Horror on TV: One Step Beyond 3.26 “Signal Received” (dir by John Newland)


Starting tomorrow, we’ll be showcasing a new show here on the Shattered Lens so, for tonight, here’s the last episode of One Step Beyond that we’ll be sharing during this year’s horrorthon.

(If you’ve enjoyed these episodes, all three seasons of One Step Beyond have been uploaded to YouTube.)

Tonight’s episode tells the story of three sailors who hear an unexpected message on the radio.  Two of the sailors hear that their ship will soon sink.  The third sailor hears that he will live a long and fulfilling life.

One Step Beyond always claimed that all of its stories were “based on fact.”  This episode actually goes the extra mile by interviewing one of the real-life sailors about the message and about whether or not he believes in the supernatural.

Enjoy!

Lisa Watches An Oscar Nominee: Auntie Mame (dir by Morton DaCosta)


Oh Lord, Auntie Mame.

There were two reasons why I watched the 1958 film Auntie Mame.

First off, as I’ve mentioned before, TCM has been doing their 31 Days of Oscar this month.  They’ve been showing a lot of films — both good and bad — that were nominated for best picture.  Since it’s long been my goal to see and review every single film that has ever nominated for best picture, I have made it a point to DVR and watch every best picture nominee that has shown up on TCM this month.  Auntie Mame was nominated for best picture of 1958 and was broadcast on TCM this month so I really had no choice but to watch it.

My other reason for wanting to see Auntie Mame was because, when I was 19, I was cast in a community theater production of Mame.  (Mame, of course, is the musical version of Auntie Mame.)  Though everyone who saw the auditions agreed that I should have played the role of Gloria Upson, I was cast in the ensemble.  (Gloria was played by the daughter of a friend of the director.  Typical community theater politics.)  As a member of the ensemble, I didn’t get any lines but I still had fun.  In the opening party scene, I dressed up like a flapper and I got to show off my legs.  And then in another scene, I was an artist’s model and I got show off my cleavage.  (If you don’t use being in the ensemble as an excuse to show off what you’ve got, you’re doing community theater wrong.)  Towards the end of the play, I appeared as one of Gloria’s friends and whenever she delivered her lines, I would make sure to have the most over-the-top reactions possible.  She may have stolen the part but I stole the scene.  It was a lot of fun.

But, even while I was having fun, I have to admit that I didn’t care much for Mame.  It was an extremely long and kind of annoying show and there’s only so many times you can listen to someone sing We Need A Little Christmas before you’re tempted to rip out the hair of the actress who stole the role of Gloria Upson from you.

So, when I recently sat down and watched Auntie Mame, I was genuinely curious to see if the story itself worked better without everyone breaking out into song.  After all, Auntie Mame was the number one box office hit of 1958, it was nominated for best picture, and it was apparently so beloved that it inspired a musical!  There had to be something good about it, right!?

Right.

Auntie Mame tells the story of Mame Dennis (Rosalind Russell, attempting to be manic and just coming across as hyper) who is rich and quirky and irrepressibly irresponsible.  When her brother dies, Mame suddenly finds herself entrusted with raising his son, Patrick (played, as a child, by the charmless Jan Hadzlik and, as an adult, by the stiff Roger Smith).  Mame is a wild nonconformist (which I suppose is easy to be when you’ve got as much money as she does) and she tries to teach Patrick to always think for himself.  However, once Patrick grows up and decides that he wants to marry snobby Gloria Upson, Mame decides maybe Patrick shouldn’t think for himself and goes out of her way to prevent the wedding.

Auntie Mame is an episodic film that follows Mame as she goes through a series of oppressively zany adventures.  When the Great Depression hits, she’s forced to work as an actress, a saleswoman, and a telephone operator and she’s not very good at any of them.  She does eventually meet and marry the wealthy Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside (Forrest Tucker).  As you can probably guess from the man’s name, he’s supposed to be from the south.  (And yet Tucker plays the role with a western accent…)  He loves Mame but then he ends up falling off a mountain.  So much for Beau.

(In the production of Mame that I appeared in, Beau was played by this 50 year-old guy who simply would not stop hitting on me and every other girl in the cast and who was always “accidentally” entering the dressing room while we were all changing.  Whenever Mame mentioned Beau’s death, all of us ensemble girls would cheer backstage.)

Anyway, as a film, Auntie Mame doesn’t hold up extremely well.  I can understand, to an extent, why it was so popular when it was first released.  It was an elaborate adaptation of a Broadway play and, in 1958, I’m sure that its theme of nonconformity probably seemed somewhat daring.  When you watch it today, though, the whole film seems almost oppressively heavy-handed and simplistic.  It’s easy to embrace Mame’s philosophy when everyone else in the film is essentially a sitcom creation.

As I mentioned previously, Auntie Mame was nominated for best picture.  However, it lost to the musical Gigi.

Horror on The Lens: The Maze (dir by William Cameron Menzies)


For today’s Horror on the Lens, we offer up The Maze, a film from 1953 that originally released in 3D.

Directed by noted set designer William Cameron Menzies, The Maze is an atmospheric haunted castle story, one that will prevent you from ever looking at a frog the same way again.  A few months ago, I watched this with my friends in the Late Night Movie Gang and we all greatly enjoyed it.

As I watched The Maze, I couldn’t help but think about some of the truly impressive hedge mazes that I made in my Sims game.  Of course, I always placed some fireworks at the end of the maze, which, unfortunately, often led to both the maze and my sims being consumed by fire.  Oh well.

Anyway, enjoy The Maze!

Horror on TV: Twilight Zone 2.5 “The Howling Man”


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This is one of my favorite episode of The Twilight Zone. I originally shared it two years ago but it has subsequently been taken off of YouTube. At first, that upset me but then I realized that it gave me the perfect excuse to share it again!


In The Howling Man, American wanderer Dave Ellington (H.M. Wynant) comes across a castle. There’s a man (Robin Hughes) being held prisoner in the castle. Brother Jerome (the great John Carradine) explains that the man is the devil. The man says that Brother Jerome is crazy. Dave Ellington has to decide who to believe.


This well-acted, dream-like episode was written by Charles Beaumont and directed by Douglas Heyes. It originally aired on November 4th, 1960.


Horror on TV: Twilight Zone — “The Howling Man”


Tonight’s offering of Horror on TV is another episode of The Twilight Zone.

In The Howling Man, H.M. Wynant plays a rational man who, during a walk across Europe, finds himself in an isolated monastery.  Wynant discovers a bearded prisoner (played by Robin Hughes) who explains that he’s being held prisoner because he was caught kissing his girlfriend in public.  However, Brother Jerome (played by the legendary John Carradine) claims that Hughes is the devil himself!  It’s left up to Wynant whether to set the man free or to leave him imprisoned…

Written by Charles Beaumont and directed by Douglas Heyes, The Howling Man is a favorite of mine.  Not only does the show establish and maintain an atmosphere of palpable menace but it also features a brilliant ending.

Enjoy The Howling Man.