Wednesday, October 31, 2007

October Films 31

Not Coming to a Theater Near You: Dark Passages: the Films of Dick Maas

The Projection Booth: Night of the Living Dead

MovieFone: Halloween

Facets Features: 4 clips from monster movies put out by Universal

This Distracted Globe: Psycho

Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen is a bestselling novel from last year.

from Sara Gruen's web site:

As a young man, Jacob Jankowski was tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. It was the early part of the great Depression, and for Jacob, now ninety, the circus world he remembers was both his salvation and a living hell. A veterinary student just shy of a degree, he was put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie.

It was there that he met Marlena, the beautiful equestrian star married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. And he met Rosie, an untrainable elephant who was the great gray hope for this third-rate traveling show. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and, ultimately, it was their only hope for survival.

The story is told from Jacob's point of view as a series of flashbacks. Jacob is in his 90's and struggling to maintain a semblance of independence in a nursing home, and he remembers his early years working at a circus. I found this book fascinating. There's a reading guide here.


Frankenstein, the 1931 film directed by James Whale, is one of the big 3 of the old monster movies along with Lugosi's Dracula and The Mummy, and we watch it every year. There are several sequels which we watch less faithfully. I know some prefer Bride of Frankenstein to the original movie, but I'm not one who does. Colin Clive stars as Frankenstein, Boris Karloff as the monster and our favorite Dwight Frye as Dr. Frankenstein's assistant Fritz.

I guess you could consider it one of the big 5 monster movies and include King Kong and Godzilla, which we also watch every year. Oh, and of course Creature from the Black Lagoon.

1000 Misspent Hours says,
More than any other Universal horror film I’ve seen, Frankenstein displays the influence of the German expressionist directors of the silent era, and Whale made a smart move in borrowing from F. W. Murnau’s bag of tricks.
Stomp Tokyo says,
Frankenstein is a classic not only for its age, but more importantly, for the fact that the film stands up to the test of time. A provocative story crafted with the genius of legendary film director James Whale, an extraordinary, pathos-ridden performance by Boris Karloff says Karloff
adds a depth to what could have simply been a lumbering hulk (and probably would have been in the hands of a different actor). The pathos he inspires in his introductory moments is nearly Shakespearean - and all without a word.
DVD Talk talks about the "greatness of Boris Karloff's pantomime characterization," saying "It's the most subtle, most human and most philosophically profound of the Universal monsters." Rotten Tomatoes gives it a score of 100%.

The Horror of Dracula

We had never seen this one, but The Husband picked up a copy of The Horror of Dracula this year. It was fun to see Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing in this familiar story.


Moria calls it "the cornerstone of the Hammer Films legend." MSN has an overview.

1/4/2009: 1001 Flicks has a review.

Rob Zombie

American Witch is a Rob Zombie song about the Salem witchcraft trials:

Body of a monkey and the feet of a cock,
Dragged from her home on the killing rock,
Black dog dying on the weather vain,
The Devil's in a cat and the baby's brain,

The End - The End of The American,
The End - The End of The American,
The End - The End of The American Witch,

Alone on the hill and ready to die,
Cancer of darkness - blacken eye,
The mark of the wolf and the sign of the calf,
Angels bleed down above the raft,

We all pray for 20 innocents,
We all bow down 20 innocents,
We all hang high - 20 innocents,
We all accused - 20 innocents,


Do you want to know where their dreams come from?
Some showed the faith and some showed none.

We all pray for 20 innocents,
We all bow down 20 innocents,
We all hang high - 20 innocents,
We all accused - 20 innocents,


Do you want to know where their dreams come from?
Some showed the faith and some showed none.

The End - The End of The American Witch

The witch scene

from Monty Python and the Holy Grail:

Warning Shadows

Warning Shadows is a 1923 German Expressionist silent film.

from the wikipedia entry:
During a dinner, given by a wealthy baron and his wife four of her suitors attend the 19th century German manor. A shadow-player rescues the marriage by giving all the guests a vision of what might happen if the baron stays jealous and the suitors do not reduce their advances towards his beautiful wife. Or was it a vision?

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is one of my favorite films. It is a ghost story/romance starring Rex Harrison as the ghost of the sea captain, Gene Tierney as the young widow Lucy Muir who rents the cottage by the sea, Natalie Wood as Mrs. Muir's daughter, and Edna Best as the housekeeper. George Sanders plays Lucy's suitor. The movie is directed by Joseph Mankiewicz, who also directed Julius Caesar, Guys and Dolls and Sleuth.

You can watch it online at this link. Here is a trailer:

There was a short-lived tv series based on the film.

1/15/2008: 1001Flicks has a review.

7/14/2008: Another Old Movie Blog's review has lots of spoilers.

Happy Halloween

We're big fans of Halloween here. What's not to like about lots of candy. This is last year's Jack o'Lantern:

Monday, October 29, 2007

Hal Clement

Today is the anniversary of the death in 2003 of Hal Clement, science fiction author. He was named a Science Fiction Grand Master in 1999. There is an award named for him: the Hal Clement Award for Young Adults for Excellence in Children's Science Fiction Literature, which is described at the Golden Duck site.

