4 Shots From 4 Boris Karloff Films: The Black Cat, The Walking Dead, The Terror, The Sorcerers


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.

For our final 4 Shots From 4 Films of this October season, we pay tribute to William Henry Pratt, the patron saint of horror cinema, with….

4 Shots From 4 Boris Karloff Films

The Black Cat (1934, dir by Edgar G. Ulmer)

The Walking Dead (1936, dir by Michael Curtiz)

The Terror (1963, dir by Roger Corman, et al)

The Sorcerers (1967, dir by Michael Reeves)

Horror Film Review: The Walking Dead (dir by Michael Curtiz)


In this 1936 film (which has absolutely no relation to the AMC zombie show), Boris Karloff plays John Ellman.  John Ellman is perhaps one of the unluckiest guys ever.  Seriously check this out:

John Ellman was once an acclaimed concert pianist.  However, he was wrongly convicted of killing his wife and spent ten years in prison.  Now that he’s finally been paroled, he can’t get anyone to hire him.  Meanwhile, the judge who originally sent him to prison is in the news for having defied the mob and sentenced a well-known gangster to prison.  The mob is out for revenge but, rather than take the fall themselves, they’d rather frame a patsy.  And who could be a better patsy than a man who everyone already knows has a grudge against the judge?

Nolan (Ricardo Cortez), a crooked lawyer, arranges for Ellman to be given a job.  Ellman is told that he simply has to spy on the judge for a few nights to determine whether the judge is having an extramarital affair.  Ellman agrees and soon finds himself being set up.  The gangsters kill the judge and plant the body in Ellman’s car.  Ellman is arrested and sentenced to die.  It doesn’t matter that there are witnesses who know that Ellman’s innocent.  No one is willing to cross the mafia.

Ellman is convicted and promptly executed but his story isn’t over.  A scientist named Dr. Beaumont (Edmund Gwenn, who later played the man who might be Santa Claus in Miracle on 34th Street) knows that Ellman is innocent.  He takes Ellman’s body and, through an artificial heart and a bunch of other science-y things, he manages to revive Ellman.  John Ellman lives again!  Of course, he’s a bit of a zombie now and he doesn’t have any memory of his former life.  And yet, he instinctively knows who set him up to be executed and he sets out for revenge.

What’s interesting is that Ellman doesn’t kill anyone.  Even after he’s revived and presumably has no concept of right and wrong, John Ellman remains a rather passive zombie.  For the most part, the racketeers die because of how they react to the sight of the previously dead Ellman coming towards them.  For that matter, Beaumont isn’t the typical mad scientist that you might expect to turn up in a film like this.  He’s a benevolent man who was simply doing what he thought was the right thing.  Though the film ends with a warning about playing God, one can’t hep but get the feeling that, unlike Frankenstein, the film is overall very supportive of the idea of reviving the dead.

Directed by Michael Curtiz (who also did Casablanca, Mildred Pierce, The Adventures of Robin Hood, and countless other classic films), The Walking Dead is a combination horror/gangster film.  The film’s plot is a bit too convoluted for its own good but, overall, The Walking Dead works because of Boris Karloff’s performance.  He’s poignantly pathetic as the living John Ellman and then rather chilling as the vengeance-driven, recently revived Ellman.  The film’s most effective scenes are the ones where he just stares at his enemies, fixing them with a gaze that takes no prisoners and offers no hope.  It’s a great performance that elevates an otherwise uneven film.

Weekly Trailer Round-Up: Glass, Aquaman, Shazam, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Gridenwald, Patient Zero, I Still See You, Second Act, On The Basis of Sex, The Walking Dead


First, in 2000, there was Unbreakable.  Then, 16 years later, there was Split.  This January, M. Night Shyamalan brings us the third part of his Eastrail 177 trilogy, Glass.  The first trailer for Glass was dropped at SDCC this weekend and it leads off this week’s trailer round-up.

Also dropping at SDCC was the first trailer for Aquaman.  The DC hero that everyone loves to ridicule is finally get a movie of his very own.  The trailer hints at the origins of Arthur Curry, features the expected underwater action, and features enough ironic line readings that it could almost pass for the latest entry in the MCU.

If Glass and Aquaman are not heroic enough for you, there is always Shazam.  Back in the 1940s, Shazam was known as Captain Marvel and his adventures were published by Fawcett.  Claiming that Captain Marvel was clear rip-off of Superman, DC attempted to sue Fawcett out of business and then purchased the character, renaming him Shazam.  Now, Shazam is coming to theaters.  Shazam’s appeal has always been retro so, naturally, the trailer is full of references to Game of Thrones and self-reflexive humor.

