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!

Scenes That I Love: Nic Cage Meets The Bees in The Wicker Man Update

From the 2006 remake of The Wicker Man.

Actually, I don’t know if love is quite the right word.  I’m actually kind of annoyed that The Wicker Man has gone from being one of the best horror films of the 70s to being known for the remake’s bees scene.  That’s one reason why remakes, in general, are not a good thing.  That said, for the record, I don’t like bees either.

4 Shots From 4 Films: The Exorcist, Female Vampire, Ganja and Hess, The Wicker Man

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!

This October, we’re using 4 Shots From 4 Films to look at some of the best years that horror has to offer!

4 Shots From 4 1973 Horror Films

The Exorcist (1973, dir by William Friedkin)

Female Vampire (1973, dir by Jess Franco)

Ganja and Hess (1973, dir by Bill Gunn)

The Wicker Man (1973, dir by Robin Hardy)

Scenes That I Love: Sgt. Howie meets Lord Summerisle in The Wicker Man

From 1973’s The Wicker Man.

Christopher Lee always cited Lord Summerisle as being his favorite of all the “horror” roles that he played.  Interestingly enough, Lord Summerisle is not a vampire or a mummy or in any way a member of the undead.  He’s just an extremely pragmatic pagan, doing what he has to do preserve his power.

In this scene, Lord Summerisle meets and speaks with Sgt. Howie (Edward Woodward), who is not at all happy with Summerisle’s style of leadership.

4 Shots From 4 Christopher Lee Films: Curse of the Crimson Altar, The Wicker Man, To The Devil A Daughter, End of the World

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, we pay tribute to another great British film star with….

4 Shots From 4 Christopher Lee Films

Curse of the Crimson Altar (1968, dir by Vernon Sewell)

The Wicker Man (1973, dir by Robin Hardy)

To The Devil, A Daughter (1976, dir by Peter Sykes)

End of the World (1977, dir by John Hayes)

4 Shots From 4 1973 Horror Films: The Creeping Flesh, The Exorcist, Night Watch, The Wicker Man

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.

Since I just reviewed 1973’s Don’t Look Now, here are 4 shots from 4 other horror films that were released the same year.

4 Shots From 4 1973 Horror Films

The Creeping Flesh (1973, dir by Freddie Francis)

The Exorcist (1973, dir by William Friedkin)

Night Watch (1973, dir by Brian G. Hutton)

The Wicker Man (1973, dir by Robin Hardy)

6 Trailers In Honor Of Val’s Search For The Evil Eye

Hi, everyone!

Welcome to another special edition of Lisa Marie’s favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation film trailers!

Today, for her music video of the day post, Val took a look at the video for Josh Ritter’s The Evil Eye.  I’m the one who suggested that video to her.  Little did I know that it would lead to her watching a handful of films, all of which were either titled Evil Eye or, at the very least, has a connection to eyes that might have been evil!

So, in honor of Val’s commitment to her craft, I decided that today’s six trailers would be for six movies that Val either watched or mentioned in her review of The Evil Eye!  Unfortunately, it turns out that not all of those movies have trailers on YouTube.   And I already shared the trailer for Mario Bava’s The Girl Who Knew Too Much (a.k.a. Evil Eye) last week.

Let’s see what I did find!

  1. Bruka, Queen of Evil (1973)

I could not find a trailer for Queen of Evil.  However, when I did a search for “Queen of Evil Trailer,” one of the trailers that came up was for Bruka, Queen of Evil.  I’ve never heard of this film before but it looks like something some of our readers would like.

2. Manhattan Baby (1982)

However, YouTube did have a trailer for Lucio Fulci’s Manhattan Baby, which was also known as Evil Eye.  Actually, Evil Eye was probably a better title for it.  I’m one of the few people willing to defend this film and even I’m unsure just what exactly Manhattan Baby is supposed to mean.

3. The Green Inferno (1988)

Val’s search for information about The Evil Eye led her to Bloody-Disgusting.com, which featured an infamous review of The Green Inferno.  Here’s the trailer for 1988’s Green Inferno, which should not be mistaken for Eli Roth’s Green Inferno.