This award is named after Hal Clement, the pen name of Harry Stubbs, who is a well known science fiction writer and science teacher. He helps children's science fiction programming wherever he goes and is an all-round nice guy. The award is for science fiction books of grades 6-12 that have a young adult protagonist. The science should be as correct as possible, but still a good story.

I've read Needle and Mission of Gravity. The Younger Son has read several more than that. When we discovered him we started picking up books by him just to have on the shelf. Owning unread books by trusted authors is such a comfort.

The Halloween Tree

The Halloween Tree is a 1993 animated movie based on Ray Bradbury's novel by the same name. I remember when both came out, and I thought the novel was adapted nicely for the film. The film has fewer kids and one of them gets to be a girl. The kids loved the movie, and we picked up the VHS as soon as it was available. Sadly, it's never been released on DVD and our video tape is in bad shape. We've had it transferred to DVD but would dearly love a professional DVD production of this movie. I can't imagine why this wonderful Halloween show is out of print.

Ray Bradbury serves as narrator, and Leonard Nimoy voices Moundshroud.


online, for now:

October Films 29

Not Coming to a Theater Near You: Army of Darkness

The Projection Booth: Day of the Dead

MovieFone: Psycho

Facets Features: a clip from Ghost Story

This Distracted Globe: North by Northwest

R.I.P. Porter Wagoner

Porter Wagoner has died of lung cancer at the age of 80.


Paste Magazine


The Independent

Obit Magazine

Commercial Appeal

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein

Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein has Abbot and Costello involved with Dracula, the Wolf Man, Frankenstein's monster... just about everybody except Frankenstein as named in the title. Cute comedy.

Alfred the Great

Today is the memorial of Alfred the Great, Christian Anglo-Saxon king. He had many accomplishments:
It is for his valiant defence of his kingdom against a stronger enemy, for securing peace with the Vikings and for his farsighted reforms in the reconstruction of Wessex and beyond, that Alfred - alone of all the English kings and queens - is known as 'the Great'.

a prayer:

Prayer in Celebration of God's Perfections

We pray to you, O Lord, who are the surpeme Truth, and all truth is from you. We beseech you, O Lord, who are the highest Wisdom, and all the wise depend on you for their wisdom. You are the supreme Joy, and all who are happy owe it to you. You are the Light of minds, and all receive their understanding from you. We love, we love you above all. We seek you, we follow you, and we are ready to serve you. We desire to dwell under your power for you are the King of all. Amen.

Alfred the Great

October Films 28

Not Coming to a Theater Near You: Near Dark

The Projection Booth: Evil Dead 2

MovieFone: The Shining

Facets Features: a clip from Dead Alive

This Distracted Globe:

Sunday Psalm

Psalm 65

1 Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Sion: and unto thee shall the vow be performed.

2 O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come.

3 Iniquities prevail against me: as for our transgressions, thou shalt purge them away.

4 Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple.

5 By terrible things in righteousness wilt thou answer us, O God of our salvation; who art the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of them that are afar off upon the sea:

6 Which by his strength setteth fast the mountains; being girded with power:

7 Which stilleth the noise of the seas, the noise of their waves, and the tumult of the people.

8 They also that dwell in the uttermost parts are afraid at thy tokens: thou makest the outgoings of the morning and evening to rejoice.

9 Thou visitest the earth, and waterest it: thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God, which is full of water: thou preparest them corn, when thou hast so provided for it.

10 Thou waterest the ridges thereof abundantly: thou settlest the furrows thereof: thou makest it soft with showers: thou blessest the springing thereof.

11 Thou crownest the year with thy goodness; and thy paths drop fatness.

12 They drop upon the pastures of the wilderness: and the little hills rejoice on every side.

13 The pastures are clothed with flocks; the valleys also are covered over with corn; they shout for joy, they also sing.


Saturday, October 27, 2007

She Walks These Hills

This would have been #13 in the 12-book Book Awards Reading Challenge, but I'm not going to continue counting them now that I've read the 12. She Walks These Hills by Sharon McCrumb won the Agatha Award, among others, in 1994.

from the back cover:

In the Appalachian community of Dark Hollow, Tennessee, some believe that the ghost of Katie Wyler, kidnapped by the Shawnee two hundred years ago, is once again roaming the hills. Only an old woman gifted with "the Sight" and policewoman Martha Ayers can put the superstitions to rest - and stop a flesh-and-blood predator as elusive as the whistling wind....

I enjoyed this one. It changes perspective by chapters, sometimes looking at events through the eyes of the "woman gifted with "the Sight"" and sometimes from the perspective of the escaped murderer and sometimes taking the point of view of the newly promoted police woman or the doctoral candidate researching the trail Katie Wyler walked. Interesting and not at all confusing, the author gives enough information to advance the plot and give a glimpse of the conclusion without giving everything away too early. Each chapter begins with a quote from the 1885 Tennessee Methodist Hymnal. The one introducing Chapter 4:

While dead in trespasses I lie,
Thy quick'ning Spirit give.
Call me, thou son of God, that I
May hear thy voice and live.
Charles Wesley

I didn't much care for the subplot involving the police woman's personal romantic relationship as I found that thread distracting and irrelevant. It's not over-emphasized, though, so I just moved through those few sections more quickly.

