Director: Mark Robson
Main Stars: Boris Karloff, Anne Lee, Billy House
Storyline: A madman owner of an asylum takes revenge on a young woman.
Review (Spoils): Nell Bowen (Anne Lee) becomes interested in the people and the well being of the Bethlehem Asylum. When she enters into the asylum she starts to show concerns on how the place is ran by Master Sims (Boris Karloff). He does not like someone pussy footing around in his sick business so he plays a master plan of having Nell committed to the asylum.
I personally have to admit I love the Master Sims character, Boris Karloff did a fantastic job playing the role out and it made the film fun to watch. The conflict between both main characters Nell and Sims was enjoyable and it built the plot up and the main storyline. The film does not really scare as it is not meant too but instead works on dialogue and the chances of what it would be like to be the sane one in an asylum.
Rating: This was a fun film and the relationship between the two main characters kept me glued to the screen. Sure it is not a classic Universal monster film but it holds a darkness and gloomy mood which falls under horror. Grabs some beers and watch Boris Karloff become another classic villain.
The Cat People (1942)
Director: Jacques Tourneur
Stars: Simone Simon, Tom Conway, Kent Smith
Storyline: An American marries a Serbian woman who fears that if they become intimate she will turn into a cat beast.
Review: The beautiful Irena Dubrovna (Simone Simon) and Oliver Reed (Tom Conway) fall in love at the zoo and they decide to get married. Irena does not want to become close to Oliver as she believes that she suffers from an ancient curse whenever she feels aroused. This leads to conflict in their marriage and Oliver asks her to go to a psychiatrist. Through this she is still under the doubts that she is a cat race and that she is killing in the night.
This movie is a classic in horror as it deprives on the woman being the monster and it touches a lot on the sex topic. The cast is awesome and the mood of the film shows from feline side of things and it is a very dark film. The Serbian accent of Simone Simon leads to the sexiness and the darkness of the film as she is filled with doubt and secrets. The killings are off scene and the film plays on shadows and the night to keep the creepiness of the film alive.
Rating: Sometimes films are best with the unknown. This is one of them, such items as animals going mad around her, the pet shop scene and we never see the change to the animal or the animal itself. Great stuff and a classic!
Werewolf of London (1935)
Director: Stuart Walker
Main Stars: Henry Hull, Warner Oland, Valerie Hobson
Storyline: In Tibet a doctor gets attacked by a strange animal and he becomes a werewolf. Only the juice from a strange flower can stop the curse.
Review (Spoils): Dr.Wilfred Glendon (Henry Hull) gets attacked by a strange dark creature in the hills of Tibet. He becomes inflicted with the werewolf curse and the only thing to stop him from turning is the juice of a rare Asian flower. The film plays a bit on his Glendon’s anger of the curse and the long destruction of his marriage to the beautiful Lisa (Valerie Hobson). During all this mess of his life he hunts at night in the streets of London murdering people in his werewolf guise.
The film plot does move very slow and has a hard time keeping you intrigued. The scenes are beautiful like most Universal films of this era. The fog is thick, the moon is bright on the Asian beach and the acting of Henry Hull is awesome but something just does not click for this film. Even the make-up of the werewold himself is good (except for the lame point on the forehead) and leads to the future of werewolves such as The Wolfman.
Rating: This film is not horrible but something is lacking when it comes to the monster itself and the scenes in the night of the murders. Werewolf of London is a classic but it still does not stand out like The Wolfman.
Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman (1943)
Director: Roy William Neill
Main Stars: Ilona Massey, Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney Jr.
Storyline: Larry Talbot has escaped death from the grave and is still battling his infliction. He finds the Frankenstein monster in a block of ice and releases him. The two battle to the destruction of the Frankenstein castle.
Review (Spoils): Once again Lon Chaney Jr. Graces the screen as the Wolfman and tries to find a cure for his disease. He comes across the Baroness Elsa Frankenstein (Ilona Massey) in hope to cure him. During all this he travels into the ruins of the castle and finds the remaining monster (Bela Lugosi) trapped in a block of ice. He frees him in hope to use the monster to get the Baroness to help him.
The film can be slow moving and really how many offspring can there be for the Frankenstein family line? The over acting of Ilona Massey is painful and so is the accent that she tries to pull off. Bela Lugosi has never been a good Frankenstein monster as he is body type just does not fit the part. But as for the bright side of the film Lon Chaney Jr. steals the show as the Wolfman yet again.
Rating: This movie is more of miss than a hit which is too bad. The Wolfman is the best part of the whole film but the rest is over acting and terrible makeup. The storyline is starting to become the same over and over again.
