Horror History: Erle C. Kenton

kentonErle C. Kenton
Born Aug. 1st, 1896 – Died Jan. 28th, 1980

While Kenton didn’t make but 4 horror movies in his career, the ones he did do are pretty important. He started as an actor, but took any job in the industry to learn as much as he could. Then in 1919, he got to direct his first picture. In his career, he directed 131 films, sometimes making over 10 pictures a year. In 1924, he directed a total of 15 films. Pretty funny when you compare it to today’s working directors and how often they turn out films.

Kenton was mainly known for directing comedies, even doing a couple for Abbott & Costello. But his first entry in the horror genre was in 1932, which is probably his best, the classic Island of Lost Souls (though author H.G. Wells would probably argue that point). Kind of strange that a man known for comedies could turn out a dark film like this one. Sure, some say that Laughton’s over-acting makes it a dark comedy, though I’ve always found this film pretty disturbing and quite effective.

His remaining efforts might not be as good, but are not only entertaining, but staples in the genre. With The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), House of Frankenstein (1944), and House of Dracula (1945), he helped continue the Universal monster series with some entertaining films. Sure, they weren’t the same classics that James Whale had turned out, but us monster kids just ate them up. And even today, as dated as they might be, I still find them pretty entertaining, as do many other classic monster fans.

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