October Films 27

Not Coming to a Theater Near You: Night of the Lepus

The Projection Booth: Let Sleeping Corpses Lie

MovieFone: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Facets Features: a clip from The Bride of Frankenstein

This Distracted Globe: The Trouble with Harry

Mad Monster Party

The Husband picked this one up because it was a Rankin/Bass production and we like their Christmas shows. This Halloween effort was so bad we didn't finish it. It was slow. Painfully slow. If it was supposed to be funny or cute we missed that part. It was just tedious. And the music was cheesy. Apparently Mad Monster Party has quite the cult following and is loved by people everywhere. I wonder what we missed. The endearing qualities must come after the first 40 minutes. That's about when we gave up and watched one of the old Poirot Mystery episodes I have on DVD.


Friday, October 26, 2007

October Films 26

Not Coming to a Theater Near You: Night of the Creeps

The Projection Booth: The Serpent and the Rainbow

MovieFone: The Sixth Sense

Facets Features: a clip from The Curse of Frankenstein

This Distracted Globe: Saboteur

What Kind of Liberal Are You?

This is me:

How to Win a Fight With a Conservative is the ultimate survival guide for political arguments

My Liberal Identity:

You are a Working Class Warrior, also known as a blue-collar Democrat. You believe that the little guy is getting screwed by conservative greed-mongers and corporate criminals, and you’re not going to take it anymore.

Pitch Black

I found the Riddick trilogy for $10 this evening, so tonight we watched Pitch Black, which was the first of the 3. It stars Vin Diesel as Riddick. The Sons and I like this film, but The Husband and The Daughter do not. They object to the gore/violence and the language and do not like anti-hero protagonists.

You're not afraid of the dark, are you?


To better fit in with the monster movies we've been watching this month I suggested we re-name the film "Attack of the Killer Mosquitoes". Everybody just laughed at me....

Thursday, October 25, 2007

October Films 25

Not Coming to a Theater Near You: Chew on This

The Projection Booth: The Evil Dead

MovieFone: The Thing

Facets Features: a clip from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

This Distracted Globe: Suspicion

Van Helsing

Van Helsing was a birthday present from The Elder Son, and we hadn't watched it yet. I got a big kick out of this over-the-top homage. This one will go in the regular October monster movie rotation. It stars Hugh Jackman in the title role. David Wenham, who was Faramir in The Lord of the Rings, plays Van Helsing's assistant, and Robbie Coltrane, Hagrid in the Harry Potter movies, is the voice of Mr. Hyde.


10/29/2011: The Husband, The Younger Son and I watched this tonight. I can't believe we haven't seen it since 2007; I must've just not noted it here. It's great fun to see vampires, wolfmen and Frankenstein and his monster together again.

10/16/2015: The Husband and I watched this tonight, and it's not holding up well for me over multiple viewings. Although fun enough, it has gotten old for me.

Vincent Price

Today is the anniversary of the death in 1993 of Vincent Price. It's an appropriate season (close to Halloween) to think about his career, and we watched his last film Edward Scissorhands just last night. Vincent Price was much more than a horror film star, though, able to play a pretty as well as a horrible face. Laura is a testament to that.

Here he is in Alice Cooper's The Black Widow from The Nightmare:

Bride of the Monster

Bride of the Monster is a 1956 Ed Wood "mad scientist" movie starring Bela Lugosi.

Moria calls it "one of the essential items in the cult surrounding Edward D. Wood Jr" and says it's "probably the closest to a good film (as opposed to an enjoyably bad film) that Wood ever made." 1000 Misspent Hours gives it negative 3 1/2 stars but says,
a close look at Bride of the Monster will make it considerably easier to understand how the backers of Wood’s later films could have gotten it into their heads that he more or less knew what he was doing.

Bride of the Gorilla

Bride of the Gorilla is a 1951 horror movie starring Raymund Burr as the gorilla and Lon Chaney, Jr.

"Let me tell you how the jungle itself took the law into its own hands."

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

October Films 24

Not Coming to a Theater Near You: Boxing Helena

The Projection Booth: The Dead Pit

MovieFone: Dawn of the Dead

Facets Features: clip from Bride of the Monster

This Distracted Globe: Notorious

Edward Scissorhands

Edward Scissorhands is a Tim Burton film starring Johnny Depp and featuring Vincent Price in his last movie. It's in the Frankenstein family and is a touching tragedy. The Younger Son had not seen this film before. There are scenes that take place during the Christmas holiday season.


The Invisible Man

The Invisible Man stars Claude Rains, a big favorite here. We've watched him recently in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and The Wolf Man.

Dwight Frye (Frankenstein, The Vampire Bat, Dracula) has a cameo as a reporter. Henry Travers (High Sierra and as Clarence the angel in It's a Wonderful Life) plays the scientist who supervises Claude Rains' character.

This was the first time the Younger Son had seen this movie.

10/31/2008: The Younger Son picked this one to watch tonight.

