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RE: Universal Horror - 21/6/2010 12:20:07 PM   
Dr Lenera

 

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Joined: 19/10/2005
Cheers mate, thanks for your comments. I agree, Thesiger's performance in The Old Dark House is also fantastic, don't remember him being in The Robe though and I've seen that a couple of times.

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Post #: 31
RE: Universal Horror - 28/6/2010 4:46:50 PM   
Dr Lenera

 

Posts: 3945
Joined: 19/10/2005
DRACULA'S DAUGHTER [1936]

After Dracula's staked body has been found, the police arrest Van Helsing and refuse to believe what he says. Meanwhile the Countess Marya Zaleska arrives in England, removes Dracula's body and cremates it. She's also a vampire but is trying to fight it, however urged by her scary aide Sandor she sets about vampirising people anyway and the police free Van Helsing to catch her. However Marya has found a psychiatrist Jeffrey who she wants to help her and he starts to be more interested in her than his fiancee......

This sequel to Dracula is, despite the absence of Bela Lugosi, in many ways a better movie and deserves to be far better known. Featuring probably the first [and indeed the last for a very long time] sympathetic vampire, it's a downbeat, low key but really compelling outing, and one that simply oozes with Gothic ambience, so much so that I'm surprised that Goths and the like in particular haven't taken to this movie.  Take the scene where Marya cremates her father's [well, that's cleverly kept in doubt], it's a darkly beautiful tableaux with a real deathly mood. Things starts off slowly with a little too much of a pair of comedy policemen, but as soon as Marya takes Dracula's body from the police station in one of several very unusual sequences, things really go up some notches and stay there, the pace remains leisurely and perhaps never really kicks into high gear but the plot progresses almost logically while still keeping you guessing some of the outcome, the atmosphere is superbly sustained and even the dialogue is excellent, especially the sparking talk between Jeffrey and his fiance. The vampire scenes are mostly no stronger than those in Dracula but there's one extroadinary scene where Marya seduces and bites a woman, which I'm surprised wasn't cut at the time, the lesbian elements are very obvious. Gloria Holden gives a very strong performance as Marya and convincingly portrays a monster struggling against it's real nature and Otto Kruger is a more interesting young 'hero' than usual though Edward Van Sloan's Van Helsing doesn't really seem to do anything until the final third. A minor gem.
8/10

< Message edited by Dr Lenera -- 4/8/2010 10:29:02 PM >


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Post #: 32
RE: Universal Horror - 28/6/2010 4:48:11 PM   
Dr Lenera

 

Posts: 3945
Joined: 19/10/2005
SON OF FRANKENSTEIN [1939]

Wolf Frankenstein, the son of Henry Frankenstein, returns home with his wife Elsa to claim his family estate and is met with hostility from the villagers. Exploring the remains of his father's laboratory, he encounters the crippled Igor who once survived being hung, who has the Monster under his control and wants Wolf to restore him to his full strength. Wolf refuses, but then a series of murders starts ocurring, and all the victims were people involved with the hanging of Igor.......

Any sequel coming after the superb Frankenstein and the incredible Bride Of Frankenstein would be doomed to be a disappointment, and Son Of Frankenstein sure enough is a big letdown, though it's an okay movie in it's own right. Very talky, the film doesn't really have much of a plot and is distinctly lacking in invention and originality, the worst victim of this being the Monster, who, despite still being played by Boris Karloff in his last outing as the creature, is given very little to do.  The main interest of the film lies then in two things. Firstly there's the sets, which are quite amazing and continually dominate the characters, such as the gargoyles which oversee Frankenstein and his wife when they have breakfast. The use of things like forced perspective and shadows is reminiscent of The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari.  Secondly there's some superb performances to enjoy, with Basil Rathbone being far more dynamic than Colin Clive as the film's 'Frankenstein', Bela Lugosi giving a really interesting performance as the malicious but slightly pitiful Igor and Lionel Atwill very funny as the Sergeant with a wooden arm. I found the continuity of this movie a bit ridiculous, with the village and Frankenstein home being completely different, and where did he have time to have a son?, though I think this becomes par for the course for the series! Son Of Frankenstein is certainly not unenjoyable, it resembles a play at times and works fairly well like that, but generally comes across as being a bit uninspired.
6/10

< Message edited by Dr Lenera -- 4/8/2010 10:29:24 PM >


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Post #: 33
RE: Universal Horror - 28/6/2010 7:00:32 PM   
evil bill


Posts: 6707
Joined: 19/7/2006
From: mordor/ uk
quote:

ORIGINAL: Dr Lenera

DRACULA'S DAUGHTER [1936]

After Dracula's staked body has been found, the police arrest Van Helsing and refuse to believe what he says. Meanwhile the Countess Marya Zaleska arrives in England, removes Dracula's body and cremates it. She's also a vampire but is trying to fight it, however urged by her scary aide Sandor she sets about vampirising people anyway and the police free Van Helsing to catch her. However Marya has found a psychiatrist Jeffrey who she wants to help her and he starts to be more interested in her than his fiancee......