House of Frankenstein (1944)
Director: Erle C.Kenton
Main Stars: Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jr, John Carradine, Anne Gwynne, Elena Verdugo, Glenn Strange
Storyline: Dr. Niemann and his hunch back assistant escape the asylum. In their journey they revive Count Dracula, the Wolf Man and find the Frankenstein Monster.
Review (Spoils): Being the fourth in the Frankenstein series this movie kind of falls all over the place. First we Dr. Niemann (Boris Karloff) and his hunchback assistant trapped in prison. They escape by a strange lightning storm that hits the building. The doctor stumbles upon the coffin of Dracula (John Carradine ) from a freak show circus and they revive him from removing the stake. To add to the madness of their plan they come across the frozen body of the Wolf Man (Lon Chaney Jr) and the Monster (Glenn Strange). They start a fire and revive both to use in their plan for revenge. All in this jumble of a storyline the hunchback falls in love with a gypsy woman (Elena Verdugo) but learns that she truly loves Larry Talbot which a silver bullet leads to both their deaths.
Boris Karloff does an amazing job playing a madman that wants to bring all the monsters back to life for his own revenge and pleasure. The ending scene is memorable to the fate of the Dr. Niemann character.
Lon Chaney Jr always plays the Larry Talbot character perfectly. In my eyes he will always be the Wolf Man.
Rating: This movie was not bad but it was a kind of all over the place with storyline. The whole Dracula plot could have been left out as it held not meat top the film. As time grows with the Universal films of horror they do become weaker.
Director: Erle C. Kenton
Main Stars: Lon Chaney Jr, Cedric Hardwicke, Ralph Bellamy, Bela Lugosi, Evelyn Ankers, Lionel Atwill
Storyline: Right after the public destroyed Ygor and Frankenstein monster they both reemerge from the ruin castle. They fee to the second of Dr. Frankenstein to hide themselves away.
Review (Spoils): This is forth in the Universal Frankenstein series and this time Ygor (Bela Lugosi ) returns and resurrects the monster (Lon Chaney Jr). They head to the second son of Dr. Frankenstein Ludwig (Cedric Hardwicke) and look for some shelter to hide from the torch barring public. Before the meet the doctor the Frankenstein monster meets with a young girl and helps her get her ball from a high area in the town square the people read his intentions wrong and he gets arrested and goes to court. The monster is chained to the chair while the question him which is useless. Ludwig decides to take the monster in his care as it was his father’s creation. All through it all Ludwig gets visited by his father’s ghost telling him resurrect the monster after changing its brain with a smart brain. In this confusion Ludwig’s assistants gets talked into by Ygor to use his brain instead without telling Ludwig. This is done without the doctors knowledge till the voice of Ygor goes out of the monsters mouth. In the finally battle again the monster is in a crumbling building that is in flames.
The cast does a great job in this film and I was actually impressed with Lon Chaney Jr playing the monster. (I was worried with this) Bela Lugosi steals the show again as playing the creeping Ygor. Evelyn Ankers might not have a huge part in the storyline but she was very entertaining but once again a real charmer of the film. The low part of the film is the ghost itself which was very lame and it did not look like Colin Clive at all, very dumb scene.
Rating: For being the fourth in the series this was not too bad. Sure it can be a little repetitive with the doctors, the assistants and ending in a burning building but Lon Chaney Jr did a great job playing the monster. Grabs some beers and have a final toast to Ygor!
House of Dracula (1945)
Director: Erle C. Kenton
Stars: Onlsow Stevens, Lon Chaney Jr, John Carradine, Martha O’Driscoll, Jane Adams, Glenn Strange
Storyline: Count Dracula and the Wolfman go to visit a doctor to help cure their diseases.
Review (spoils): Dr.Edelman (Onlsow Stevens ) hopes to cure Count Dracula (John Carradine) of his vampirism but the Count’s true plans are to get close to his blond assistant Miliza (Martha O’Driscoll). Also the Mr.Talbot (Lon Chaney Jr) wants help to cure him of his lycanthropy so he will not become the Wolfman again. During this Talbot tried to kill himself and jumps into the caves off a cliff. In the rescue of him Dr.Edelman stubbles upon the Frankenstein monster (Glenn Strange) buried in the caves. In this also Dr.Edelman hopes to help and cure his beautiful brunette assistant Nina (Jane Adams) from a large hump on her back. In the end Count Dracula is destroyed by sunlight from the doctor after he learns of the over take to Miliza. The Wolfman becomes cured and the Frankenstein monster and the doctor both go mad causing the death of Nina, the doctor and the Frankenstein monster.
Lots are going on in this film which makes it go all over the place. Yes we have 3 monsters in the film but the prime acting of the beautiful Jane Adams and Lon Chaney Jr as the Wolfman again rule the screen. Glenn Strange did a great job playing the monster but he had such a small part that it was too bad. The makeup was all well done but once again I had a hard time accepting this Dracula played by John Carradine and he just was not frightening.