1000 Misspent Hours calls this "one of the best horror films of the 1930’s" and calls the special effects "absolutely groundbreaking". Moria says this film "is one of the few times when a film actually improves upon a book" and believes it is director James Whale's (Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein) "undeclared masterpiece". Moria adds that it may have "the best dialogue to ever grace an sf film".

Who Killed Doc Robbin

Who Killed Doc Robbin is a 1948 haunted house comedy/horror/mystery featuring a group of young children who try to prove the innocence of one of their adult friends.

via Youtube:

This is the most racially offensive one I've seen so far.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

October Films 23

Not Coming to a Theater Near You: The Penalty

The Projection Booth: Shaun of the Dead

MovieFone: The Haunting

Facets Features: a clip from Zombie

This Distracted Globe: I Confess

The War of the Worlds

The War of the Worlds is a 1953 science fiction film starring Gene Barry and Ann Robinson. It is based on H.G. Wells' novel with the same title, which can be read online here.


this youtube user has it online, but the pieces won't autoplay. Part 1:

part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8, part 9

We are very pleased with our DVD copy of this movie. The color is much better than our old VHS copy, and there are special features worth watching, including commentary by Gene Barry and Ann Robinson.

Moria calls it " the granddaddy of all alien invader films". 1000 Misspent Hours has a review.

4/8/2008: FilmFanatic has a review.

10/23/2008: Arbogast on Film examines a scream.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920)

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a 1920 silent film starring John Barrymore. The movie is based on The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, which can be read online here.

Moria notes its faithfulness to the Stevenson story but calls it "possibly overrated". 1000 Misspent Hours claims "the Barrymore Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde doesn’t fall too far short of deserving the epithet that I have frequently heard applied to it: the first great American horror film." Weird Wild Realm pans it, saying
Were the 1920 silent version of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde the only thing a viewer knew of Barrymore's acting, he would be mistaken for a clownishly overacting fool in a piss-poor halloween costume dashed together by his blind granny.

The adaptation is a rough outline devoid of depth, devoid of visual charm, & of specialized interest only.
11/28/2007: FilmFanatic has a review.

Monday, October 22, 2007

October Films 22

Not Coming to a Theater Near You: The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires

The Projection Booth: Re-Animator

MovieFone: 28 Days Later

Facets Features: a clip from Evil Dead Trap

This Distracted Globe: Topaz

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: the movie

Buffy the Vampire Slayer was an absolutely dreadful movie with no redeeming qualities. Well, it did have Donald Sutherland (M*A*S*H, The Dirty Dozen, Kelly's Heroes).... I'm amazed it was the basis for a tv show and even more amazed that the tv show turned out to be worth watching.


Dead Man's Island

#12 in the Book Awards Reading Challenge

Dead Man's Island by Carolyn G. Hart is the first book in the Henrie O mystery series. It won the 1993 Agatha Award.

from the back of the book:

When arrogant media magnate Chase Prescott is nearly killed by a box of cyanide-laced candy, he dials his long-ago lover retired newshound Henrietta O'Dwyer Collins with a simple request: He'll assemble all the suspects if Henrie O will kindly point out the would-be-murderer.

It's a case-her first-that fills Henrie O with grave misgivings, especially when she arrives on Chase's private island off the South Carolina coast to meet the players in this deadly drama. Among Prescott's unstable young wife, his sullen stepson and his toady of a secretary, she has trouble narrowing the field of suspects-even when a second attempt is made on Chase's life. As Henrie O unearths a will and fascinating new evidence, a killer hurricane sweeps up from Cuba, threatening to maroon them in this vacation hell...where the trappings of luxury are put to lethal use and the secrets of the past have the power to engulf them all.

I won't be reading any more in this series. I knew who did it early on and knew the secret from Henrie O's past even earlier. She kept on listing the suspects and all the reasons why they were likely to be guilty long after I knew what was going on. The dread secret she did not want exposed seemed obvious to me. I didn't find the stunning revelations to be surprising at all.

Nightmare Before Christmas

The Sons and I went to the theater to see the 3D Nightmare Before Christmas this afternoon. As much as I like the DVD version, seeing the movie in 3D on the big screen is a whole new thing. I'm impressed.

trailer to the original release:

The Phantom of the Opera 1925

The 1925 silent Phantom of the Opera stars Lon Chaney.

via youtube:

Moria calls it "one of the outstanding classics of the silent era." 1000 Misspent Hours says, "The 1925 silent version represents, to the best of my knowledge, the only serious attempt ever made to film Gaston Leroux’s novel more or less as he wrote it" and "it really is difficult to overpraise The Phantom of the Opera," concluding that "sometimes, they really do get it right the first time." says it is
one of the greatest silent films ever made. It is taut with complex themes and fabulously acted, designed, and written. Modern viewers not used to silent films will be surprised at how easy it is to watch this film. And as one of the earliest installments of the horror genre, Phantom is still one of its best. Indeed, it's one of the greatest films ever made in any genre.
and says of Chaney that he is
clearly at his best here, especially since he appears in a mask for most of the film. His acting is profound and must be for the film to work. The de-masking scene is still one of the scariest and shocking scenes in cinematic history.
Rotten Tomatoes gives it 89%.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

October Films 21

Not Coming to a Theater Near You: Maniac Cop

The Projection Booth: The Plague of the Zombies

MovieFone: Frailty

Facets Features: a clip from Pee-Wee's Big Adventure

This Distracted Globe: Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Season One

Witches of Mass Destruction

Witches of Mass Destruction is a 2005 episode of Boston Legal, and besides mentioning that William Shatner wears a flamingo costume I don't know what else to say. That's enough reason to watch it and reason enough to watch it despite the preachiness of the plot.