Following the 2014 Godzilla reboot and Kong: Skull Island, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is the third chapter in Legendary’s Monsterverse.  This one will see Godzilla meeting Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah.  Godzilla: King of the Monsters will be released on May 31st, 2019.

Also released at SDCC was the latest trailer for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Gridenwald.  Fantastic Beasts will be released on November 16th.

In Patient Zero, Matt Smith and Natalie Dormer try to find a cure for a virus that is transforming humanity into zombies.  The film is scheduled to be released through video-on-demand on 14 August 2018, before a limited theatrical release on 14 September 2018.

I Still See You is the latest B-movie to feature Bella Thorne getting stalked.  Will you see I Still See You when it’s released on October 12th?

In the upcoming comedy, Second Act, Jennifer Lopez plays an ambitious woman who is mistaken for a high-level business consultant.  With a plot like that, Second Act sounds like it could be the funniest film of 2004.  Second Act will be released on November 21st, 2018.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg has already been the subject of one of the year’s most successful documentaries.  She gets the biopic treatment with On The Basis of Sex.  Felicity Jones plays Ginsburg while Mimi Leder returns from her cinematic exile to handle directing duties.  On The Basis of Sex will be released on December 25th.

Finally, the trailer for the 9th season of The Walking Dead dropped at SDCC and promised a new world with new rules.  Season 9 premieres on October 7th.

 

Goodbye, Rick Grimes: Andrew Lincoln Is Leaving The Walking Dead


According to Collider, the next season of The Walking Dead will be Andrew Lincoln’s last.  After eight seasons as the star of The Walking Dead, Lincoln is apparently ready to move on and that means that The Walking Dead is about to lose Rick Grimes.

Of course, the television show began with Rick Grimes waking up from a coma and finding himself in a world that was far different from the one that he remembered.  In the early seasons especially, Rick stood-in for the audience.  We discovered the realities of the zombie apocalypse at the same time that Rick did.  When we were upset over the death of a character, Rick got upset with us.  When Rick hoped that a new, better world could somehow be created from the ruins of the old, we hoped along with him.  Among an ensemble cast that was filled with talent, Andrew Lincoln was the often underappreciated anchor that held the show’s narrative together.

Of course, many would argue that the show lost its way over the last few seasons.  I certainly would.  As the show grew more inconsistent, so did Rick’s character.  Often times, it seemed like Rick’s personality would change from episode to episode, depending on what the show was trying to accomplish that week.  It’s hard not to feel that, as an actor, Andrew Lincoln deserved better than to have to spend the majority of season seven in a nearly catatonic state, silently suffering as Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Negan devoured every inch of scenery.

And yet, Andrew Lincoln was always good.  Sometimes, the scripts were weak.  Sometimes, Rick was required to do things that didn’t make much sense.  But, through it all, Lincoln remained the anchor.  For all intents and purposes, he was The Walking Dead.

In much the same way that Lost simply had no choice but to end with Jack Shepherd sacrificing his life on the island, I’ve always felt that The Walking Dead had little choice but to end with Rick dying.  The show has always been his story and it’s always seemed that, when Rick’s life ended, so would the show.  Of course, the perfect ending would have been for Rick to die and Carl to pick up the mantle of leadership.  Unfortunately, Carl’s dead so that’s not going to happen.

(I realize that the Collider article stated that Lincoln was leaving the show and not that Rick was going to be killed off.  But, honestly, it’s hard to imagine this show not milking Rick’s death for all the drama that it can.  And, at this point, it would feel like a cop out not to kill him.  That’s just not the way things work in the world of The Walking Dead.)

Who will take over as the new leader on The Walking Dead?  Maggie was an obvious choice but Lauren Cohan just had a pilot picked up by ABC.  (Of course, there’s no guarantee that the ABC series will be a success.  For one thing, it’s entitled Whiskey Cavalier, which is one of the stupidest titles I’ve ever come across.)  Norman Reedus just managed to get himself a nice pay raise, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Daryl become even more prominent.  Or Negan might suddenly turn into a good guy and become the new leader.  Who knows?  About the only thing we can say for sure is that, with Carl dead and Rick leaving, the show is inevitably going to move further away from the comic that inspired it.

