Horror Scenes That I Love: Bela Lugosi in Dracula


Seeing as how today is Bela Lugosi’ birthday, it only seems appropriate that today’s scene that I love should honor him.  This is one Bela’s best scenes from 1931’s Dracula.  Because his performance has been so widely imitated (and Bela himself appeared in a few films that poked fun at it), it’s often forgotten just how could Lugosi was in the role.

In honor of the one and only Lugosi, enjoy!

4 Shots From 4 Bela Lugosi Films


 

4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking.

139 years ago on this date, Bela Lugosi was born in Hungary.  Today, we honor his memory with….

4 Shots From 4 Bela Lugosi Films

Dracula (1931, dir by Tod Browning, DP; Karl Freund)

White Zombie (1932, dir by Vincent Halperin, DP: Arthur Martinelli)

Ninotchka (1939, dir by Ernst Lubitsch, DP: William H. Daniels)

Bride of The Monster (1955, dir by Ed Wood, DP: Ted Allan and William H. Thompson)

 

4 Shots From 4 Dracula Films


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

Today, let us take just a few moments to pay tribute to one of the icons of Halloween.  He was born into nobility but he never let that stop him from visiting the village at night and getting a taste of the common life.  I’m talking, of course, about the original royal influencer, Count Dracula!  Everyone knows Dracula.  Everyone wants to either be with or even be Dracula.  It’s no wonder that he’s been the subject of so many biopics.

In honor of the Count’s legacy, here are….

4 Shots From 4 Dracula Films

Dracula (1931, starring Bela Lugosi as the Count, Dir by Tod Browning, DP: Karl Freund)

Horror of Dracula (1958, starring Christopher Lee as the Count, Dir by Terence Fisher, DP: Jack Asher)

Dracula (1979, starring Frank Langella as the Count, Dir by John Badham, DP: Gilbert Taylor)

Dracula 3D (2012, starring Thomas Kretschman at the Count, dir by Dario Argento, DP: Luciano Tovoli)

Horror on the Lens: Plan 9 From Outer Space (dir by Edward D. Wood, Jr.)


Viewing Plan 9 From Outer Space during October is a bit of a tradition around these parts and here at the Shattered Lens, we’re all about tradition.  And since today is the 97th anniversary of the birth of Ed Wood, Jr., it just seems appropriate to watch his best-known film.

Speaking of tradition, this 1959 sci-fi/horror flick is traditionally cited as the worst film ever made but I don’t quite agree.  For one thing, the film is way too low-budget to be fairly judged against other big budget fiascoes.  If I have to watch a bad movie, I’ll always go for the low budget, independent feature as opposed to the big studio production.  To attack Ed Wood for making a bad film is to let every other bad filmmaker off the hook.  Ed Wood had his problems but he also had a lot of ambition and a lot of determination and, eventually, a lot of addictions.  One thing that is often forgotten by those who mock Ed Wood is that he drank himself to death and died living in squalor.  The least we can do is cut the tragic figure some slack.

Plan 9 From Outer Space is a ludicrous film but it’s also a surprisingly ambitious one and it’s got an anti-war, anti-military message so all of you folks who have hopped down the progressive rabbit hole over the past few years should have a new appreciation for this film.  I mean, do you want the government to blow up a Solarnite bomb?  DO YOU!?

Also, Gregory Walcott actually did a pretty good job in the lead role.  He was one of the few members of the cast to have a mainstream film career after Plan 9.

Finally, Plan 9 is a tribute to one man’s determination to bring his vision to life.  Ed Wood tried and refused to surrender and made a film with a message that he believed in and, for that, he deserves to be remembered.

Now, sit back, and enjoy a little Halloween tradition.  Take it away, Criswell!

Can you prove it didn’t happen?

WELL, CAN YOU!?

Horror on the Lens: Bride of the Monster (dir by Edward D. Wood, Jr.)


Bride of The Monster (1955, dir by Ed Wood)

Since tomorrow’s the great man’s birthday, it seems appropriate that today’s horror film on the lens is Edward D. Wood’s 1955 epic, Bride of the Monster.