Sunday Psalm

Psalm 121

1 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.

2 My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.

3 He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.

4 Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.

6 The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.

7 The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.

8 The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

October Films 20

Not Coming to a Theater Near You: The Wicker Man (1973)

The Projection Booth: Resident Evil: Apocalypse (I saw this one this past Thursday.)

MovieFone: Rosemary's Baby

Facets Features: a clip from the 1925 Phantom of the Opera

This Distracted Globe: To Catch a Thief

The Haunted Mansion

The Haunted Mansion, a 2003 comedy/horror/romance, is a funny film. We had never seen it before, but I know it'll be in the regular October rotation from now on. It stars: Eddie Murphy, Terrence Stamp (Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Superman 1 & 2), Nathaniel Parker (title role in Inspector Lynley Mysteries, Laertes in the Franco Zeffirelli Hamlet, the episode of Agatha Christie's Poirot titled "The Affair at the Victory Ball"), and Wallace Shawn (Grand Negus Zek on ST: DS9).

It reminded me a bit of the Don Knotts movie The Ghost and Mr. Chicken in some places. There's the whole idea of "meaning well" meaning something and the idea of the guy who disappoints and doesn't measure up coming through in the end.


The New York Times says, "no frights and no laughs." Roger Ebert says that it "won't much entertain older family members, but it might be fun for kids and seems headed for a long run on home video." Moria doesn't like it and says,
From the 1990s onwards, the Disney corporation under CEO Michael Eisner has begun a massive and soulless process of commercialising every single facet of their empire... The Haunted Mansion is the third in what is one of the most bizarre attempts to milk everything possible from the Disney empire – films based on their theme park attractions.

10/5/2008: This is one of The Husband's new favorites of the Halloween videos, so we watched it tonight since he was here.
10/25/2009: The Husband picked this out for us tonight. This was the first time for The Daughter to see it.
10/17/2011: The Husband picked this one because it meets his need in a horror movie: no scares, funny and with a happy ending. Films like that are hard to find. The Younger Son watched it with us.

King Kong

We enjoy King Kong, the original 1933 monster movie, even after all these years. It stars Fay Wray (The Vampire Bat) as the Beauty who ends up being the death of the Beast. The special effects were ground-breaking.


4/7/2008: Edward Copeland has a review celebrating the 75th anniversary of the film's release. So does The Cinematic Art.

8/24/2008: The Listening Ear has a review for the Movies About Movies blogathon.

10/6/2008: We watched King Kong again tonight. Arbogast on Film explores one of the screams in this film, and not Fay Wray's. BBC's review is here. Roger Ebert has a review. The New York Times calls it "a fantastic film". It gets a 5 star rating from Moria, who says, "It is perhaps the greatest of all fantasy films, it is certainly the greatest monster movie ever made." 1000 Misspent Hours calls it "revolutionary".

The music in some of these horror/monster movies is dreadful, but I think the music in this one adds to the atmosphere.

Friday, October 19, 2007

October Films 19

Not Coming to a Theater Near You: City of the Living Dead

The Projection Booth: They Came Back

MovieFone: A Nightmare on Elm Street

Facets Features: clips from Orgy of the Dead

This Distracted Globe: The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)

Louis Jourdan Dracula

We've been making do with a venerable VHS copy of the TV showing, but finally after all this time the BBC has made DVD copies of Louis Jourdan's Count Dracula available. We watched ours tonight, and it does include the complete show, even the scene with Dracula giving his wives the baby. Louis Jourdan makes a great Dracula.

Also in this movie are Judi Bowker (Brother Sun, Sister Moon) and Frank Finlay (Marley's Ghost in the George C. Scott A Christmas Carol, a character in one episode of the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes series, and Iago in Laurence Olivier's Othello)

The music and special effects are dated, but this is still one of the all-time great Dracula presentations, adhering fairly closely to the book as I recall. The DVD itself, although I'm grateful for its availability, is a huge disappointment, having no special features at all. There aren't even chapter divisions, just divisions into 2 parts. Ah, well, beggars can't be choosers, and it's much better than what I had before.

Moria discusses the character portrayals and says this of Jourdan: "Jourdan gives Dracula an unidentifiable foreignness that we can’t quite pinpoint. That and a controlled precision and a dangerous charm" and says,
With filmed versions of Dracula, it seems as though adapters are either stuck with remaining faithful to the story or else opening it up. By and large, the most successful versions of the book – Nosferatu, the Hammer version and Coppola – are ones that allow their respective directors to not worry too much about treating the story faithfully. Count Dracula is the only version that manages a judicious balance of both.
DVD Talk says it "remains one of the best-ever adaptations of Bram Stoker's novel and the DVD makes perfect Halloween viewing. Highly Recommended." Ferdy on Films has a review, which says, "Louis Jourdan is an amazingly good Dracula, the best, in my opinion" and closes with this: "By retrieving the story from the scream-inducing impulses of the horror genre, Count Dracula reinvigorates the vampire fable with universal consequences that haunt the human spirit." The audience rating at Rotten Tomatoes averages an 83%.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a 1920 German Expressionist film told as a flashback. It stars Werner Krauss (Waxworks, The Student of Prague) and Conrad Veidt (Casablanca). I have liked the German Expressionist films I have seen so far: The Golem and Nosferatu. Priceless, this is especially perfect if you want a horror film that's Definitely Different with no blood or gore.

Dr. Caligari exhibits Cesare the Somnambulist at a carnival where Cesare foretells the death of a young man who is then found murdered the next morning.

Moria says it "is one of, if not the, most influential of all silent films. It was a huge artistic success in its time. Its impact on early fantastic cinema is immeasurable". Weird Wild Realm says, "This film had a profound influence on Hollywood cinema at least to the end of the film noir era. The influence has never entirely faded, right down to the present hour." 1000 Misspent Hours calls it "the most important horror movie of all time."

The Guardian has it at #16 on its list of best horror films of all time. Empire Online gives it 5 out of 5 stars and credits it as having the first twist ending in cinema history. Slant Magazine has a 4 out of 4 star rating.

Roger Ebert includes it in his list of great movies. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 100%.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

October Films 18

Not Coming to a Theater Near You: Emanuelle and the Lost Cannibals

The Projection Booth: Braindead

MovieFone: Bride of Frankenstein

Facets Features: a clip from Psycho

This Distracted Globe: Rope

Resident Evil: Apocalypse

Resident Evil: Apocalypse is a 2004 zombie movie selected for me by The Elder Son. I quit watching the original Resident Evil during the slicing scene. I found it a bit too gory and it just felt like I was watching somebody play a video game. This one had a different kind of gore that I didn't have much trouble with and it felt less like I was watching somebody play a video game. Not bad, considering it really is like watching somebody play a video game.


Roger Ebert's take:
The movie is an utterly meaningless waste of time. There was no reason to produce it, except to make money, and there is no reason to see it, except to spend money. It is a dead zone, a film without interest, wit, imagination or even entertaining violence and special effects.
Well, I didn't think it was that bad, but then I'm just getting used to these modern horror movies and finding one I can sit through is enough for me right now. I'm grateful The Elder Son is willing and able to "nursemaid me through this" process.

R.I.P Joey Bishop

Again from Green Cine I see the news of another show business death. Joey Bishop died yesterday at the age of 89.


Edward Copeland


The Independent

Obit Magazine

King of the Zombies

King of the Zombies is a comedy/horror film released in 1941 and directed by Jean Yarbrough, who also directed 3 1964 Addams Family episodes (The New Neighbors Meet the Addams Family, Morticia Joins the Ladies League, Morticia and the Psychiatrist). A small plane crash-lands on a remote island, and the Nazi doctor who shelters the survivors is suspected of harboring zombies.

via Youtube:

Boo to You Too!

Boo to You Too! Winnie the Pooh (1996) is the only one of the Winnie the Pooh Halloween shows we like. There is no wikipedia entry on it, and I can't find a video clip or trailer to embed here. Poor Piglet is so timid he just can't enjoy Halloween for fear of the "Spookables". We have the VHS and can't find it on DVD.

R.I.P. Deborah Kerr

Deborah Kerr died on 10/16. I know her best from The King and I and An Affair to Remember.

HT: GreenCine


Guardian Unlimited
Digital Journal
Obit Magazine
Edward Copeland
Self-styled Siren
The Bargain Matinee
The Independent


Movie Morlocks


Another Old Movie Blog


Nosferatu is a 1922 film and the first film adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula. It was directed by Murnau and starred Max Schreck. There were copyright issues over this film because permission was not sought from Bram Stoker's widow (the Dracula copyright holder), and the film was ordered destroyed. We would be much the poorer if some prints had not survived the purge.

It is a creepy film, with none of the idea of Dracula as attractive seducer that comes out in some of the later adaptations. Shreck's Dracula is not a desirable man.

via Youtube:

Moria gives it a full 5 stars and calls it "quite possibly the most amazing of all vampire films." 1000 Misspent Hours says "it remains among the top echelon of Dracula flicks, even after most of 80 years." Variety calls the director "a master artisan demonstrating not only a knowledge of the subtler side of directing but in photography." Slant Magazine opens with this:
Watching Nosferatu is like standing in the same room as death itself, a brooding chamber piece of gothic ruminations and occult imagery, of the flickering light of the world waging a losing battle against the overwhelming darkness.
Roger Ebert includes it in his Great Movies Collection.

10/30/2007: Cinematical has a review.
6/26/2008: Only the Cinema has a review.

