While we all love monsters, there is something about films that can still be creepy in what they don’t show us instead. Producer Val Lewton was a genius at that. In this episode, we delved into the light within the darkness, deep into the shadows, where atmosphere is king. We cover three titles from the talented producer, but Lewton was so much more than just that. While he only produced a handful of films, the ones he did in the early ’40s remain not only classics but set the standard for what a low budget horror film could look like when you had the talent behind it.
Sit back, turn the light down low, and get ready to learn about how you can show very little onscreen, but still make some well-acted, smart, and scary little films.
The films mentioned in this episode are:
The Body Snatcher (1945), The Cat People (1942), Cat People (1982), The Curse of the Cat People (1944), Curse of the Demon (1957), The Haunting (1963), House of Frankenstein (1944), Isle of the Dead (1945), I Walked with a Zombie (1943), King of the Zombies (1941), The Last Patrol (1934), Revenge of the Zombies (1943), Revolt of the Zombies (1936), The Tale of Two Cities (1935), White Zombie (1932), Zombie (1979)
Horror scholar David J. Skal has a new book coming out this fall, just in time for Halloween, entitled Fright Favorites: 31 Movies to Haunt Your Halloween and Beyond. Presented by Turner Classic Movies, Skal takes on 31 films ranging from the silent era, hitting a few titles from each decade through the ’80s, and a few beyond that. Most of these everyone will agree are classics, with a few comedies listed in the later day titles. The description in Amazon says they are “family-friendly” but not sure The Exorcist (1973) and The Thing (1982) are ones I would be screening for 8-year old Timmy!Continue reading →
Tom Conway Born Sept. 15th, 1904 – Died April 22nd, 1967
Older brother of actor George Sanders, Tom had to change his name after he lost a bet with his brother on who would change their name for show business. Born in a wealthy Russian family that were forced to leave and move to England for some reason, political or otherwise. While Conway appeared in quite a few films in his career, he never really hit the big time. Even starring in 3 films for Val Lewton in the early ’40s, such as The Cat People (1942), I Walked with a Zombie (1943), and The Seventh Victim (1943), his career just never took off or lasted that long. Due to his failing eyesight and problems with alcoholism, worked started to get fewer and fewer. He did appear in two films for Edward L. Cahn, The She-Creature (1956) and Voodoo Woman (1957).
The later part of his life was spend with very little money and even less fame. At the end, he was found dead in his girlfriend’s bed, at the age of 62. It is a shame that a somewhat talented actor who was doing pretty good at one point in his life, but possibly due to the alcoholism, it effected his career too much for him to stay working. But at least we can still remember him and his work, even after all years later.