Discover the Horror – Episode 42: Universal Frankensteins

Frankenstein (1931), The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Son of Frankenstein (1939), and The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942).

Time to go back to the source! The films that started a mythology, created the stereotypes, and taught us everything we were going to need to know about the mad genius that created a “monster” and the innocent, child-like creature that would eventually be known by his creator’s own name. In this episode, we look back at the first four Universal Frankenstein films, before the monster-ramas, when the main point was the creature and his maker. While there is a lot of material to cover in only one episode, we cover as much as we can, trying to show you just how important, entertaining and well-made these films are after close to a century.

Films mentioned during this episode:

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Happy Birthday, Mr. Karloff!

As a young horror fan, Boris Karloff was the first of my horror heroes, and all of these years later, remains my all-time favorite. He was the first one that I knew the name of the person who was behind the monsters that he played. That came from probably his most famous role as the creature in James Whale’s Frankenstein (1931), or possibly because he narrated the Grinch, but I would later learn and appreciate more and more of his roles.

One reason for this was due to Richard Bojarski’s book The Films of Boris Karloff, which I checked out so often from my middle school library that I was told I couldn’t check it out any longer, to apparently give others a chance to check it out. I would page through there, looking at all the different roles that he appeared in, especially the horror ones, and dream of the day when I might be able to stumble across it on TV some Saturday afternoon. Oh, how naïve we were back then, huh?

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McFarland Book Sale!!!

In our never-ending pursuit of learning more about the horror genre, we have many volumes from McFarland in our library. They have such a wide variety of subjects, from critical essays and academic studies overviews of different sub-genres, and plenty of amazing biographies.

Going on right now, McFarland is not waiting until Black Friday to start their online sales but have started offering 40% off ANY title!!! Just head over to their website (by clicking HERE) and start choosing titles. When you get to the check out, add in HOLIDAY22 for the code and it will take off the 40%. That’s damn near half price folks! I know McFarland can be a bit pricy so now is your chance to save some series dough! The sale goes from now until Monday, November 28th, so don’t wait too long!

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Peter Bogdanovich – Rest in Peace

While Mr. Bogdanovich wasn’t prolific in the horror genre, on one of his first films he worked with on the horror greats on one of their last films. The film was Targets (1968), and the star was Boris Karloff. Bogdanovich not only directed the film but starred alongside him as well. The story is about an old aging horror icon tired of the old ways, that beautifully (and terrifyingly) blends the old fictional horror with new and real horror of the day when a young man goes on a killing spree for no apparent reason.

Bogdanovich gave Karloff a chance to show once again that he was a much more talented actor than most would ever give him credit for. But Bogdanovich was a true lover of cinema in every sense of the word, and when you hear him talk about movies, you understand a little more the power of cinema.

Our thoughts go out to him and his family in this difficult time. Gone, but not forgotten.

Frankenstein . . . Ninety Years & Counting

Cinema history changed 90 years ago on this day, with the release of James Whale’s Frankenstein. Sure, Dracula had been released in February and was a big hit, but some thought it was a fluke. But once Frankenstein hit the screens, the wheels started turning for what would become the Universal Horror Classics. Can you imagine being in that audience 9 decades ago, having no idea what you were going to be seeing onscreen?

Of course, one of the reasons the picture was a success does fall on the shoulders of Boris Karloff and his incredible performance. He not only sparked a multitude of nightmares to adults with this character, but children from around the world saw through the makeup and saw the “monster” for what he really was, an innocent outsider. Growing up as a horror fan, like a lot of us, knew what it was like to be different and looked upon as strange or weird. So the creature has always had a special place with me.

This film has always been a personate favorite of mine, and would be in my top ten films of all time. It still is as impactful and powerful today as it was 90 years ago, thanks to everyone from the mad genius James Whale, the anxiety-ridden character of Henry brought to life by Colin Clive, the set designers to created this world they lived in. And of course, had it not been for makeup man Jack Pierce, we might not be celebrating this anniversary.

Here’s to another 90 years to our deeply misunderstood creature. May people continue to learn not to judge people from the way they look, but what is inside them.

Boris Karloff: The Man Behind the Monster

On October 26th, this new documentary on one of the greatest icons of the horror genre will be available on Digital and On Demand from Shout! Studios. You’ll get to hear from names like Guillermo del Toro, John Landis, Joe Dante, Christopher Plummer, Ron Perlman, Peter Bogdanovich, Roger Corman, Christopher Frayling, and many, many more, all in honor of this great man. Check out the trailer below and mark your calendar for the 26th!

Super Monster Movie Fest Next Weekend!

Just in case you might be late to the party, next weekend, Aug. 27th & 28th, at the Skyline Drive-in, they are holding their 10th annual Super Monster Movie Fest, with the theme this year of The Devil Made Us Do It, featuring 10 films dealing all things with the devil! We’ve been coming out to this event pretty much every year since 2012, and once again, we’re excited as hell to head out there next weekend as well!

Here is the final lineup and times for this year’s features:

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Boris Karloff: The Man Behind the Monster

I will watch any movie that Boris Karloff is in, no questions asked. Even if he in in there in a small role or cameo, I will watch it. He has always been my favorite actor and the movie that made him famous, James Whale’s Frankenstein, remains in my top ten films of all time. I also can never get tired of reading new books on him and his life, or seeing documentaries on this talented man. Now with this new documentary coming out from director Thomas Hamilton, we have the opportunity to maybe learn even more about this unbelievably talented actor.

You will get to hear from a wide range of filmmakers and scholars and why Karloff is important to them and film history. Names such as Guillermo Del Toro, John Landis, Joe Dante, Christopher Plummer, Peter Bogdanovich, Ron Perlman, Leonard Maltin, Christopher Frayling, Sara Karloff, Gregory Mank, Roger Corman, Stephanie Powers, Ian Ogilvy, Norman Jewison, Orson Bean, Caroline Munro, Stephen Jacobs, Dick Miller, Peter Asher, David J. Skal, Donald Glut, Lee Grant, Sharyn Moffett, and more.

Check out the trailer below and make sure to look for it when it does become available.

Movie Review: Die, Monster, Die!

Directed by Daniel Haller
Starring Boris Karloff, Suzan Farmer, Nick Adams, Freda Jackson, Terence de Marney, Patrick Magee

It’s funny sometime as a movie lover, that you have such fondness for a particular film that you had first seen as a kid, always remembering how cool it was. As an adult though, does that cinematic pleasure still remain, even after you’ve become more “educated” in the film world? Even after reading some less than positive reviews about the film? Do you watch it now and wonder how could I have ever liked this? Or is it like a small part of your brain is stepping back in time to that first viewing? Continue reading