Though they’re two very different shows, it’s hard for me not to compare Andrew Lincoln leaving The Walking Dead to Steve Carell leaving The Office.  Let’s just hope that Rick’s replacement won’t be Andy Bernard.

Finally, in honor of the legacy Rick Grimes…

Those schoolgirl days of telling tales and biting nails are gone
But in my mind I know they will still live on and on
But how do you thank someone who has taken you from crayons to perfume?
It isn’t easy, but I’ll try
If you wanted the sky I would write across the sky in letters
That would soar a thousand feet high ‘To Sir, With Love’
The time has come for closing books and long last looks must end
And as I leave I know that I am leaving my best friend
A friend who taught me right from wrong and weak from strong
That’s a lot to learn, but what can I give you in return?
If you wanted the moon I would try to make a start
But I would rather you let me give my heart ‘To Sir, With Love’

TV Review: The Walking Dead 8.9 “Honor” (dir by Greg Nicotero)


So, has everyone seen the latest episode of The Walking Dead?  If not, why are you reading this review?  I ask because, on another site that I write for, I’ve got two people bitching at me for revealing too many spoilers about the shows that I review and, as a result, I felt the need to post an apology to those people.  As far as apologies go, it was fairly passive-aggressive and I’d hate to have to be that insincere on this site.  So, in other words, if you haven’t watched the latest episode of The Walking Dead, don’t read this review.  Thanks!

(Okay, I think I’ve rambled on long enough that anyone who didn’t want spoilers should have left by now.)

On Sunday night, the eighth season of AMC’s The Walking Dead resumed and oh my God, I have got such mixed feelings about what I just watched.  Before I go any further, allow me to share something that I tweeted back in April of 2017:

In other words, I can’t say that I’m shocked that Carl’s dead.  In fact, to a certain extent, I kind of respect the show for following through as opposed to coming up with some last-minute contrivance to allow Carl to live.  At the same time, I do think that the death of Carl has robbed the show of some potentially intriguing future storylines.  In the comic, Carl is still alive and he’s even bonded a bit with Negan.  During Season 7, the show seemed to be laying the foundation for that storyline but apparently, Negan’s going to have to bond with some other kid now.  Maybe Henry.  Maybe Judith.

I guess the main thing that bothers me about Carl’s death is that I really do feel that it was mostly due to the fact that the show’s pace has slowed down to such an extent that Chandler Riggs was getting too old to play the role. The Walking Dead has been on the air for 8 seasons but how many years have actually passed in the show?  It’s hard to say but really, it doesn’t seem like Carl should be any older than 14 or maybe 15.  Meanwhile, Chandler Riggs is closing in on 19.  It’s hard not to feel that the show’s producers decided to kill Carl off rather than maybe just wrap up a few storylines and have season 9 open with a “Four years after the defeat of the Saviors” title card.

Myself, I’ve frequently gotten annoyed with Carl as a character, even though I’ve always appreciated Chandler Riggs’s performance.  That said, Carl was one of the few characters left on the show with room to grow.  Rick is never going to change.  If Negan does become the friendly gardener that we saw in Carl’s fantasy, it’s going to have more to do with expedience than anything else.  Carl, though, was still discovering who he was and what he believed.  The majority of the characters have spent the last three or four seasons in a rut.  By virtue of being young, Carl was one of the few characters who actually had a chance of breaking out of that rut.

I mean, to be absolutely honest, I always assumed that the show would end with Carl shooting Rick before he could reanimate.  If you go all the way back to season 1, that’s the ending that the show has appeared to be logically building up to.  Now, I guess Judith will have to do it.

As for the episode itself … again, my feelings were mixed.  This episode was determined to wring every last drop of emotion out of Carl’s passing.  When it worked, it was largely due to the performances of Riggs, Danai Gurira, and the always underrated Andrew Lincoln.  At the same time, there was a part of me that started to resent just how much the show dragged out Carl’s death.  I know that AMC likes to do “super-sized” episodes of The Walking Death but, in this case, I think this episode would have been more effective if it had just been an hour.  Yes, that single gunshot was heart-rendering but, up until I heard it, there was a part of me that feared the show was planning to drag Carl’s death out over the entire rest of the season.

While Carl was dying, Carol, Morgan, and a few other people went off to rescue Ezekiel.  Gavin, who was always one of the most obnoxious of the Saviors, is now dead and yay for that.  Morgan has apparently decided that he’s okay with killing people again.  Morgan also apparently now has Jason Voorhees-style super strength.

