonight's movie. This is the first time I'm seeing this film on Blu-Ray. This version is not the extended director's cut, but the deleted scenes are available in the supplements.

"Have you no respect? Do you feel no reverence? I feel sorry for you and your lack of soul."

Friday, October 14, 2016

Season of Horror: El Espejo de la Bruja (1962)

I am watching El Espejo de la Bruja (The Witch's Mirror) this evening, which I purchased after revisiting El Vampiro and looking up more Mexican Horror from CasaNegra. Apparently, CasaNegra Entertainment has gone out of business, so it may be prudent to get some of the Mexican Horror titles they have to offer while the getting is good. These horror films are worthy of attention and I hope more will be available in the future.

"But only a superlative witch endowed with genuinely profound knowledge of the occult can make use of a magical object of infinite powers and properties invented by a great magician of ancient Persia. The mirror."

The movie begins with a description of the ancient practice of witchcraft and all the horrible things witches do and the tools they use to do it, while showing some rather interesting plates.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Season of Horror: Suspense (1913)

We're traveling back in time for a scary short film from over 100 years ago called Suspense. It can be found on the Saved from the Flames DVD.

We see an unhappy looking lady creepily staring through a keyhole at a mother and her babe, and through the note she hastily scribbles, we find out she is Mamie, and she's leaving without notice for the simple reason that the secluded environs are unacceptable to servants. Mamie is too gutless to tell the woman to her face, which is rather reprehensible, and her brief appearance apparently wasn't worth noting in the credits. The real mystery is why she's leaving the key under the mat while The Wife is at home. She must have known The Tramp was coming and would need it.

The Tramp sees her leave and makes his way to the house.

"A Tramp is prowling around the house. Now he is opening the kitchen door. Now he is..."

Monday, October 10, 2016

Season of Horror: Pigeons from Hell (1961)

It's time to revisit one of Thriller's most highly rated episodes, Pigeons from Hell. Just to put things in context, check out what folks were watching during the 1960-61 season.

Our show opens with a car driving off-road in a vehicle not made for off-road driving. The driver sideswipes a tree and then gets stuck in a sump. Two young guys step out of the car to check their predicament. While one guy notes the joys of the south, including the swamps, and blames the other for taking a shortcut, the other fella is not feeling in much of a joking mood about it. He comes up with a brilliant plan to locate a big pole in the middle of nowhere to jam under the front wheels to try and get some traction. Since it's his plan, his buddy suggests he go find the pole. Turns out they're not going to need it.

While searching the woods, a yowling sound grabs his attention. He walks toward the sound and sees a group of pigeons congregated on the grounds of a run down estate. The yowling sound happens again as he stands among them, causing the pigeons to fly up in his face. He freaks out and yells for Tim, who suggests they go check out the old house. He is still spooked but follows Tim into the creepy old place.

We cut to Karloff in a foggy wood, who describes the many frightening creatures of the swamp, and notes that our young friend is alarmed by seemingly harmless pigeons, but that he has cause for alarm because they are the pigeons from hell. He relates how spirits come back from the dead to guard their ancestral home from intruders, who in life fed on evil but in death return to feed upon the living, driven by the spell of a terrible curse. He also lets us know the two boys are brothers, but his intro gave no indication of the horrifying event that follows.

"You mean he can turn women into zombies?"

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Season of Horror: Lemora, the Lady Dracula (1973)

Time to pay homage once again to Bob Wilkins with a frightening film known as Lemora: A Child's Tale of the Supernatural. When I first saw this movie in the 1970s on Creature Features, it was called Lemora, the Lady Dracula, and it disturbed me so greatly that I never forgot it. It wasn't until 2010 that I found it on DVD and was able to see it again. It's been a few years since I've last seen it, but I expect it will still creep me out. This movie is a brightly colored fairy tale nightmare.

"Is fun evil? The real sin is for a girl to deny herself life and joy."

Friday, October 7, 2016

Season of Horror: Supernatural (1933)

I've got my dear friend Cathy joining in on the Season of Horror tonight, which means I talked through most of the movie and missed some parts, but we had a good time watching Carole Lombard and Randolph Scott in Supernatural. It is a shocking and horrifying movie. Right after the Paramount logo, an ominous tone is immediately established with thunder and lightning accompanied by ghostly vocalizing.

We are then confronted with three quotes to ponder...

"Isn't she beautiful?"

"Yes, but repulsive, like a female spider that kills her mate when she's through with it."

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Season of Horror: El Vampiro (1957)

I'm glad to be back at it tonight. I've decided to watch El Vampiro in keeping with my beginning of October vampire fest. I probably have enough vampire movies to watch one every day for the whole month, but I will be switching it up since it's good to have some balance in one's horror regimen.

This movie can be found on the Vampire Collection set, which also contains the sequel, El ata├║d del Vampiro. I received this set from brother John quite a few years ago, and had never heard of this film and would not have discovered the joy of Mexican horror if it weren't for him. It's been a number of years since I've seen it last, so I'm looking forward to reacquainting myself with it.

This movie has got the beautiful imagery of a Universal Picture, but more of the toothsome horror of a Hammer film. The music is suspenseful and emphatic. It begins wonderfully with a vampire looking up at an open door from a courtyard. Inside, there is a woman who appears to be unnerved. The vampire morphs into a bat and flies into her open doorway. She screams and he attacks her on the bed, draining her and leaving.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Season of Horror: Elegy for a Vampire (1972)

Time for another episode of Ghost Story and another take on the vampire genre with "Elegy for a Vampire." Sebastian Cabot, who hosts the show as Winston Essex, introduces the episode by saying he has a manuscript written by the deceased Professor Pendergast on the credibility of modern vampires that Essex finds provocative.

Professor David Wells (Hal Linden) is writing in his diary about feeling frightened and not knowing what to do about his worsening spells and increasing weakness. He remarks that Pendergast is dead and no-one can help him when he suddenly gets twitchy, drops his pen and furrows his brow.

"I guess some people take longer to heal than others."

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Season of Horror: Dracula (1931)

It's Universal Monsters Sunday again, with a showing of Tod Browning's Dracula this evening. Unfortunately, the constraints of work limit what I have time to post, which means I am only logging my horror viewing for tonight and hope to follow up at another time with some thoughts on this film.

"There are far worse things awaiting man than death."

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Season of Horror: Nosferatu (1922)

Allow me a minute to remember Bob Wilkins and my childhood Saturday Night ritual, Creature Features.

It's time to revisit one of film's most horrifying creatures, and one of my favorite vampire movies. Nosferatu is another movie I've seen since childhood, though it has been restored a number of times and has improved immensely since my first viewing. Tonight I am watching the Blu-Ray version for the first time. Wow! What a difference! The recreation of Hans Erdmann's original score is a delight to the ears and complements the horrifying action onscreen perfectly. I would have been pleased with just that improvement, but there is more detail apparent that makes it all the more beautiful visually. There are also additional scenes I have never before seen, and some added and revised intertitles. It's a whole new movie.

"Deliverance is possible by no other means but that an innocent maiden maketh the vampire heed not the first crowing of the cock, this done by the sacrifice of her own bloode."