10/5/2009: The Husband and I watched this again tonight. He likes the old classics best. I picked up a DVD of this last year that is part of a no-frills 4-disc set.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

October Films 17

Not Coming to a Theater Near You: Phantasm 2

The Projection Booth: The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies

MovieFone: The Blair Witch Project

Facets Features: a clip from The Lost Boys

This Distracted Globe: Stage Fright


Haxan is a 1922 film documentary on witchcraft which incorporates dramatizations of events.

via Youtube:

It's also available in a relatively new Criterion edition.

The Infernal Cakewalk

The Infernal Cakewalk is a 1903 silent short directed by Georges Melies.

The Monster

An ancient Egyptian skeleton comes to life in The Monster, a 1903 silent short directed by Georges Melies.

via Youtube:

There are links to resources on the film, including other sources for the video, here.

The Infernal Cauldron

Le Chaudron Infernal is a silent short from 1903 directed by Georges Méliès. In this film a green-skinned demon throws people into a fiery pot and summons spirits.

Bright Lights After Dark says, "With its lovely color tints carefully applied frame by frame, it owes as much to painting and illustration as it does to stage performance."

Le Diable Noir

The Black Imp is a mischievous little devil who causes no end of trouble for the traveler who takes a room at this inn. This silent short from 1905 was directed by Georges Méliès, who directed A Trip to the Moon.

Weird Wild Realm describes the plot.

The Man with the Rubber Head

The Man with the Rubber Head is a 1902 Georges Melies foreign silent short from 1902 about a scientific experiment gone awry.

via Youtube:

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

October Films 16

Not Coming to a Theater Near You: Invocation of My Demon Brother

The Projection Booth: Planet Terror

MovieFone: Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Facets Features: clips from "Coffin Joe" films

This Distracted Globe: Vertigo

Invisible Ghost

Invisible Ghost, starring Bela Lugosi, is a 1941 horror film. Unsolved murders and a betrayed husband who exhibits bizarre behavior.

via Youtube:

Spooks Run Wild

Spooks Run Wild (1941) is another Bela Lugosi movie. I'm beginning to think I should have a tag just for him. There, I did it. This film is a comedy/horror with the East Side Kids.

via Youtube:

This one was just plain silly.

Scared to Death

Scared to Death is a 1947 horror movie that begins with the dead girl and then tells the story of how she died. Bela Lugosi stars. I've seen several films with Lugosi lately, the last one being The Wolf Man.

via Youtube:

I didn't like this one. The scene changes were abrupt and awkward, the acting was dreadful, the characters were 1-dimensional stereotypes, the music was intrusive and boring, it moved so slowly...

Bush and the Dalai Lama

Today President Bush will meet with the Dalai Lama anyway, even though China has expressed "fury" over the meeting.

More news on the topic:

Voice of America


from the AP report:
BEIJING (AP) — China said Tuesday that a decision by the U.S. Congress to honor the Dalai Lama would "seriously" damage relations between the countries.

The Congress will give the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, an award this week at a ceremony attended by President Bush.

"The move will seriously damage China-U.S. relations," Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said. Liu did not specify how relations would be damaged if the award does take place.

He told a regular news conference that China hoped the U.S. would "correct its mistakes and cancel relevant arrangements and stop interfering in the internal affairs of China."

Bush and the Dalai Lama were scheduled to meet at the White House later Tuesday, one day before a public ceremony will be held to award the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize laureate the prestigious Congressional Gold Medal.


from the Guardian Unlimited article:
China expressed anger today at America's red carpet treatment of the Dalai Lama and warned that plans to honour him would seriously damage relations with Beijing.

Despite Chinese protests, President Bush was scheduled to meet Tibet's exiled spiritual leader later today at the White House, the first sitting US president to do so.

Tomorrow, Mr Bush is to attend a ceremony on Capitol Hill where the Dalai Lama, who won the Nobel peace prize in 1989, will receive the congressional gold medal. Past recipients of America's highest award for civilians have included Tony Blair, Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela.

Times Online

Monday, October 15, 2007

October Films 15

Not Coming to a Theater Near You: Body Double

The Projection Booth: White Zombie (I've seen it.)

MovieFone: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Facets Features: a clip from The Exorcist 3

This Distracted Globe: Mr. and Mrs. Smith (1941)

Blog Action Day

Today is Blog Action Day:

On October 15th, bloggers around the web will unite to put a single important issue on everyone’s mind - the environment. Every blogger will post about the environment in their own way and relating to their own topic. Our aim is to get everyone talking towards a better future.

But Slashdot has a bit of advice about the impact of a blog post:
You can almost hear the sound of the vacuum created by bloggers thinking that their words matter when the people with control don't even know how to read the tubes. Lick a stamp or march- that's harder to ignore.

One of my big issues regarding the environment where I live is the lack of easy access to public transportation and the sub-urban sprawl that, combined, make doing without a car very difficult. It's not just an environmental issue, I confess, but also a monetary one. It would be much cheaper to depend on public transportation than to pay for gas, maintenance and insurance on a car, and jobs would be much easier to find and keep if people could depend on public transportation. For many reasons, including environmental issues, I would think improving and expanding public transportation would be towards the top of the city's agenda. But it's not. I know my mother did without a car when she was a young woman, using the street car to get to work and go shopping and meet friends and using passenger trains for vacations. We have lost a lot with the growth of dependence on cars.