It wasn’t a bad episode, though it certainly didn’t carry the power that it would have carried if it had happened during the fourth or fifth season.  On the one hand, I’ve always appreciated the fact that anyone can die on The Walking Dead.  On the other hand, characters die so frequently (and then pop up on the Talking Dead to say goodbye) that it’s now easy to get cynical about the whole thing.

In fact, it may be too early to say whether The Walking Dead handled Carl’s death the right way.  It depends on how this all plays out.  Will the show use Carl’s death as an excuse to go off in an unexpected direction or will we promptly get back to Negan chuckling and Rick giving speeches?  I’m actually looking forward to next week, just because I’m interested in seeing which Rick we’re going to get.  Are we going to get the crazy Rick who appeared after Lori died or are we going to get the catatonic Rick who showed up after Negan executed Abraham and Glenn?  Or maybe it’ll be the return of the Stoic Rick who shot zombie Sophia because he knew he had no other choice.  Which Rick will it be?

We’ll find out next week … hopefully.

 

TV Review: The Walking Dead 8.8 “How It’s Gotta Be” (dir by Michael E. Satrazemis)


SPOILER ALERT!  DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW UNLESS YOU’VE WATCHED THE LATEST EPISODE OF THE WALKING DEAD!  SERIOUSLY, I’M NOT KIDDING!

Right now, I would say that 75% of The Walking Dead fandom is heartbroken.  The end of tonight’s episode has generated some very real angst among some people.

As for me, I’m actually feeling rather proud of myself because I predicted that all this would happen.  I predicted it way back on November 5th and I’ve even got the tweet to prove it.  But, before I go on, I think it might be good to consider the words of a song from 1965.  Here are the Poets with That’s Way It’s Got To Be:

See, it all gets back to what has always been the underlying theme of The Walking Dead.  Nobody is going to get out of this show alive.  It doesn’t matter how good you are.  It doesn’t matter how likable you are.  It doesn’t matter how much the audience loves you.  Everyone on this show is eventually going to die.  The only question is whether someone will be around to keep them from reanimating afterward.  Negan, Rick, Maggie, Carol, Daryl, Michonne, Eugene … none of them are going to get out of this alive.  Death will come for everyone eventually and tonight, it appears that it’s coming for Carl.

As I tweeted on November 5th…

Tonight’s episode featured a lot of Carl.  When Negan and the Saviors showed up at Alexandria and demanded that Rick be given to them, Carl is the one who offered to sacrifice his life so that the rest could live.  (And, of course, we now know why Carl was willing to do that.  He literally had nothing to lose.)  When the Saviors were blowing up Alexandria, we watched as Carl made his way through the flaming wreckage of his former home.  Throughout the show, we got flashbacks of Carl arguing with Rick about Rick’s harsh philosophy.  Tonight, we saw more of Carl then we’ve seen in a while and I spent the whole show assuming that meant that Carl was probably not going to come to a good end…

But still, it’s hard to overstate the emotional impact of seeing Carl there at the end, bitten by a walker and fighting to breathe.  As Chris Hardwick and Khary Payton stated at the start of Talking Dead, Chandler Riggs really did grow up over the past few seasons of The Walking Dead.  It’s always kind of been easy to make jokes at Carl’s expense.  Early on in the show, it always seemed inevitable that he would end up getting lost or picked up the by the wrong people.  Whenever I live tweeted those early seasons of The Walking Dead, I almost always suggested that the ideal solution to almost any problem would be to sacrifice Carl.  But tonight, Chandler Riggs showed why Carl has become a favorite of many fans of this show.  The episode ended with Carl still alive but fading.  Will he die?  I really don’t see how he can’t.  He’s been bitten on his side so it’s not like they can just chop off a limb, like they did with Herschel.  If the show is to have any integrity, Carl has to die and he will be missed.

Up until that final scene with Carl, tonight’s episode could have just as easily been called “Everyone Better Do What Rick Says.”  Darryl took it upon himself to crash that truck into wall of the Sanctuary, which is actually what Rick did not want him to do.  As a result, the Saviors escaped, were able to launch a counter attack, destroy Alexandria, and take over The Kingdom.  Carl, meanwhile, went off on his own, helped out Siddiq, and ended up getting bitten for his trouble.  From now on, everyone better listen to Rick.

