Here’s a name that is one of the icons of acting, not to mention in the horror genre. Sure, most remember him from all the cheesy and low-budget titles that he appeared in, especially in his later years, but he was always delivering a fine performance. I mean, think about that for a minute. He appeared in Ted V. Mikels Astro Zombies, which I happen to love, and learned all this technical dialogue for his role of the mad doctor, and gave the performance if he was doing Shakespeare.
The man started working on the stage in 1925, often appearing in the works of Shakespeare. In fact, he was known as the Bard of Boulevard because it was not uncommon for him to see seen wandering up and down Hollywood Boulevard spouting the lines from the great playwright. He is credited for more than 350 film and TV appearances in his career, something that very few could claim. Sure, some of those were pretty bad, but not all. In fact, he was quoted saying “I’ve made some of the greatest films ever made … and a lot of crap, too.” But he was dedicated to the craft, no matter the budget. And always a treat to watch.
I think my first experience with Carradine was actually on a TV show back in the late ’70s, a cop show called McCloud, starring Dennis Weaver as a Marshall from Texas that ends up working with the NYPD. In one episode, there seems to be a vampire on the loose, which is played by none other Mr. Carradine! He is actually playing a famous actor who is known for his roles in the movies as a vampire, but just may be a real one! His manservant is even played by Reggie Nalder, no less! Not sure if I had seen him before on some afternoon matinee but this was the time I started to remember him and have enjoyed his work ever since.
I think he made a great vampire in House of Frankenstein (1944) and House of Dracula (1945), and plenty of other appearances in those old black and white classics. But I also really enjoyed his performance of the sea captain in Shock Waves (1977) or the cranky old man in Joe Dante’s The Howling (1981). No matter what he appeared in, no matter how brief, it always brought up the production a little bit.
For this Friday Favorites, what are some of your favorite appearances of Mr. Carradine?