Thursday, 27 October 2011

Universal Monster Favourite Frights

The Universal Studios Monsters movies are a rich repository of truly chilly scenes. Too many to recount, in fact. But here, for your Halloween enjoyment, are a few of my favourites as I could find them online.


The Mummy goes for a little walk...


Frankenstein learns what it feels like to be God...


Dracula listens to the children of the night...


Petty criminal Karloff tries to coerce doctor Lugosi and quickly discovers that he's outclassed in The Raven...


The Satanic Rites of Hjalmar Poelzig in The Black Cat...


A stormy night in an Old Dark House...


The Invisible Man revealed...

3 comments:

grouchomarxist said...

Great scenes, all. I've loved these films ever since I was old enough to be allowed to stay up late on Saturday night and scare myself spitless watching Shock Theater, hosted by the inimitable Dr. Lucifer.

One of my favorites: Renfield, on board the Demeter.

And I can't seem to find a clip of it, but the scene in "The Old Dark House" where Melvyn Douglas finally meets the brother the family's been keeping locked up is just plain brilliant. Like the first time you see The Monster in the "Frankenstein", Whale manages to evoke pity for his subject, without diminishing their monstrosity.

Cory Gross said...

I would have posted Renfield on the Demeter if I could have found the Spanish version of it. Nowehere are the differences between the American and Spanish Dracula more obvious than in how incredible the oceanic voyage is.

I would have loved to have been of the generation to have seen shock horror theatre-type shows on TV! Nowadays I just have DVDs and no Count Floyd...

grouchomarxist said...

This site has a nice mini-biography of the good Doctor.

As the Chinese curse puts it, it was an interesting time. A good time to be a kid growing up in a middle-class suburb, for others, not so much. And I'm just as subject to bouts of nostalgia as the next gink. Though fortunately, these Universal films have aged far better than many things from my childhood.

Btw, your comment motivated me to haul out my copy of the Spanish version of Dracula and finally give it a look.

I'll freely admit it is in many ways a better and more fully realized film than Browning's version. The Browning Dracula was far more obviously derived from a stage play, and plainly suffered from that. The sequence on the Demeter is creepier in this version (although imo Murnau still did it better in Nosferatu).

At least until the Demeter's arrival. I've still got to go with Dwight Frye's Renfield -- at the bottom of that hatchway, brilliantly illuminated with deep shadow all around, staring up at the camera with those superbly mad eyes and emitting that weird, moaning laugh -- as the more deeply disturbing of the two.

It certainly made a hell of an impression on one ten-year-old, watching it -- with, of course, all the lights turned off -- on an old Philco portable B & W tv. In fact, I was surprised the Spanish version disposed of that scene so hastily, when it's clearly one of the best moments in the English version.

Which isn't to say I didn't like the Spanish Renfield, who in certain ways delivered a more nuanced character. The actor portraying El Conde Dracula was quite good, too, though I still prefer Lugosi, who's hard to beat when it comes to sheer sinister magnetism. And the woman who played Eva was far more spirited and sympathetic than her English language counterpart. (Plus she was quite a looker -- rowr!)

So thanks for the nudge. Comparing this Spanish version to the one with which I'm so intimately familiar has been an interesting experience (in the good sense of "interesting").

Happy Halloween!