4. The Green Inferno (2015)

Here’s the trailer for Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno, which I have long defended as being a political satire.

5. The Wicker Man (1973)

Among the films cited as an inspiration for The Evil Eye video was the original Wicker Man!  This is a classic, even without bees.

6. Evil Eye (2014)

Finally, though I couldn’t find a trailer for 1975’s Evil Eye, I did find a trailer for this 2014 Evil Eye!


Music Video of The Day — Burn The Witch by Radiohead (2016, dir by Chris Hopewell)

Hi!  Lisa here with today’s music video of the day!

Today, we have the video for Radiohead’s Burn the Witch.  Through the use of stop motion animation, Burn the Witch tells a disturbing little story, one that deals with an inspector who comes to a seemingly idyllic English village and who eventually ends up getting trapped in a wicker man.  If any of this sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen either the original Wicker Man or the remake starring Nicolas Cage.  The video for Burn the Witch is actually a bit more positive than the film that inspired it.   In the video, the inspector escapes at the end.  Neither Edward Woodward nor Nic Cage were quite as lucky.

As for the song itself, it deals with the dangers of groupthink and blind obedience to authority.  Since Radiohead’s music has always possessed a libertarian streak, that’s certainly not a shock.  The video condemns not only those who would demand blind obedience but also on those who are foolish enough to give it.

Of course, with The Wicker Man theme, it’s also perfect for October!


Christopher Lee, R.I.P.


The picture above is Christopher Lee in the 1998 film Jinnah.  In this epic biopic, Lee played Muhammad Ali Jinniah, the founder of modern Pakistan.  Up until yesterday, I had never heard of Jinnah but, after news of Lee’s death broke, Jinnah was frequently cited as being Lee’s personal favorite of his many roles and films.

Consider that.  Christopher Lee began his film career in the 1940s and he worked steadily up until his death.  He played Dracula.  He played The Man with the Golden Gun.  Christopher Lee appeared, with his future best friend Peter Cushing, in Laurence Olivier’s Oscar-winning Hamlet.  He played Seurat in John Huston’s Moulin Rouge.  He appeared in both The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit trilogies.  He appeared in several films for Tim Burton.  He even had a small role in Martin Scorsese’s Hugo.  He appeared in two Star Wars prequels.  He appeared in the original Wicker Man (and reportedly considered it to be his favorite of his many horror films).  He appeared in Oscar winners and box office hits.  And, out of all that, Christopher Lee’s personal favorite was Jinnah, a film that most people have never heard about.

Unless, of course, you live in Pakistan.  When I did a google search on Christopher Lee, I came across several Pakistani news sources that announced: “Christopher Lee, star of Jinnah, has died.”

And really, that somehow seems appropriate.  Christopher Lee was the epitome of an international film star.  He worked for Hammer in the UK.  He worked with Jess Franco in Spain and Mario Bava in Italy.  He appeared in several movies in the United States.  And, in Pakistan, he played Jinnah.  And I haven’t seen Jinnah but I imagine he was probably as great in that role as he was in every other role that I saw him play.  Over the course of his long career, Christopher Lee appeared in many good films but he also appeared in his share of bad ones.  But Christopher Lee was always great.

It really is hard to know where to begin with Christopher Lee.  Though his death was announced on Thursday, I haven’t gotten around to writing this tribute until Friday.  Admittedly, when I first heard that Lee had passed away, I was on a romantic mini-vacation and had promised myself that I would avoid, as much as possible, getting online for two days.  But, even more than for those personal reasons, I hesitated because I just did not know where to start when it came to talking about Christopher Lee.  He was one of those figures who overwhelmed by his very existence.

We all know that Christopher Lee was a great and iconic actor.  And I imagine that a lot of our readers know that Lee had a wonderfully idiosyncratic musical career, releasing his first heavy metal album when he was in his 80s.  Did you know that Lee also served heroically during World War II and, after the war ended, helped to track down fleeing Nazi war criminals?  Did you know that it has been speculated that Lee may have served as one of the role models for James Bond?  (Ian Fleming was a cousin of Lee’s and even tried to convince Lee to play Dr. No in the first Bond film.)  Christopher Lee lived an amazing life, both on and off the screen.