This sequel to Dracula is, despite the absence of Bela Lugosi, in many ways a better movie and deserves to be far better known. Featuring probably the first [and indeed the last for a very long time] sympathetic vampire, it's a downbeat, low key but really compelling outing, and one that simply oozes with Gothic ambience, so much so that I'm surprised that Goths and the like in particular haven't taken to this movie.  Take the scene where Marya cremates her father's [well, that's cleverly kept in doubt], it's a darkly beautiful tableaux with a real deathly mood. Things starts off slowly with a little too much of a pair of comedy policemen, but as soon as Marya takes Dracula's body from the police station in one of several very unusual sequences, things really go up some notches and stay there, the pace remains leisurely and perhaps never really kicks into high gear but the plot progresses almost logically while still keeping you guessing some of the outcome, the atmosphere is superbly sustained and even the dialogue is excellent, especially the sparking talk between Jeffrey and his fiance. The vampire scenes are mostly no stronger than those in Dracula but there's one extroadinary scene where Marya seduces and bites a woman, which I'm surprised wasn't cut at the time, the lesbian elements are very obvious. Gloria Holden gives a very strong performance as Marya and convincingly portrays a monster struggling against it's real nature and Otto Kruger is a more interesting young 'hero' than usual though Edward Van Sloan's Van Helsing doesn't really seem to do anything until the final third. A minor gem.
8/10

Another excellent a well written review,you really are bringing back some great memories of staying up late the the horror double bill.

And like you said it just could not live up to the first two,but is still a decent horror movie,which is more than can be said of Frankenstein Versus The Werewolf etc.


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Post #: 34
RE: Universal Horror - 29/6/2010 3:50:29 PM   
Dr Lenera

 

Posts: 3945
Joined: 19/10/2005
THE WOLFMAN [1941]

Upon the death of his brother, Lawrence Talbot returns to Wales upon the request of his father to take his place. He becomes friendly with Gwen a local girl, but when visiting a gypsy camp he is told by a fortune teller he will have a doomed life. Returning, he saves Gwen from a wolf and kills it, whereupon the creature turns back into the gypsy leader. However, Talbot was bitten by the wolf and the next night starts to turn into a werewolf and prowl the countryside at night.......

When Werewolf In London wasn't too great a success Universal rebooted [to use a modern term] the basic idea a few years later. The result is one of their most loved monster movies that after An American Werewolf In London and The Howling is usually considered the best werewolf film. It has a very strong script by Curt Siodmak that seems to use things from folk legends but was actually almost all his own invention, such is it's authority, and a great sense of tragedy that gives it weight. It's also surprisingly restrained, with actually not much werewolf footage at all and not even a proper man-to-wolf transformation [these would be rectified in the next movie!], nonetheless the monster scene have a terrific atmosphere with tons of swirling fog put to good use. I've always found the werewolf makeup though a little weak [Talbot looks like he's wearing a furry hat!] and Lon Chaney's performance a little wooden.  Fortunately he's surrounded by one of the series' best casts including Claude Rains, Evelyn Ankers, Ralph Bellamy and Maria Ouspenkaya is an unforgettable small role as the fortune teller. Sadly though most of Bela Lugosi's scenes were cut out. The Wales setting is extremely unconvincing but I don't think it was trying to be realistic, many of these films appear to be set in a kind of fantasy world combining various elements from differing locations and even times, sometimes you feel you're in 1920s England, sometimes in 18th Germany!  Not really a masterpiece then, but still an iconic classic.
8/10

< Message edited by Dr Lenera -- 4/8/2010 10:29:43 PM >


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Post #: 35
RE: Universal Horror - 1/7/2010 8:28:39 AM   
HughesRoss


Posts: 5668
Joined: 19/12/2008
From: Merthyr

quote:

ORIGINAL: Dr Lenera

THE WOLFMAN [1941]

Upon the death of his brother, Lawrence Talbot returns to Wales upon the request of his father to take his place. He becomes friendly with Gwen a local girl, but when visiting a gypsy camp he is told by a fortune teller he will have a doomed life. Returning, he saves Gwen from a wolf and kills it, whereupon the creature turns back into the gypsy leader. However, Talbot was bitten by the wolf and the next night starts to turn into a werewolf and prowl the countryside at night.......

