Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Haunting

The Haunting is mostly about the inner psycho-drama of one of the participates in a paranormal investigation. The investigation takes place in a supposed “haunted” mansion. The house and grounds are vintage, ornate, and spooky enough. The grounds keepers are a little snarky, but make no contribution to the tale. Aside from the psychological distress of the main character, there is her strained and antagonistic relationship with a fellow female investigator, coupled with an unrequited crush on the team-leader. It reminds me of the movie The Innocents where a governess cracks up. I hate to say it, but nothing really scary happens in The Haunting. For instance, they see no ghosts and only hear sounds. They get lost in the mansion - but so what! The house has gained a reputation for being an “evil house” because a few freak deaths have occurred there, but no attempt is made to tie any particular personality to the sparse evidences of paranormal activity - I found this disappointing. I feel like they could have made more of a “ghost story” out of it. All and all it’s pleasurable - especially if you like well decorated old cool houses - just expect more of a psycho-drama than an actual haunting.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Dracula (1931)

Dracula (1931) is a movie that I find myself watching over and over again. The beginning of the movie was responsible for the popularity of Halloween and vampire lore. It all begins as Reinfield - as played by Dwight Frye - travels to Dracula’s castle in Transylvania. The mountainous trip is very spooky with Dracula himself driving the coach. Dracula’s wives are classic “Lily Munster.” Dracula and Reinfield then journey to London to take up residence; Reinfield at Dr. Seward’s Sanitarium, and Dracula at Carfax Abbey. David Manners, who also played in The Mummy with Boris Karloff, and The Black Cat with Karloff and Lugosi, also plays Jonathon Harker in Dracula (1931). After a meeting at a theater, Lucy and Mina quote the Count laughingly, “Carfax Abbey…it reminds me of the broken battlements of my own castle in Transylvania.” Lucy is infatuated with Count Dracula and becomes his first victim. The more I watch Edward Van Sloan as Van Helsing, the more I love this guy! He also played Dr. Valman in Frankenstein (1931), and an expert on the occult in The Mummy. It all ends in the basement of Carfax Abbey, which is where the movie Dracula’s Daughter (1936) begins.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Review - Frankenstein (1931)

Frankenstein (1931) is my all-time favorite movie. I’ve always been in love with the fact that they used lightning to bring the Monster to life. This differs from the Frankenstein pictures that get electricity from other sources. Without the lightning, it just isn’t the same.

I love the initial graveyard scene - the staged graveyards seem spookier to me. The first part of the movie is my favorite, up to the resurrection of the Monster, after that, it’s all down hill.

I’d like to explore the topic of whether Henry Frankenstein knew that the brain was defective. He is reminded by Dr. Valman that the brain stolen from his laboratory was a criminal brain. In my opinion, he should have already known this. For instance, when Fritz drops the good brain, he immediately picks up the second. But the jar of the second was clearly marked “Abnormal Brain.” So if Fritz took the jar to Frankenstein, then how did he not know it was abnormal - the jar was clearly marked! Secondly, Dr. Valdman demonstrated in class that you could tell the difference in brains just by looking at them. So, if Henry Frankenstein was a advanced student at this school, then how could he not tell the difference just by looking at the brain? Oddly, Fritz, his assistant, is never blamed for the brain mix-up until the movie Son of Frankenstein.


Saturday, August 2, 2014

Review - Mark of the Vampire

I love Mark of the Vampire, but it contains a big twist near the end of the movie that will ruin it for most horror fans. Because of this, I’ve decided to discuss it with a SPOILER ALERT!

Alright, the big twist near the end is that the vampires in the movie turn out to be actors instead of real vampires. When I first watched the movie I thought the vampires were real like in Dracula (1931), then all of a sudden it is revealed that they are only actors - totally ruined it for me - and what a shame! After a few viewings I finally got over it and can now enjoy the spookiness.
The movie creates vampire lore in the local village much like Dracula (1931). A murder makes a killing look like the work of a vampire to avoid detection. The police attempt to freak-out the murderer - in hopes of getting a confession - by employing actors to play vampires.
That said, the vampire props in the movie are my favorite. I especially like the graveyard and the weird sci-fi sound buzzing in the background when the vampire’s are a foot.


Friday, August 1, 2014

Dracula (1979)

 I resisted the temptation to buy this movie for several months because I was afraid it wouldn’t be very Halloweeny like Dracula (1931). However, after viewing the movie, I was pleasantly surprised. I have since become addicted to it and watch it a couple of times a week - it’s very cult.

Basically, it’s the best of Dracula (1931) and Hammer films. Frank Langella, who plays Dracula, looks like a nice guy; it’s hard to imagine him as Dracula from his looks. But, in the role, he does a phenomenal job of portraying the Count, with stares and jerky head movements. They also create quite a Halloween atmosphere by featuring his cape in most scenes. Carfax Abbey looks like the Transylvanian castle in Dracula (1931), which is very old school horror. All the characters are played well, especially Lucy and Mina. Donald Pleasence plays Dr. Seward and is kind of spacey. Sir Lawrence Olivia plays Dr. Van Helsing - he seemed kind of old for the role at first, but with further viewings, I’ve come to love his character. All of sets are great.