But, whenever one reads about Christopher Lee and his career or watches an interview with the man, the thing that always comes across is that, for someone who played so many evil characters, Christopher Lee appeared to be one the nicest men that you could ever hope to meet.  Somehow, it was never a shock to learn that his best friend was his frequent screen nemesis, Peter Cushing.

Christopher Lee is one of those great actors who we assumed would always be here.  The world of cinema will be a sadder world without him.

Legends together

Legends together

Here is a list of Christopher Lee films that we’ve reviewed here on the Shattered Lens.  Admittedly, not all of these reviews focus on Lee but they do provide a hint of the man’s versatility:

  1. Airport ’77
  2. Dark Shadows
  3. Dracula A.D. 1972
  4. Dracula Has Risen From The Grave
  5. Dracula, Prince of Darkness
  6. Hercules in the Haunted World
  7. The Hobbit
  8. The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
  9. Horror Express
  10. The Horror of Dracula
  11. Hugo
  12. Jocks
  13. The Man With The Golden Gun
  14. The Satanic Rites of Dracula
  15. Scars of Dracula
  16. Scream and Scream Again
  17. Season of the Witch
  18. Starship Invasions
  19. Taste The Blood of Dracula
  20. The Wicker Tree

Sir Christopher Lee was 93 years old and he lived those 9 decades in the best way possible.  As long as there are film lovers, he will never be forgotten.

Burn “The Wicker Tree”

Honestly, friends, sometimes a person just doesn’t even know where to begin. I suppose I could individually list the catalogue of atrocities that make up writer-director Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Tree, but frankly that would mean spending more time talking about this film than I really have the energy to, and besides, our nearest thing to a “star” critic here at Through The Shattered Lens, Lisa Marie Bowman, has already done a pretty damn fine job of performing a blow-by-blow dissection of this thing’s rotted corpse in her capacity as occasional scribe over at HorrorCritic.com, so there’s no real need to duplicate what’s been done before. Allow and/or indulge me, then, as I take a slightly different tack and document my personal journey of despair with Hardy’s exercise in highly confused pointlessness.

To begin with, I should point out that the original Wicker Man is quite likely one of my ten-or-so all-time favorite films. Critics who say it’s “not actually a horror movie” are quite right, of course — it’s a unique — hell, frankly singular — amalgamation of so many different styles that the end product is well and truly unclassifiable. Part horror flick, sure, but also part musical, part (very) black comedy, part clash-of-cultures melodrama, part satire on Christian piousness, and part period-piece-albeit-in-a-then-contemporary-setting, it stands on its own as the only thing quite like it ever made. Screenwriter Anthony Shaffer perhaps put it best when he stated that his main goal was to pen a meditation on the nature of sacrifice, and everything else just sort of took off from there.

Obviously, there are so many elements about the first film that the 2011 “thematic sequel” could never hope to duplicate — songwriter Paul Giovanni is no longer with us, so right off the bat we know the music’s not going to be nearly as good because, quite frankly, it can’t be. Anthony Shaffer has passed away and therefore whatever follow-up material comes about wouldn’t in any way be his vision for how the story could or should  continue. Edward Woodward has likewise left behind this mortal coil, and his character died at the end anyway, so replicating his magnificently anally-retentive performance is probably going to prove to be out of the question, as well.  Christopher Lee is, while still awesome as hell,  also extremely frail and old at this point. And anyway — The Wicker Man still retains all its poignancy and power to this day and has only gained luster over the past 40 years. The abominable Nicolas Cage/Neil LaBute remake proved that revisiting the material was a lost cause, so why bother, five years on from that failed experiment,  with any sort of a sequel, “thematic” or otherwise?

Unfortunately, Robin Hardy wrote a book some years back called Cowboys For Christ that updated some of the concepts from his earlier film and he got the notion that it would make a decent-enough little flick. He was able to scour up $7 million-plus worth of financing, and got the folks at Anchor Bay so interested they promised not only a widespread “home viewing platform” release (and I caught this on a free screener copy that was sent my way so therefore can’t fairly comment on any extras the DVD and Blu-Ray might contain), but a even a little theatrical run, as well. It never made it to my area, and disappeared after a week from the markets it did make it into, but still —the fact that they chose to give this thing some theatrical burn when it seemingly had DTV written all over it was enough for me to, foolishly, get my hopes up.