When Werewolf In London wasn't too great a success Universal rebooted [to use a modern term] the basic idea a few years later. The result is one of their most loved monster movies that after An American Werewolf In London and The Howling is usually considered the best werewolf film. It has a very strong script by Curt Siodmak that seems to use things from folk legends but was actually almost all his own invention, such is it's authority, and a great sense of tragedy that gives it weight. It's also surprisingly restrained, with actually not much werewolf footage at all and not even a proper man-to-wolf transformation [these would be rectified in the next movie!], nonetheless the monster scene have a terrific atmosphere with tons of swirling fog put to good use. I've always found the werewolf makeup though a little weak [Talbot looks like he's wearing a furry hat!] and Lon Chaney's performance a little wooden.  Fortunately he's surrounded by one of the series' best casts including Claude Rains, Evelyn Ankers, Ralph Bellamy and Maria Ouspenkaya is an unforgettable small role as the fortune teller. Sadly though most of Bela Lugosi's scenes were cut out. The Wales setting is extremely unconvincing but I don't think it was trying to be realistic, many of these films appear to be set in a kind of fantasy world combining various elements from differing locations and even times, sometimes you feel you're in 1920s England, sometimes in 18th Germany!  Not really a masterpiece then, but still an iconic classic.
8/10


But it carries so much atmosphere that modern horrors can only dream of

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Post #: 36
RE: Universal Horror - 2/7/2010 1:27:40 PM   
evil bill


Posts: 6707
Joined: 19/7/2006
From: mordor/ uk
quote:

ORIGINAL: HughesRoss


quote:

ORIGINAL: Dr Lenera

THE WOLFMAN [1941]

Upon the death of his brother, Lawrence Talbot returns to Wales upon the request of his father to take his place. He becomes friendly with Gwen a local girl, but when visiting a gypsy camp he is told by a fortune teller he will have a doomed life. Returning, he saves Gwen from a wolf and kills it, whereupon the creature turns back into the gypsy leader. However, Talbot was bitten by the wolf and the next night starts to turn into a werewolf and prowl the countryside at night.......

When Werewolf In London wasn't too great a success Universal rebooted [to use a modern term] the basic idea a few years later. The result is one of their most loved monster movies that after An American Werewolf In London and The Howling is usually considered the best werewolf film. It has a very strong script by Curt Siodmak that seems to use things from folk legends but was actually almost all his own invention, such is it's authority, and a great sense of tragedy that gives it weight. It's also surprisingly restrained, with actually not much werewolf footage at all and not even a proper man-to-wolf transformation [these would be rectified in the next movie!], nonetheless the monster scene have a terrific atmosphere with tons of swirling fog put to good use. I've always found the werewolf makeup though a little weak [Talbot looks like he's wearing a furry hat!] and Lon Chaney's performance a little wooden.  Fortunately he's surrounded by one of the series' best casts including Claude Rains, Evelyn Ankers, Ralph Bellamy and Maria Ouspenkaya is an unforgettable small role as the fortune teller. Sadly though most of Bela Lugosi's scenes were cut out. The Wales setting is extremely unconvincing but I don't think it was trying to be realistic, many of these films appear to be set in a kind of fantasy world combining various elements from differing locations and even times, sometimes you feel you're in 1920s England, sometimes in 18th Germany!  Not really a masterpiece then, but still an iconic classic.
8/10


But it carries so much atmosphere that modern horrors can only dream of

Well put mate,it's whats lacking in a hell of a lot of horror movies these days,and Lon Chaney Jr never reached the heights of his Father but will always be the Wolf Man to me.Just like Bela Lugsi is Dracula and Boris Karlof will always be Frankenstein or The Mummy.


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Post #: 37
RE: Universal Horror - 2/7/2010 2:12:53 PM   
Dr Lenera

 

Posts: 3945
Joined: 19/10/2005
Can't agree more Bill and HR, I 'm usually watching these films on a Sat night after midnight, with the wife asleep,the lights off, the windows open and the curtains blowing gently.  The atmosphere is simply amazing and goes some way towards recreating the time when I first saw these movies as a nipper.  Except for the two or three double whiskies I tend to consume now though........

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Post #: 38
RE: Universal Horror - 2/7/2010 6:40:10 PM   
evil bill


Posts: 6707
Joined: 19/7/2006
From: mordor/ uk
quote:

ORIGINAL: Dr Lenera

Can't agree more Bill and HR, I 'm usually watching these films on a Sat night after midnight, with the wife asleep,the lights off, the windows open and the curtains blowing gently.  The atmosphere is simply amazing and goes some way towards recreating the time when I first saw these movies as a nipper.  Except for the two or three double whiskies I tend to consume now though........

I prefer the Vodka as you know,how things haven't changed scine i was a nipper.Mum sitting with her bottle of Vodka me downing my own half bottle,now they where the days.


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Post #: 39
RE: Universal Horror - 13/7/2010 10:07:16 PM   
Dr Lenera

 

Posts: 3945
Joined: 19/10/2005
GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN [1942]

In the village of Frankestein, the locals believe that, despite the apparent deaths of the Monster and Igor, a curse still hangs over the town so they blow up the castle. Unbeknown to them, Igor was still alive and the explosion frees the Monster.  The two escape to Vasaria where resides Dr. Ludwig Frankenstein, Henry Frankenstein's second son.  They demand Ludwig restore the Monster to his full strength, something Ludwig is understandably unhappy about, unless he can maybe give the Monster a new brain..........