Locally, Gates of Memphis wonders why we aren't a forest, and I admit the idea of letting the trees grow to displace all that maintenance-intensive grass appeals to me.

My favorite blogs on ecology action:


Are You an Eco Geek?

Science, technology gadgets seals. We're in a bit of an eco-mess, but we've got the brains to lick any problem. And that's why publishes up to ten stories daily about innovations that are saving the planet.

And if that sounds interesting to you, then congratulations, you're an EcoGeek.

No Impact Man:
For one year, my wife, my 2-year-old daughter, my dog and I, while living in the middle of New York City, are attempting to live without making any net impact on the environment. In other words, no trash, no carbon emissions, no toxins in the water, no elevators, no subway, no products in packaging, no plastics, no air conditioning, no TV, no toilets…

Tree Hugger has a how-to section on making the everyday tasks of your life greener.

Green Home Guide offers practical advice for household decisions.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

October Films 14

Not Coming to a Theater Near You: Alice, Sweet Alice

The Projection Booth: King of the Zombies

MovieFone: Carrie

Facets Features: offers a music video clip instead of a movie clip today.

This Distracted Globe: Foreign Correspondent

The Wolf Man

The Wolf Man, the classic 1941 horror film starring Lon Chaney, Jr. (Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man and other horror movies as well as High Noon, and the Bob Hope comedy My Favorite Brunette), is a sad and tragic story. Not at all a bad introduction to horror if you're new to the genre.
"The way you walked was thorny through no fault of your own, but as the rain enters the soil the river enters the sea, so tears run to a predestined end. Your suffering is over. Now you will find peace for eternity."
Also starring: Claude Rains, Bela Lugosi and Maria Ouspenskaya, whom I did really love in Love Affair.
Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night
may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.

I've seen The Wolf Man before
, in fact I watch it every year in October. It's one of my favorites of these old horror movies, and I always enjoy it.

Deep Focus Review has a fascinating article with a consideration of the psychological meaning and closes with this:
The signs are everywhere, whether hidden in the subtext or through careful analysis of what the audience is not shown. Along with its complete invention of the werewolf myth, that the film is not about werewolves at all remains The Wolf Man’s little secret, waiting to be rediscovered.
The Hollywood Reporter has a positive review. says, "This classic tale has since visited the big screen on so many occasions and incarnations, but few compare to this groundbreaking film". Classic Horror calls it "the last of [the Universal Pictures'] truly great monster movies". Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 94%.

Fear, Itself

Fear, Itself is the 4th episode in season 4 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The gang goes to a haunted house frat party on Halloween night only to be met by their own worst fears. This was lots of fun.


Slither is a 2006 comedy/horror film starring Nathan Fillion. Shiny! Rated R for unremitting foul language and some gore, but I didn't have any trouble watching it. I don't generally enjoy modern horror films, so I appreciate The Elder Son clueing me in on ones he thinks I might like. This one was fun.

Eye of the Needle

Book #11 for the Book Awards Reading Challenge

Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett is the story of a ruthless German spy who has found out crucial intelligence about the imminent attack at Normandy and must get the information to Berlin.

from the back of the book:

His code name was The Needle. He was a tall, handsome German aristocrat of extraordinary intelligence - England’s most dangerous enemy. He knew the secret that could win the war for Hitler....

She was Lucy Rose, a beautiful young Englishwoman torn between her burning desire and her binding duty. She was the only one who could stop him....

It moves quickly, with lots of action. I got to know the characters, but character development never stands in the way of moving the plot along. The chapters alternate between several sets of characters: the spy, the English government officials who are hot on his trail and Lucy Rose and her family. It has been made into a film with Donald Sutherland playing the spy.

It won the Edgar Award in 1979.

Sunday Psalm

Psalm 66

1 Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands:

2 Sing forth the honour of his name: make his praise glorious.

3 Say unto God, How terrible art thou in thy works! through the greatness of thy power shall thine enemies submit themselves unto thee.

4 All the earth shall worship thee, and shall sing unto thee; they shall sing to thy name. Selah.

5 Come and see the works of God: he is terrible in his doing toward the children of men.

6 He turned the sea into dry land: they went through the flood on foot: there did we rejoice in him.

7 He ruleth by his power for ever; his eyes behold the nations: let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah.

8 O bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of his praise to be heard:

9 Which holdeth our soul in life, and suffereth not our feet to be moved.

10 For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried.

11 Thou broughtest us into the net; thou laidst affliction upon our loins.

12 Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.

13 I will go into thy house with burnt offerings: I will pay thee my vows,

14 Which my lips have uttered, and my mouth hath spoken, when I was in trouble.

15 I will offer unto thee burnt sacrifices of fatlings, with the incense of rams; I will offer bullocks with goats. Selah.

16 Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.

17 I cried unto him with my mouth, and he was extolled with my tongue.

18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:

19 But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer.

20 Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.