I guess we believe what we want to believe (which is rather one of the points of the first film, after all), and a steady stream of reviews for this one that placed it at the “embarrassingly bad” end of the spectrum at worst to “maybe not quite as horrible as I’d been fearing but still pretty goddamn awful” at best weren’t enough to dampen my enthusiasm at this point. I figured it just had to be better than most folks were giving it credit for, because there’s just no conceivable way it couldn’t retain, say, at least 1/100th of the darkly charismatic charm of the first film, even if entirely by accident, right? After all, the original director was on board, and Anchor Bay wasn’t so ashamed of his finished product that they tried to hide the thing away at the bottom of some film vault (although given that it’s shot on HD, perhaps a “film” vault wouldn’t be the right place to stick it in, anyway).

It’s certainly fair to say that I wasn’t expecting greatness, or even anything of the sort, but something that still somehow cleaved to even a miniscule fraction of the spirit of the original would have been good enough for me. Unfortunately, what I got was a story about two painfully stereotypical Jesus-lovin’ Texas yokels who have gone on a mission (more typical of Mormons than of born-againers, it must be said) to evangelize in some small Scottish town that apparently has never heard the “good news.” One of our less-than-convincingly-portrayed country bumpkins, Beth Boothby (Brittania Nicol), was apparently a famous country singer with something of a “reputation” before turning her life over to Christ, while the other, her fiancee Steve Thomson (Henry Garrett), is little more just a walking, talking cowboy hat. Once in the “heathen land” of Scotland,  they enjoy the decidedly non-Southern hospitality of local nuke plant owner Sir Lachlan Morrison (Graham McTavish, in something more akin to a respectable performance than his colleagues seem capable of) and his OTT-in-the-deception-deaprtment wife, Delia (Jacqueline Leonard), but of course the dastardly couple, whose power plant has through some unexplained (and probably inexplicable, so it’s just as well Hardy doesn’t even try) means left the entire town sterile, have other plans for their simple-minded God-fearin’ visitors, plans that the Texas two-steppers are apparently too stupid to suss out even as they’re practically being openly prepared for the burning stake and, get this, the dinner table!

Yes, evidently the heathen folk of the United Kingdom’s northern reaches have taken to cannibalism in the four decades or so since our last visit, and while Hardy seems to think this somehow ups the “black comedy” factor of the proceedings, really it just serves as a cop-out by more clearly delineating who are the “good guys” here and who are the “bad guys,” a simple-minded, black-and-white approach that the first Wicker Man never resorted to even when Sgt. Howie was being burned alive (in, it must be said, one of the most visually dramatic sequences ever committed to celluloid).

And that’s a pretty much the problem at the crux of The Wicker Tree in a nutshell — sure, there are numerous and obvious others, ranging from wretched acting to dully-executed visuals to poor pacing to obvious run-time padding to inarticulate (at best) dialogue to recycled-into-a-less-involving-context story ideas to laughably one-dimensional caricatures standing in place of real, actual characters — but at the end of the day, it’s Hardy’s mistrust of his audience’s ability to make up our own collective mind, and the blatantly heavy-handed approach he takes in explaining everything for us that stems from that mistrust, that makes this such a condescending failure. I could live with the far-less-subtle approach to the “clash of cultures” theme that he takes here in comparison with the first film. I could live with the nowhere-near-as-compelling music. I could live with the rather — uhmmm — “broad strokes” with which he paints each and every character . I could live with the pointless and frankly even a bit insulting to the guy Christopher Lee cameo. Hell, I could even live with the Christian turning the tables on her pagan pursuers and winning in the end. But what I absolutely can’t abide is that Hardy thinks we’re all so unsophisticated and beneath the task of understanding his apparently-in-his-mind-quite-complex-and-challenging-themes that we need for him to hammer them home with a with a burning wicker stake through our heads. He’s had 40 years to think about how he wants to follow up a genuine, justly-lauded classic and this is what he comes up with? Set fire to me now, please, before the third installment, which he’s already working on, ever sees the light of day.