Posted by Kimberly Lindbergs on April 25, 2013
Film buffs tend to have obsessions. We fuss and fawn over particular actors and directors while attempting to see everything they ever appeared in or produced. One of my own personal obsessions isn’t an actor or a director but it’s a tale I enjoy seeing reimagined over and over again in different languages and in various settings. That tale is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus and I’ve seen it retold in many movies of varying quality but I never get tired of it. One of my favorite adaptations of Frankenstein happens to be the 1973 telefilm FRANKENSTEIN: THE TRUE STORY. This lush production runs more than 3 hours long and features a stellar cast of talented players including Michael Sarrazin, Leonard Whiting, James Mason, David McCallum, Jane Seymour, Nicola Pagett, Agnes Moorehead, Ralph Richardson, John Gielguld, and Margret Leighton. It was directed by Jack Smight (HARPER, KALEIDOSCOPE, THE ILLUSTRATED MAN, DAMNATION ALLEY, etc.) and based on a script written by the acclaimed British author Christopher Isherwood along with his partner Don Bachardy. Isherwood and Bachardy took creative liberties with the source material but their teleplay still managed to retain many of the timeless elements that have made Shelley’s story capable of capturing the imagination of readers like myself for nearly 200 years.
Posted by Kimberly Lindbergs on April 4, 2013
If you tuned into TCM Underground on March 15th you may have had the pleasure of seeing Jesús “Jess” Franco’s eerie and atmospheric horror film THE AWFUL DOCTOR ORLOF (1964). When the movie aired I noticed a surprising number of classic film fans discussing the movie on social media sites such as Twitter and I was thrilled that one of my favorite directors was gaining new fans thanks to TCM Underground’s eclectic programming choices. I had no idea that I’d soon be mourning the man who had given me so many moving images to contemplate and enjoy. Jess Franco passed away on April 2 following complications from a stroke. He was 82 years old and still making movies.
Instead of writing another obituary I decided to approach fellow Franco fans and many of his most stalwart supporters who have often championed his work against a tide of indifference. I asked them to simply share their favorite Franco films with Movie Morlock readers in an attempt to introduce you, as well as TCM viewers, to more of the director’s films but what I received was some of the most impassioned and insightful Franco commentaries that I’ve ever come across. I hope you’ll enjoy the results. This is more than just a simple roundtable or survey. This is a lengthy love letter to one of Spain’s most prolific directors and a celebration of everything that made his movies so special.
Posted by R. Emmet Sweeney on March 12, 2013
27 years after its theatrical release, TerrorVision (1986) was released on DVD and Blu-Ray for the first time by Shout! Factory last month. An outrageously garish horror-satire of 1980s consumer culture in the guise of a low-budget creature feature, it was savaged by critics and disappeared from public view. The Monster Squad (1987) came out in a new Blu-Ray from Olive Films on the same day in February, and that nostlagic ode to the classic Universal monster movies had been difficult to see before a DVD release in 2007. Both are steeped in horror film history and iconography, but while TerrorVision adopts old styles to investigate its present, The Monster Squad is only concerned with burnishing the past.
Posted by Kimberly Lindbergs on February 14, 2013
When I first saw Karl Freund’s MAD LOVE (1935) 20 odd years ago I was somewhat disappointed by it. I had spent decades looking at still photos from the movie in various books I came across and I had anticipated seeing a very different film than the one that eventually greeted me. Chilling photos of a grinning Peter Lorre wearing a macabre costume that consisted of a floppy hat, dark glasses, metal gloves and a bizarre neck brace haunted my nightmares. My imagination had literally run itself ragged trying to reenact particular scenes that I’d only read about in books and in my head MAD LOVE had taken on mythic proportions. I was sure that it was going to be one of the most frightening films I’d ever seen but when I finally caught up with the movie I was surprised by its odd tenderness. Instead of being terrified by Peter Lorre I was sympathetic to his plight. MAD LOVE is an eerie film with some spine-chilling moments but it’s also a tragic and twisted love story. Once I set aside my expectations and viewed the film a few more times on its own terms I began to deeply appreciate its ghoulish charm and now I often refer to it as one of my favorite films. There’s a lesson to be learned here for would be romantics. You can’t anticipate love. True love is unruly and unexpected. You can attempt to bend it to your will and contain it but love plays by its own set of rules. MAD LOVE understands the wild and unpredictable nature of love, which makes it perfect viewing for Valentine’s Day.
Posted by Kimberly Lindbergs on January 24, 2013
One of the best gifts I received during the holidays was a set of books that I’ve been eager to get my hands on, Michael Karol’s ABC Movie of the Week Companion and David Deal’s Television Fright Films of the 1970’s. I grew up watching and enjoying telefilms and last year I spent a lot of time revisiting some of my favorites. Today telefilms, much like direct-to-video movies, are often looked at with disdain and are considered unworthy of critical evaluation. But they frequently featured talented actors from Hollywood’s Golden Age such as Bette Davis, Ray Milland, Myrna Loy, Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Melvin Douglas, Gene Tierney and Walter Brennan and were occasionally directed by noteworthy filmmakers including Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Don Siegel, John Badham, Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter and Curtis Harrington. These small screen films were usually made in just a few short days with very little money but the performances, writing and directing choices periodically elevated the material and many of the best telefilms are still surprisingly effective and entertaining.
