You couldn’t grow up watching TV in the ’70s and not know of the work of Dan Curtis. His work had a huge impact on my life, from The Night Stalker (1972), The Norliss Tapes (1973), Trilogy of Terror (1975), and so many other made-for-TV movies. Oh yeah, and there was that series Dark Shadow that you might have heard of. Needless to say, if it was from Curtis, you know it was going to be worth your time. And now, thanks to director David Gregory, we’re going to have a chance to learn a little bit more about this amazing man.
Set to be released next month, this feature length documentary covers Curtis and his work, hearing from a ton of people that worked with him and were fans of his work, such as Ben Cross, Roger Davis, Jonathan Frid, Whoopi Goldberg, John Karlen, William F. Nolan, David Selby, Barbara Steele, Kathryn Leigh Scott, Bob Cobert, and many more.
While he definitely worked outside the horror genre a few times, like writing, producing, and directing the Emmy Award Winning mini-series War and Remembrance (1988-89), he made such an impact with horror fans with his films. And they are still as entertaining now, decades later, as they were then. Kudos to Gregory for helping bring light to this talented man that was use to working in the shadows.
This really must be the year for special edition soundtracks for Dracula films. Recently Varèse Sarabande had released a 2-CD special edition set of John Williams’ score for the 1979 version of Dracula, which we promptly pre-ordered the minute we heard that news since that has always been a favorite score of mine. And now, thanks to the fine folks at La-La Land Records, they will be releasing a 3-CD set for Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), giving us fans almost 3 1/2 hours of this incredible music from Wojciech Kilar.
Born Oct. 26th, 1924
If you were a fan of Dan Curtis and his early TV work, then you are well aware of the work of Bob Cobert, even if you don’t recognize the name. He is probably best known for working on the famous Curtis TV series Dark Shadows, that ran from 1967 to 1971. He also worked on the two feature films based on the series, House of Dark Shadows (1970) and Night of Dark Shadows (1971), as well as the 1991 revival. But he also did a ton of different made-for-TV shows in the early ’70s with Curtis. Titles like The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1968), The Night Stalker (1972), The Night Strangler (1973), The Norliss Tapes (1973), Scream of the Wolf (1974), Dracula (1974), Trilogy of Terror (1975), Burnt Offerings (1976), and so many more.
Working outside of the horror genre, he also composed the music for Curtis’ war epics The Winds of War (1983) and War and Remembrance (1988), as well creating his fair share of game show themes!
Cobert’s music had its own unique style that was recognizable, memorable, and always added to what we were watching on screen. Those films and shows would definitely had lost something without had it not been for his music.
One of the very first film scores that hooked me was that of John Williams’ score for the 1979 version of Dracula, starring Frank Langella. It was also one of the first soundtrack LPs I bought back in the day, being every bummed that it just wasn’t that long of a score. But now all of that is going to change, thanks to Varèse Sarabande.
Because our September and October wasn’t filling up already, the Music Box has decided to screen some of the Universal classics in their Universal Horror: A Matinee Series, starting at 11:30am on each weekend listed below. Plus the fact that these are all being screened from 35mm prints! Now is your chance to see some of these essential titles from our horror history but on the big screen like they were meant to be seen! Here’s the schedule for this series:
Born July 28th, 1912 – Died Mar. 2nd, 1970
If you are a fan of Hammer Films, then you are a fan of Robinson’s work, even if you don’t realize it. Robinson was the art director and later production designer that worked on good number of their films, from Quatermass 2 (1957) to Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969). The first actual film that he worked on was as an art director on The Case of the Frightened Lady (1938). Over those early years, he became good friends with Tony Keys, who would later invite Robinson to come work for Hammer.
Robinson could not only create unbelievable sets out of very little money, he also designed sets that could be used over and over again but moving things around and a little re-dressing. In fact, he was a master of his. Director Terence Fisher had stated that with one of Robinson’s sets, he could point the camera anywhere and he knew it would look fantastic.
John L. Balderston
Born Oct. 22nd, 1889 – Died Mar. 8th, 1954
Ever wonder why the original ’30s film versions of Dracula and Frankenstein didn’t seem to follow the novels too much? Well, one of the men responsible for that was writer John L. Balderston. He started his career as a journalist, even before he finished school, working for different newspapers. He would even be a war correspondent during WWI. He eventually started in show business as a playwright, while continuing the journalism gigs as well.
In 1927, he was hired to re-write Hamilton Deane’s stage play of Dracula for American audiences, making more than a few changes. Because of its huge success, he was then hired to do the same for Peggy Webling’s play version of Frankenstein. He would later have his name attached to many of the early monster classics, even if his scripts were never used. But because of his work, a lot of the foundation of these early monster flicks were due to him.
In 1953, Balderston and the heirs of Webling won a lawsuit with Universal, getting paid not only $20,000 but also 1% of any of the films that resulted from their work, including any sequels!