Ghost Of Frankenstein has a bit of a bad reputation but I actually prefer it to Son Of Frankenstein.  It may not have the stunning set design of the former, but it's a much livelier and far less static film, starting off at a fast pace and only really slowing down around half way through.  As the first of the Frankenstein series to be an actual 'B' movie, the script is strictly at that level.  The climax has a predictable though well executed twist, the Monster speaking with a certain person's voice being quite chilling, however the film then just suddenly ends just when it was getting really interesting. There's notably less atmosphere too, in fact it's interesting how bright this one is.  Director Erle C. Kenton, who ten years before made the classic The Island Of Lost Souls, doesn't bring much personality to proceedings but does create an entertaining film, and Lon Chaney's much-maligned portrayal of the Monster really isn't bad, though the makeup is less sinister than Karloff's. He's actually given slightly more oppurtunity to shine in the role than Boris Karloff was in the previous movie, such as a sweet scene where he helps a little girl retrieve a balloon from the rooftops, only for the villagers to misunderstand things as usual.  Bela Lugosi as Igor is again the stand out performance though, even more devious, wicked and blackly comical than before.  The diverse score, by Hans J.Salter and Charles Previn, is probably the best since Bride Of Frankenstein.  This is certainly no classic and does lack originality but is an okay continuation of the Frankenstein saga that provides undemanding entertainment as long as you don't expect too much.
6/10

< Message edited by Dr Lenera -- 4/8/2010 10:30:02 PM >


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Post #: 40
RE: Universal Horror - 14/7/2010 8:31:15 AM   
HughesRoss


Posts: 5668
Joined: 19/12/2008
From: Merthyr
Now that is one mate, I can not remember........

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Post #: 41
RE: Universal Horror - 14/7/2010 9:44:11 AM   
Dr Lenera

 

Posts: 3945
Joined: 19/10/2005
Well it is kind of the forgotten Universal Frankenstein, maybe because it's not as artistic and inventive as the first three, nor as silly and action packed as the multi monster bashes that followed, it's kind of stuck 'in between'.

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Post #: 42
RE: Universal Horror - 14/7/2010 3:33:57 PM   
Dr Lenera

 

Posts: 3945
Joined: 19/10/2005
FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN

Two men decide to rob of Lawrence Talbot, but he awakes when the moon shines on him and they flee in fright.  Talbot puts himself in an asylum but turns into a werewolf again and goes on the rampage.  On a visit to the gypsy Maleva, she tells him to maybe the diary of  Dr. Frankenstein could hold the key to a permanant death for him.  Pursued by psychiatrist Dr. Mannering, Talbot goes to the village of Frankenstein where his grandaughter Elsa resides and finds in the castle the Monster is still alive though weakened.  Unfortunately Elsa wants nothing to do with him.....

Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man, the first of several films which would feature more than one monster, is a hugely enjoyable horror romp that isn't really supposed to be taken seriously.  The plot alternates between being ludicrous and being not just well thought out, and there's little continuity between this and Ghost Of Frankenstein, in fact this entry is laughably inept in that respect [though it's silly in all films that the castle appears to look different and be in a different location every time].  The 'normal' characters have behave very oddly,The Monster is shunted to the sidelines and most of the story is about the Wolf Man, nonetheless in some respects this is a better werewolf movie then the first Talbot outing, with far more werewolf action and now a proper transformation. The film moves at a furious pace, only  really stopping for a bizarre musical interlude about half way through, and the final battle between the two creatures, though brief by modern standards, is  very well staged and exciting.  Director Roy William Neill, usually busy making Sherlock Holmes movies, gives proceedings some of that essential atmosphere that was lacking in Ghost Of Frankenstein [especially strong in this respect is the opening sequence], while Lon Chaney is more compelling this time round.  As for Bela Lugosi's heavily criticised outing as the Monster, I think he's actually ok, and his performance is hard to really judge because of heavy cutting that removed the Monster's ability to speak and the fact he was blind [as at the end of Ghost Of Frankenstein]. Apparently stuntman Glenn Strange doubled for the 60 year old actor half the time too.  Certainly no classic and undoubtably pretty ridiculous, this is still one of my favourites of the series from an entertainment point of view.  Great fun.
8/10

< Message edited by Dr Lenera -- 4/8/2010 10:30:19 PM >


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Post #: 43
RE: Universal Horror - 14/7/2010 6:23:02 PM   
evil bill


Posts: 6707
Joined: 19/7/2006
From: mordor/ uk
quote:

ORIGINAL: Dr Lenera

FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN

Two men decide to rob of Lawrence Talbot, but he awakes when the moon shines on him and they flee in fright.  Talbot puts himself in an asylum but turns into a werewolf again and goes on the rampage.  On a visit to the gypsy Maleva, she tells him to maybe the diary of  Dr. Frankenstein could hold the key to a permanant death for him.  Pursued by psychiatrist Dr. Mannering, Talbot goes to the village of Frankenstein where his grandaughter Elsa resides and finds in the castle the Monster is still alive though weakened.  Unfortunately Elsa wants nothing to do with him.....

Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man, the first of several films which would feature more than one monster, is a hugely enjoyable horror romp that isn't really supposed to be taken seriously.  The plot alternates between being ludicrous and being not just well thought out, and there's little continuity between this and Ghost Of Frankenstein, in fact this entry is laughably inept in that respect [though it's silly in all films that the castle appears to look different and be in a different location every time].  The 'normal' characters have behave very oddly,The Monster is shunted to the sidelines and most of the story is about the Wolf Man, nonetheless in some respects this is a better werewolf movie then the first Talbot outing, with far more werewolf action and now a proper transformation. The film moves at a furious pace, only  really stopping for a bizarre musical interlude about half way through, and the final battle between the two creatures, though brief by modern standards, is  very well staged and exciting.  Director Roy William Neill, usually busy making Sherlock Holmes movies, gives proceedings some of that essential atmosphere that was lacking in Ghost Of Frankenstein [especially strong in this respect is the opening sequence], while Lon Chaney is more compelling this time round.  As for Bela Lugosi's heavily criticised outing as the Monster, I think he's actually ok, and his performance is hard to really judge because of heavy cutting that removed the Monster's ability to speak and the fact he was blind [as at the end of Ghost Of Frankenstein]. Apparently stuntman Glenn Strange doubled for the 60 year old actor half the time too.  Certainly no classic and undoubtably pretty ridiculous, this is still one of my favourites of the series from an entertainment point of view.  Great fun.
8/10

Excellent review,maybe i should watch this again,as i wasn't that keen on the monster double bill's that the studio put out,just to milk the franchise dry.
GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN [1942]

Now this i just did not like it felt dull,and Bela as the monster was just no good.Only Karloff could play the monster in such a way that you felt for it,and gve his monster a more human feel.


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Post #: 44
RE: Universal Horror - 20/7/2010 8:30:37 AM   
Dr Lenera

 

Posts: 3945
Joined: 19/10/2005
Though no masterpiece, this has always been a favourite of mine,hence longer review! And possible SPOILERS!
SON OF DRACULA [1943]

Somewhere in the Deep South of America, two men wait at a railway station for the arrival of a certain Count Alucard, who has been invited by the daughter of the plantation owner, Kay, who apparently met him whilst on holiday in Budapest.  All that arrive are some crates filled with earth.  Alucard later shows up and starts to lure the infatuated Kay away from her fiancee Frank.  When Kay's father is found with two bite marks on his neck, Frank consults Professor Lazio, who deduces that, since Alucard spelt backwards is Dracula, he could be the king of vampires himself.  Then Frank finds Kay with Alucard and shoots her, but is she really dead........


Sometimes it possible to love a certain movie not so much because of what you think are it's qualities [although the very underated Son Of Dracula has quite a few] but because it holds a strong memory for you and/or was an important part of your film growing-up.  This movie is one of those for me, primairly because it actually really creeped me out when I first saw it at around 8 or 9 years old.  I had the pleasue of viewing most of these Universal horror movies when I was quite young but still just about old enough to appreciate them. They really gripped my imagination but only three of them actually frightened me.  Two of them I have not yet mentioned or reviewed, which will probably seem surprising, but I will do soon!  Son Of Dracula was one, and it's really hard to explain why, but I will always remember feeling very uneasy when I witnessed a bat apparently gnawing at someone's neck [of course you don't see any blood, but it's still a surprisingly unpleasent image for one of these films!] and Frank's undead fiancee Kay returning from the grave to visit him in prison where he's been accused of her murder, firstly her haunting voice whispering to him, then she appearing to move through the bars to be with him. 

It's easy to laugh now, nonetheless Son Of Dracula does have that essential atmosphere in bucketloads that was also a very big part of their previous two Dracula films.  Director Robert Siodmak was an excellent director of film noirs, and brings much of the look and feel of that kind of movie to this one, with great use of shadows and a very downbeat, fatalistic tone.  No one winds up happy at the end and the final image of a burning room, with Kay inside, is unforgettable.  Alucard/Draula may be a vampire, but it's Kay who is the real villain. She ends up using Alucard so she can live forever and have Frank join her for eternity.  She's a classic femme fatale and as played by Louise Allbritton is a fascinating death-obsessed character in the first half and a genuinely eerie vampire in the second half.

Son Of Dracula takes a while to get going and apart from the two leads the cast, with the possible exception of Evelyn Ankers,are forgettable, but it has some striking special effects and individual sequences, such as an early one where Alucard's coffing slowly rises to the top of a swamp, then on the other side fog rises and materialises into Alucard who walks off the water onto the grass. Wonderful Gothic imagery of the kind you just don't see now.  For me the thing that really lets it down is Lon Chaney as Dracula.  He doesn't look the part [though granted, we all probably have differing ideas of what Dracula should really look like], doesn't sound the part and certainly doesn't act the part.  He's not scary, mesmerizing, sexy [so my wife says], urbane, all the things you expect from Dracula.  He's just a beefy guy in a cloak and moustache, and it's hard to believe that he can hold a spell over people.  Also, there's some confusion about who he actually is.  The title says Son Of Dracula, but I always remembered that he was actually Dracula himself.  However, watching it again it appears he's a descendent of Dracula, so quite possibly a great grandson or something.

