Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Earl's Halloween Horrorthon

I booked a "me weekend" for myself this Halloween and spent it screening a slate of randomly-chosen horror films from my library. Utterly neglecting my poor wife, I pretty much did nothing but watch old movies all day and night Saturday and Sunday. Here's the tally:

Night of the Demon (1957)
Curse of the Demon (1957)
White Zombie (1932)
Night of the Ghouls (1958)
Tales from the Crypt (1972)
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)
The Walking Dead (1936)
Frankenstein 1970 (1958)

I also listened to the audio commentaries on Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, the 1932 version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Frankenstein 1970.

Night of the Demon (released in the USA in a cut-down version as Curse of the Demon), White Zombie and the 1932 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde were my runaway favourites, each very atmospheric and chilling in its own way. Night of the Demon in particular offers genuine creepy thrills, with its cheaply-made yet still somehow monstrous fire demon; where the special effects falter, the screenplay, performances and cinematography pick up the slack ably.

Night of the Ghouls is objectively the worst of the bunch; it is, of course, an Ed Wood film, part of the loose Plan 9 From Outer Space - Bride of the Monster - Night of the Ghouls trilogy. Indeed, I didn't even realize these films were connected until one character, a police officer, made reference to the other films; I checked, and sure enough the character is a consistent recurring presence. I'm delighted that Ed Wood was building his own epic chronology of SF/mad science films!

The Walking Dead is a great Boris Karloff film. He's a monster again, but this time he's a good monster, an avenging angel brought back to life to wreak havoc on the criminals who framed him and sent him to the electric chair. It's half Warner Brothers gangster film, half Universal horror movie, a bizarre combination of genres that nonetheless works.

Another Karloff picture, Frankenstein 1970, doesn't work as well, with the exception of a really wonderful "gotcha" opening sequence. Had the rest of the film lived up to the first five minutes, this would have been a classic; as is, it's a pleasant if hokey time-waster. 

No comments: