Category Archives: Boris Karloff

Blu-Ray News #146: The Old Dark House (1932).

Directed by James Whale
Starring Boris Karloff, Melvyn Douglas, Gloria Stuart, Charles Laughton, Lilian Bond, Ernest Thesiger, Raymond Massey

I’ve been on a bit of a Karloff kick lately — just watched Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome (1947) for the umpteenth time, and I’m making my way through that Mill Creek set of Columbia Karloff pictures, so I was happy to see that Cohen Media has announced The Old Dark House (1932) for Blu-Ray — from a 4K restoration.

Universal kept The Old Dark House out of circulation for years, and it was on its way to becoming a lost film. Director Curtis Harrington pressured Universal to dig it out, dust it off and let people see it. We all owe him for that. Can’t wait to see how this looks.

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Filed under Boris Karloff, DVD/Blu-ray News, James Whale, Universal (-International)

RIP, Quinn O’Hara.

Quinn O’Hara
January 3, 1941 – May 5, 2017

Quinn O’Hara didn’t make many movies, but if you turn up in an AIP Beach Party movie and an episode of Dragnet, that’s resume enough for me. She has passed away at 76.

She’s seen above with Aaron Kincaid in Ghost In The Invisible Bikini (1966). It’s one of the weaker ones in the series, but it’s got Boris Karloff, Basil Rathbone, Harvey Lembeck (as Eric Von Zipper), Nancy Sinatra and The Bobby Fuller Four(!). Miss O’Hara is quite funny as Rathbone’s nearsighted daughter.

She worked pretty steadily on TV in everything from The Beverly Hillbillies and The Man From UNCLE to CHiPs and Dallas. She eventually became a nurse.

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Filed under 1966, AIP, Basil Rathbone, Bobby Fuller, Boris Karloff

Blu-Ray News #112: The Mummy Complete Legacy Collection.

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Universal’s next Complete Legacy Collection — each Blu-Ray set covers everything featuring a particular Universal monster — concerns The Mummy. Providing Universal can come up with the proper number of tana leaves, this edition will be available in May. It spreads six movies over four discs.

The Mummy (1932) is one of the most visually-splendid movies I can think of. Karl Freund packs one incredible shot after another in this thing — and Karloff is at his brilliant best.

The first sequel (or maybe it’s more of a remake), The Mummy’s Hand (1940), has Tom Tyler doing a great job filling in for Boris Karloff — and Wallace Ford is a welcome addition to anything.

Jack Pierce turns Lon Chaney Jr. into Kharis.

The next three Mummy movies — The Mummy’s Tomb (1942), The Mummy’s Ghost (1944), and The Mummy’s Curse (1944) — with Lon Chaney, Jr. as a rather portly mummy making his way through Massachusetts and Louisiana, are a real hoot in that 1940s Universal Monsters kinda way. I love these things.

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Then there’s Abbott & Costello Meet The Mummy (1955), which throws in Marie Windsor, my all-time favorite actress, for good measure. It was A&C’s last picture for Universal, a studio they pretty much saved in the 40s. Eddie Parker, Chaney’s double on the three previous Mummy movies, plays Klaris throughout this one.

All six Mummy movies are black and white, with Meet The Mummy in 1.85 widescreen — and they’re all sure to look marvelous on Blu-Ray.

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Filed under 1955, Abbott & Costello, Boris Karloff, DVD/Blu-ray News, Jack Pierce, John Carradine, Lon Chaney Jr., Marie Windsor, Universal (-International)

DVD Review: The Mask Of Fu Manchu (1932).

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Directed by Charles Brabin and Charles Vidor (uncredited)
Produced by Irving Thalberg
Screenplay: Irene Kuhn, Edgar Allan Woolf and John Willard
Based on the novel The Mask of Fu Manchu by Sax Rohmer
Cinematography: Tony Gaudio
Film Editor: Ben Lewis

Cast: Boris Karloff (Dr. Fu Manchu), Lewis Stone (Nayland Smith), Karen Morley (Sheila Barton), Charles Starrett (Terrence Granville), Myrna Loy (Fah Lo See); Jean Hersholt (Von Berg), Lawrence Grant (Sir Lionel Barton), David Torrence (McLeod).

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If someone tells you they don’t see what the big deal is about pre-Code movies, show ’em The Mask Of Fu Manchu (1932). If its script has been floating around just a couple years later, it wouldn’t have been made.

The Mask Of Fu Manchu is a fever dream of an adventure story — or maybe a Chinese-food-stomach-ache adventure story, the kind of movie you get when writers and directors are fired, production is halted for a while, rewrites arrive minutes before scenes are shot, etc.

Boris Karloff: “It was a shambles, it really was — it was simply ridiculous.”

This chaos is evident on the screen. Characters come and go. There is little, if anything, in the way of character development. The plot simply doesn’t make sense. There’s no real flow from one scene to the next. And if you’re easily offended, well you’ll be easily offended.

But it’s absolutely fascinating from the MGM lion to the final fadeout. The evil Dr. Fu Manchu has kidnapped a noted archaeologist who claims to have found the tomb of Genghis Khan. Fu Manchu seeks the power contained in the Mongol emperor’s mask and sword. Torture, death and all sorts of mayhem ensue.

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Fu Manchu (Karloff): “This serum, distilled from dragon’s blood, my own blood, the organs of different reptiles, and mixed with the magic brew of the sacred seven herbs, will temporarily change you into the living instrument of my will. You will do as I command!”

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The entire cast is terrific, with Karloff and Myrna Loy (as Fu Manchu’s freaky daughter) giving it their all. Lewis Stone makes a great Nayland Smith, while Sheila Barton and Charles Starrett are fine as the damsel in distress and her rescuer. The set design is incredible, combining over-the-top Chinese influence with 30s art deco and a bit of Frankenstein’s lab (Kenneth Strickfaden, who made the equipment for Frankenstein, decked out Fu Manchu’s laboratory). It’s as lavish as it is crazy.

The Mask Of Fu Manchu is one of six Pre-Code horror pictures in Warner Archive’s Hollywood Legends Of Horror Collection. It’s a MOD re-issue of the 2006 collection, and it’s great to have it available again. The Mask Of Fu Manchu is my favorite of the bunch, and it looks great — and it’s completely uncut (it was softened a bit a few decades ago). The other films — Doctor X (1932), The Return of Doctor X (1939), Mark Of The Vampire (1935), Mad Love (AKA The Hands Of Orlac, 1935) and The Devil-Doll (1936) — look just as good. All the commentaries and trailers from the original release have been retained. For monsters nuts or fans of Pre-Code Hollywood, this is essential stuff — and a steal at $29.95.

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Filed under Boris Karloff, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, MGM, Pre-Code, Warner Archive

DVD News #72: Hollywood Legends Of Horror Collection.

Mask Of FM

If you like Weird, then you need to spend some time with the Horror films of the 1930s. And with this six-picture set, Warner Archive gives you a chance to jump right into the deep end.

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Doctor X (1932)
Directed by Michael Curtiz
Starring Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Lee Tracy

The Return of Doctor X (1939)
Directed by Vincent Sherman
Starring Wayne Morris, Rosemary Lane, Humphrey Bogart

Let’s get this straight right off the bat: The Return Of Doctor X is not a sequel to Doctor X. The first one was shot in the early two-color Technicolor process. The Return Of Doctor X is one of the films Bogart didn’t like to talk about.

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Tod Browning directs Caroll Borland and Bela Lugosi

Mark Of The Vampire (1935)
Directed by Tod Browning
Starring Lionel Barrymore, Elizabeth Allan, Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill

Tod Browning directs a talkie remake of one the great lost Silents, his own London After Midnight (1927) starring Lon Chaney.

Mask of Fu Manchu LC

The Mask Of Fu Manchu (1932)
Directed by Charles Brabin
Starring Boris Karloff, Myrna Loy, Lewis Stone

Karloff is the insidious Dr. Fu Manchu, wearing what appear to be his Frankenstein boots. Myrna Loy is his equally-evil daughter. This thing has to be seen to be believed.

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Basil Gogos’ painting of Peter Lorre for Famous Monsters #63

Mad Love (AKA The Hands Of Orlac, 1935)
Directed by Karl Freund
Starring Peter Lorre, Frances Drake, Colin Clive

The great cinematographer Karl Freund’s last film as director — he also directed The Mummy (1932). And of course, he was the director of photography for Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927) and I Love Lucy (he developed the flat-light system, and perfected the three-camera setup, that are still used in TV today).

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Tod Browning and Lionel Barrymore

The Devil-Doll (1936)
Directed by Tod Browning
Starring Lionel Barrymore, Maureen O’Sullivan

For this creepy crime picture, Tod Browning revisits some of the ideas of his The Unholy Three (1930), Lon Chaney’s only sound film — which they’d already made as a Silent in 1925.

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Filed under Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney, MGM, Pre-Code, Tod Browning, Warner Archive

Blu-ray News #64: Frankenstein & The Wolf Man Complete Legacy Collections.

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The world may be falling apart, but there’s never been a better time to be a fan of classic monster movies. Hi-def sets of Hammer Horror and now the Universal Monsters are on the way. The Frankenstein and The Wolf Man Complete Legacy Collections give you every classic Universal monster movie in which they appear. Buy them both, and you’ll certainly have some overlap since the monsters overlap in the “Monster Rally” pictures — and even in the mighty Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948), but who cares? They’ll come creeping to your mailbox in September.

Maybe Presley and I started out summer monster series a bit too soon?

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Filed under Abbott & Costello, Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, DVD/Blu-ray News, John Carradine, Lon Chaney Jr., Universal (-International)

So Much Horror Under One Roof!

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Since I was a kid, I’ve wanted to watch the great Universal monster movies in order. One of the problems was having all the movies. DVD and Blu-ray takes care of that. Then there’s which ones and in what order? All those monster-geek newsgroups and stuff offer up some proposed lists, and I found one I like.

Dracula (1931)
Frankenstein (1931)
Bride Of Frankenstein (1935)
Dracula’s Daughter (1936)
Son Of Frankenstein (1939)
The Wolf Man (1940)
Ghost Of Frankenstein (1942)
Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man (1943)
Son Of Dracula (1943)
House Of Frankenstein (1944)
House Of Dracula (1945)
Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

My daughter and I are about to kick the whole thing off. (School may be out, but her education keeps going!) When we’re finished with these, we’ll take on The Invisible Man and Mummy movies (I love the first two Mummy things). And we can’t forget those two Karloff-Lugosi Poe films: The Raven (1935) and The Black Cat (1934). Has anyone else tackled these? If so, how’d you go about it?

The image up top is Karloff and makeup genius Jack Pierce in a color test for Son Of Frankenstein, my favorite of the Frankenstein films. It has some of the most incredible set designs I’ve ever seen. The subject line comes from the ads for House Of Dracula.

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Filed under Basil Rathbone, Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, John Carradine, Lon Chaney Jr., Universal (-International)