In the end it doesn't really matter very much, the script has enough interesting elements in it to make up for this. Son Of Dracula was probably intended as just another quickie, but with a considerable amount of care it became perhaps the last truly classic Universal horror and though it does have certain things which hold it back from being up there with the true masterpieces like Bride Of Frankenstein and The Mummy, is still a shining example of what made many of their horror films special.  It also will also have a special place in my heart for scaring me those many years ago.  Though it probably didn't help that, as was sometimes the case,I had snuck downstairs and was sitting right in front of the TV with the sound turned right down so mum and dad wouldn't be woken up! 
8/10

< Message edited by Dr Lenera -- 4/8/2010 10:30:38 PM >


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Post #: 45
RE: Universal Horror - 22/7/2010 8:19:50 PM   
evil bill


Posts: 6707
Joined: 19/7/2006
From: mordor/ uk
quote:

ORIGINAL: Dr Lenera

Though no masterpiece, this has always been a favourite of mine,hence longer review! And possible SPOILERS!
SON OF DRACULA [1943]


8/10

Have to say i've a soft spot for Lon Chaney Jr,he was always going to be over shadowed by his father,yet he is a good actor for his time.And i really enjoyed this movie nearly as much as The Wolf Man,which i think was his best role,which he made his own.But like you this is a close second,and funny enough i was round about 8 or 9 when i saw this on the BBC double horror bill on a Friday night.


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Post #: 46
RE: Universal Horror - 25/7/2010 5:15:16 AM   
siegfried


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I have to agree with you, Doc.
What really lets the film down for me is the miscasting of Lon Chaney. He was a good actor, very effective as the Wolfman, but was just wrong for Dracula.
Still enjoying your reviews.

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Post #: 47
RE: Universal Horror - 25/7/2010 7:03:03 PM   
Dr Lenera

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: siegfried

I have to agree with you, Doc.
What really lets the film down for me is the miscasting of Lon Chaney. He was a good actor, very effective as the Wolfman, but was just wrong for Dracula.
Still enjoying your reviews.


Thankyou, there's some reviews on your old Bava thread that you started way back too. As I'm sure you can tell I'm coming to the end of the Dracula, Frankenstein and Dracula movies, but at some point soon I'm going to get the Mummy and Invisable Man sets and go through them, maybe even the two Universal versions of Phantom Of The Opera.........and maybe even the Abbot And Costello's

< Message edited by Dr Lenera -- 25/7/2010 7:09:49 PM >


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Post #: 48
RE: Universal Horror - 25/7/2010 7:09:25 PM   
HughesRoss


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Dr Lenera

Though no masterpiece, this has always been a favourite of mine,hence longer review! And possible SPOILERS!
SON OF DRACULA [1943]

Somewhere in the Deep South of America, two men wait at a railway station for the arrival of a certain Count Alucard, who has been invited by the daughter of the plantation owner, Kay, who apparently met him whilst on holiday in Budapest.  All that arrive are some crates filled with earth.  Alucard later shows up and starts to lure the infatuated Kay away from her fiancee Frank.  When Kay's father is found with two bite marks on his neck, Frank consults Professor Lazio, who deduces that, since Alucard spelt backwards is Dracula, he could be the king of vampires himself.  Then Frank finds Kay with Alucard and shoots her, but is she really dead........


Sometimes it possible to love a certain movie not so much because of what you think are it's qualities [although the very underated Son Of Dracula has quite a few] but because it holds a strong memory for you and/or was an important part of your film growing-up.  This movie is one of those for me, primairly because it actually really creeped me out when I first saw it at around 8 or 9 years old.  I had the pleasue of viewing most of these Universal horror movies when I was quite young but still just about old enough to appreciate them. They really gripped my imagination but only three of them actually frightened me.  Two of them I have not yet mentioned or reviewed, which will probably seem surprising, but I will do soon!  Son Of Dracula was one, and it's really hard to explain why, but I will always remember feeling very uneasy when I witnessed a bat apparently gnawing at someone's neck [of course you don't see any blood, but it's still a surprisingly unpleasent image for one of these films!] and Frank's undead fiancee Kay returning from the grave to visit him in prison where he's been accused of her murder, firstly her haunting voice whispering to him, then she appearing to move through the bars to be with him. 

It's easy to laugh now, nonetheless Son Of Dracula does have that essential atmosphere in bucketloads that was also a very big part of their previous two Dracula films.  Director Robert Siodmak was an excellent director of film noirs, and brings much of the look and feel of that kind of movie to this one, with great use of shadows and a very downbeat, fatalistic tone.  No one winds up happy at the end and the final image of a burning room, with Kay inside, is unforgettable.  Alucard/Draula may be a vampire, but it's Kay who is the real villain. She ends up using Alucard so she can live forever and have Frank join her for eternity.  She's a classic femme fatale and as played by Louise Allbritton is a fascinating death-obsessed character in the first half and a genuinely eerie vampire in the second half.

Son Of Dracula takes a while to get going and apart from the two leads the cast, with the possible exception of Evelyn Ankers,are forgettable, but it has some striking special effects and individual sequences, such as an early one where Alucard's coffing slowly rises to the top of a swamp, then on the other side fog rises and materialises into Alucard who walks off the water onto the grass. Wonderful Gothic imagery of the kind you just don't see now.  For me the thing that really lets it down is Lon Chaney as Dracula.  He doesn't look the part [though granted, we all probably have differing ideas of what Dracula should really look like], doesn't sound the part and certainly doesn't act the part.  He's not scary, mesmerizing, sexy [so my wife says], urbane, all the things you expect from Dracula.  He's just a beefy guy in a cloak and moustache, and it's hard to believe that he can hold a spell over people.  Also, there's some confusion about who he actually is.  The title says Son Of Dracula, but I always remembered that he was actually Dracula himself.  However, watching it again it appears he's a descendent of Dracula, so quite possibly a great grandson or something.

In the end it doesn't really matter very much, the script has enough interesting elements in it to make up for this. Son Of Dracula was probably intended as just another quickie, but with a considerable amount of care it became perhaps the last truly classic Universal horror and though it does have certain things which hold it back from being up there with the true masterpieces like Bride Of Frankenstein and The Mummy, is still a shining example of what made many of their horror films special.  It also will also have a special place in my heart for scaring me those many years ago.  Though it probably didn't help that, as was sometimes the case,I had snuck downstairs and was sitting right in front of the TV with the sound turned right down so mum and dad wouldn't be woken up! 
8/10


Excellent review, and its one of my personal Fav's.....probably is one of the last classics of that golden age, and quite underrated in my opinion too!

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Post #: 49
RE: Universal Horror - 25/7/2010 7:37:27 PM   
Dr Lenera

 

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HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN [1944]

Dr. Gustav Niemann, who has been imprisoned for carrying out experiments similar to that of a certain Dr.Frankenstein, and his hunchback assistant escape from prison.  At a fair they encounter a man who has the skeleton of Dracula and murder him so they can make money of exhibiting it, but a man foolishly removes the stake that was in the skeleton, but the revived Dracula is discovered by policemen and after a chase is burnt by the sun.  Niemann and aide flee the area but when sheltering in the ruins of Castle Frankenstein discover the frozen bodies of The Wolf Man and the Frankenstein Monster....

House Of Frankenstein sadly isn't really very good.  Crippled by a really poor script by Curt Siodman and Edward T.Loew, it's basically a film of sections, first of all about Niemann escaping prison, then about Dracula, then about The Wolf Man, and finally a brief bit involving the Frankenstein Monster.  It's certainly very fast paced but is distinctly lacking in imagination and comes across as the perfect example of a  'quickie' rushed into production to continue the franchise with little care.  What just about keeps it afloat is the performances, especially Boris Karloff really convincingly nasty as an evil mad scientist with no scruples whatsoever and John Carradine as a really effective Dracula-it's a shame he hardly gets to do anything. Lon Chaney gets better with each film though it's hard to judge Glenn Strange as the Monster as he spends most of the movie inactive. When he does awake at the end there's a surprisingly graphic bit, even when shown mostly in shadow, of the Monster snapping a guy in half!  George Robinson's camerawork is classy, giving proceedings the sheen of a bigger budgeted movie and Erle C.Kenton's direction professional, but this really is a far cry from the poetry of Bride Of Frankenstein or Dracula's Daughter, and doesn't really have enough invention or developement to be a  fun romp like Frankenstrien Meets The Wolf Man.  A rather poor entry then, though I'll be lying if I said I didn't still find it quite enjoyable!
5/10

< Message edited by Dr Lenera -- 4/8/2010 10:31:00 PM >


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Post #: 50
RE: Universal Horror - 25/7/2010 8:23:19 PM   
HughesRoss


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I quite like "House" its has its flaws, but its because of them, it has its charm!  Its beautifully filmed though

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Post #: 51
RE: Universal Horror - 5/8/2010 5:31:01 PM   
Dr Lenera

 

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Well all the pics have disappeared and to make things worse I am currently unable to post pics anyway [the way my stupid Empire account used to be, always had certain things wrong with it]. This thread now looks shit, but I will delete the spaces where the pics are so the reviews just look edited [am still not happy with that but never mind] and just not do pics in future. For the moment I shall press ahead with the thread, as long as people are still kind enough to post in it and it's still read.

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Post #: 52
RE: Universal Horror - 6/8/2010 8:58:30 PM   
Dr Lenera

 

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HOUSE OF DRACULA [1945]

Dr. Gustav Niemann is a brilliant surgeon able to cure many rare ailments. One night he is paid a visit by both Dracula and Lawrence Talbot, who both say they want to be cured. He discovers that Dracula has a rare blood disorder that makes him a vampire and Talbot has a brain tumour that is so strong that it alters the shape of his skin, but only a special mold grown in low temperatures can remodel his skin and stop him transforming [I'm not making this up]. A distraught Talbot throws himself off a cliff to unsuccessfully kill himself, but when Niemann looks for him he finds the mold growing in a cave. However, when a blood transfusion goes wrong Niemann ends up with some of Dracula's blood..........

