The Black Sleep (1956)
Directed by Reginald Le Borg
Starring Basil Rathbone, Akim Tamiroff, Lon Chaney Jr., John Carradine, Bela Lugosi,
Herbert Rudley, Patricia Blair, Phyllis Stanley, Tor Johnson
Basil Rathbone stars as Dr. Joel Cadman, who is obsessed with discovering the mysteries of the human brain. His wife is in a coma due to a brain tumor, so he is determined to discover a way how to save her, even if this means through un-ethical experimental operations on live patients to find that cure. He saves a fellow doctor, Dr. Ramsey, from the gallows who was wrongly accused. He does this by use of a drug he found in India, which he calls the Black Sleep. Once taken, it makes the person appear to be dead, even to the prison’s doctor. Once another injection is given, the “dead” comes back to life. For this favor, Cadman wants the young doctor to assist him in his experiments. But once Ramsey discovers that Cadman is experimenting on live subjects, he realizes he must find away to escape this madness.
With as many titles that I add to my library each and every year, if I don’t force myself some rules, I’ll never get through some of these. Back in 2015, I’ve set myself a goal to get through at least one book per month. That year I almost made it, getting through eleven. Then last year, I devoured fourteen titles! Then this year I did even one better and made it to fifteen titles. Trust me, I wish I had the time to double that number since when you have over a thousand titles in your library, and are constantly adding new ones, it is a never ending quest. But one I that I just love. Just like my Best Of movie lists, these are not titles that came out this last year, but ones that I finally got around to. Out of those fifteen, here are the top five that I would recommend the most:
The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942)
Directed by Erle C. Kenton
Starring Lon Chaney Jr., Bela Lugosi, Cedric Hardwicke, Ralph Bellamy, Lionel Atwill, Evelyn Ankers, Janet Ann Gallow, Barton Yarborough, Dwight Frye
There are certain movies from our childhood that still hold a type of charm over us. Ones that when watching it as an adult, even though the film might have flaws, or just isn’t the best, it still is able to recreate the same feeling it did upon that first viewing, all those years ago. The Ghost of Frankenstein is one of those for me. I still consider the original 1931 Frankenstein film one of my favorites and a much better film, but for some reason, I’d probably be more likely to sit down and watch Ghost on some afternoon than the original. Maybe because watching the original, I view it more like an adult, but with Ghost, it makes me feel like a 14 year old kid again watching it on my 13-inch black and white TV. That was when I first got to see this and I can still remember sitting there in my room, eyes glued to the little television set.
Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff: The Expanded Story of a Haunting Collaboration By Gregory William Mank Published by McFarland, 2009. 701 pages
If you don’t want to read our whole review, then to put it as simply as we can get: Buy this book.
Originally published in 1990, under the title Karloff and Lugosi: The Story of a Haunting Collaboration, it was almost ten years later when Mank released a massively updated and revised version in 2009. So much time had passed since its first publication, where he had interviewed so many more people, giving him even more information and stories about Lugosi and Karloff, that he felt the need to update this book. And I’m so glad he did, since it was one of the most enjoyable, enlightening, and entertaining books that I’ve read in a long time. Really an essential volume for any monster kid.
I have to give Mank credit for not just updating this book because of new interviews and information, but to correct a few things, namely stories about Hope Lugosi, the last true “Bride of Dracula”, who in the past was not treated well by the media and journalists, including himself. But after interviewing her and getting to know her, he wanted to make sure that her side of the story was out there. So for that, I give him a lot of credit for wanting to make sure it was heard.
Bela Lugosi: Dreams and Nightmares
By Gary D. Rhodes
Published by Collectables Records Corp, 2007. 352 pages.