(Much like Plan 9 From Outer Space, around here, it is a tradition to watch Bride of the Monster in October.)

The film itself doesn’t feature a bride but it does feature a monster, a giant octopus who guards the mansion of the mysterious Dr. Vornoff (Bela Lugosi).  Vornoff and his hulking henchman Lobo (Tor Johnson) have been kidnapping men and using nuclear power to try to create a race of super soldiers.  Or something like that.  The plot has a make-it-up-as-you-go-along feel to it.  That’s actually a huge part of the film’s appeal.

Bride of the Monster is regularly described as being one of the worst films ever made but I think that’s rather unfair.   Appearing in his last speaking role, Lugosi actually gives a pretty good performance, bringing a wounded dignity to the role of Vornoff.  If judged solely against other movies directed by Ed Wood, this is actually one of the best films ever made.

(For a longer review, click here!)

6 Horror Performances That Deserved An Oscar Nomination


Despite making some inroads as of late, horror films still never quite get the respect that they deserve when it comes Oscar time.  That’s especially true of the performers who regularly appear in horror films.  If it’s rare for a horror movie to receive a best picture nomination, it’s even rarer for someone to get nominated for appearing in one of them.

And yet, it takes as much skill to make a monster compelling as it does a historical figure or a literary character.  In fact, it may take even more skill.  After all, everyone knows that Queen Elizabeth I actually ruled over England and that Atticus Finch was an attorney in the South.  However, everyone also knows that there’s no such things as vampires and that the dead cannot be reanimated or raised as a zombie.  It takes a lot of skill to make a monster seem human.

With that in mind, here are 6 horror performances that deserved, at the very least, an Oscar nomination:

1. Boris Karloff as The Monster in Frankenstein (1931) and The Bride of Frankenstein(1935)

The great Boris Karloff is perhaps the most egregious example of a deserving actor who was consistently ignored by the Academy because of the type of films in which he appeared.  In the role of Monster, Karloff was never less than brilliant and he set the standard by which all future monsters are judged.

Dracula (1931, directed by Tod Browning)

2. Bela Lugosi in Dracula (1931)

When viewed today, it’s perhaps a little bit too easy to be dismissive of Lugosi’s grandly theatrical interpretation of Dracula.  But, if you can ignore all of the bad imitations that you’ve seen and heard over the years, you’ll discover that Lugosi’s performance is perfect for the film in which he’s appearing.  Indeed, Lugosi’s best moments are the silent ones, when he goes from being a courtly (if vaguely sinister) nobleman to a hungry animal.  In those moments, you see why Lugosi’s performance endures.

3. Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates in Psycho (1960)

Ah, poor Anthony Perkins.  Before he played Norman Bates, he was considered to be something an up-and-coming star and even something of a neurotic romantic lead.  As with Lugosi’s Dracula, we’ve seen so many bad imitations of Perkins’s performance that it’s easy to overlook just how good he is in the role.  He was so perfect as Norman that spent the rest of his career typecast.  And, sadly enough, he didn’t even get a much-deserved Oscar nomination out of it.

4. Christopher Lee as Lord Summerisle in The Wicker Man (1973)

Christopher Lee was one of the great actors and, though he may be best remembered for his horror work, he actually appeared in almost every genre of film imaginable.  Lee was often dismissive of the Dracula films that he made for Hammer so, as much as I’d love to argue that he deserved a nomination for The Horror of Dracula, I’m instead going to suggest that Lee deserved one for the role that he often cited as his favorite, the pagan Lord Summerisle in The Wicker Man.  Lee brings the perfect mix of wit and menace to the role and, in the process, shows that not all monsters have to be undead.

5. Donald Pleasence as Dr. Sam Loomis in Halloween (1978) and Halloween II (1981)

Much as with Lugosi and Anthony Perkins, it’s important (and perhaps a little bit difficult) to separate Pleasence’s performances in these two slasher films with all of the imitations that have followed.  In both films, Pleasence does a great job of playing a man who has been driven to the verge of madness as a result of having spent too much time in the presence of evil.  As potentially dangerous as Sam Loomis sometimes appears to be, there’s no way not to sympathize with him as he continually tries to get people to understand that he wasn’t the one who left Michael escape.  If nothing else, Pleasence deserved a nomination just for his delivery of the line, “As a matter of fact, it was.”