Posted by Kimberly Lindbergs on November 1, 2012
Unlike some of my fellow Morlocks who often express their disappointment in modern horror films (I’m winking at my good pal Greg Ferrara who recently complained about the lack of good ghost movies) I happen to think we’re currently undergoing an impressive horror film renaissance that’s largely being ignored or has gone unappreciated. While Hollywood continues to pummel us all with over-hyped, self-conscious and all too predictable and derivative movies like CABIN IN THE WOODS, Tim Burton’s recent DARK SHADOWS remake or the ongoing SAW and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY series, independent or smaller budgeted films made in Europe, Britain, Asia and Australia as well as the US are exploring new ground and turning the genre on its head.
Unfortunately these films rarely make it into US theaters outside of New York or Los Angeles so horror fans like myself are forced to wait until they’re released on DVD to see them. It can take years for some of these movies to find an appreciative audience and in today’s fast-paced world they all too often get overshadowed by lesser films with larger advertising budgets. A great example of this ongoing problem is the popular TWILIGHT franchise, which has gotten an unprecedented amount of press here in the US while the most interesting and innovative vampire films are being made outside the country and include the highly acclaimed Swedish production LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (2008) as well as Chan-wook Park’s Korean horror opus THIRST (2009) and Claire Denis’ French thriller TROUBLE EVERY DAY (2001).
Posted by Susan Doll on October 29, 2012
Not only do I still have a landline, but my primary phone is a bright red Western Electric desk phone, Model 2500, made between 1968 and 1983. That makes my red phone 20 to 35 years old, and the sound is still clear and true. I paid five dollars for it in a second-hand store. It is part of the décor of my office—an item with weight and presence. I wouldn’t take the next five generations of iPhones for it. My Western Electric 2500 doesn’t twitter, beep, laugh, play the latest tune, or make baby noises. When I get a call, my phone rings loudly with authority, forcefulness, and sometimes alarm. My phone is the type used in horror films by unseen evil-doers, violent psychopaths, and even ordinary murderous husbands who want to menace innocent characters.
Posted by Kimberly Lindbergs on October 25, 2012
One of the strangest aspects of today’s Internet film culture is being bombarded by death notices week after week. No one’s life is unworthy of celebration and onetime television TV actors with a single role under the belt often compete with Oscar winning movie stars for attention after they’ve shuffled off this mortal coil. In the flood of online wakes that seem to accumulate around every actor’s death it has become nearly impossible to overlook anyone’s passing so you can imagine my surprise when I recently discovered that one of my favorite British actors, the talented Simon Ward, had passed away in July following a long illness and I had managed to overlook it. Even more depressing were some of the obituaries I read that glossed over much of his career and seemed to suggest that Ward hadn’t lived up to his potential while completely ignoring his outstanding contributions to horror cinema. Naturally I felt the urge to rectify this since I had grown up admiring the actor in a bundle of praiseworthy thrillers so October seemed like the perfect month to spotlight Simon Ward’s contribution to a genre that continues to divide critics and audiences.
Simon Ward was born on October 16th, 1941. At age 13 he joined London’s National Youth Theater and continued to study at RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts,). He started acting in British television productions in the mid-1960s and after taking an unaccredited role in Lindsay Anderson’s IF…. (1967), Ward was offered his first major film role in David Greene’s exceptional British thriller, I START COUNTING (1969). Ward’s boyish good looks and edgy screen presence allowed him to effortlessly transform himself into seductive villains as well as romantic heroes but his chameleon-like abilities may have confused producers who couldn’t easily pigeonhole him and didn’t seem to know how to harness his talent. Simon Ward went on to appear in many popular and critically acclaimed films including YOUNG CHURCHILL (1972), THE THREE MUSKETEERS (1973), THE FOUR MUSKETEERS (1974) and ZULU DAWN (1979) but throughout his career he returned again and again to the horror genre. Here’s a brief rundown of some of the best horror films and thrillers he appeared in.
Posted by keelsetter on October 21, 2012
Room 237 (2012) is a documentary by Rodney Ascher that delves into several different theories that might lurk behind the infamous door of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980). Anyone who watches The Shining at face value alone will walk away having seen a horror film about an alcoholic and abusive writer who is haunted by ghosts until he goes mad. But when you take into consideration the fact that Kubrick was reading a lot of Freud in preparation for shooting The Shining, and that he was also deep into Jungian concepts about the duality of man, suddenly The Shining takes on other meanings as well, all of which are aided by Kubrick’s fastidious nature and his love for symmetry. These complexities are all well documented in the impressive tome released by Taschen titled The Stanley Kubrick Archives. Room 237 does not go down these well trod paths of analysis, but rather goes off the beaten path and down five completely different rabbit-holes. READ MORE
Posted by Kimberly Lindbergs on October 18, 2012
One of my neighbors owns a beautiful big black lab and the dog lets out a loud howl every time a siren goes off in the distance. The noise can be a little unsettling and tends to shatter the tranquility of our quiet suburban street. The dog’s gloomy cries sound like the melancholy moans of a dying man or the wailing lament of his grieving loved ones. Some element of the dog’s howl gets under my skin and seeps into my bones reminding me of all the dogs I’ve feared and loved. Since it’s the season of scaring I thought it would be a good time to revisit some dog-centric horror movies where man’s best friend was transformed into man’s best fiend.
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