Although generally considered rather poor, I believe House Of Dracula is a somewhat better film than House Of Dracula. The script is totally ludicrous but at least offers a few original ideas and situations, and, while it still doesn't really solve the problem of putting three monsters in one film [something that the following Abbot And Costello Meet Frankenstein did surprisingly well], it flows a little better as a story and at least one subplot has a surprising outcome. There's much more time devoted to John Carradine's Dracula, which is good since he's again very effective with a vey sinister aura about him and Lon Chaney gives what is probably his best performance ever as the Wolfman, he really got better and better. Sadly though once again the Monster, again played by Glenn Strange, is inactive for most of the film and the climax [which contains some footage from The Ghost Of Frankenstein, meaning that some of the time it's Lon Chaney running from Lon Chaney] is almost over before you know it. The little heard of Onslow Stevens gives a really fine performance as the Dr., very dignified and likeable but convincing and a little scary in the scenes where he turns into a sort of Mr.Hyde-these bits actually frightened me when I first saw it when I was young. I didn't want him to change again! House Of Dracula shows evidence everywhere of cost cutting and things being rushed,and you can't really call it a good film, but it's fun and sometimes inventive hokum that is hard to dislike.
6/10

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Post #: 53
RE: Universal Horror - 8/8/2010 8:17:38 PM   
TheGodfather


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From: Sin City

Frankenstein
One of the most influential horror films of all time had been in my collection for a few years but I`d never watched it before.
Many of the memorable scenes I had seen before, in pieces on tv or in other films that were inspired by it (hi there, Mel Brooks!), but never as a whole.
I really liked it. Not nailbitingly intense or scary but it has some sort of excitement that creeps under your skin. This gives it a great atmosphere.
The total abscence of a musical soundtrack is something special but also works in favor of the film.

8,5/10

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Post #: 54
RE: Universal Horror - 10/8/2010 8:22:03 PM   
Dr Lenera

 

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Nice one Godfather! I agree entirely with what you say, Frankenstein has a kind of primal power that makes it extremely atmospheric and quite hypnotic.

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Post #: 55
RE: Universal Horror - 10/8/2010 8:35:44 PM   
TheGodfather


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So how are the other ones in the box? Bride of Frankenstein, Son of Frankenstein and House of Frankenstein? are they any good?

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Post #: 56
RE: Universal Horror - 10/8/2010 9:21:13 PM   
Dr Lenera

 

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Check you my reviews earlier in this here thread!

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Post #: 57
RE: Universal Horror - 10/8/2010 10:02:14 PM   
TheGodfather


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Ok will do later on!

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Post #: 58
RE: Universal Horror - 16/8/2010 9:00:22 PM   
Dr Lenera

 

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SHE WOLF OF LONDON [1946]

In London, the police are investigating a series of brutal murders in a London park, which some say could be the work of a werewolf. They start to cause shock in Phyllis, who is a descendent of the Allenby family who were supposedly cursed with lycanthropy. Influenced by her domineering aunt Marta, she breaks off her engagement with her fiancee Barry but Barry is determined to get into the secret-filled house and the murders continue......

Although packaged in the 'Wolf Man' DVD set, this film, which in Britain went under the title The Curse of The Allenbys, has nothing to do with either the Lon Chaney series or the earlier Werewolf Of London. It's not even that much of a horror film, it's more of a murder mystery, reminiscent in fact of a 40s Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes movie [there's even a pleasing though too brief appearence by Dennis Hooey who played Inspector Lestrade and the method of murder is exactly the same as that in The Scarlet Claw], plus various other Gothic melodrames of families and houses full of dark secrets such as Rebecca [Marta reminded me a lot of Mrs.Danvers]. The plot keeps one guessing and is fairly well structured, though the ending will probably feel a cheat to many horror fans [though I already knew it so I wasn't too bothered]-and there is one genuinely creepy sequence in the fog-filled park where the hooded She Wolf suddenly looms behind an unsuspecting victim. Overall it's not very well done though and director Jean Yarborough doesn't seem too interested in his material. There's little suspense or atmosphere and although supposedly set in London it never feels like it is and doesn't even bother to name the park the murders are taking place in! With June Lockhart as a very likeable heroine, it's certainly an okay watch and does hold the interest but never becomes especially inspired and winds up being very disappointing.
5/10

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Post #: 59
RE: Universal Horror - 18/8/2010 9:04:03 AM   
Dr Lenera

 

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Mummy and Invisable Man sets just arrived! Replies on this thread seem to have diminished somewhat, but I will carry on, am enjoying these films so much, even the weak ones, like She Wolf Of London, are fun.

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Post #: 60
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