Italian Gore . . . Way Back in 1936

A couple of things here. Italian horror cinema has always been known for its gore, especially when you consider the films that came out in the late ’70s and ’80s. From the works of Deodato, D’Amato, Lenzi, Fulci, Bava, Soavi, and the list goes on and on. So why am I surprised to see this Italian short film, called Il caso Valdemar, made way back in 1936? Directed by Gianni Hoepli & Ublado Magnaghi, it was based on the Edgar Allan Poe short story, The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar, first published in 1845. What I didn’t expect was the amount of gore for that time. When Corman adapted this story in his film Tales of Terror (1962), which Vincent Price melting at the end, was pretty cool, but seeing this done 26 years before is just amazing. This is a silent film, though there is some written Italian in the form of letters or notes. But the ending, though pretty dark, is just incredible that they came up with those effects that long ago.

Secondly, it amazes me each and every time that no matter how long I’ve been a fan and student of the horror film genre, that one can still learn new things. I always like to point this out to fans that are newer to the genre and that might feel a little intimidated by what some older and more experienced fans might know or all the films they have seen. Honestly, the way you need to think of it is that we are all on the same path, just that some have been on it a little longer. I don’t see a point where someone is going to be where they’ve seen it all. There will always be new things to discover, even if they came out decades ago. The goal should be to always to continue to discover more, whether it be new films or old ones, the excitement will be the same.

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Friday Favorites – Edgar Allan Poe!

Once upon a midnight dreary… Edgar Allan Poe was born on January 19ty, 1809, and has become one of America’s greatest known writers. And for someone who wrote very dark and troubling tales, and the way the “normal” public likes to shy away from that genre, it is even more amazing that he is still popular today, to the fact that he is still discussed in schools. Continue reading

Horror History: Hazel Court

hazelcourtHazel Court
Born Feb. 10th, 1926 – Died April 15th, 2008

While the gorgeous Hazel Court really got horror fan’s attention when she starred opposite of Peter Cushing in Hammer’s Curse of Frankenstein (1957), she had already appeared in couple of horror titles, such as Ghost Ship (1952) and Devil Girl from Mars (1954).  But it was Curse that made her known as an early Scream Queen. 

She would appear in Hammer’s The Man Who Could Cheat Death in 1959, in the underrated film Doctor Blood’s Coffin in 1961, before hitting it big with Roger Corman fans in three of his Poe films, Premature Burial (1962), The Raven (1963), and The Masque of the Red Death (1964), where she got to work with other horror icons like Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, and Peter Lorre.

Not only very appealing to the eyes, Court was a fine actress that could play the villainess just as easily as the heroine. In 2008, she released her autobiography entitled Hazel Court: Horror Queen.

Soundtrack Review: Edgar Allan Poe Suite / Horror Express

Edgar Allan Poe Suite - Horror ExpressEdgar Allan Poe Suite / Cry of the Banshee / Horror Express
Released by Citadel
14 Tracks, with a total running time of 61:58 min.
Composed & Conducted by Les Baxter and John Cacavas

This release is a real gem and a treat for horror fans. First it has the music from a series of four different one-man stage plays starring Vincent Price, each based on a story from Poe: The Pit and the Pendulum, The Sphinx, The Cask of Amontilado, and The Tell-Tale Heart. Then it also has a suite from Cry of the Banshee that is almost 20 minutes long. These were both composed by Les Baxter, who did a lot of work for AIP and their Corman/Poe series. Then we also have the score for Horror Express by John Cacavas. Continue reading

Book News! Start Saving!

For those book lovers in your life, here are more than a few gift ideas for the upcoming holidays, or just because you want to support the print industry! I know each and every one of these titles will be added to my own personal library in the very near future! But these are a few that we’ve recently come across that sound pretty amazing.

Darkening the Italian Screen: Interviews with Genre and Exploitation Directors Who Debuted in the 1950s and 1960s by Eugenio Ercolani is a collection of interviews with names that might not be as familiar with most fans, but yet have had a huge impact on the Italian exploitation cinema. There are some of the usual suspects like actor George Hilton and director Sergio Martino, but then we’ll also get to hear from the likes of Uberto Lenzi, Alberto De Martino, Enzo G. Castellari, Franco Rossetti, among others. I can’t wait to hear some of their stories and tales from the trenches of getting some of their films made and released. Continue reading

Soundtrack Review: House of Usher

houseofushercdHouse of Usher
Released by Intrada
15 tracks with a total running time of 1:02:39 min.
Music composed and conducted by Les Baxter

Les Baxter has made so many great scores to so many great movies, it really hard to comprehend. Just look at all the work he did for Roger Corman and AIP alone, not to mention all the other genre titles he scored, and see that it is very impressive. There were quite a few Italian pictures that AIP acquired for US distribution that Baxter was hired to re-score. So if you’re a fan of AIP and Corman’s work, then you’ve heard his work… several times I would guess. Continue reading