6. Betsy Palmer as Pamela Voorhees in Friday the 13th (1980)

“I’m an old friend of the Christys.”  AGCK!  RUN!

Horror on the Lens: Plan 9 From Outer Space (dir by Edward D. Wood, Jr.)


Watching Ed Wood’s infamous Plan 9 From Outer Space is something of an October tradition here at the Shattered Lens!  And you know how much I love tradition!

Some people say that this film has a reputation for being the worst film ever made.  Personally, I don’t think that it deserves that reputation.  Is it bad?  By traditional standards of quality, I guess it can be argued that Plan 9 From Outer Space is a bad movie.  But it’s also a lot of fun and how can you not smile when you hear Criswell’s opening and closing statements?

Enjoy and be sure to read Gary’s review!

(And also be sure to read Jedadiah Leland’s tribute to Criswell!)

(On another note: Watch this as quickly as you can because, over the least year or so, it seems like all the films of Ed Wood get yanked off YouTube as soon as they are posted.  Copyright violations, they say.  Personally, I think that’s shameful.  First off, Ed Wood is no longer alive.  Wood had no children and his widow died in 2006, having never remarried.  Whatever money is being made off of his films is not going to support his family.  Wherever he is, I think Ed would be more concerned that people see his films than some faceless corporation make money off of them.)

(It seems like, every year, someone threatens to either remake Plan 9 or produce a sequel.  Again, the original is all that is needed.)

Horror Scenes That I Love: Bela Lugosi Introduces Himself In Dracula


I swear, nothing annoys me more than when wannabe hipsters go out of their way to trash old movies.

You see that a lot on twitter.  People who, for the most part, haven’t even studied film or cultural history will try to post something snarky about a film that was made decades before they were born.  They either make fun of the acting or the dialogue or they attempt to call out the film for not being properly woke.  It’s an easy way to get likes and retweets but it’s also about as intellectually lazy as you can get.

For instance, there’s a tendency to dismiss the 1931 version of Dracula and Bela Lugosi’s performance in the lead role.  Personally, I do think that Dracula is a bit too stagey (it was, after all, based on a stage play that was based on Bram Stoker’s novel) and I wouldn’t put it up there with director Tod Browning’s best work.  The Spanish-language version of Dracula, which was filmed at the same time, is technically a better film.  But, that being said, I will accept no criticism of Lugosi’s performance.  Lugosi is the perfect Dracula.  If he seems overly theatrical …. well, Dracula’s a pretty theatrical character.  It has to be remembered that Lugosi is playing a character who is supposed to be several hundred years old.  If he acts like a man out-of-time, that’s because that is exactly what he is.

Ultimately, it comes down to this — a lot of actors have played Dracula.  Some of them have been very good in the role.  Some of them have been very bad.  But, if not for Lugosi, none of them would have had the opportunity.

So, in honor of that legacy, today’s horror scene that I love comes from the original Dracula and features Bela Lugosi at his creepiest:

 

Halloween Havoc!: ISLAND OF LOST SOULS (Paramount 1932)


cracked rear viewer

Universal Pictures kicked off the horror trend of the early 30’s with DRACULA and FRANKENSTEIN , and soon every studio in Hollywood, both major and minor, jumped on the terror train. Paramount was the first to hop on board with an adaptation of Stevenson’s DR. JEKYLL & MR. HYDE , earning Fredric March an Oscar for his dual role. Soon there was DR. X (Warners), THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME (RKO), FREAKS and THE MASK OF FU MANCHU (both MGM), and THE MONSTER WALKS and WHITE ZOMBIE from the indies. Paramount released ISLAND OF LOST SOULS at the end of 1932, a film so shocking and perverse it was banned in Britain for over a quarter century, and still manages to frighten even the most jaded of horror fans today.

Based on the novel The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells, the film begins with shipwrecked Edward Parker being rescued…

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