Rating: the film had its moments but at the same time there was too much going on in the one film. Count Dracula doesn’t even exist half way through the film so it’s a strange title for the movie. I’m half way on this film.
Son of Dracula (1943)
Director: Robert Siodmak
Main Stars: Lon Chaney Jr , Robert Paige, Louise Allbritton
Storyline: Count Alucard (flip this backwards) heads to the deep south in the swamps where he falls in love with beautiful plantation owner. He wants to grant her the undead life of immortality.
Review (Spoils): A decade after the first Dracula film Count Alucard (Lon Chaney Jr) appears in America and is invited to join rich Kay Caldwell (Louise Allbritton) who has an interest in the supernatural. She tricks Count Alucard to fall in love with her so that she is granted the immortality of undead. Her past boyfriend Frank (Robert Paige ) does not understand her intentions and attacks the Count in which Kay gets shot. The son of Dracula Count Alucard brings her back to life or better yet unlife and she gets want she wants. She tells Frank her true plan that she wants him to destroy the Count and join her in the rich life of immortality. Frank is not much for it and destroys them both by sunlight and fire. We have cheesy bat scenes, cool vapour gas travel and the king of the cheese Count Alucard. I’m sorry but I just could not take Lon Chaney Jr as an evil vampire character or even threatening. I love Lon Chaney Jr but the part did not suit him or maybe it was just the lame mustache? For that the movie just did not scream classic Universal monster film for me. Louise Allbritton did an amazing job playing the character and really turned on the acting screws once she became undead (the lying in dead scene was great for that).
Rating: Unfortunately this film just did not have the uniqueness that the past Dracula films had. I could not take the Count Alucard character seriously and poor Louise Allbritton could not hold the film up all by herself. This is one of the weaker links of the series and the point that there was not connection of reference to the Dracula’s Daughter (the second of the series) it lost its connection for me.
Dracula’s Daughter (1938)
Director: Lambert Hillyer
Main Stars: Otto Kruger, Gloria Holden, Marguerite Churchill, Edward Van Sloan
Storyline: the night of Dracula’s death his daughter comes to steal is body away to lift the vampire curse from herself.
Review (Spoils): The film starts the night of Dracula’s death, Dr. Von Helsing (Edward Van Sloan) is wanted for murder because nobody believes in vampires. Contessa Marya Zeleska (Gloria Holden) comes to the site and steals the body of Dracula and burns the body. She is trying to lift the family curse from herself so that she is no longer being haunted as a vampire. She goes to Jeffery Garth (Otto Kruger) a doctor who thinks the whole vampire belief is in the head and it can be lifted by hypnotizes. It becomes a chase in which the Countess wants more from Jeffery she wants him to love her so there becomes a jealous struggle between herself and the Jeffery’s lovely admin Janet (Marguerite Churchill). This leads to Janet becoming attacked and used as bait till in a struggle the Countess is shot in the heart by a wooden crossbow and the curse is lifted.
Rating: Seeing this film a few times now it really is a gem on its own. Not as classic as the original Dracula but a nice little continuation from it that does not repeat itself. This is a different tale than your typical vampire movie. We do not have much in your typical bats, coffins and biting but Gloria Holden does a beautiful job as the daughter of Dracula.
Son of Frankenstein (1939)
Director: Rowland V. Lee
Main Stars: Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Basil Rathbone
Storyline: The son of Dr. Frankenstein fines his father’s creation and revives him. What he did not know is that Ygor is the one controlling him.
Review (Spoils): Following up from The Bride of Frankenstein Wolf Von Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone) returns to the manor with his wife and son and they are not overly welcomed by the residents due to his father’s past. Igor (Bela Lugosi) is living in the basement as he was his father’s last assistant but he has a surprise for him as the monster (Boris Karloff) is here but in a coma. The monster gets revived and loses all speech and starts from scratch. The film is all star when it comes to cast we have Boris Karloff playing the monster for the last time in his sheep wool vest and leather and Bela Lugosi plays the classic Igor the strange broken neck assistant of the late Dr. Frankenstein. Yes Basil Rathbone is not as strong as the past doctor character of the past two films but still memorable as it ends this great trilogy from Universal. The settings of the scenery are breath taking and being a third film of the series the movie has not lost its charm. The castle alone is worth the viewing in this film. Rowland V. Lee continues what James Whale started.
Rating: This movie is a great third part of the Universal series. We have some of the most classic horror characters with Frankenstein monster and Igor steals the show as it is Bela Lugosi at one of his best (next to Dracula of course). Yes the son Billy can be annoying and just does not fit in the film but this is one of favorites of the Universal films.