Rick got the line of the night when he asked Negan, “Don’t you ever shut the Hell up?”  That’s something that I’ve been wondering for a season and a half now.  Tonight, Negan actually lived up to his fearsome reputation.  As for the other Saviors, Simon made me say, “Oh God, this fucking guy again…” as soon as he got out of that truck and Gavin came across like a teacher trying to control an unruly classroom.  I guess Dwight is officially a part of Rick’s group now.

This was sometimes a hard episode to watch, not because it was bad but because it literally took place in the dark.  All of the action played out at night and the show actually did good job of using the darkness to its advantage.  There was an eerie and horrible beauty to scenes of Alexandria burning to the ground.

But you know what?

In the end, all anyone is going to remember about this episode is that final scene with Carl.

That’s the way it’s got to be.

And with that, The Walking Dead is on hiatus.  Season 8 will resume in 2018 and so will our coverage!

TV Review: The Walking Dead 8.7 “Time For After” (dir by Larry Teng)


This review of the latest episode of The Walking Dead is an example of better late than never.  This episode aired nearly a week ago but I’m only now getting around to watching it.  As I sit here watching and typing this review, it is 2 a.m., Saturday morning.  I’ve just returned from attending two Christmas parties.  I was actually thinking about getting some sleep for once, but then I suddenly realized that I still had an episode of The Walking Dead to watch!

That, of course, wouldn’t have happened in the past.  When The Walking Dead first started, there would have been no way that I would have waited a week to watch the latest episode.  That was before the show settled into its current glacial pace.  At this point, it typically takes this show so long to get from point A to point B that viewers like me spend entire episodes asking, “Are we there yet?”

For example, as I sit here typing this, I am watching Daryl, Michonne, Rosita, and Tara debating about whether or not they should attack the Sanctuary or if they should wait for Rick.  (Rick is currently being held prisoner by the trash people.)  Morgan just walked up and said that he’s tired of talking and he just wants to take action.  YES, MORGAN, YES!  For God’s sake, let’s end the debate and just do something!  No, we don’t need to hear about how Michonne “believes in Rick Grimes.”  We don’t need to hear about how everyone felt when they saw Sasha in that box.  We already know all of this because we’ve spent two seasons listening to everyone have this exact same goddamn conversation over and over again!  Just do something!

The episode is now over and, in all fairness to the show, it should be noted that Daryl did finally do something.  He and Tara crashed a truck through a wall of the Sanctuary, allowing a mass of walkers to enter and chow down on a few Saviors and, even more importantly, it forced the Saviors to waste their bullets defending themselves.  However, since Daryl took this action on his own as opposed to waiting for Rick to get out of the trash prison, the show still had to present it as being some sort of mistake.  The show has too much invested in presenting Rick as being a strategic genius to actually acknowledge that anyone else could actually have a good idea.

Watching the walking dead feast on his new Savior buddies was apparently enough to convince Eugene to (once again) declare his loyalty to Negan.  Despite his recent troubles, Negan still seems to be having fun.  Fortunately, the show’s writers seem to have finally figured out that Negan is more effective the less we see of him.  As for Eugene, well — he’s Eugene.  This episode featured peak Eugene.  If Eugene’s overly convoluted syntax occasionally makes you want to rip your hair out, you were probably bald by the end of this episode.  You have to respect Josh McDermitt’s commitment to the role.  Eugene may be annoying but McDermitt plays the Hell out of him.  Eugene’s ultimate loyalties, of course, still remain questionable.  He knows that Dwight betrayed the Saviors but he still hasn’t told Negan.  He showed some sympathy to Father Gabriel (who is apparently dying because he covered himself with intestines a few episodes ago) but he still declared that he was loyal only to himself.

As for Rick, he did eventually get out of the trash prison and convinced Jadis to join him in his fight against Negan.  Jadis was impressed when Rick killed a walker gladiator.  Jadis also wants to sculpt Rick.  How are the trash people not dead yet?

(Apparently, the trash people prefer to be known as Scavangers.  However, I’m going to continue to call them trash people because they annoy da fug out of me.)

Anyway!  This episode ended with Rick and the trash people rolling up on the Sanctuary.  Oh my God!  There’s a hole in the Sanctuary!  There’s no walkers!  Uh-oh, Daryl did something on his own!  Rick’s never going to let that go…

One more episode before The Walking Dead goes on its mid-season hiatus!  Who will die this Sunday?  My prediction: Father Gabriel.  The show’s never really figured out what to do with Gabriel so now seems like a good time to let him go down as a martyr.

We’ll see what happens!