Hi there and Happy October 4th! For today’s treat from the ranks of horror films that have fallen into the public domain, I present to you one of the most important films in horror history. Though it wasn’t appreciated when it was first released back in 1964, The Last Man On Earth was not only the 1st Italian horror film but George Romero has also acknowledged it as an influence on his own Night of the Living Dead.
It’s easy to be a little bit dismissive of The Last Man On Earth. After all, the low-budget is obvious in every scene, the dubbing is off even by the standards of Italian horror, and just the name “Vincent Price” in the credits leads one to suspect that this will be another campy, B-movie. Perhaps that’s why I’m always surprised to rediscover that, taking all things into consideration, this is actually a pretty effective film. Price does have a few over-the-top moments but, for the most part, he gives one of his better performances here and the black-and-white images have an isolated, desolate starkness to them that go a long way towards making this film’s apocalypse a convincing one. The mass cremation scene always leaves me feeling rather uneasy.
The film is based on Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend and no, it’s nowhere as good as the book. However, it’s a lot better than the Will Smith version.
If you have 87 minutes to kill, please enjoy The Last Man On The Earth.
The great Vincent Price passed away 25 years ago today.
In honor of his memory, today’s horror scene that I love is from the 1964 film, The Last Man On Earth. Based on Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend, The Last Man On Earth stars Vincent Price as John Neville, a man who believes that he’s the sole survivor of a plague that has transformed all of humanity into vampires.
It’s not a bad film and it features one of Price’s best performances. In this scene, he watches home movies of his family, movies that were filmed before the world ended. As he watches, he goes from laughter to tears.
For tonight’s televised horror, we have another episode of the Boris Karloff-hosted anthology series, Thriller!
Like many of the Thriller episodes that we’ve shared this month, this episode deals with an inheritance and a possibly haunted house. Ellis Corbett (John Newland, who also directed) promises his uncle that, after his uncle’s death, Ellis will never leave the family mansion and that he will always check to make sure that the crypt has not been disturbed. The uncle promptly kills himself and Ellis soon discovers just why exactly he cannot leave the mansion.
This atmospheric episode features a script by Richard Matheson and a frightening performance from Reggie Nalder, who is best known for his roles in both The Man Who Knew Too Much and Salem’s Lot!
For today’s horror on the lens, we have 1973’s The Night Strangler.
This is the sequel to The Night Stalker and it features journalist Carl Kolchak (Darren McGavin) in Seattle. (After all the stuff that happened during the previous movie, Kolchak was kicked out of Las Vegas.) When Kolchak investigates yet another series of murders, he discovers that paranormal murders don’t just occur in Las Vegas and aren’t just committed by vampires.
I actually prefer this movie to The Night Stalker. The Night Strangler features a truly creepy villain, as well as a trip down to an “underground city.” It’s full of ominous atmosphere and, as always, Darren McGavin is a lot of fun to watch in the role in Kolchak.
Miss Tallulah Bankhead jumped on the “Older Women Do Horror” bandwagon with 1965’s DIE! DIE! MY DARLING!, a deliciously dark piece of British horror from the good folks at Hammer. It was Tallulah’s first screen appearance since 1953’s MAIN STREET TO BROADWAY, and the veteran actress is a ball of fire and brimstone playing the mad Mrs. Trefoile, a feisty religious fanatic who locks up her late son’s former fiancé in an attic room in order to save her mortal soul.
Things start out innocently enough, as American Patricia Carroll (Stefanie Powers) travels to England to be with her new fiancé Alan Glentower (Maurice Kaufman). She’s received a letter from her deceased ex’s mother and agrees to pay her a visit, despite Alan’s protestations. Driving to Mrs. Trefoile’s ramshackle old farmhouse, Pat discovers the old woman’s more than a bit odd, holding daily church service for her servants, dressing all…
For today’s horror on the lens, how about a little werwolf action?
In the 1974 made-for-TV movie, Scream of the Wolf, Peter Graves is a writer who is asked to help solve a series of mysterious murders. The fact that both human footprints and wolf tracks have been found at each murder scene has led some people to assume that the killer must be a werewolf! Will Graves be able to prove them wrong or will it turn out that they are right? Graves calls in a famous hunter (Clint Walker) to help track down the killer but it turns out that the hunter has secrets of his own.
I’m going to guess that, like Baffled!, Scream of the Wolf was a pilot disguised a movie. I assume that the hope was that the movie would lead to a series where Peter Graves would solve a different paranormal mystery every week.
Well, that series never materialized by Scream of the Wolf is still an enjoyable film. The screenplay was by none other than Richard Matheson while made-for-TV horror specialist Dan Curtis sat in the director’s chair.
In the end, Scream of the Wolf is only 72 minutes long and I know for a fact that you don’t have anything better to do right now. I watched this movie two months ago with Patrick Smith and the Late Night Movie Gang and we had a blast.
Let’s kick off the third annual “Halloween Havoc” with Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff, Hazel Court, young Jack Nicholson , director Roger Corman , screenwriter Richard Matheson , and an “idea” by Edgar Allan Poe. How’s that for an all-star horror crew? The film is THE RAVEN, Corman’s spoof of all those Price/Poe movies he was famous for, a go-for-the-throat comedy guaranteed to make you spill your guts with laughter!
Sorcerer Erasmus Craven (Price ), still pining for his late, lost Lenore, hears someone gently rapping on his chamber door… er, window. It’s a raven, a talking raven, in reality Adolpho Bedlo (Lorre ), who’s been put under a spell by the Grand Master of magicians, Dr. Scarabus (Karloff ), who like Craven is adept at “magic by gesture”. After Craven mixes up a potion to reverse the spell, Bedlo tells him he’s seen Lenore alive at Scarabus’s castle.